Archive for August, 2017

 

RSPB Cliffe Pools

A bright sunny morning found Keith and me at the RSPB Cliffe Pools reserve in North Kent. August can be a quiet time for birds and so it seemed it would be on the way down to the reserve from West Court farm. Still, it is also a time when plenty of other things can be seen. Our first stop was the radar pools but apart from a large group of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits, there was little to be seen, bird-wise. However the vegetation around the pools was alive with butterflies, mostly small whites and green veined whites, together with a single Painted Lady, a few Red Admirals and Holly Blues and a number of Migrant Hawker dragonflies; Common Blue damselfly and Common Darters.

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Holly Blue

 

Migrant Hawker (f)

Common Blue damselfly

Common Darter

 

Perhaps our best find was at the small pond under the radar tower, where we found three emerald damselflies. There are four species of emerald damselflies found in North Kent and I didn’t immediately recognise this one. Later research, confirmed them to be the Willow Emerald. A recent colonist to south-east England, this damselfly was first recorded in East Anglia in 2007, it has now spread to Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and the north coast of Kent. This is my first record of this species.

Willow Emerald damselfly. Photo by Keith

Moving on there were no signs of Black-winged Stilts on the pools near the Black Barn. Black-winged Stilt is a rare visitor to the UK, but two pairs bred at Cliffe this year raising at least seven young. It seems that one family has apparently moved off across the Thames to Essex, but the other has remained at Cliffe. But they were not visible during our visit. Walking down to the sea wall, a flash of colour alerted us to a rather well camouflaged moth resting against the stone wall. This Red Underwing, mottled grey on top, was magnificently camouflaged until it flew revealing its brightly coloured underwing.

Red Underwing. Photo by Andy Rogers (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cobaltfish/)

Spot the Moth. Red Underwing blending into stone wall

As we left the estuary and turned back inland we were alerted to the calls of Greenshank and searching for these lead us to find a Eurasian Spoonbill and a number of other wading birds including Common Redshank and Whimbrel. We had just decided to move on from this pool when the clouds darkened and there was thunder and lightning followed by heavy rain. We sought shelter under the vegetation for 10 minutes but it did not seem like this was a passing shower and so we decided to make our way smartly back to the waiting car and a quick retreat.

A good day with my first record of willow emerald damselfly being the highlight.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Western Willow Emerald (Lestes viridis)
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Fitzrovia Chapel (1)

Posted: August 18, 2017 in History, London, UK
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The Fitzrovia chapel, as it is known today, is from the outside an unassuming brick building in the middle of a modern office and residential development in the centre of London. It unassuming character ends though once you enter the door. The chapel is all that remains of the Middlesex Hospital which stood on the site from 1757 until its demolition in 2006. One of the conditions of the redevelopment was that the chapel was maintained and restored and this involved supporting it whilst the hospital was demolished around it including the lower floors of the building in which it stood.

It is in the greatest of High Victorian styles and was completed by the Father and Son architects John and Frank Loughborough Pearson, the later taking over after his father had died in 1897. There are many oddities about this chapel. It was never consecrated as a church and so although it is now available for hire, it is not licensed for religious ceremonies such as baptisms or weddings.

The chapel re-opened in 2015 following restoration paid for by the developers of the site and is now run by a charitable trust. It is usually open on a Wednesday from 11 am to 4 pm if there is no booking.

Southend Pier (2)

Posted: August 17, 2017 in Essex, UK
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Some more views of Southend Pier

 

 

 

                                                                            Nautically themed seating on the pier

An interesting way to raise money to maintain your pier

Views of Southend

Posted: August 16, 2017 in Essex, UK
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And I thought I was in Essex!

When I was growing up in the east end of London, our holiday was often a day trip to Southend, so it was interesting to see that it seems to have changed little in the last 50 years and remains the quintessential British seaside resort from the mid-20th century.

Amusements dominate the front

Amusement park on the sea front

Hold onto your hat

The beach shop

Anyone for sand castles?

The Kuursal (built 18940 was the main amusement park in Southend when I was young. It has declined over the years. the amusement park closed in 1973 (now housing) and the main building was shut down in 1986. Following redevelopment, it re-opened as a bowling alley and casino in 1998.

Sweet rock – the traditional gift for those at home

Traditional Bed and Breakfast hotels were in houses on the front like these

 

Some pictures from a recent visit to the Kent and East Sussex Railway.

The Railway line from Robertsbridge to Tenterden opened in 1900, with extensions in 1903 and again in 1905 as far as Headcorn. It was envisaged that the line would go onto the county town of Maidstone, but this section was never built. the line struggled through the 1930’s as competition from Road Transport cut into its financial viability. Following the nationalisation of the Railway in 1948, the situation did not improve and figures from 1953 showed that each week 90 trains were run on the line and between them they carried only 118 passengers a week! The line was closed the following year for passengers although goods continued to be hauled on the line until 1961. A battle to preserve the line began and the first trains ran over a 2-mile section in 1974. The line was extended to Nortiam in 1990 and to Bodiam in 2000.

Tenterden Town station

Copy of notice for Withdrawal of passenger services on the line which now forms the KESR

D9504, an unusual design with a central cab, at Tenterden

Locos and utility trains in the sidings at Tenterden

Travelling through rolling Countryside

Approaching the terminus at Bodiam

Norweigan state Railway 21C class locomotive at Bodiam.

