Archive for the ‘London’ Category

James Cook was born in November 1728 and joined the Merchant Navy in his teens. He transferred to the Royal Navy in 1755 and during the seven years war was tasked with mapping the St Lawrence River in Canada. The results of his work impressed the Admiralty and he was given command of HMS Endeavour in 1776 and sent on 3 expeditions to map the Pacific Ocean. His work was the most complete mapping of that Ocean and the countries contained in it that had been carried out. On his first voyage, he became the first European to visit the East coast of Australia at a place he called ‘Botany Bay’ (in April 1770). He later travelled up the coast and in June he ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef and had to spend a number of weeks repairing his ship in the estuary of the Endeavour River (near Cookstown, Queensland) before continuing his journey.

In January 1779 on the last of these 3 voyages, he put in at Hawaii. There was an exchange of gifts with the local Hawaiian rulers, but there was also a story that some items were removed from the town without payment or permission. Cook’s ships set sail but was caught in a storm and had to return to Hawaii to carry out repairs. It is not very clear what happened but relations between the native population and the Europeans were not friendly. During this visit, a boat was stolen by the Hawaiians and maybe in an attempt to get it returned Cook tried to capture the local chief and hold him as a hostage. They got as far as the beach but were confronted by an angry crowd of native Hawaiians. Shots were fired by Captain Cook’s marine escort and during the melee that ensued Captain Cook was stabbed. The marines and sailors managed to get to the boats and escape leaving behind the chief and the body of their dead Captain. Repairs on the ships took a further week to complete and during this time the ships bombarded the town causing a lot of destruction.

Despite all that happened, and contrary to some later reports, the Hawaiians treated Captain Cook’s body with the same reverence as one of their own people, carrying out the local funeral rites before returning his preserved remains to the Navy who buried them at Sea.

This statue of Captain James Cook by Thomas Brock can be found on the Mall near Admiralty Arch.

 

The Guards Memorial, situated opposite the Whitehall parade ground, was designed by the sculptor Gilbert Ledward and was erected in 1926 to commemorate the battles of World War I and in memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers and guardsmen of the royal regiments of Foot Guards who gave their lives during the Great War 1914-1918. It also contains a memorial to the Officers and Men of the Household Cavalry, Royal Regiment of Artillery Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps and other Units who served in the Guard’s Division in France and Belgium 1915-1918.

 

 

Pleased to see that the wintering Grey Wagtail that visited the garden regularly last winter has returned. We think it must winter on the Tarn but seems to like foraging around the feeder station in the garden. I am not sure what it is finding there as they normally feed on aquatic or other insects. Maybe it is hunting ants?

 

A week on from my photography course and I find myself back at the London Wetland Centre, this time accompanied by Keith in search of wintering Eurasian Bittern. A group of these birds arrive in London each year as the colder weather hits their breeding grounds, presumed to be either The Netherlands or surrounding areas. The number at the centre can reach as high as 5 or 6 birds, but this year so far only a single bird has arrived and given their skulking nature this means your chances of seeing one is much decreased.

Today, however, was to be our lucky day. As we arrived at the centre we had stopped to look at a group of small birds around the entrance lake which contained Blue and Great Tits and a Goldcrest, when another birder stopped to tell us that the Bittern was in view from the observatory. On arrival, we were quickly directed to the bird’s location, which was on the far side of the main lake and at a distance which was on the limit for our optics and too far away for my camera to give any decent pictures. We watched it for about 10 minutes before it finally retreated deep into the reeds.

Eurasian Bittern. It is in the bottom of the reeds about midway across the photo.

Photo by Keith (converted to monochrome for better clarity)

 

We took our usual route out through the sheltered trees to the Peacock Tower hide and near the wader scrape heard the call of a Lesser Redpoll but were unable to locate it. On the whole, it was very quiet (well if you ignore the calls of the parakeets!) and there were no winter thrushes in evidence. A Grey Wagtail flew past us as we approached the Tower. Arriving there we were told that the Bittern had been relocated on the other side of the reed-bed in which we had originally see it. Soon it was back in sight but a bit nearer and we could follow it making its way through the reeds. On the way back to the visitor centre we encountered another small bird flock. This included Blue and Great Tits, a number of Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest and a single Chiffchaff.

Eurasian Wigeon

Rose-ringed Parakeets

Rose-ringed Parakeet

Green Woodpecker

The other side of the reserve including the reservoir did not produce much in the way of birds. A pair of Common Reed Buntings were seen from Hedley Hide and although we searched the perching spots for the Peregrines from Wildside hide, the birds were not to be seen. Still it was a nice walk and we were greeted to a lovely sunset as we made our way back to the visitor centre and then home.

