Tag Archives: wildlife

Some Pictures from Last Week

These are just a few photographs from our trip to Sherwood Forest last week – I’ve just got round to sorting them out. It’s amazing what you can see if you wait around for ten minutes on a roadside verge. Quite a lot of them were blurred, or featured the space where something interesting used to be. The bees were quite frisky in the sun, as were the Ringlet butterflies. I didn’t even manage to frame a Ringlet. They are always tricky to photograph, but I can usually get something, even if it is blurred.

Flowers are easier because they don’t move as much. Fortunately there wasn’t much of a breeze.

They aren’t the the most inspiring pictures, but they are a start. We couldn’t go to Clumber Park because you have to book now, and we couldn’t go to Arnot Hill Park because the car park always seems so full.

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A very light grasshopper

I’m not sure what sort of grasshopper it is, probably a common one with funny lighting rather than a pale one. I suppose a light one would soon be eaten. It really was at that angle when I took the photo, but was down near my feet and I didn’t really frame the shot properly. I would try to turn the photo round to make it look more normal, but I can’t get the rotate button to work.

When we arrived home I noticed we had a couple of grasshoppers amongst the weeds in the front garden, but they had gone before I could get the camera.

All that travel, and I could just have stayed at home. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

 

 

 

Deflation, Doom and Disappointment

I was feeling quite buoyant when I returned home.

The morning had been mildly challenging. One customer wrote a note with his order asking us to pack his parcel properly. I wanted to write and thank him for his advice, finishing with the words “…because it had never occurred to me to pack the parcel properly.” However, shop policy dictates that they never let me use my first idea for a reply.

Two customers wrote in with “offers” of approximately half our asking price. I wasn’t allowed to write to them either.

Another, who is from overseas, wrote a note in English words, but used in an order which conceals the actual meaning. You have to admire his bravery in using a foreign language, and the originality with which he uses it. We think he’s asking for a discount. They are always asking for a discount.

And then we have a case of theft – an envelope of coins was delivered with a slit in the side and a complete lack of coins. It’s insured, but it has already taken over an hour of emails and insurance claims, and is going to take more time before it is all settled.

Eventually I arrived home and went to see the couple next door. They have concerns about our conifer and I have arranged to have it topped before the nesting season starts. Tomorrow it will, at what sees great expense, be shortened by about 12 feet.

This leaves the lower half to act as a windbreak and wildlife habitat.

As I left, after letting them know the plane they asked “Have you thought of taking it down completely?”

As it happens, I have. There are many reasons I’m just having the top taken out. It acts as a windbreak for my garage, and partly for the house. It is a great wildlife habitat and we usually have pigeons nesting in it. It is one of the last mature trees left round the area as all the neighbours have taken their trees down (I may return to that subject later). It’s cheaper. I can’t think what to replace it with. And, finally, it’s my bloody tree and I can do what I like with it.

People seem to hate trees in gardens these days.

Apparently it casts a lot of shade over their garden. Well, when they bought the house a few years ago it was just as big and just as shady.

I’m very disappointed in them. There are a lot of reasons, as I explained, leading to me wanting to keep the tree. And they kept repeating that it cast a lot of shade and they would be prepared to help with the cost.

They might be prepared to help with the cost of cutting it down, but what about the cost to the local wildlife?

I am now downcast, deflated and disappointed.

A Few Medallions

I put a few medallions on eBay today. That’s the trouble with selling things – you need to keep putting things on to replace them.

They aren’t the greatest medallions, but they aren’t the worst I’ve ever pictured, as reular readers will be able to confirm.

 

Of course, not all subjects are equally interesting. Unless you are really into decorative lighting, or Olympia, or 1989…

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A medallion of niche interest

Patagonian Pumas and Penguins

We were talking about big cats in the shop during the week, specifically the definition of “big cat”. The current TV programme is called Big Cats but includes a lot of small cats. Specifically, it includes the Rusty Spotted Cat, which is a very cute cat (which is something you can’t say about a lion or tiger) and rather on the small side.  In fact, at 14 to 19 inches long (excluding tail) it is Asia’s smallest cat and a contender for being the world’s smallest cat.  (The rival is Africa’s Black-footed cat).

The dictionary tells me that the Big Cats are Tigers, Lions, Jaguars and Leopards.  These are all able to roar (apart from Snow Leopards). Sometimes Pumas/Cougars and Cheetahs are allowed in. Unless, as we have seen, you are producing a documentary titled “Big Cats”, when you allow everything in.

