Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

A wet morning and so we set off for Flitcham Abbey farm. This working farm has a wildlife haven with a hide overlooking a meadow which includes an oak tree which is home to a pair of Little Owl, but despite scanning the tree we are unable to see one roosting on the tree.

Wildlife Meadow at Flitcham Abbey Farm

Common Pheasant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a break for lunch, we make our way to Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve. Our first stop is at Island hide where we are fortunate to get some excellent views of Bearded Reedlings.

Titchwell Marsh

Bearded Reedlings

Bearded Reedling

 

From the Parrinder hide, the freshwater marsh contains a wide variety of wading birds including Golden Plover, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwings. A single Yellow Wagtail was briefly located on a grassy island along with the Pied Wagtails.

Ruff

Northern Lapwing

Yellow Wagtail. Photo by Don Sutherland (https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapperg/)

 

 

The adjacent salt marsh always seems to be abandoned by comparison with the freshwater marsh on the other side of the bank, but today it holds a few Redshank along with a single Grey Plover still showing much of its summer plumage.

Grey Plover

Common Redshank

 

Our final stop is the reserve at Holme Dunes in search of a Short-eared Owl which has been present. We didn’t see it but did add a couple of new species to our trip – Skylark and Greenshank.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

A wet start to our third day in Norfolk. Pheasant, Robin, Dunnock and Wren all visited the garden, whilst a Barn Owl was seen flying from the shed in the meadow around 6am. We think it is probably a pair as one definitely roosts in the nest box. During the day we can sometimes see him or her in the box and another seems to come from or go to the shed.

Common Pheasants

The light drizzle eases as we make our way towards the coast and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Clay Marshes. After a coffee and a bacon roll at the visitor’s centre, we walk out the hides at the centre of the reserve. From the hides, we can see 3 Eurasian Spoonbills. This once rare bird in the UK is now increasing in numbers and around 50 can be currently found on the north Norfolk Coast.

Cley Marshes

Eurasian Spoonbills

There are good numbers of waders present including large groups of Ruff, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin together with a couple of Redshanks and a single Curlew Sandpiper. Suddenly confusion reigns as everything takes to the air! The reason is soon obvious as a Peregrine Falcon circles the pools and then lands on an island before, after a short stay, resuming its hunt.

Little Egret

Ruff

Peregrine Falcon

Black-tailed Godwits

 

We next drove down to the coast at Cley Beach in the hope of a Gannet on the sea. Unfortunately, all that is to be seen out to sea are Great Cormorants although a Mediterranean Gull flew in to land on the beach where it could be compared with the Black-headed Gulls.

Looking out to sea from the beach at Cley

Back at East Barsham, the Kestrel is hunting over the fields and we can hear a Buzzard calling – they do make such a strange noise. The Swallows and House Martins were feeding on the wing over the fields and BlueTits and Blackcaps roosted in the hedgerow.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Sue and I spent two weeks exploring the north of Norfolk and would like to share some of the highlights of our trip.

 

Our first stop on arriving in Norfolk was at the WWT reserve at Welney in Fenland. This reserve is best known for its wintering migratory swans but it is good all year round. The really good thing is that you can birdwatch why you eat your lunch in the restaurant (if you can get a table by the windows!). We were lucky and so were able to look out over Lady Fen and the feeding stations. The former was quiet with just a couple of Little Egrets, but the feeders didn’t disappoint with House Sparrows, Dunnock, Goldfinch and a single Tree Sparrow present.

The view from the cafe in the Welney visitor centre -wildlife watching whilst you eat

Little Egret

Tree Sparrow

 

After finishing our lunch, we made our way over to the main hide where there was a large group of Ruff along with Lapwing and Black-Tailed Godwits.  Sue found a group of Common Snipe feeding in the margins and we counted a maximum of 14 birds at different times. A female Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance,

Common Snipe

We made our way back to the balcony overlooking Lady Fen and were treated to a fly-past by a Eurasian Hobby

Leaving Welney we made our way to East Barsham, north of Fakenham, which would be our base for the next two weeks. Relaxing over a cup of tea in the garden we saw a family of pheasants who with white backs, probably one of the variants originally bred for shooting which now is now breeding in the wild. A Common Whitethroat, amongst other small birds, was seen in a hedge.

