Monday, 29 July 2013

The Devon Park Variation

Ran through the park instead of along tedious old Hawton Road on my long Hawton-Farndon-River-Home route, and was very glad I did. As I followed the Parkrun route along the river, I spotted a man taking photographs amongst the thistles littering the bank of the River Devon.

"Aha! Something interesting there!" I thought, and as I got nearer, I saw that it was a Sconce Park ranger snapping a comma with his I phone. I spoke to him for a little while, and spotted some other butterflies too. As you can see below!

The aforementioned comma
Lovely view of a small skipper
A first for me - a small copper!
lovely female banded demoiselle past Frandon by the river

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Life of Butterfly Park

Butterfly park is the buddleiah swamped wasteland on the north edge of Beacon Hill Park. Today it was abuzz and aflutter with life. As was my garden too!
Young swallows on the lines on Barnby Lane
Peacock mets bumblebee at Butterfly Park
Unknown flower
Attractive unknown flower
Small tortoiseshell in my garden
Small white dazzles in the sunshine

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Butterflies and Buddleiah

Peacock on the buddleiah outside my home
Under view of peacock
Small tortoiseshell at a distance
Believe it or not, this is a comma
Bumblebee tucking in
On the market. "Would you care for a small white with your cress, sir?"

The Prisoner Escaped!

Today I am off shift. I am free.

I celebrated by getting up early, and grumpily, to do my Parkrun, and fearing the arrival of bad weather in the afternoon, immediately on returning set off on my bicycle along the cycle path towards Cotham.

The verges were full of life, I was accompanied all the way by the sight of gatekeepers - up for about a week or so - ringlets, meadow browns and large whites. Rosebay willowherb decorated the hedgerows, and various birds darted across my path.

The stench from Cotham tip was like vomit, but I was past it in a flash.

I cycled out towards Elston, seeing many yellowhammers and chaffinches in the hedges. Peacock butterflies were warming themselves up on the road, and far from water, a banded demoiselle flew by me. I flushed a kestrel from a telegraph wire, and as I turned off towards Thorpe, a big bronzed brown hawker swept by my face as a horde of large white butterflies looked on.

I was racing, catching up a pair of folk on a weekend ride, and politely passing them as we entered pretty Thorpe village, a village that badly misses the pub that would make it a perfect place to live.

I enjoyed my 15 mile, hour long ride, but I was saddened too. There were three fly tips I passed, a sight I find more depressing and disgusting with every passing day.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

We were both Prisoners

It's been a while since it last happened.

At at the warehouse today, as I sat in front of an antique monitor with only a moderate amount of migraine inducing flicker, I heard the distinct flutter of wings up among the cabling and conduits, and then the easily recogniseable bubbling whistle of a certain songbird. Across the skylight I saw a long tail edged in white.

A pied wagtail had got itself trapped again.

I felt for it as it time and time again flew up to the skylights in hope of finding freedom, only to be denied at every turn. As I had seen happening before, the bird was tiring in every flight, every doomed attempt to escape seemingly sapping more energy from its wings. How cruel we are to put skylights that won't open in the roof, for bird and human alike.

I have rescued fledgelings from there before, but an adult wagtail would be far too elusive. The heat of the day rose, but eventually I noticed the bird had gone. I could only hope it had found its way out, as I realised that I still had another five hours of the day to run, as the sweat began to pour faster and faster.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Waving at Saturn from our Pale Blue Dot

Yesterday at 2227BST, the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around the planet Saturn took a photograph of Saturn and its rings that so happened to include planet Earth.

Lots of folk thought it would be nice to mark this event by turning our faces towards Saturn, and giving a wave so Cassini would be able to get us all in the picture! The inspiration would have been this, the famous "Pale Blue Dot" photograph taken by the Voyager 1 probe as it left the planetary solar system in 1990. The last picture taken by Voyager 1 before it permanently powered down its camera, it was a mosaic image that showed as many planets as were visible, including the Earth - a pale blue dot less than the size of a pixel right at the fringe of visibility.

