Archive for the ‘UK’ Category


The moat surrounding the Tower of London was originally built by Henry III as a defensive ditch rather than a moat. It was not until the 13th century that it was connected to the Thames and flooded with water. However over time, the changing level of the river meant that there was little water flow between the river and the moat meaning that the moat water became stagnant. In the 19th century, the Duke of Wellington, concerned at the health risk the stagnant moat posed to the garrison ordered it drained and it has remained dry every since.



It has been used as a site for filming and in recent winters as the site of an ice skating rink, but perhaps most memorably as the site of the ceramic poppies display during the World War 1 commemorations in 2014.






Tower of London with the modern city skyline in the background

Tower of London with the modern city skyline in the background


The Tower of London lies at the eastern end of the medieval walled city. Its foundation dates from 1066, shortly after King William arrived as the conqueror in London. However the earliest remaining part of the Tower today is the White Tower, which now forms the central keep, which he began in 1078.

The White Tower

The White Tower


The White Tower

The White Tower

The Tower has served over the years as a royal palace, prison, treasury and mint, armoury, public records office and the site of London’s first zoo – all of which I shall be looking at in future posts.

Map of the Tower as it is today

Map of the Tower as it is today


The outer wall and moat

The outer wall and moat

This great picture of Stonehenge reminds me that I haven’t been back to the site in recent years and must plan to do so once we are back to travelling

A few weeks ago I was going through my ever growing library of photos on my iPad which stands at something like 64GB and I came across a particularly atmospheric photo I took of Stonehenge. Most people that I take there with Ye Olde England Tours like to go in the summer and they like sunny […]

A moody photo of Stonehenge — Stephen Liddell

On Monday Sue and I travelled down to Sevenoaks Nature Reserve to meet our friends Keith and Elaine for a, socially distanced, picnic lunch. It was the first time we had been able to meet up this year. After lunch Keith and I went for a walk around the reserve.

Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs provided most of the musical accompaniment as we searched each of the lakes that make up this reserve. Although the number of bird species present was low (not surprising at this time of year) we managed 6 species of Butterfly and 5 species of Dragonfly. it was a lovely summer afternoon and a lovely walk around the lakes.

Interesting blog by Stephen Liddell on one of the many disused churches in the city of London

When I was out in London last week, I went on a walk of discovery. As is often the way in London, I ‘discovered’ several places but also got the chance to visit somewhere I knew perfectly well even though I’d never been there… at least not for 6 or 7 years and never to […]

The forlorn church of St Mary Somerset — Stephen Liddell

Hall Place, Bexley

Posted: July 3, 2020 in History, London, UK

Join me on a visit to hall place in Bexley (Pre-Lockdown)

More details on hall place and its history can be found at

There is something about this stand of trees by the Oast House pool at Bough Beech that fascinates me.

Our trip out this week was a return to Bough Beech near Sevenoaks. I was returning for two reasons. One the local dragonfly recorder had asked for photographs of the Brilliant Emerald Dragonfly I had seen last week in order to confirm the record (I hadn’ t managed any last week) and secondly because a Western Osprey had been hanging around the Reservoir all weekend.

Our first sightings, however, were of a human kind as we met up with Andrew and Nicole, who we hadn’t seen since before lockdown and so it was good chance to catch up with them. They directed me to a Little Ringed Plover they had found on the edge of the reservoir and also described another wader which they had seen briefly in a channel in the vegetation on the north pool before it had disappeared from sight into the vegetation.

After they had left, I got another brief view of the mystery wader and although not totally sure thought it was probably Green Sandpiper. Amongst the other birds on the reservoir today were Common Terns and Grey Wagtail as well as the usual selection of Ducks, Swans and Geese. A female Mandarin Duck with 12 chicks was a pleasant sight.

I then decided to walk up to the Oast house to see if I could get the photographs of Brilliant Emerald. What a difference a week makes! the temperature was about 10 degrees lower than last week and whereas then there were about 40 insects from 5 species present, not a single one was to be seen today. I did hear Common Whitethroat and Chiffchaff and got excellent views of the resident Kingfisher.

Common Whitethroat. Photo by Nicole

Back at the Reservoir, I though I would give the mystery wader one more go. Imagine my surprise when I looked into the channel and there it was, a Green Sandpiper, sitting out on a rock in plain view. I tried to get a photo but the hedge vegetation has grown so high that I couldn’t get a clear shot before it wandered off into the vegetation and out of view.

Green Sandpiper. Photo by Corine Bliek (

A good end to our trip.

Venturing Forth

Posted: June 4, 2020 in Dragonflies, Kent, Natural History, UK

Our first trip out in 10 weeks (except for shopping) was a couple of hours at Bough Beech near Sevenoaks. As we arrived a Cuckoo departed and was not seen again, apparently, we had also just missed a Red Kite. The reservoir was fairly quite. By the evidence of the number of young Grey Herons present, the local heronry had experienced a good breeding season.

But the stars of the trip were 5 species of Dragonfly including one male Brilliant Emerald, only my second sighting in the UK. This local species is only found in West Kent and Surrey and in 2 areas in West and North East Scotland.

Brilliant Emerald. Photo by Paul Ritchie (


Posted: June 2, 2020 in London, UK

This is a video comprising some photos of trips to Greenwich