Common Pheasants in the garden (normal plumage)

 

As the sun began to set we were excited to see a Barn Owl fly through the meadow beyond the garden and land in a tree where there is a breeding box. After a brief stop, he went away over the fields. Later he settled on a post at end of the garden.

 

Barn Owl in field behind our cottage

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

 

Apart from the old operating theatre, the herb garret has been converted into a museum of medicine since the 17th century and had some interesting information on the uses that have been made of herbs in medicine over the ages.

Surgical Instrument set

 

 

Well worth a visit. For further details http://oldoperatingtheatre.com/

 

St Thomas’ church, St Thomas lane, Southwark

It is possible that the Herb Garret existed in the attic of St Thomas’s Church as early as 1703. It was used as a place to store, dry and cure herbs prior to their use in medicines. In 1822 the governors of St Thomas’s Hospital decided to convert part of the Garret into an operating theatre for women. This is not as strange as it may first sound as a block which adjoined St Thomas’s Church included Dorcas Ward, where prior to 1822 any female surgery had been carried out on the ward as no theatre facilities existed close by.

Plan of Old St Thomas’ Hospital

Operating table

The viewing gallery

Everyone in their proper place

The Operating Theatre Royal London Hospital 1889

The operating Theatre Royal London Hospital 1889

 

 

 

In 1862, St Thomas’s Hospital relocated to Lambeth, the operating theatre was closed down and was almost forgotten for about the hundred years. In 1956 Raymond Russell, researching the history of St Thomas’s, decided to investigate the church attic to see what was there and found the operating theatre almost intact. Following restoration, it was open to the public as a museum in 1962.

For further details: http://oldoperatingtheatre.com/

 

Memorial to Arthur Phillip, St Mary le Bow London

Arthur Philip was born in London in 1738. He attended the Greenwich Hospital School and in 1753 joined a whaling boat. Two years later he quit the whaler and signed on for the Royal Navy. He saw action at the Battle of Menorca (1756) and at the Battle of Havana (1762) by which time he had been commissioned as a lieutenant. The following year the war ended and Philip, without a ship, bought a farm in Hampshire. However, in 1769 he returned to the Navy and by 1774 found himself as the captain of a frigate in the Portuguese Navy during their war against Spain. By 1778, Britain was a war again and he was recalled to the Royal Navy and saw service southern Atlantic and around India.

Admiral Arthur Phillip. (By not attributed (Admiral Phillip frontispiece) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1786 he was appointed the governor of the new colony of New South Wales. On arrival, he chose a cove to anchor his fleet and going ashore named it after his friend, and Home Office undersecretary, Lord Sydney. It is recorded that he tried to run the colony as fairly and justly as circumstances allowed, but often government policy and logistic failings negated his decisions. He tried to keep peace with the local Aboriginal peoples and is recorded one occasion following a misunderstanding during a meeting Philip was speared in the shoulder. However, he kept calm and would not allow any retaliation by the colonial forces.

Sketch of Sydney Cove colony 1788 (By not attributed (Admiral Philip opposite p. 56) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

By 1790 the situation had stabilised and the colony was functioning. Convicts were being given land to farm when they completed their sentence in order to supplement the food available for the colony. By 1792, however, Philip unwell returned to England. He recovered and returned to Royal Naval service in 1796, being made Rear Admiral three years later before finally retiring from active service as an Admiral in 1805. He died Bath in 1814.

Memorial to Arthur Phillip, St Mary le Bow London

There are a number of memorials dedicated to Arthur Philip both in the UK and in Australia. At the dedication of the memorial in Westminster Abbey in 2014, the Dean of Westminster described Phillip as: “This modest, yet world-class seaman, linguist, and patriot, whose selfless service laid the secure foundations on which was developed the Commonwealth of Australia, will always be remembered and honoured alongside other pioneers and inventors here in the nave.

The memorial pictured here was originally in St Mildred’s church Bread Street in London but was recovered following the church’s destruction by bombing in 1941 and relocated in St Mary Le Bow.

