Sunday 31 August 2014

My Run, My Town, My Record

Today I ran the 9 or so miles to Cotham, and back to town through Hawton.

Much were the sights, many butterflies and dragonflies along the Sustrans 64 cycling route including some very large brown hawkers near the rubbish tip, and some of the last meadow browns of the season.

It's not just the nature, it's the architecture, the heritage, and the life. It's important to record everything, and with even a mobile phone camera as poor as the Moto G's, it is so much easier to do so than with 35mm film.

Proper photographers must hate them! It used to be an expensive and exclusive hobby, now any shaky handed fool can take a decent picture.

Or maybe they can't?

Sustrans 64 stretches out into the distance

Cotham Flash paddocks, no yellow wagtails or wheatears to be seen

Bugs eye view of the Sconce from Rumbles

Small Tortoiseshell, Sconce and Devon Park

Forest shield bug joins me for tea at Rumbles

Urban horse

Canal and Riverside Trust open day

The biggest inland drydock in Europe

Post run legs

Late Night with Comet Jacques

One simply cannot just go to bed when there are clear skies, so last night, 2am was the time for my date with the stars.

So,armed with a little fortification - not much needed, as it was a mild night - I got some observations done. Sky conditions were not as good as previous nights, as there was a little cloud in the air that thickened as my session went on. But I was able to correct my Messier 2 navigation errors, finding it with the use of averted vision. Messier 15 was also observed, as well as lots of other little bits and pieces of starfield and cluster, galaxy and great inky blackness out to the edge of near infinity 32 billion or so light years away.

Saving the best for last again, I now craned my way awkwardly up to the Zenith, where Cassiopeia the queen of the sky lives at this time of year.

Once again, I wasn't sure where the comet was actually going to be, but whatever of my brain is left these days, I used, and tracked it from my previous observations to a point halfway between Cassiopeia and her King, Cepheus. It was harder to see than previous nights, and as I said before, really reminds me of observing the Messier 33 Triangulum Spiral.

Lucky for me that I just love being able to see comets then!

Saturday 30 August 2014

More Moths for Lord Mouth

Lord Mouth is a strange fellow. He exists in the mind of my Polish colleague, a cousin perchance of Lord Moth, a name acquired by a certain low level naturalist due to his photography activities of said moths in the dead of night...

I'm sure her pronunciation of "moth" is far better than mine of "schmah" the Polish language equivalent which as well of being unsure about how to say it, I'm clueless about how to spell it.

So, I've encountered these pretty specimens lately. The willow beauty above accompanied me to the Prince Rupert for a pint, the one below was a garden pebble lurking in the stairwell and I think is a lovely find. Lovely, subtle colouring.

Willow beauty with its eyes on my pint

Garden pebble showing its delicate colouring on the stairwell

Friday 29 August 2014

A Ghostly Visitor In the Newark Night

I was just outside again last night, too tired to look for Comet Jacques but wanting to take in the starry view for a few minutes, at least as well as I could amid street and house lights.

Not long after I started looking up at the milky way, I suudenly felt something soft brush the tip of my ear, accompanied simulataneously by a loud fluttering sound in the left ear.

My eyes shot down as if attached to a falling piano, and I caught a glimpse of a large fluttering insect heading away towards the buddleias and the back of the house.

It seemed to be a moth, and the largest moth I'd ever seen at that.

It had a long hawkmoth type body, maybe 4-5 cm long, and large fluttering wings. That was all the view I had, a brief indistinct look made all the more tantalising by the fact it was almost certainly something I'd never seen before.

I dismissed the thought it might be a bat. No bat and its cunning echo location would ever be so clumsy to collide with a great lump like me. By size, I'd have thought it was a privet hawk moth, but it is very late in the year for them.

Could it have been a death's head hawk moth? I wonder. All I know, is that something very large and mothy brushed past my face, on a starry night in August.

Goodnight, Clarice...

Wednesday 27 August 2014

A Naughty Look at Comet Jacques 26.08.15

I should have been in bed. I really should have been in bed. But after my usual evening faff of sandwich making and medication taking, I took a look outside and found a clear sky smiling velvetly down at me.

I should have gone to bed, I had a cycle ride and an early start at work, but I couldn't help it. I don't like wasting skies clear enough to see the milky way plunging its way down through Cygnus. So out came the 10x50s, and out went I.

I warmed up with the usual appreciation of the Cygnus milky way, written about so many times, before trying to find Messier 2 from memory. A very faulty memory as I've just realised I was looking in totally the wrong place by Pisces' tail. Not very smart. However, I was able to see Messier 15 in Pegasus, before I adjudged my eyes dark adapted enough to try and find the comet.

I had a rough idea of where it would be although I hadn't consulted any maps or suchlike, but was still surprised to find it so quickly. To be honest, in my 10x50s , it isn't an amazing sight, but it's the excitement of seeing it that counts. It reminded me rather of the appearance of Messier 33 Triangulum Spiral, if a little easier to see due to being more condensed, it had the same sort of skewed elliptical appearance.

