Archive for March, 2017

The Tarn

Spring is here and so a new recording season begins. Having had a break over the winter from any formalised recording it is time to begin again for Butterflies, Dragonflies and Bumblebees on my patch and for Birds at Eltham Park. So a bright March day saw me doing the first of my weekly walks around the Tarn.

An early surprise was a Stock Dove in the Garden as I set out to walk down to the Tarn. This is the first record for me on the patch and although I didn’t disturb it, the bird had disappeared by the time I returned. On the walk down to the Tarn, I recorded my first Butterfly of 2017 a Speckled Wood.

Arriving at the Tarn the usual residents were in evidence but as I walked around the lake there was little evidence of Butterfly activity. Apart from the overwintering species, the first emergers are usually the Orange-Tips and eventually, a pair flew past me at the east end of the lake.

Orange Tip (m). Photo by Tim Hodson (

Tracking back up the south side and doing the wildfowl count whilst also looking out for butterflies I reached the sluice gate at the south-western end when a flash of iridescent blue sped away from me across the Lake – a Common Kingfisher – the first of the year – it must have been perched somewhere nearby in the bushes and took flight at my approach. As I left to make my way back home, a female Brimstone butterfly flew lazily across the path.

It’s been a while since I saw a Terrapin here, but this one was taking the opportunity to sun itself.

Egyptian Goose

Coot trying out a potential nest site

The Tarn


Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)


Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

A fascinating find whether it is from the Middle ages or the 17th century. Whats under your garden?

Michael Bradley - Time Traveler

Four4Four Science: 700-year-old Knights Templar cave complex hidden beneath U.K. farmer's field; Jeff Bezos plans moon deliveries, mind-controlled robot, mold sells for $15,000
Hidden caves of the mysterious Knights Templar revealed

A rabbit hole in the UK conceals the entrance to an incredible cave complex linked to the mysterious Knights Templar.

New photos show the remarkable Caynton Caves network, which looks like something out of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” The shadowy Knights Templar order is said to have used the caves.

The Sun reports that the caves are hidden beneath a farmer’s field in Shropshire. The site was visited by photographer Michael Scott after he saw a video of the caves online. “I traipsed over a field to find it, but if you didn’t know it was there you would just walk right past it,” Scott said.

Once inside, Scott encountered arches, walkways, and carved niches. He described the caves as cramped, noting that anyone nearing six-feet tall has to bend down inside the…

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Rush Green, or as it is sometimes known ‘The Pan Statue’ can be found at Edinburgh gate of Hyde Park. It was sculpted by Jacob Epstein who lived nearby and was completed in 1961 shortly before he died. It was originally outside nearby Bowater House but was moved to its current site in 2007 when the Bowater site was redeveloped.

The statue shows a family and a dog rushing towards the green of the Park, urged on by Pan, who is depicted playing his pipes.


Brixham sunset

Posted: March 27, 2017 in Devon, Landscape, UK

In case any regulars haven’t noticed yet – I love photographing sunsets. Here are some photos from my recent trip to Devon.


Golden Hinde

Posted: March 24, 2017 in Devon, History, Medieval History, Ships, UK
Tags: ,

This full sized replica of the Tudor Warship, Golden Hinde, has been berthed in Brixham Harbour for over 50 years.

It serves as a museum to the life and voyages of Sir Francis Drake. The Golden Hinde was his most famous ship in which he circumnavigated the world on a journey of over 36,000 miles.

Castel Del Monte

Posted: March 23, 2017 in History, Italy, Medieval History

Castel Del Monte (the castle of the mount) sits high on a hill overlooking Apulia in Italy. It was built in the 13th Century by Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emporer as part of a series of defensive castles. It is Octagonal in shape with octagonal towers, a unique design of its time. It is now recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site

The view from the Castle entrance

Inside the Castle. Photo by Irene Grassi (

Statues and Monuments: Man and Boy

Posted: March 22, 2017 in Devon, UK


Man and Boy a statue in bronze that stands on the quayside at Brixham Harbour. It was sculpted by local artist Elisabeth Hadley and was unveiled in November 2016. It has two dedications – the first to celebrate the heritage of the Brixham Fishing Industry and the second to remember all those from the town who have been lost at sea.


A bright sunny morning and a chance to have a stroll around the Tarn. As I approached a bird flew across my path and headed out east along the water’s edge – A female Northern Wheatear, my second record for the site. Unfortunately, I was unable to relocate it and it probably continued out onto the adjoining golf course, a much more suitable habitat for this species.


There were a good number of geese present – 8 Canada Geese; 5 Greylag Geese;1 hybrid and 3 Egyptian Geese. It looks as though our Greylag – Canada pairing are back again together with one of their offspring.

Canada Goose

Greylag Goose

Egyptian Goose

Canada x Greylag Hybrid

There seems little evidence of nesting yet, although one Coot was gathering twigs. Interesting how sites vary, given that Keith and I had seen chicks at the Wetland Centre last Friday.

It was good to see the Tarn without its green covering and I hope that this will remain so over the summer months.


This was the first visit that Keith and I had made to the London Wetland Centre this year and it didn’t disappoint. On arrival, we made our way to the sheltered Lagoon to see if there were any migrants resting up and were rewarded with the sound of singing Willow Warbler, an extremely early date for the first arrival along with Chifchaff. As we walked through the tree-lined path, I spotted a Green Woodpecker rooting amongst the grass.

Green Woodpecker

A Mandarin Duck was an unexpected find on the Lagoon but no Kingfishers were seen near the nest site.

Mandarin Duck

We stopped briefly by the Sand Martin colony, where a single bird marked the early returners from their winter in Africa. Carrying onto the main lake there were the usual residents including 3 species of Gull and Great Cormorants along wth the common duck species. From the Tower hide a Jack Snipe was located roosting on one of the islands.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Some species had already got on with the process of raising a family and we were surprised to see a family of Moorhens in mid-March.

Moorhen with Young

On the grazing marsh, the last of the Wigeon were present, the majority of the wintering population having already left for their breeding grounds. Highlights here were a Northern Wheatear and a Water Pipit along with Redshank and a single Dunlin.

Common Redshank

Eurasian Wigeon

Northern Wheatear













The afternoon was drawing on, but there was one last moment of excitement as a Peregrine Falcon swept in across the marsh. A good end to an excellent day.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Water Pipit [sp] (Anthus spinoletta)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

75014 Braveheart is a BR Standard 4 built at Swindon in 1951. It worked in the Midlands and was withdrawn in 1966 and sent to Barry scrapyard. It was purchased in 1981 and transferred to the North York Moors Railway where it returned to steam in 1994. In 2002 it was sold to the Dartmouth Steam Railway where it returned to steam in 2016.














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