Archive for July, 2017

On Wednesday Keith and I went on a boat trip up the River Medway from Rochester and across the Thames to Southend. It was a great opportunity to do some birdwatching from a different perspective as we passed the marshes on the estuary. When we arrived in Southend we took a walk along the foreshore to Southchurch Park and this was probably the most productive part of the day, wildlife-wise.

Highlights were the Ruddy Turnstones on the end of the pier, many in Summer plumage, a group of Meditteranean Gulls on the foreshore and around the Pier and a pair of Little Grebes on the lake in Southchurch park.

 

 

Ruddy Turnstone. Southend Pier

Ruddy Turnstone, Southend Pier

Mediterranean Gull, Southend Pier

Mediterranean Gull, Southend Foreshore

Cormorant, Southend Foreshore

Southchurch Park Southend

Little Grebe, Southchurch Park

Little Grebe, Southchurch Park

We had hoped that we might also find some insect life in the rough meadow areas of Southchurch Park, but the weather conspired against us and all we found were a single Meadow Brown and some ladybirds.

Ladybird, Southchurch Park

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)

All aboard for Southend

Posted: July 28, 2017 in Essex, Kent, UK
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On Wednesday Keith and I travelled aboard the Jacob Marley from Rochester Pier up the River Medway and across the River Thames to Southend.

Passing under Rochester Bridge

Upnor Castle

Lightships at Hoo (now used as house boats)

Hoo Fort

Kingsnorth Power station. The day after the trip the building on the left was demolished

Garrison Point Sheerness at the point where the Medway joins the Thames. The old fort and the new navigation control tower

Approaching Southend Pier

Jacob Marley moored on Southend Pier

It had been a relatively calm crossing with little traffic in the main sea lane leading from London to the English Channel.

 

It’s good to know that some have an element of truth behind them.

Stephen Liddell

Most of us are familiar with Old Wives Tales, traditional pearls of wisdom from sources lost through the ages but seemingly tapping into an eternal truth that is only revealed to older married women whose only qualification is a lifetime of experience.  They cover all areas of life but not least the weather.

Despite being bombarded daily by weather forecasts that use the latest computer technology and models,  three in four of us in the U.K. are still more likely to rely on old wives’ tales to predict the weather.

We retain a belief – often misguided – that cows lie down when it’s about to rain or that a red sky at night means it will be fine tomorrow, according to a survey for the Met Office.

red-sky-at-night-shepherds-delight-red-sky-in-the-morning-shepherds-warning-quote-1.jpg

It found 58 per cent of UK adults believe weather proverbs are accurate to some degree – and two-thirds of these say they…

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Here are some pictures from the second Visit Sue and I made to the World Para-Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in London on Friday night.

London turns out to watch the Para-Athletics

On the line in a wheelchair 100m

Marcel Hug of Switzerland leads round the final bend in the 800m

Steve Morris of Great Britain leads in the 880m

Off! in the 100m

Greg Rutherford, World and Olympic Long Jump champion doing a stint for Channel 4

Whizz-Bee the championship mascot.

Hokusai exhibition

Posted: July 25, 2017 in Art, London, UK
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Yesterday evening Sue and I went to see the exhibition of Japanese art by Katsushika Hokusai at the British Museum. Now I confess I am not a great fan of Oriental art but I do love Hokusai’s best-known work ‘The Great Wave‘ and so was interested to see other examples of his work. This proved to be a wide range of styles ranging from traditional oriental to a fusion style in which he incorporated elements of western art.

Under the Wave off Kanagawa also known as ‘The Great Wave’ from ’36 views of Mount Fuji’ 1831

Katsushika Hokusai was born in Japan in October 1760 in Edo (modern day Tokyo). It is believed he started painting at the age of 6 and he was apprenticed to a wood carver at 14 and at 18 entered an art studio of a woodblock print artist. From 1793 he began exploring other styles of art and was expelled from the studio. He illustrated books and became more and more famous. He did not produce his most famous works Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji which includes The Great Wave until he was 60.  In fact, there are more than 36 as they proved so popular that the publisher prevailed on Hokusai to produce 10 additional prints.

Clear Day with a Southern Breeze also known as ‘The Red Fuji’ from ’36 views of Mount Fuji’ 1831

Shicirigahama Beach from ’36 views of Mount Fuji’ 1831

Hokusai produced works under many different names during his life and was of the firm belief that his art got better as he aged. He said that when he reached 100 his art would be at its best. Sadly he never reached this milestone as he died in May 1849 at the age of 89. On his death bed he is reputed to have said ‘ Just another 5 years, then I could become a real painter’.