D2024 awaiting restoration at Bodiam. Worked at BR depot at Lincoln, Hartlepool docks and Grangemouth before arriving at KESR in 1980

 

Sue and I were back at the IAAF World Athletics Championships over the weekend.

A full crowd as there has been for each Session

Men’s 110m Hurdles race in the Decathlon

Men’s 110m Hurdles race in the Decathlon

Alyson Felix (USA) – one of the worlds best sprinters over the past decade prepares for the sprint relay heats

Changeover for USA and GB teams in women’s 4x100m relay heat – both qualified for the final.

Good to see Adam Gemili back in GB team after injury

Men’s 4x100m relay heat

Usain Bolt preparing for a 4x100m relay heat

Jamacia leads out in men’s 4x400m relay heat.

Kevin Meyer of France in the Discus section of the men’s decathlon.

I imagine this is not what the organisers had in mind for the Long Jump pit. Hero the Hedgehog and friend enjoy the sand.

Sue and I went to the World Athletics Championships last night at London’s Olympic Park.

The Stadium packed for an evening of Athletics on day 8 of the Championships

Leading out in a women’s 5000m heat

Ruth Beitia of Spain, the Olympic Champion, clears 1.85 in Woman’s High Jump Qualifier

Peacock of Australia in the Men’s Javelin launches it out to 82.19m

Caster Semenya (South Africa) rounds the bend in the Women’s 800m on her way to winning her heat

Christian Taylor (USA) jumps out to 16.97m to win Gold in the Triple Jump

Men’s 1500m heat

Women’s 200m semi-final gets under way

Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa) ready for the start of Men’s 200m final – he would claim the Silver medal

Hero the Hedgehog joins the fanfare band.

Southend Pier (1)

Posted: August 10, 2017 in Essex, History, UK
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The first pier at Southend was a wooden construction built in 1830. But by the middle of the century the increased tourist numbers had begun to take their toll and in 1887 it was decided to replace it with an iron pier. Opened in 1889, extended in 1897 with an upper deck was added in 1907, followed by a further extension in 1927. In 1959 a fire destroyed the Pavilion located at the shore end of the pier trapping over 500 people on the seaward side who had to be rescued by boat. In 1976 fire destroyed much of the pierhead and the following year buildings at the shore end of the pier were damaged by another fire. It was a dark time for the pier as in the following year the pier’s electric railway was closed. In 1980 the council announced that the pier was to close but reversed this decision following a local protest. In 1983 a grant was given to the pier as a historic building which allowed repairs be made and these were completed in 1986 and included the provision of a new diesel train service from the shoreside to the pierhead. However within a couple of months, a boat had crashed into the pier severing the new pierhead from the rest, in the process destroying the lifeboat station and it was not until 1989 that the pier fully reopened. Further renovations to the pierhead were carried out in 2000 creating a new sundeck and building a new lifeboat station. The pier’s fiery history has continued. In 2005 a fire destroyed some buildings at the pierhead and a new pavilion and railway station have been constructed since to replace the ones destroyed.

1 1/4 miles from shore to head

Pier-head from the shore

Lifeboat station

The bell at the end of the pier

The bell . Cast in whitechapel in 1929

Anyone for Cricket again?

Posted: August 9, 2017 in Sport
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For our second cricket trip of the summer Keith and I chose to go to Canterbury to see Kent play the West Indies international side in a preparation match for the test series against England. It would be fair to say the weather was very different to our recent trip to Beckenham!

The Canterbury Ground at the time for play to start.

Will there be play? The Umpires and groundsman discuss

Will there be play? A West Indian cricketer contemplates whether he will get to bat.

The rain stops and the groundsman remove water from the covers

Removing the pitch covers

We are going to get play!

Matt Hunn of Kent at full speed

The West Indies batsman waits and so do the close fielders

Safely pouched by Rouse, the Kent Wicketkeeper

Shai Hope dispatches a ball to the boundary.

The rain did return a couple of times during the day, but we did get to see about 3 hours of entertaining cricket before the game was called off at 5 pm. Keith and I wondered why as the weather didn’t seem that bad at the time. We started the walk back to the station – about 20 minutes- and only just made it before a tremendous storm with thunder and lighting broke. Obviously, they had been warned this was on its way and we were grateful we left when we did rather than get caught in it!

Shrewsbury Castle

 

It has been suggested that an Anglo-Saxon fortification stood on this site prior to the arrival of the Normans. Roger de Montgomery built a timber castle here around 1070 which was eventually replaced by a stone building. It was besieged and fell to King Stephen 1138 and was occupied by Llewellyn ap Iorweth, Prince of Wales for a period in 1215. The castle was rebuilt and strengthened around 1300 by Edward I and the buildings that remain date from this period. It seems to have gone out of use as a fortress and eventually in the reign of Elizabeth I, custody was given to the town. It was captured during the Civil War by Parliamentary forces (1645) but was returned to Crown ownership again in 1660. In 1663 the castle was given to Sir Francis Newport and it remained in private hands until 1924, when the Shropshire Horticultural Society purchased the site and presented it to the town. The Hall building was used as the Council chamber until 1981. In 1985 it reopened as a museum dedicated to the history of Shropshire’s military regiments. In 1992, the museum was damaged by a terrorist bomb, which resulted in it being closed for three years.

Walls of Shrewsbury Castle

Hall building, Shrewsbury Castle