Archive for January, 2015

Some more pictures from the visit to Hyde Park and Regents Park last Thursday.

Red Crested Pochard

Red Crested Pochard

Ring necked Parakeet - 'If you think this cage is going to keep me from the nuts!'

Ring necked Parakeet – ‘If you think this cage is going to keep me from the nuts!’

Great Tits

Great Tits

Common Pochard

Common Pochard

Shoveler

Shoveler

Keith and I had intended going to the London wetland centre, but following a brief discussion when we met up in central London, we diverted to Kensington Gardens to look for the 1st winter drake Scaup that has been there for a week or so.

Arriving at round pond it did not take us long to identify the bird which stood out from the resident Tufted Duck by its larger rounded head and a clear patch of its emerging adult silver back showing through its juvenile plumage. It stayed well out into the centre of the pond. Satisfied we wandered off to take some photos of nearby Kensington Palace and when we returned we could not relocate it. We later learned that it does move around between the pond and the Serpentine so we counted ourselves lucky that we had found it here as locating it on the much larger Serpentine would have been more difficult.

!st winter drake Scaup

1st winter drake Scaup

There were a good number of Common Gulls present and a large flock of over 60 Eygptian Geese

Common Gull

Common Gull

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

Our next target was to see if we could find one of the local Tawny Owls roosting in the trees. I had been told the general area to look but we hunted without success. We did find a small party of Redwing feeding on the ground.

Redwing

Redwing

We decided that the cold was beginning to bite and we would head to the cafe by the Serpentine for a coffee. On the way we came across Paul one of the regular local birders, who kindly offered to show us the Owl’s roost tree. So we set off again back the way we had come and soon found the spot and there sure enough was the male bird sitting on his usual roost branch. Its easy when you know where to look!

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl

Well in all the excitement we had forgotten about Coffee but after sometime watching and photographing the Owl we headed back to the Serpentine and that hot drink. After lunch we walked north up the side of the Serpentine and added a number of common species to our list and found lots of opportunity for photography.

The Serpentine, Hyde Park

The Serpentine, Hyde Park

When we reached Notting Hill the weather and the light had deteriorated but we decided to use what was left of the day by visiting Regent’s Park.

Regents Park

Regents Park

We did not add much to our list in the fading light but we had some nice views of some of the feral birds that breed here including Mandarin Duck and Red-Crested Pochard.

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck

An excellent days birding and our big thanks to Paul for his assistance in finding the Tawny Owl.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Greater Scaup [sp] (Aythya marila)
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)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus 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)
Tawny Owl [sp] (Strix aluco)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
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)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Celsus Library

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Ancient Near Eastern History, History

Ephesus is definately one of the places on my travel list

DSCN5660a

This statue of Abraham Lincoln can be found in Parliament Square in Westminster.

DSCN5662a

It is a copy of the statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens which is in Lincoln Park in Chicago. It was erected in 1920 to celebrate 100 years of peace between Britain and the USA.

Originally another Statue of Lincoln was destined for this spot but it was so disliked by Lincoln’s family and some parliamentarians in Britain, who dubbed it ‘The stomach ache statue’ that eventually they decided to replace it with this one. The other statue, a copy of the one in Cincinnati, which had already been made found a home in Lincoln Square Manchester.

Close by to the memorial to Purcell are two other memorials.

The first is to the women who campaigned for equality in voting rights – ‘the suffrage movement’.

The memorial to the Sufferage movement

The memorial to the Sufferage movement

The reference to Caxton Hall refers to the place where the movement met for the first time in London and where the ‘Women’s Parliment’ of 1907 was held. The memorial was unveiled in 1970 and is by Edwin Russell.

The other memorial in the Garden was only unveiled in 2013. It is dedicated to those who have died by violence and was commisioned by Victims voice, an organisation which campaigns for the rights of relatives of people who have been murdered.

DSCN5634a

DSCN5635a

DSCN5801a

After an excellent Sunday Lunch in Keston Village at Herbert’s (http://www.thisisherberts.co.uk/about-us) Sue and I decided to drop in at Bough Beech Nature Reserve to see if there is anything about.