Mute Swan

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Eurasian Bittern [sp] (Botaurus stellaris)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus) 4
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Some more photos taken on the wildlife photography course, but this time on more general subjects.

Our tour brings us to the Museum which contains items associated with the history of Charterhouse

19th-century property mark taken from a building owned by Charterhouse.

Matthew Bible (1549). One of the first English translations

A 17th-century chest used for storing valuables – Found at Charterhouse

15th-century-floor tiles from the monastery

Having finished our tour we emerge into the memorial garden.

The Memorial garden

The tomb of Sir William Manny, who built the first chapel on the site in 1349. In 1371 this chapel would become part of the Charterhouse monastery.

Memorial to the Carthusian monks from Charterhouse who were executed or died during the dissolution of the monastery

On a wildlife photography course at the London Wetland Centre. Good opportunity to get out on the reserve during the practical sessions.

Greylag Geese landing

Blackbird

Grey Squirrel

Mute Swan

Grey Heron

Black-headed Gull

Tufted Duck

Carrion Crow

Green Woodpecker

Ring-nexcked Parrakeet

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Charterhouse: Tour (3)

Posted: November 16, 2017 in History, London, Medieval History, UK
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Our tour next takes us to the Chapel. The current chapel occupies part of the original monastic chapterhouse and in the ante-chapel, some elements of this original building can be seen. When the church was demolished following the dissolution, the chapterhouse was converted into a small chapel for the use of the new owners. A new aisle was added in 1614 primarily to accommodate the tomb of Thomas Sutton, the founder of the hospital, and to provide additional room for the expanding community at Charterhouse. In 1626 the first organ was installed.

Tomb of Thomas Sutton

The Organ above the entrance to the chapel

A second expansion was made in 1825 when a large bay was added to the north side to accommodate scholars from the school.

Bay added to north side to accommodate scholars from Charterhouse school

The Font

Charterhouse: Tour (2)

Posted: November 9, 2017 in History, London, UK
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Returning to the main quadrangle we come to the Great Hall.

 

The Great Hall dates from around 1540 and remodelled by the Duke of Norfolk around 1570. The chimneystack dates from the alterations made when Thomas Sutton purchased the priory house in 1614.

Then onto the Great Chamber. The decoration here is the work of the Duke of Norfolk in 1570. The thistle emblems in the ceiling decoration are thought to be due to his association with Mary Queen of Scots. It was this association that would lead to Duke’s execution in 1572. This room was damaged by a fire in 1941 but has been restored to its original state. During the school’s occupation, this room was used by the Governors for their meetings.

 

Moving on we pass a medieval door (or all that remains of it)

DSCN5008-10

On a cold chilly and somewhat damp morning, Keith and I made our way to east London to investigate the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands nature reserve. Although Walthamstow Reservoirs (as it was previously known) has been accessible to birdwatchers for a number of years (by permit), the changes in water management has led to a new approach which has opened up the site to the public for more recreational use with the creation of footpaths and the conversion of the old engine house into a visitors centre and cafe. From here we had good views of a Red Fox.

Old Engine House, now the visitor centre

Red Fox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many circular walks and Keith and I headed off to the two reservoirs known as East and West Warwick. Her we found a number of species of gulls and duck. As we walked along the side of West Warwick a female Goosander took to the air and flew off towards the visitor centre.  Returning to East Warwick 30 minutes or so later we found that, or maybe a second, female Goosander present.

Common Gull

Goosander (f)

 

From the elevated reservoir path, we also saw a pair of Europen Stonechat and witnessed a tussle between a Kestrel and a magpie who both wanted the same perch.

Kestrel and Magpie dispute post

Stonechat

 

Crossing the Coppermill stream, past Coppermill Tower, which when open will give views of the entire reserve, we were surprised to see a Mallard with 13 small chicks, which could not have been more than a week or two old. Very late breeding – Witness once again to the mild autumn that we have had in London.

Coppermill Tower

Mallard with young

 

 

 

 

 

Making our way back to the visitor centre between No5 and No 2 reservoirs we found a female Goldeneye on No 5 and a number of Great Crested Grebe on No 2. By now the rain had begun to settle in for the afternoon and so after a warming cup of tea, we decided to forgo a walk around the northern section of the reserve which contains a further two large reservoirs and head for the station and home.

Great Crested Grebe

Goldeneye (f)

 

A wonderful introduction to a new jewel in Londons natural habitat, I expect it will not be long before we return.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Common Merganser [sp] (Mergus merganser)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)

Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)