It’s a relief to find it’s just sloppy journalism, because I was beginning to think I  was going mad.

By coincidence the Sunday repeat came on as I started to write this. They have just shown pumas in Patagonia that prey on penguins. I don’t like their choice of prey, but you have to admire their instinct for alliteration.

There is probably a joke in there somewhere, but it may fall flat in countries where a Penguin isn’t an easily available chocolate biscuit.

Now they are trekking in the Himalayas, tracking a Snow Leopard. Despite the snow and altitude it seems to lead a life that, just like a domestic cat, involves a lot of sleeping. However, as we’ve already established, I’m not one to take the moral high ground in matters related to sleeping.

I had been wondering what you needed to do at school to end up as a wildlife photographer. However, having seen what they had to do in the Himalayas I’m finding that my enthusiasm is fading. I really don’t like all that snow.

Given a choice I would like to specialise in wildlife that lives around the Mediterranean within easy reach of  shops.

Though after reading  this article I may well settle for life as a travel journalist, as you only have to go for a few weeks.

 

Book Review – The Wildlife Garden

The Wildlife Garden – John Lewis-Stempel

Paperback: 176 pages

Publisher: How To Books (6 Mar. 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0716023490

ISBN-13: 978-0716023494

Price £8.99 or £5,99 (Kindle)

I have read a number of books by John Lewis-Stempel and enjoyed them.  Several reviews can be found here. (That’s the book review page I started but didn’t continue. Two of his books are there.)

This is a comprehensive book and covers everything that you could possibly want in a clear and concise manner – garden design, ponds, lists of plants and notes on wildlife. If someone gave it to me I’d be happy to have it. If all you had to work from was this book you could produce an excellent wildlife garden, though a few more diagrams of feeders and shelters might be a help.

My problem is that I don’t feel the price represents value for money. £8.99 is a lot of money for a small book. After all, the information is available on the net and there are diagrams to go with it. You can also generally pick up illustrated books on the subject from charity shops for under £2.

I might be showing my age here, or my ignorance of the book trade, but £8.99 for a thin paperback, or £5.99 for an electronic version, just doesn’t seem like value for money. I know the worth of a book isn’t measured in its size, but I also know that the buying public (which includes me) is thought to buy on that basis. That’s why you sometimes find yourself reading a book with plenty of white space and a larger than usual font – they are trying to bulk it up.

Though my first impression was of thin book, my second was of a thin book that seems to have a Monarch butterfly on the cover – a rare migrant to the UK. I’d have preferred a proper British butterfly. I’m not impressed by that.

So what do you say? I like the author and the book is packed with information. I just think it’s over-priced compared to other sources of the same information.

Buy it by all means, but buy it as cheaply as possible.

 

 

The Coming Year (Part 2)

The plan for the year is gradually coming together, which is good, because I want something to take my mind off yesterday.

First, I’m spending time on getting my health in order. This isn’t really an active choice, after the pre-Christmas admission to hospital it was more or less forced on me. I’m in hospital tomorrow, though I’ve already covered that.

Second, I’m doing more exercise and making sure I get out in the open air. We said we would do it and although it’s a bit patchy it’s going quite well. Having blown a few cobwebs away I’m now feeling a lot fitter. Again, it’s not taking a lot of effort as I like getting out with the camera and binoculars.

Third, we’re putting a few plans in place for holidays- a long weekend in the Lakes and a week on Mull. Last time we had a full week the Beijing Olympics were on. Again, it’s not difficult to manage this.

Fourth, we have the permaculture and nature books out and we’re planning the changes in the garden. We’ll start with a good tidy (we’ve neglected it badly over the last couple of years due to the time we’ve spent on the farm) and see how it goes. This is going to take more effort. I’m starting with a wildlife pond and gooseberry bushes. Well, you have to start somewhere.

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Washing up basin wildlife pond

Fifth, we need to declutter the house  and do some decorating. (See comments in Four). So far I’ve taken some books to charity shops. Every journey starts with a single step…

Sixth is weight loss. No plan just yet, it’s just sitting their like the elephant in the room. That’s what Julia has started calling me anyway.

The featured picture is a Robin from Rufford Abbey, all puffed up against last week’s cold.  It’s hard to beat a Robin photo for cheeriness.