All that remains of St Martins is the road that was named after it just north of St Paul’s Cathedral. There may have been a monastery here as early as the 7th or 8th century – it is said to have been founded by a King of Kent,  but the earliest surviving record is of rebuilding being done during 1056. It’s name le grand seems not to refer the architecture but to a large number of privileges that the Canons here seem to have enjoyed. A privilege was an exclusion from duty eg tax or a right not enjoyed by other places eg the right of sanctuary. Its charter was confirmed by William I in 1068 and included the privilege of sanctuary and an exemption from interference by Bishops, Archdeacons or their Ministers.  The bell of St Martin’s was one of those which rang at curfew time to signal the closing of the city gates. The monastery was dissolved in 1548 and unlike many monastic churches which were given over to the local population, St Martin’s was demolished. Interestingly the privilege of sanctuary within the precinct, although this no longer existed, seems to have continued after the demolition and was finally abolished in 1697.

Fitzrovia Chapel (3)

Posted: September 1, 2017 in History, London, UK
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Some more photographs of the magnificent Fitzrovia Chapel in central London.

The east end from where doors led to the Hospital. The door seen here led to the Accident and Emergency department

This door now opens onto a glass window set in the wall of a restaurant next door. When there is no function in the chapel it is often left open and must be a wonderful view for the diners whose table is on the other side.

The Font

Memorial to the Architects

 

I knew about the removal of railings during the war. My Grandmothers house had a wall which still contained the bases where the railings had been sawn off. But I had not heard about the use of old stretchers post war as a replacement. What an excellent example of recycling.

Stephen Liddell

Famously many of the iron and steel railings in the U.K. were removed and melted down to help the war effort in WW2.  Whether a large city park or a private residence, chances are if there was a traditional style railing or gate then it would have been melted down and recycled into things like Spitfires, guns, ships or tanks.

These old iron railings were very expensive to replace and both money and metal were scarce commodities in the 1940s and 50s.  However, life moved on and people needed new fencing, particularly in the social housing estates in East and South London that were sprouting from the ashes to house the homeless and refugees.

As it happened, there just happened to be a ready to hand and free replacement, ARP stretchers.  These stretchers were originally made so that Air Raid Protection officers could carry injured people during bombing attacks in…

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John H Amos on its pontoon

John H Amos

A steam paddle tug built on the Clyde for the Tees Conservancy. Its main function was towing barges but it also had a licence for 144 passengers. In 1959 the boat and its crew were arrested when it was found to be towing barges containing illicit alcohol as part of a smuggling ring. It was withdrawn in 1967 and presented to the local council. Between 1971 and 1976 it was docked at Stockton and was being restored as part of a youth experience programme funded by the UK government. However in 1976 funding was withdrawn and the project folded. The council decided to scrap the tug. It was purchased by the Medway Maritime Museum and eventually became berthed in a dry dock at Chatham Historic Dockyard, However, when the Dockyard came into possession of HMS Ocelot, a Chatham built Submarine, the John H Amos had to be moved to another berth where unfortunately it sunk. It was later raised using a crane and now sits on a pontoon awaiting funds for restoration.

Medway Queen

Medway Queen

Built in 1923, this paddle steamer carried passengers between Strood, Chatham, Southend and Herne Bay. In WWII she was used as a minesweeper in the Dover Flotilla and was credited with rescuing around 7000 men during the evacuations at Dunkirk. After the war, she returned to civilian ferry duties until 1963, when she was withdrawn from service. She moved to the Isle of Wight where she was used as a floating restaurant and night club.  After a number of years, she sank at her mooring on the River Medina and was raised and brought back to the Medway on a pontoon. Restoration work was completed in 2013 and she is now moored at Gillingham.

The masts of the SS Richard Montgomery

SS Richard Montgomery

The Richard Montgomery was an American Liberty boat wrecked on the Nore sands at the mouth of the Medway in 1944. Her cargo was 1400 tonnes of high explosives, which it was deemed too dangerous to try and salvage. Much debate has ensued and continues to rage, about the effect of any potential explosion on the surrounding area. These range from creating a tsunami which would drown the estuarine towns such as Sheerness and Southend to little or no noticeable effect. The official line is that after 70 plus years underwater it is unlikely that the explosives are still in a viable state and that the explosive risk is very low. Nether the less the area around the wreck remains a prohibited area.