Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Lyme Regis

Posted: February 15, 2019 in Dorset, UK
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This post is originally from the summer of 2014 and our first visit to Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is a quiet coastal town and harbour in Dorset on the south coast of the UK.

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Lyme Regis - June 2005 - Ammonite Street Lights at Dusk
Street lights in Lyme Regis
Photo by Gareth Williams (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gareth1953/)

It’s fame springs from the fact that it provides one of the most accessible beaches along the Jurassic coast and has been a magnet for fossil hunters for at least 150 years.

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When Sue and I were in Dorset we paid a visit and went out on an organised fossil hunt. The leader explained what to look for and then took us to a place on the beach where there were likely to be fossils.

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The rest was down to us.

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Some ammonites we found on Lyme Regis beach

The original West Gate at Twickenham rugby stadium contains a number of memorials.

The Lion, one of a pair, originally stood in front of the Lion Brewery on the South Bank of the Thames near Waterloo Station. The Brewery was demolished in 1948 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall. This lion was in storage until 1972, when it was presented to the RFU on their centenary by the London Council. The other lion of the pair can be seen on Westminster Bridge.

On top of the gates are 4 statues by Gerald Olgivie-Laing from the 1990’s representing 4 rugby players

There is also a memorial to George Rowland-Hill, President of the Rugby Football Union at the beginning of the last century.

The Rose and Poppy gates by Harry Gray were installed in 2016 as a memorial to all rugby players who have died in conflicts since the foundation of the Union in 1871. It has the Rose, the emblem of the England Rugby team, and poppies of remembrance on it.

It may be cold outside but before long spring will be here, with all the delights it brings.

Comma
Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Orange-Tip
Speckled Wood
Blue-tailed Damselfly

A winters day and a chance for some birdwatching in Kent with Keith. Our first stop was a housing estate in Strood, which is now becoming a regular spot for a wintering flock of Bohemian Waxwings, a Scandinavian bird which only comes to the UK in years when the berry crop on the continent is not enough to sustain them. Some years there are huge eruptions with many hundreds or even thousands of birds coming over the North Sea. This is not one on them and this winter there has only been a handful in the South of England, so we wanted to take the opportunity to see if we could catch up with them. We had to wait over an hour, but eventually, the group of 6 birds dropped into their favourite feeding tree and stayed for about 20 minutes before flying off.

After a break in a local cafe for lunch, we made our way down to the River Medway at Rochester looking for Common Sandpiper, a species which winters on this stretch of river. As the mud was exposed on the falling tide there were Northern Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Common Redshank feeding on the mud together with Mallard and a single Little Grebe.

Mallard
Common Redshank

Then out from one of the little creeks came a Common Sandpiper and we got close views as it began to feed.

Common Sandpiper

As we walked along the riverside to the Railway station we saw a second Common Sandpiper. A good day with both target species seen well.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
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)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Bohemian Waxwing [sp] (Bombycilla garrulus)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Statues and Monuments: Line-out

Posted: February 5, 2019 in Art, London, UK
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This statue stands on the South Plaza of Twickenham Stadium, home of the England Rugby Union team.

The 27 ft tall sculpture depicts a line-out and around its base are the core values of the game: Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship. It was sculpted by Gerald Laing, who also created the sculptures which sit upon the stadium’s west gate.

In Gravesend on the River Thames today for an RSPB meeting so Keith and I arranged to meet early and go for a walk along the promenade to see what was about on the river.

The River Thames at Gravesend

As we walked along the riverside, there were groups of Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the mud.

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwits with Black-headed Gulls

Nearer to the fort, there were some Common Redshank

Common Redshank
Common Redshank

As we walked into the riverside park a Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew over attracting the attention of one of the resident Carrion Crows which harried it till it flew on. The lake contained only a small party of Moorhen and the sheltered gully only the usual residents.

As we walked back towards the town, a man was feeding the Black-headed Gulls and the Mute Swans and a couple of Common Gulls were present.

On one of the peirs, we spotted a small party of Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
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 Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
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)

Naturelog 18 January

Posted: February 1, 2019 in Birds, Dorset, Natural History, UK
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Although the weather forecast promised heavy rain and strong winds, the morning dawned clear and bright and so sue and I set off for the RSPB reserve at Arne. This reserve is situated on a peninsula in Poole Harbour.

Corfe Castle from Coombe Heath

Walking out on Coombe Heath we had a brief view of a Dartford Warbler as it flitted across the path. Reaching the first viewpoint, we had a sighting of a Eurasian Spoonbill as it flew into the reed-bed.

Middlebere Channel

In the Middlebere channel there were around 100 PiedAvocets; 50 Brent Geese; 20 Grey Plovers and 30 Black-Tailed Godwits plusCommon Shelduck and Eurasian Wigeon. A number of Little Egrets were seen flyingaround the channel.

Middlebere Channel

After lunch, the promised weather seemed to be moving in and so we headed back to Weymouth.

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Dartford Warbler [sp] (Sylvia undata)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Portland Harbour from Sandsfoot Castle

A lovely sunny winters day and I started out at SandsfootCastle looking for Divers. As on Tuesday, there were Great Crested Grebe andBlack-necked Grebe but no divers.

I then walked the Rodwell Trail (the route of the oldWeymouth-Portland Railway line) and added some common birds such as Wren andGreenfinch.

Sandsfoot Castle from the Rodwell trail

At Ferrybridge, a large group of Red-Breasted Mergansers and Black-headed Gulls had obviously located a shoal of fish and were feeding frantically. On the high tide roost there was a party of 30 Brent Geese, whilst on the Fleet, there were only some gulls and a small party of Red-Breasted Mergansers.

The Fleet at Ferrybridge

After meeting Sue for Lunch at the excellent Chesil Beach Cafe, we went to Radipole RSPB reserve to have another look at the Ring-necked Duck and see if I could get some photos, but alas it was asleep tucked into a bank of reeds. However, whilst we were standing there watching it a Yellow-Browed Warbler flew into the reeds in front of us and flitted from reed to tree and back again, calling repeatedly, in the frantic way that seems characteristic of this species.

Yellow-Browed Warbler
Photo by Dave Curtis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/davethebird/)

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
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 [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Osmington White Horse

Posted: January 30, 2019 in Dorset, History, UK
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The Osmington White Horse is a figure cut into a limestone hill just north of Weymouth. It dates from 1808 and is of George III riding a horse and celebrates the monarch who was a regular visitor to the town and referred to it as ‘ his first resort’.

The figure was restored in 1989 as part of a TV programme although the restoration subsequently drew much criticism for changes made to the figure and in 2011 pranksters added a horn to the horse making it appear as a unicorn. Subsequently, another restoration was performed in early 2012 as part of the town’s preparations for the Olympics (Weymouth was the venue for the sailing events) which returned it to its original likeness.