I'd say position wise it formed a rough equilateral triangle with gamma and beta Cassiopeii, magnitude about 7. But I didn't really have long to study it, for my eyes were growing heavier by the second, reproaching me with the thought of a 6am start.

So I let the comet be, for it must be awful to have all those folk gawping at you with their binoculars and telescopes all of the time. Bedtime it was.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

From Hawton to Cotham, Hirundids!

On the face of it, this is a very undistinguished little stretch of road, about a mile long, farmer's fields and the nasty drag over the A46 flyover. I've run and cycled along it many times, and sometimes there is interesting stuff to see, and sometimes there isn't.

Yesterday was one of the interesting days.

As I turned off onto the road just before Hawton church, past disinterested woodpigeons and always worried a careless car might take me out, I noticed a fair old commotion taking place over the River Devon bridge. As I got nearer I could see some little birds swooping about, a lot of little birds swooping about. Looking at the streamer-less tails I thought they were house martins, but as I reached the bridge, I got glimpses of flashes of red amongst the plumage as they wheeled among the trees.

They were immature swallows.

But there were house martins there too, I saw white rumps glint against the backdrop of foliage. And adult swallows, tails like the feathered pitchfork of an avian devil, spreading in the wind as they executed aerial turns on a sixpence. There must have been rich pickings above the river, as there were about 30 birds in this mixed flock, flying under the bridge, swooping past my delighted face.

Not just here too, another mixed flock of birds was in action above the drainage dyke further down the road. Then at the flyover, a flock of house martins patrolled a copse, heading south into a blustery wind.

The hirundids were out in force.

Monday 25 August 2014

Red Admiral Studies

The buddleias have come back into flower, and after a blank fortnight or so, butterflies are back feeding on them again.

But while peacocks were the dominant visitor in high summer, now autumn approaches it is the hardy red admiral who had settled in to the pink and purple blooms. These beautiful specimens were photographed on my moto g in my garden and on the millgate bridge buddleia.

Once again, I apologise for my mobile phone photographs. My Moto G LTE does not match up to the camera on my Orange San Diego, and thus I'm in the market for a decent budget compact camera.

Millgate Bridge Specimen

Red admirals just as beautiful on the underwing

Kissing the pink

Sun shining through

Saturday 23 August 2014

Yes! Comet Jacques Observed!

The news that Comet Jacques was going to be easy to find in Cassiopeia was, well, news to me. Obviously I'd known that this comet was going to be an observable object at some point - it has been discussed more or less throughout the year - but for some reason I always felt that it was just going to be out of reach with my 10x50s from my town garden.

However, I saw on twitter last night that it was going to be close to Delta Cassiopeii  and resolved to take a look once Cassiopeia had risen above the trees and rooftops that overlook my garden.

So, out I went at 2am with a fortifying drink, and got nice and dark adapted while letting my eyes take in the crystalline river of stars flowing south from Cygnus. It's always such a beautiful sight in my 10x50s, countless little star clusters and asterisms waterfalling down to Scutum on the horizon.

I couldn't find Messier 2, the Aquarius globular, but Messier 15 was visible, and it was clear enough to have a great view of the Triangulum spiral Messier 33. Nearby, the Pleiades had risen, the dread signal of colder months, and Capella's golden hue was also prominent by now.

Turning my attention now to the comet, I found it, but it was a tricky object and I had to check afterwards that it wasn't one of the numerous open clusters that Cassiopeia abounds in. It was fainter than the nearby NGC663 and Messier 103, and other than a noticeable elongation of the grey-green smudge, I couldn't really make out any detail. Certainly it was much less impressive than the comet from earlier in the year I observed in Ursa Major...can't remember the name alas. It was a seventh magnitude object I'd say.

But still, it was another comet I have observed, and I was really pleased to "tick it off." To think of these lumps of ice, tens of thousands of years out into the far reaches of their orbits, or perhaps even languishing in the Oort Cloud a light year away, always moves me.

Deep space is a cold, dark wonderland of mystery.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Tourette's and the Danger of Disclosure

As I spend a lot of time job hunting, trying to lift myself out of the warehouse and the world of unfulfilling under-employment, I find myself thinking about my Tourette's Syndrome, and how much of an impact it is having on my employability.

I suppose there are two angles to this.

1) How Tourette's may affect my self image and make me nervous about applying for jobs.

2) How potential employers may see the condition.

I wonder about point 2) above. I have decided to be totally open about my Tourette's these days when I apply for work, feeling that I prefer to be honest and up front, and not wanting to have to explain things in retrospect if an employer called me in for a "one to one" and asked "Is there anything wrong? It's just we've noticed...blah blah blah etc etc etc."

I mention it on the equal opportunities monitoring forms. I mention it on this blog. The question is, are any potential employers being out off by my Tourette's Syndrome? Even if only subconsciously.

I applied for a Communications related job a couple of months ago which I felt reasonably qualified for - my CV is far from being a disaster area and I have notched up many worthy achievements on it! - but as ever, a week later I got the nice rejection e-mail.

