Tag Archives: birds

Five Favourite Photos

I’ve decided on a post to cover up my lack of recent photography. I will, of course, be dressing it up as a listing of my favourite photographs. It will also make a change of pace from the last post,

Common Blue

Male Common Blue

I was on the way to visit Men in Sheds when I stopped to take a picture of round bales. We have a Hockney post card showing a scene like this and I keep trying to reproduce it photographically. So far I haven’t managed, but this Common Blue flew past and after twenty minutes of stalking I had a couple of decent shots. That’s about as good as it gets – butterfly photography can be tricky.

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Small Copper on castor oil plant

This was one Julia spotted in the front garden. It’s a small garden and relies on self-seeded red valerian to attract butterflies, though it has plenty of marigold and allysum as back up. We’ve had quite a variety this year, with the favourites being the Hummingbird Hawk Moths.

Though they are great things to see, they are very difficult to photograph, so they haven’t made the cut.

This was the opposite of the previous photograph – no stalking needed. All I did was get the camera out as I walked from the car to the door.

Goodbye, cruel world

A Puffin thinks about ending it all

I know it’s only contemplating flight, but it does seem forlorn as it looks down. The clown face adds to the general air of despair. This photograph was taken as a group of birds loafed about just below a viewing platform at Bempton Cliffs.

We also went to Flamborough Head that day, and spent an enjoyable time on the cliffs there too. With a mixture of poor health, work and creaking knee we’ve not been out and about much this year – which makes the good days all the more special.

Bee-eater at East Leake quarry

Bee-eater at East Leake

This is a poor photo, but we had an interesting trip out and saw, albeit distantly, some exotic birds. The quality of a photograph, for me, lies in the memories of the day it was taken on, as much as in obtaining a pin-sharp picture of an event. Even people with top quality equipment were struggling because the heat was making the air shimmer and at the distance we were working this was causing problems. With low quality optics and a dirty lens I never expect perfection…

They were very much on the edge of their range, despite global warming and the nests failed in the end, but it was a brave attempt.

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This one always  cheers me up. The photo, that is. The subject of the photo always has a list of jobs for me.

This was taken as a new profile photo when Julia started the new job at the Mencap Garden. It’s a typical pose – outdoors, dressed for gardening and with that enigmatic smile. It’s a smile that shows how happy she is to have been married to me for all this time.

Well, I think that’s what it means.

Feeling Better Already

The foot still hurts, but I’m feeling a lot more cheerful and I’m actually starting to think again, even though it’s only a couple of hours from my last post. Julia says I’m also looking pink again after several days of looking grey.

While I was in the surgery this afternoon, despite having a book in my pocket, I just didn’t have the energy to read it. This is much more of an indicator of my wellbeing than a temperature measurement, because, as we saw earlier, I didn’t actually notice I had a temperature.

I’ve been missing my photography recently so I’ve decided to post a few of my favourite photos.

The featured image is one of the mice off a wheatsheaf loaf. I always liked making them, both the loaves and the mice. It’s actually very simple, though I never did get the knack of drying them out properly, so they had a tendency to curl up and go mouldy.

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Little and Large!

I couldn’t do without a picture of the Odd Couple. I haven’t been able to visit for a few weeks now, but I’ll be going as soon as I can walk.

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Nuthatch at Rufford Abbey

I like Nuthatches, and we had a good day at Rufford on this particular day. In fact we’ve never had a better day photographing birds in the woods at Rufford. However, I live in hope.

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Julia at Clumber Park

There are other subjects for photography apart from birds, wives for instance. This is a particularly fine example, and I would probably have starved to death if she hadn’t been here to look after me over the last few weeks.

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I forget the name of this one, but it’s quite impressive.

I’m going to miss the garden this year, it was so easy to pop out when the sun shone. Our own garden needs a bit of work after being ignored for years.

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Right place, right time

I may have to enhance the rainbow, but it’s still a favourite shot of mine.

More photographs in a day or two.

 

Me, moaning about computers and photographing birds

It’s been a strange Sunday. Julia’s laptop has been playing up and refusing to connect to the internet so we went to the computer shop where they told us it would cost £60 to have it sent away, after which they would tell us how much it would cost before we could get it back. Forgive my cynicism but that seems to me to be a good description of how kidnappers operate.

That’s how I ended up looking round Curry’s/PC World looking at new laptops.

It’s also how I ended up sitting in the car whimpering. It’s been an expensive couple of weeks, and the process of spending money

I’m sure it must be possible, bearing in mind the advance of technology and the economics of mass production, to build an acceptable laptop for around £150. We don’t need a terrabyte of memory or the ability to use huge amounts of graphics. We just want to write emails. surf the net and brighten up a few photos.

That’s before I even start on the evils of the new way of selling Microsoft Office. If you own a copy and haven’t replaced your computer in the last few years you’re in for a surprise. You don’t own it now, you just rent it for a year at a time. When your subscription expires you don’t have access to Office.

