Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

Sue commented that this piece of ice from Icewatch, London (See yesterday’s post) reminded her of the Polar Bear in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. This is one of our favourite pieces of art and a must visit everytime we are in the city.

Photo by Steve Elliott (

Which is all the excuse I need to publish some pictures of this wonderful piece of sculpture by Francois Pompon. I don’t know why I like it so much but there is something so clean and stylish about it and I love that questioning look on his face.

Photo by Wally Gobetz (

It is also a reminder that Polar Bears are really suffering due to the break up of Arctic ice which is restricting their ranges and causing shortages of food.

Ice-Watch London

Posted: December 13, 2018 in Art, London, Natural History, UK

“Put your hand on the ice, listen to it, smell it, look at it – and witness the ecological changes our world is undergoing” Olafur Eliasson

An artwork by Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing in the City of London. It aims to provide an immediate, tangible testimony to the effects of Climate change. The Greenland ice sheet is losing 200 to 300 billion tonnes of ice every year, raising sea levels around the globe. These large blocks came from a fjord in Greenland, where they had already detached from the ice sheet, just like 10,000 other such blocks which detach from the ice sheet every day.

24 hours later

The blocks will be on display until 21st December or whenever they melt away.

24 hours later

Thanks to Sue for the photographs


Posted: December 12, 2018 in Natural History

I was unsettled to read in the paper the other day that there are large and powerful lobbying organisations who sole premise is the removal of regulations: Tax, Environmental, Conservation, Social Benefits, Health and safety from our law books. The motive so that rich people can make even more money and **** the rest of society.


“You may drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she will always return.”   –Horace
“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments–there are consequences.”  –Robert Ingersoll

There are more indications of how close to the precipice of extinction we have driven the planet.  The wintering population of monarch butterflies in California used to be in the millions, now it is less than 100-thousand.

The Trump Administration wants to drill for oil in land once saved from development for the helpless Sage Grouse.  What good is some silly bird if there’s a profit to be had from public land?

We are, unnaturally, poisoning ourselves along with the rest of planet.  Plastic stools of the fecal variety…

More and more scientists remind us of what happened the last time there was a crucial heating of the earth…uit was widespread death.


In New Zealand waters divers got…

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This cat has been in the garden for a few days chasing the Grey Squirrels, without much sucess. They just run up the trees and sit on the branches looking at the cat. Catch me if you can!

The cat spent a few days patrollling round the bottom of the tree waiting for the squirrels to come down, which of course they don’t. So eventually it took the plunge and tried to climb the tree. It got so far and stopped. It looked around as if to say ‘oops now what do I do’. Eventually it realised that if it let go it would land back on solid ground. But it wasnt finished, it took a longer run up and ended up in exactly the same place. Again after considering the options it dropped back to the ground and slunk off. Squirrels 1 Cat 0.

Well it had seemed a good plan at the time!

Birdlog: Blackcaps are back!

Posted: December 7, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
Tags: ,

Continuing my look back over the 5 years of the blog. This was certainly a highlight for our garden (posted April 2013). For a couple of years, we had both summering and wintering Blackcaps in the garden, But sadly none since although I did find a pair by the Tarn in both summer 2017 and this past summer.

April 2013

Following on from my brief sighting of a female blackcap a week or so ago I have had no more summer visitors in the garden. Imagine my surprise this morning when I pulled the curtains to find these two in the bushes. The male was hanging on a branch and then reaching out as far as he could to feed on a flower head below him



Canada Goose

Posted: December 5, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

The Canada Goose is one of our common resident geese, Introduced from North America from the late 17th century it has spread across almost the whole of the UK and is often found on city lakes and in parks as well as in the countryside.

It is estimated that there are around 62,000 breeding pairs in the UK with a peak population of around 190,000 birds.

Flock of Canada Geese with a single Greylag Goose (centre)
River Thames at Gravesend

Keith and I were in Gravesend for an RSPB meeting and so we decided to make a day of it by doing a short walk along the riverfront. Gravesend had once been a thriving port, as is witnessed by the multitude of piers that are still present, but apart from a ferry across the river to Tilbury and some pleasure boats, this is no longer the case.

Town Pier

 The tide was falling as we reached the front. our first sighting was on a Common Redshank, feeding on the mud.

Common Redshank

We passed the mooring of Light Vessel 21, part of the National Historic Ships Collection. Built in 1963, it saw service mostly off the Kent coast and was involved in the worst collision to involve a light vessel when on 28th June 1981 LV21 was hit by the ‘Ore Meteor’ which was under tow at the time in rough weather. Observers at the time commented that the tug seemed too small to be handling such a large vessel in open water. In rough seas, the tug and its tow, past too close to LV21 and first the side and then the stern of the Meteor crashed into the bow of the Light Vessel. Thankfully all damage was above deck and the ship remained afloat and was later towed to Southampton for repairs. It was finally decommissioned in 2008. It is now used as an arts performance venue 


Across the river was Tilbury Fort, one of two built to protect the entrance to London along the Thames. Details of its counterpart in Gravesend can be found at

Tilbury Fort

On the exposed river mud a group of Black-tailed Godwits were feeding.

Black-Tailed Godwit

Passing Gravesend Fort we came to Promenade Park, which has a lake and a small reed-bed.

It was very quiet today and apart from some small birds in the bushes there were only Moorhen and Mute Swan present.

It was now time to turn back to the Town centre, but on the river further downstream we could see a group of Common Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the mud. As we retraced our steps along the Promenade we found two Common Gulls and a single Ruddy Turnstone feeding on the mud.

Common Gull
Ruddy Turnstone

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A mixed up goose family

Posted: November 23, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

I first came across this pair of geese back in the winter of 2013 and they have bred on the Tarn every year since becoming regular sightings on my walks.

This is that first post

This afternoon as it was bright and sunny although still quite cold I went for a walk around the Tarn. Quite a lot of activity and bird numbers are certainly up on the past week. Good numbers of Tufted Ducks and Moorhen and lots of small birdsong, mainly Blue Tits and Great Tits.

The Canada goose x Greylag goose hybrid is still present with its parents



Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser) 5
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis) 4
Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) 1
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos) 18
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) 5
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus) 9
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra) 2
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 1
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia) 18
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus) 8
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri) 6
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major) 1
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius) 2
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica) 6
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone) 4
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major) 1
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus) 4
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea) 1
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula) 1

Hedgehog Highways

Posted: November 20, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

I was sent this wonderful photograph as part of a campaign to encourage the creation of Hedgehog Highways, routes which enable these important garden mammals to safety negotiate roads and other hazards.

The photograph is of a starling murmuration, an evening coming together before communal roosting, but it does look like a hedgehog. It was taken by Jariath Flynn.

For further details on the Hedgehog Highway campaign and to sign the petition go to

A pair of Beardies

Posted: November 16, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

I have been blogging here for nearly 6 years so thought I would take an opportunity to re-post some of my favourite posts from those early days.

This one from a memorable birdwatching day in January of 2013.

Out early for the journey up to Hyde Park to see the pair of Female bearded reedlings that have been present in the small reedbed by the Princess Diana memorial fountain for at least a few days. Arrive and easily locate the birds at a distance of perhaps 5 feet. Lots of opportunity for photos. Surprisingly there are few people here. It transpires that they may have been around for up to a month but were only confirmed last week.