Archive for May, 2014


Tel Lachish
Photo by orientalizing (https://www.flickr.com/photos/orientalizing/)

Last July I published 3 posts about the capture of the ancient city of Lachish in Judah and its depiction on Assyrian wall reliefs, Over the next couple of weeks I am planning to publish a new series of posts looking in greater detail at the history of Lachish and the role it plays in the history of the ancient kingdom of Judah. In some ways it could be classed as an unfortunate city having suffered at least three complete destructions during its history. But in many other ways it might be regarded as a prototypical ancient city. One of the fortunate things about this site is that there is no major occupation of the site after the Persian period and so does not suffer from later destruction or overbuilding.


Tel Lachish
Photo by orientalizing (https://www.flickr.com/photos/orientalizing/)

A number of musical instruments were found in the wreck of the Mary Rose.

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A boxwood pipe made by the Bassano family. These were a family of Italian musical instrument makers who had relocated to London at the invitation of King Henry VIII

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A Tabor or snare drum which would originally been covered in animal skins.

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A fiddle and bow – It could be played like a violin or a guitar.

Ring Nebula

Posted: May 29, 2014 in Astronomy
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Some new pictures of the Ring Nebula

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Red Filtered

Red Filtered

Green filtered

Green filtered

Blue filtered

Blue filtered

Spring Flowers (2)

Posted: May 28, 2014 in Natural History
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Some more photos of the wonderful spring flowers I encountered on my recent River Crane walk

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Locomotive 6695 is one of a class built for the Great western railway between 1922-1928. It is reported that they ran better in reverse than they did in forward gear. The class was withdrawn between May 1963 and December 1965.

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This mornings walk was also along the River Aln. I walked from the village to Duchess Bridge, which carries the road onto the Alnmouth penninsular and then followed the river downstream back to the village.

Duchess Bridge

Duchess Bridge

On the way to the river, a Hobby swooped low overhead. This area is the most northerly in the UK that this summer migrant falcon breeds and so this sighting was an unexpected delight as it was low enough to make out the features very clearly.

Hobby
Hobby
Photo by Sergey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Arriving at the river, there was a party of 9 Grey Herons resting on the saltmarsh.

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Also present were a pair of Mute swans and a single male Eider. I wondered if this was the samee bird I had seen yesterday but soon located a male and a female on the river so there must be a small population here.

Male Eider

Male Eider

Female Eider

Female Eider

On the far side of the river were a mixed group of Greylag and Canada Geese, along with a small party of Curlew and some Oystercatchers. A Whitethroat was singing in the riverside scrub, along with Chaffinches and Goldfinches.

In the afternoon the weather was so wonderful that I decided to go out for another walk. This time I went from the village past Alnmouth marsh to Alnmouth Common which runs north from the village alongside the beach.

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Common

Alnmouth Common

Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Blackcap were the highlights of the marsh. I saw a Long-tailed Tit return to the same bush and close inspection revealed a tail from a second bird. Was this a female sitting on a nest? The second bird certainly did not move all the time that I watched it. This also seemed a good area for Green-veined white butterflies, but none would settle long enough to be photographed.
Most of the common is now part of the Alnmouth Village Golf course and its not birds, but golf balls you have to look out for as you cross to the remnant of the common adjacent to the beach. It was quite breezy here and as a result there was little to see – I had hoped for some butterflies. I did get two quick glimpses of dark butterflies but far too quick for identification. A meadow Pipit put in a brief appearance and a pair of Sandwich Terns were fishing off shore.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Eider [sp] (Somateria mollissima)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

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Went for a walk this morning along the River Aln. I started from the mouth of the River and began to walk upstream. The tide was almost full. Shelduck are on the river together with the Gulls. An Arctic Tern flies by before starting to fish in the river. Oystercatchers are probing what is left of the mudflats looking for food.

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Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

The bankside bushes and meadows are full of birds – Blackbirds, dunnocks and House Sparrows as yesterday, but also Goldfinches, Starlings and Collared Doves.

Goldfinches

Goldfinches

Blackbird

Blackbird

As yesterday the sky is full of circling Common Swifts, House Martins and Swallows. Two land on a fence and I am surprised that when I focus on them they are in fact a pair of Sand Martins.

On the waters edge I can see a duck displaying a large amount of white plumage. It does not look right for Shelduck and as I get closer it comes into the open and I can see it is a male Eider resplendent in its white, black and apple green breeding plumage.

Eider

Eider

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Common Eider [sp] (Somateria mollissima)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

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Spending a few days at Alnmouth on the coast of Northumberland in the North East of England. This evening walked down through the village to the mouth of the River Aln. The tide was out but there was plenty of bird activity in the dunes. It is good to see so many House Sparrows, a species which has become quite rare in the area of London where I live.

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House Martins, swallows and Swifts circle overhead and Starlings, Blackbirds and Dunnocks are feeding in the dune bushes.

Female Blackbird

Female Blackbird

Dunnock

Dunnock

Apart from a few Shelduck and some Gulls there is little activity on the river but this may be because it is low tide. This attractive red flower stood out from amongst the dune vegetation

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Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)

Spring Flowers (1)

Posted: May 23, 2014 in Natural History
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On my recent River Crane walk there were a wide variety of spring flowers to enjoy

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A large selection of combs have been recovered from the wreck

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