Archive for April, 2015

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When in Paris one place we have to go is the Museum D’Orsay to see what is one of our favourite pieces of Art – The Polar Bear by Francois Pompon.

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This 6m high arch on the north side of the Long Water in Hyde park is made of Roman traventine stone and was presented to the Royal Parks in 1980 following his 80th birthday exhibition which was held at the Serpentine Gallery. It was restored in 1996.

Museum window depicting Lord's ground

Museum window depicting Lord’s ground

The tour only takes in one item in the museum and that is one of the most famous sport’s trophies in the world – The Ashes. This is a trophy played for at test cricket between England and Australia.

The Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn

It is only about 6 inches and is now very fragile

It dates back to 1882 when Australia won its first test victory in England. The Sporting Times horrified at the occurrence published a mock obituary:

In Affectionate Remembrance
of
ENGLISH CRICKET,
which died at the Oval
on
29 August 1882,
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing
friends and acquaintances
R.I.P.
N.B.—The body will be cremated and the
ashes taken to Australia.

Ivo Bligh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ivo Bligh
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When England toured Australia the following winter, Ivo Bligh, the England captain declared that he had come to reclaim the Ashes and England duly won the series by two matches to one. Some ladies including Bligh’s future wife, Florence Morphy, presented him with a small urn as a trophy. There has been some debate about the contents but it has been established in more recent times that it is the ashes of a cricket bail (the small wooden rod which connects the top of the stumps).

The term ‘the Ashes’ for the test series between England and Australia took sometime to become generally used and it was not really until the England tour of 1903 that it became widely used. The Urn was never presented as the trophy (a popular misconception) and remained in Bligh’s keeping until he died in 1927 when it was presented to the MCC and later displayed in the Lord’s museum. In the 1990’s it was suggested that the urn should be awarded to the winning team who would keep it till the next series but amidst concerns for its fragile state and opposition from Ivo Bligh’s family it was finally agreed that a replica should be used and the original should remain in it’s case in the museum.

The urn has only travelled twice, both times to Australia. Once in 1988 as part of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations and again in 2006/7.

Mandarin Duck

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Birds, Natural History
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photo by Sue

photo by Sue

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Mandarin Duck (m)

Mandarin Duck (m)

Mandarin Duck (m+f)

Mandarin Duck (m+f)

Views of Paris (1)

Posted: April 26, 2015 in Paris
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I was sorting through some pictures the other day and came across these from a visit to paris that Sue and I made a couple of years ago

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08377

Posted: April 25, 2015 in Trains
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08377 is a representative of the 996 class 08 locomotives built by British rail as a general purpose diesel shunter. The class became the work-horse of depots and sheds around the network.

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08377 was built at Darlington in 1957 and initially served at Hither Green and Norwood Junction depots in London. In 1968 it was transferred to Crewe depot and then to St Blazey in Cornwall in 1975. It remained in Devon and Cornwall until its withdrawal in 1983.

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It was preserved on the West Somerset Railway until its transfer to the Mid-Hants Railway in 2013

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As I am off for 10 days in Northumbria on Saturday I have been trying to get round my survey sites before I go. This afternoon I did the weeks butterfly and dragonfly walk on my patch. It started well with a female Brimstone in the garden as I was leaving the house. Another couple of males were present by the Tarn together with Orange Tip; Holly Blue and the years first speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

Searching along the edges of the Tarn i came across another creature watching the Tarn. In this case i would imagine looking for something to stray too close. He or she sat there for quite sometime hardly moving at all and was still there when I moved on from that section.

Red Fox

Red Fox

The first water-bird young have arrived. Eleven young Greylag geese accompanied by 4 adults so I presume this is two broods. At least one other is still on a nest on the islands.

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Parent keeps an eye on me whilst I photograph the goslings

Parent keeps an eye on me whilst I photograph the goslings

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Also the first Mallard chicks

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I couldn’t find any Canada Geese nests but these may be hidden on the islands. But the coots still seem to be building nests.

Coot

Coot

The Egyptian Geese which arrived a couple of weeks ago are still present.

Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose

Disappointing is that the damselfly pool looks in very poor condition. There is almost no live vegetation and I am worried that there is nothing left alive in it. It is connected to the main lake by a pipe so it is likely affected by the woes that have troubled the main lake and it may be they have hit hardest here, because of the lack of drainage and water movement. This will be a major loss as 4 out of the 10 dragonfly species found in the area are located solely on this pond.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)

Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Naturelog: 23rd April

Posted: April 23, 2015 in Birds, London, Natural History, UK
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A morning walk in Eltham Park and Oxleas meadows was rather disappointing. It was bright but cool and fresh, so there was little chance of any early emerging butterflies venturing forth. The resident birds were singing forth with good numbers of Blackbirds; Wrens; Blue Tits and Great Tits, but no sign of any warblers. It still seems as though they are late coming in this year from their wintering grounds further south.

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The pond had Mallard, Canada Geese and Moorhens

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As I approached the northern end of the woodland path a Green Woodpecker was calling, unseen in the undergrowth and resident birds flitted amongst the trees. Too fast I am afraid to get pictures.

Oxleas Meadows was to proving disaapointing as my visit coincided with that of the grass cutter, which had no doubt disturbed any ground feeding birds.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)

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A few weeks back, Keith and I went to Lord’s cricket ground in north London. Lord’s was for a long-time regarded as the home of cricket as it was the home of the MCC which governed the sport of cricket throughout the world. Although this function has now passed to the International Cricket Council, the ground remains the spiritual home of the game and it is the cherished ambition for many cricketers from around the world to be able to play here.

Arriving at the Grace Gate we make our way to the Lord’s museum past the famous Lord’s tavern.

Lords Tavern, St John's Wood, NW8
Lord’s tavern
photo by Ewan Munroe (https://www.flickr.com/photos/55935853@N00/)

Lord's Cricket Ground
Grace Gate
phot by West End (https://www.flickr.com/photos/thewestend/)

Museum window depicting Lord's ground

Museum window depicting Lord’s ground

The museum contains lots of artifacts from around the world and there is just time for us to have a look around before our tour of the ground begins.

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An Australian cap ‘ the baggy green’ from the tour of 1948 to England.

There are also many commemorative items connected with Cricket like mugs and jugs

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Bee Fly

Posted: April 21, 2015 in Insects, Natural History
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On this week’s insect survey I came across this creature. At first I thought it was a bee, but on close examination the head and the wing pattern were clearly not of a bee. Then I saw a post on facebook about the Bee Fly, a family which I had not encountered before. I think this is an example of Bombylius Major, it certainly looks very like the pictures I have found.

Bee Flies feed on nectar and pollen and are important pollenators. The larva feed on other insects, Although there are a large number of species (c4500 have so far been identified), they are not well studied and much is still unknown about their biology.

The mouth parts have become specially adapted for feeding on pollen in much the same way as that of a hummingbird. The length varies with those of the Bombyliinae approx four times the length of the head. The Wing venation is also of help in seperating the species.

The larva are buried in the sand and are parasitic on other flies and bees.


By Jochem Kuhnen (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFARbGt14BpxBsTPkMVewIQ)