That’s like buying a car and only renting the ignition key.

After that I had to go to the park and photograph birds.

 

Sandsend – an Old-Fashioned Resort

We went to Sandsend last Saturday. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s an old-fashioned sort of place just north of Whitby, with a couple of cafes, some car parks, hotels, toilets and probably some pubs (though I’ve never really noticed as I’m usually too busy looking at the road and avoiding caravans). It also has a small river, cliffs, a great beach and wonderful views.

Yes,I know what you are thinking, as a reviewer of travel destinations I leave something to be desired.

It wasn’t originally part of the plan, but Whitby had been rammed with cars when we tried to find a parking space so we drove north. That’s the problem with travelling to the coast on the first nice Saturday in Spring – everyone else decides to do the same thing. We’d known that when we set off, and the queues around York (which seems to be at least 50% retail outlets these days) had confirmed the presence of large numbers of cars.

We weren’t able to get into the cafe by the beach, where I used to eat Yorkshire Curd tart. We haven’t been for a few years, and the cafe has been done up, so they might not even serve curd tart any more. That’s the trouble with time – you look back at something you used to do regularly and find it was ten years ago. I like curd tart, but as with liver and bread and butter pudding, which I also like,  I find out I can live without it for years at a time.

It’s not that I go short of food (far from it!) but there’s so much food and so little time.

People were fishing from one of the car parks, which seemed a good way of securing a supply of fresh fish, though experience with a rod suggests it’s actually a good way of wasting a day. Even without fish, it’s a good way to get out into the open air.

There seemed to be a camera club about, as small groups of people with cameras were wandering about taking pictures of an ancient mounting block. I took photographs of Herring Gulls, Starlings and Pied Wagtails on the chimney pots of the hotel. Each to his own I suppose.

Finally, there was a microlight that flew across the bay a couple of times, even landing on the beach after the first pass, which seemed a bit dangerous. The engine note had sounded a bit ropey as he approached, but I’m not sure why he needed to land as he didn’t seem to have any time to fix anything whilst on the ground. Maybe he just wanted to expose beach users to heavy machinery and a moving propellor.

After ice creams we looped back to Whitby, but I’ll leave that until later.

A Visit to Ely

My first mistake on this trip was trusting the satnav. A year ago you wouldn’t have heard me say that, because I simply wouldn’t have used it. Since then I have gradually found myself starting to not only use it, but to trust it. This has proved to be a mistake as it has recently tried to take me up a couple of one-way streets, got me lost in Leeds twice and taken us on several strange routes, including a tour of B-road Lincolnshire.

On Friday it tried to take us to Ely by driving past and looping back,  so I switched off and asked Julia to do some map reading.

Married men reading this will probably be experiencing a chilly feeling of deja vu. In addition they will probably be watching, mesmerised, as I flirt with disaster. Fear not. I will admit that there was a touch of domestic discord surrounding navigation, but I am not stupid enough to discuss it in greater depth than that.

Anyway, I like mystery tours, and it gave us the chance to see Fen Drayton Lakes. I was hoping there would be a toilet there, and possibly a Kingfisher. Both hopes were doomed. There are feeders and viewpoints, and lots of water. Unfortunately there was too much for us to do it justice, even after I made a quick stop in a hedge to rectify the lack of toilets. Unfortunately I couldn’t rectify the lack of leaves on the hedge. Ah well…

As we were driving along the roadway to the reserve we crossed the track of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. I’d never heard of it until I crossed it, despite it being the longest one in the world. In fact I’d never even heard of a guided busway. My sister, on the other hand, tells me not only has she heard of it, but has actually used it.

In Ely, we found a free car park with toilets. “Free” is a quality I admire in a car park, and “with toilets” is also an excellent quality. This is the Barton Road Car Park, which was in a reasonable walking distance of the Cathedral. There are others, which you can see here.

The Russian Cannon was captured in the Crimean War and presented by Queen Victoria in 1860 on the formation of the Ely Rifle Volunteers.

We decided, for various reasons (which included the price) just to  go to the Stained Glass Museum. We’ve been to the Cathedral in the past, but not to the Stained Glass Museum, and we’re on a budget. I’m thinking of posting something on this subject later. I will also post separately on the Stained Glass Museum, which was so good I want to go back to see it all again.

After the museum we wandered round town for a while, had coffee, checked out some charity shops, tried to buy some pork and took more photographs. Things weren’t great for photographs, as narrow streets and low sun cast many shadows.

The butcher’s shop is Edis of Ely, a fine old-fashioned shop with a great range of products and two walls of award certificates. The two people in the shop were more concerned with talking to a regular customer, who was obviously more interesting than I was. After waiting patiently for some time I decide enough was enough and left, so I can’t tell you if everything was as good as it looked. As they didn’t seem to notice as I left, I can only assume I was either invisible or unwelcome.

