Archive for the ‘London’ Category

Am travelling a lot this week so a chance to look back at some posts from one of my favourite spots, The London Wetland Centre

The wetland Centre collection shows off the wonderful work that the Wetlands Trust do in helping to save and re-introduce endangered species from around the world. The centre collection area has also become home to native species such as the Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Mallard and helps promote other plants and insects.

Fulvous Whistling Duck

Fulvous Whistling Duck

photo by Sue

photo by Sue

Red Admiral. Photo by Sue

Red Admiral. Photo by Sue

Moorhen with chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen with chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen and chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen and chick. Photo by Sue

White-headed Duck

White-headed Duck

Travelling through London Bridge railway station yesterday I was surprised to see a Spitfire on the concourse.

It was part of the 75th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings.

Always something new to learn about London. What an unusual story!

Stephen Liddell

Like many ancient cities, London has suffered its fair share of disasters, perhaps unduly so but whilst history is full of fires, wars, pestilence and biblical downpours, few places in the world can have suffered what is known as The Great Beer Flood of London.

It happened over 200 years ago on Monday 17th October 1814, a terrible disaster claimed the lives of at least 8 people in St Giles, London and was caused by a cataclysmic industrial accident which led to the sudden and unexpected tsunami of beer onto the streets around Tottenham Court Road.

The Horse Shoe Brewery stood at the corner of Great Russell Street and Tottenham Court Road. In 1810 the brewery, Meux and Company, had had a 22 foot high wooden fermentation tank installed on the premises. Held together with massive iron rings, containing a brew not dissimilar to stout, it is thought that the…

View original post 719 more words

This 9-metre high sculpture by Paul Day was unveiled in 2007 in St Pancras International Station. It received harsh criticism from the British art establishment but has become popular with the public. The plinth frieze was added in 2008.

Working at home today with a wonderful view from my study window

Edward was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He ascended to the throne at the age of 60 on the death of his mother in 1901 and reigned for 9 years.

The statue, which stands in Waterloo Place, was erected by his son, King George V in 1921 and is by Sir Bertram MacKennal, an Australian sculptor who also designed the likeness of George V that appeared on his coinage.

Keith and I made a trip to the London Wetland centre in search of spring migrants. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much initial evidence except for a number of singing Blackcaps.

On reaching the tower hide we were alerted to a male Yellow Wagtail on the marsh, which was an unexpected bonus.

Yellow Wagtail (m)

Keith thought he heard a Chiffchaff calling near the secluded walk but it didn’t erupt into song and we never did locate it. Otherwise, the resident birds were getting on with preparing for the breeding season.

Tufted Duck (top left), Mute Swan (top centre), Common Redshank (top right) with Grey Heron (bottom)

The Sand Martins were back in evidence over the lakes having completed their journey from their wintering grounds in Africa.

Cowslip (top right), Common Shelduck (top centre), Common Snipe (top right), Tree Bumblebee (bottom left) and Great Crested Grebe (bottom right)

So apart from the Sand Martins, the Blackcaps and the Yellow Wagtail we didn’t find many migrants but there were plenty of other signs of spring with flowers blooming, Bumblebees on the wing and birds preparing sites for nesting.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (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)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
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)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

I love walking along the banks of the River Thames whether in the city itself or the more leafy areas surrounding it. Here is an account of a city walk with some interesting literary connections.

Shakespeare’s Globe is located just east of Tate Modern. The reconstruction of the Globe Theatre from 1559 is a must-see for literary travellers.

Literary London: A stroll along South Bank with Dickens and Shakespeare — For Book Lovers and Random People


Posted: April 9, 2019 in Birds, London, Natural History, UK

I was pleased to hear our first Blackcap of the year singing in my garden a few evenings ago.

Blackcap (m)

The Blackcap is a small warbler, primarily a summer visitor is easily identifiable if seen. Both sexes are similar but the male, as its name suggests, has a black cap, whilst the female has a brown cap.

Blackcap (f)

It is estimated that around 1.2 million pairs breed in the UK and whilst most depart in the autumn, a growing number (currently estimated at around 3000 birds) now spend the winter here. However, research has shown that these are mostly birds that have bred in Germany or NE Europe rather than UK breeding birds.

Blackcap (m)

Born in 1782, he was brought up by his Uncle, the Earl of Derby, after his father died the same year. He was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in 1798.

He served at the siege of Malta (1800) and the capture of Alexandria (1807). He served on the staffs of Sir John Moore and Sir Arthur Wellesley during the Penninsula war from 1808-1815 rising to the rank of Lieutenant – Colonel. After a brief spell in the USA, he returned to France. In 1821 he was appointed Commander at the Royal engineers Depot at Chatham and in 1828 he became Garrison Engineer at Portsmouth. In 1838 he was promoted to Major-General and Knighted.

In 1845 he was appointed Inspector-General of Fortifications and worked on defences in Gibraltar and the Crimea as well as in the UK. In 1854 he became Colonel Commandant of the Royal Engineers, being promoted to the rank of General the following year. In 1865 he was appointed Constable of the Tower of London and retired in 1868 with the rank of Field Marshall.

By Roger Fenton – Library of Congress, Public Domain,

He died in London in 1871 and was buried in Brompton Cemetry.