Carl Sagan famously announced the picture at a press conference, reminding us that on the scale of the solar system, let alone that of the universe, that every event in the whole of our history had taken place on this scarcely visible pale blue dot.

Hence, when the news got out that Cassini was going to take a modern version of this photograph from Saturn, the "Wave at Saturn" campaign was born, trying to get the whole of planet Earth to smile and wave at Saturn to mark the event.

Myself, being a sucker for this sort of celestial show, decided to take part. I was having a cup of tea at my folks' house at the time, so I jumped on my bicycle which has a better view of the sky low in the south-west. I found Saturn starting to set in the low haze in the south-east, waited for the appropriate time and started to wave, and smile as well at the yellowish bright "star" around which Cassini was taking its picture.

I was well aware of how silly the sight of a grown man seemingly waving at an empty sky might have seemed to members of the general public, and indeed my neighbour didn't take long to appear on our shared driveway, curious as to my doings. It seemed best to just hit him with the truth, and then wait for him to call the men in white coats.

He did nothing of the sort. Instead he smiled, looked at where I was pointing, and give a little wave as well. "I'd heard about it on the radio" he explained. And off he went.

So that's how I "waved at Saturn". Always enjoyable to do something like that, but perhaps I didn't have as much fun as these American folk at NASA, from where the picture is taken.

JPL employees wave at Saturn

Friday, 19 July 2013

Got you at last mr demoiselle!

Banded Demoiselle next to a fishing peg on the Farndon reach
Another banded demoiselle
Great Crested Grebe Family
In this heat, I figured it would be best to wait for early evening to indulge in a running expedition to Farndon. Willow Holt is being cropped and is inaccessible, and a bloody great tent obstructs my oh so effortless running style as I pass the pub. Only one dragonfly most of the way, a powder blue flash under my nose indicated the presence of the first broadd-bodied chaser of the year.

The flight of this speeding dragonfly led me to sight a bird amongst the now flowerless oilseed rape, a shy little bird flitting low above the plant level, dark tail, with white flashes. My immediate thought was "reed bunting" - but I could be wrong. 

And then, finally, I got my long hoped for pictures of a live banded demoiselle. The males were very flighty tonight, females not in evidence. But I got my shot at last! 

The evening was still hot, and I swigged lemon juice as I trotted round. Lots of folk out enjoying the sun and river at a much slower pace than I was, and they were probably the smart ones!

Beauty at home

Marbled Beauty moth in the corner of the window
Poor toad in a bone dry garden
Unknown and sadly out of focus bumblebee.
I'm no photographer with my sad little mobile phone camera, but I'm now always looking out for any chance to take a picture. I'd love to be able to get a sgot of the tail-less robin that visits my folk's garden and sits on the garden bench or a tree stump, but it isn't tame enough! It knows there are cats about, and probably also a terrible, clumping photographer...  

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The long road to Cotham

This was ten miles of sheer punishment

The path goes ever, burningly on
Pretty unidentified wildflower
Crows flock over the rubbish tip
The rubbish tip
Interesting wildflower
Poppies and Cotham village
The solar farm
Poor banded demoiselle
A sea of blue

Run around the lake and up beacon hill

A hot run, with much of interest to see
By the London Road Lake, this plant is suddenly in abundance
Family of Swans
Hard to photograph meadow brown
A dream home
A welcome sprinkling

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Blue skies over Willow Holt

Today's run was extremely hot and difficult, and all the wonderful meadow browns, banded demoiselles and first brown hawkers of summer sadly far too difficult to photograph! But I still bring you these...

Willow Holt meadow, full of meadow browns
Peace tree
Entrance to Willow Holt proper
Meadow cranesbill
Scarlet poppies
Red tailed bumblebee
An enviable barge
Shadow of the runner