Tametomo and the bow of Onoshima (A Japanese legend) 1811

 

I was pleased to see more of the pictures from 36 Views of Mount Fuji and these continue to be my favourite works by Hokusai. It was also interesting to see how his style changed over his lifetime as he encountered new influences.

The Hukosai exhibition ‘ Beyond the Great Wave’ continues at the British Museum until 13th August and I highly recommend it.

On Saturday Sue and I, together with two friends Andrew and James, visited the Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough.This line is interesting as unlike most preserved railways it was not closed down as part of the cuts to the network in the 1960’s, but had actually closed to regular traffic in the late 1930’s.

Wansford Station

 

Wansford Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, we found on arrival that our steam train scheduled for the day had failed and so we would be diesel hauled on our trip. The line runs from Yarwell into Peterborough through the Cambridgeshire countryside.

Class 31 diesel engine. Built for BR at Loughborough in 1961 and used in the Midland Region. It was withdrawn from mainline service in 2000.

34081 92 Squadron in the yard – A Bulleid ‘Battle of Britain Class locomotive. Built at Brighton in 1948, it worked on Southern Region until 1964, when it was sent to Woodhams in Barry. It was purchased by a group set up to preserve a ‘Battle of Britain class locomotive and overhauled at Wansford. It returned to steam in 1998. It is named after a Spitfire squadron based at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain

We did get to see some of the other engines in the yard and some of the other exhibits of Railway memorabilia.

Thomas the Tank Engine – An 0-6-0T built in 1947 and used at the British Sugar factory in nearby Peterborough. Arrived at Nene Valley in 1973

Swedish Railcar 1212

DL83 -built in 1967 it operated first at Corby Quarry before in 1971 being transferred to the Lillie Bridge depot of London Transport where it continued to work until its withdrawal in 1989

Signal Box at Wansford

Travelling Post Office

Turntable at Wansford. Originally from Peterborough East and installed here in 1997

 

Following the unprecedented success of para-athletics at the 2012 Olympic games in London, when 80,000 filled the stadium each night to cheer on the athletes, many of the Gold medalists have become household names in the UK.

Jonnie Peacock, Paralympic champion at 100m (T44)

Richard Whitehead, multiple champion at 200m (T42). In 2013 he ran from Lands End to John O’Groats (c1000 miles)

David Weir – winner of 4 Gold medals at the 2012 Paralympics and also a 7-time winner of the London Marathon. Now retired he is part of the TV commentary team

Hannah Cockcroft – Multiple Gold medalist and so far double gold medalist at these championships. She has broken T34 world records at 100m and 1500m!

The medalists in the T44 Long Jump celebrate. Marcus Rehm of Germany is a 4 time World Champion and a 2 time Paralympic Champion.

Marlou van Rhijn, world record holder at 100 and 200m (T43). She also holds a number of Dutch national swimming records.

Richard Whitehead prepares for a race

Jonnie Peacock and David Weir prepare for a TV session

The Olympic Stadium

Sue and I spent Monday evening at the World Para-athletics championships which are being held at the Olympic Stadium in London. One of the people interviewed in the stadium said ‘you focus on the disability for about 10 minutes and then you realise what extraordinary athletes these are!’ It’s true!

 

Preparing for the race -focus

500m to go in a 1500m and 6 athletes contest the medals

A close race to the line in a wheelchair 800m

Entering the final straight in a 200m

Martins of Brazil leads around the final bend

medals up for grabs in a wheelchair race

 

 

Some more views of Shrewsbury Cathedral

Chancel and Choir 1886-7

Chancel and Choir 1886-7

Pulpit

St Winifred Window (1992). Note the welsh symbols and the sword which was how she was martyred

Believed to be a 14th part of the Shrine of St Winifred, whose bones had been brought to Shrewsbury in 12th century from Wales

The font which actually the inverted base of a Roman column!

Outside wall of old Abbey Church

 

Whilst out surveying three sites this morning for the Great Butterfly Count (a nationwide 10-day survey) I came across the female kestrel from the pair in Oxleas Meadows perched in a tree between hunting forays. She didn’t stay long and was soon off hunting again.

On the butterfly count, I recorded 8 species across the 3 sites but was surprised that there were not higher numbers of each giving the temperature was 23C and it seemed like ideal conditions. I do hope this doesn’t mean it is going to be a bad year again!

Gatekeeper

Small Tortoiseshell

Red Admiral

Speckled wood

Meadow Brown