DSCN5808a

Our first impression is that the water level in the reservoir is very high, probably the highest I have ever seen it, which is very good for the water company but not for birdwatching since all the margins are now under water with many trees that were on the bank now appearing to grow in the water.

DSCN5805a

On the reservoir there is a large party of Wigeon plus smaller numbers of Great Crested Grebe,Tufted Duck, Teal, Mallard and Pochard.

Pochard (male)

Pochard (male)

I decide to take a walk down to the visitor centre and have a look at the woodland and the feeders. There is a lot of activity here with large numbers of Blue and Great Tits. Also present are smaller numbers of Long-tailed Tit, Coal tit and Nuthatch.

Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit

Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

In the Orchard a female Pheasant is searching the ground under the feeders looking for food that had fallen from above.

Pheasant (female)

Pheasant (female)

Returning to the Reservoir I locate a group of 6 Goosander on the far bank. A good ending to the visit

goosander-surprise
Goosander
Photo by John Bennett (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbgoblin/)

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Merganser [sp] (Mergus merganser)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
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)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

The day of the annual RSPB Big Garden birdwatch (BGBW) when tens of thousands of people across the Uk count the birds they see in one hour in their gardens and submit their results for analysis. Its a great project and gets lots of people involves in watching wildlife and survey work. Its like a one time snap shot of the regular garden wildlife survey which requires weekly entries over the whole year. And its usually one of my most frustrating birding days of the year! I think the birds know that its on and they all turn up the day before, or after, the count but on the day – they all stay away!

Today was bright and sunny and I decided to spilt my time into two periods – one first thing in the morning and one later in the day. The morning session started quite well with a Starling on the feeders. Although a common bird on the patch it has only been in the last couple of months that they have started to appear in the garden. Probably a garden first for the BGBW.

Starling

Starling

There are plenty of Blue Tits and at one point I count 5 individuals and Robins as wells.

Robin

Robin

A Blackbird puts in an appearance and there is a rather attractive variant on the Common Pigeon.

Common Pigeon

Common Pigeon

My second session added Magpie, Jackdaw and Ring-necked Parakeet, Which meant that I had seen 10 species in my alloted 60 minutes. My weekly bird list is usually 15-20 for the Garden wildlife survey.

So the curse of the Big Garden birdwatch strikes again – No finches (we regularly have 3 species); no woodpeckers (2 species); no Nuthatch; no Dunnock; not even a Great Tit.

Still I expect they will all be back tomorrow

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

Posted: January 24, 2015 in Astronomy
Tags:

Great image

Above the clouds

Hello everyone!. It seems that a lot of fellow enthusiast are in the Comet Lovejoy craze. I am no excluded from that statement!.

The Winter here in Vermont,USA has been kind of lack luster as far as serious snow is concerned. This does not dismiss our seemingly over the top, cold weather that we have had to endure.Oh,and just because we haven’t had much snow,doesn’t suggest that we have been free of cloudy skies. Our season has been met with endless days/weeks of clouds. The last stretch of clouds lasted most of December,with one night of clear skies,dominated by a full moon. January has also jumped the band wagon with clouds,with all but a few nights.

I ventured out twice in the last two weeks to get my own images of Comet Lovejoy,with below average results the first night. I was giving my new DSLR a workout…lol. My second try (…

View original post 135 more words

I don’t believe it!

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Life's little mysteries

Smoked Haddock and stir fried vegetables
Haddock
photo by Great British Chefs (https://www.flickr.com/photos/greatbritishchefs/)

Sometimes something happens which you find difficult to believe.

I went to the freezer to get out some haddock fillets to cook for dinner. I was looking at the labelling to see if it recommended how to cook them when I came across the following:

Caution: This product contains fish.

Well of course it does it’s two haddock fillets. I would be very worried if it didn’t. It’s so obvious that I have to ask ‘does it really need to be stated or is this caution taking to an obsessive level?’