As I’ve never been there before I can’t see why I should have been unwelcome so I can only assume my diet has been effective to the point of rendering me difficult to see.

However, one of the charity shops produced an unread copy of The Cat’s Pyjamas (The Penguin Book of Cliches)for £1.50, so I’m over the moon about that.

Oliver Cromwell and his family lived here from 1636-46, though I suspect he wasn’t home much from 1642 0nwards.  What with the size of the entrance fees to the Cathedral and the spirit of Cromwell I’m beginning to feel a bit iconoclastic…

 

 

The Week Ahead

I have an appointment to see the Practice Nurse late on Wednesday. I’m going to be weighed, prodded, bled and, probably, lectured. If I’m very unlucky, and I often am when examined by the medical profession, I will also be diagnosed with something I didn’t know I had when I walked in.

That’s pretty much all there is to my week. I think of it as Broken Tooth Syndrome. You may have 31 good teeth and one with a rough edge, so the chances of catching it with your tongue are 31 to 1. But in practice I always catch the rough edge with my tongue and I find it difficult thinking about anything else. So although I have seven days ahead of me I can only think of one 20 minute spell on Wednesday afternoon.

The new recipes are going well, though the bean burger testing has hit the buffers. There’s only so many tasteless bean burgers you can eat. After doubling the seasoning without producing an edible result I’m going to have to find a new recipe. I don’t mind them being bland, but I do mind that they seem to make my head pucker. There are few things as truly tasteless as badly seasoned beans.

I’m making meatballs again this week, using the other half of the mince from the Post House Pie.  The meatballs need a bit of work on the favours but the construction and sauce were good.The Post House Pie was very good last time I made it. This week I have added the tomato sauce from the meatballs to the spicy meat then layered left-over vegetable curry and roast vegetables on top. Makes a change from soup or bubble and squeak, and it’s always an adventure.

We’ve already had two meals of Parsnip and Ginger soup, another new recipe which worked out well. Unlike the beans it doesn’t suffer from lack of seasoning.

Last week we had boodles. They are butternut squash that has been spiralised into “noodles”, but you have to give them a made up name if you have a marketing department. Nutritionally I’m sure they are great, but the texture and taste aren’t quite as good as proper noodles. This week I’m going to have a go at either courgetti of cauliflower rice.

However, the big event of the week is going to be the unveiling of the telescope. I finally got round to buying one from the RSPB Shop at Carsington Water. Hopefully I’m going to be getting a lot of use out of it, because after the house and car (and kids, if I’m being honest) it’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought.

Stand by for reports of me getting really great views of birds I can’t identify.

 

 

Old Men Doing Laundry, and other Sunday stories

There live not three good men unhanged in England; and one of them is fat and grows old:

Henry IV Part 1

We had quite a collection of elderly gents at the Sunday Morning Laundry Club. Vikram, Flat Cap, The Farmer and the Fat Man were all there. I know they call me that because they always call the other fat man”The Other Fat Man”. I call him The Goth, though he isn’t really a Goth. He is quite tubby though. The Scrap Man and Tablecloths were absent, but it was a bit late for them. They normally come in first thing, to ensure they get a drier.

That was one of the things we discussed, people who use the driers without using the washers, thus clogging up the system. We also discussed Vikram’s health and that of his wife (she’s in hospital), the rising price of food, the iniquity of supermarkets, Buddhism, funerals, recent price rises on the driers and wives. Vikram is retired whilst The Farmer and I both have wives who work on Sunday. We’re not sure about Flat Cap. He’s clearly been trained (he brings his own hangers to put his dry shirts on) but he doesn’t wash any female clothes and never reveals details of any former marital status. The general view is that he has been married but, through carelessness or death, has lost his wife.

After that it was time for a bacon cob and a read of yesterday’s paper at the cafe down the road. Fluffy white cobs and nice thick bacon with a garnish of black pudding. Just add pepper and brown sauce for an excellent breakfast.

After a few minutes in the car I decided to give the Waxwings nother go. Result – no Waxwings but plenty of Redwings. There are still a few berries about, so there is still a chance of seeing some.

I thought I’d have a look in the park on my way to the shops, even if this did involve me in shopping at Sainsbury’s. They are only 200 yards from the park so it seemed silly to go to TESCOs after the park.

I saw some ducks, gathered more material for a polemic on the way people abuse open space/nature and took some poor photographs.

After that I shopped, cooked and picked Julia up from work. You can tell the days are getting longer because it’s light when she comes out now, where it was dark a month ago.

From the fact that I’m still writing Sunday’s post on Monday you can probably deduce that the rest of the day was taken up with my normal regime of chatting, snoozing, TV and reading.

We said we were going to have an easy January and that is one resolution I’m managing to keep.