Now I'm sure that there were many better equipped candidates for the role, and looking back I perhaps didn't emphasise certain of my capabilities enough. But in the back of my mind, there is always a few neurons whispering to each other and saying "What if they were worried you were speaking to the local TV news and started hurling obscenities or spitting at them? What if you shouted "big bums!" on Heart FM while doing a serious interview about cancer?"

This is probably pure silliness on my brain's part, but then again there is discrimination against folk with Tourette's out there amongst employers, and of course it is regarded as the one disability that it still seems permissible to laugh at (BTW I don't get all po-faced at Tourette jokes, but many people do and this is entirely within their rights).

I'm not an "advocate" by any means, in many ways I hate the word, but I do feel it is important to stand up for what I am. Frankly if an employer is nervous about Tourette's, then they probably aren't going to be worth working for, and I would hope third sector employers are much more likely to be inclusive when it comes to giving folk like me a job.

In other words, I hope my open-ness is not damaging my career prospects!

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Making Friends with Flutterers

On a whim, decided to do one of my periodic "oooh, let's see what moths are visiting the windows" patrols last night, and rather than the usual small speckled brown plume types, found this pretty specimen:

Thanks to Angela Harrod on twitter it was identified as an orange swift, an entirely new species to me.

It was a chilly night, and this obviously encouraged the moth to actually seek out a warm finger to sit on, and make no attempt to flutter off when I took a picture.

Eventually it was so settled I had to all but glue it back on to the front door.

This wasn't the only "lep" I became acquainted with in the last 24 hours. At work today, in the grim early cold of a warehouse morning, I noticed a dark flittering against the background of dusty racking and dented grey metallic shelving.

It was a peacock, in reasonable condition but with no chance of survival in the harsh warehouse environment. It would meet its end either by cold, lack of food or water sources, or the steel tipped boot of a cackling co-worker. Unwilling to let it meet a fate of this nature, I carefully cupped it in my hands, and took it fully four hundred metres out of the warehouse, all but out of the grounds and found a ncie bush in bloom for it to sit on.

All the way, I could feel its gentle fluttering and light footsteps on my palms, a strangely comforting sensation. Again, it didn't want to leave my warm finger tips, it sat quite happily for a minute or two, before I set it down on a white flower of some kind, an oasis of life amidst polluted tarmac.

Yes, it was a lot of effort for a single butterfly, but, you know, "He who saves a life saves the world entire" and all that. Such a colourful, vivid piece of life in a workplace such as ours, must be preserved at all cost.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

The Rather Unattractive Run to Kelham

I have been planning a walking trip to Southwell, the sort that doesn't involve being mowed down by a car on the increasingly crazed Averham Flash route to that attractive Cathedral village. To think I used to cycle quite happily there at the age of 18 to whatever disreputable party or night in the Admiral Rodney was ahead.

Nowadays, I'd feel unsafe in a tank.

So, having been told by my friends about a really pleasant cross country route to Southwell, away from the main roads, I felt the urge to make a reconnaisance a couple of days ago, before making a full effort in the next week or two.

I'm guessing the route must get significantly prettier once you get past Kelham, and indeed, it does look as if it does, because the Newark to Kelham section is really rather unappetising. It involves a couple of stretches across fairly unpretty fields before a death defying crossing of the bypass followed by the A614, a run across the rugby club, and then a very grim section through stubbly fields to a building site of some kind, before reaching the miasmic stink of Kelham Lane.

It really isn't very nice at all, and having enjoyed the trip through Kelham itself to where the path to Upton heads out across the fields - a far more welcoming looking journey - I was masochistic enough to run back to town the whole length of Kelham Lane, which is a bumpy track of no interest whatsoever with uninspiring views, before emerging by the Sugar Factory.

All the pretties indeed!

But still, it was a useful exercise, and it was mostly new territory to me. It is alwaus reassuring to know that even within a a couple of miles of town, there are places I've never been, places I've never disturbed with my erratic footsteps. Soon there will be more, as I attack the entire route to Southwell, and see what I might see...

"Shoot the runner" think the Kasabian loving sheep

Gosh  this is pretty

That's bettter; The River Trent from Kelham Bridge

I love old signage

A chaos of poles

The route to Upton

The non beauty of Kelham Lane

The sugar factory

The Newark bypass

The quirky old signal box

Barge gets a tow

Monday 18 August 2014

Swallows Watch the Civil War in Newark

I was doing some gentle cycling around town this morning, before finally making my way over to Rumbles cafe for a gratifyingly large cup of tea on what was rather too cold a morning to be just wearing a T-Shirt.

In the distance, there was some strange, smoke making activity silhouetted on the Sconce horizon. I made sure my safety lid was in place, and made my way over to the scene.

"Aha!" I mentally cried to myself. "This is the filming for the new Civil War Museum! This will be on their mega-televisions inside."

Indeed it was. And it took far less time to think than to write.

Once again swallows much in evidence daring themselves to fly as close to the ground as possible. Their flight path, as always, was to fly in over Rumbles cafe, then head for ground level just past the flower bed before heading as far as the earthwork before looping around the field a couple of times before exiting the way they came.

I wonder what those beautiful little hirundids thought of the spectacle below as they turned; various men in 17th century costumes with enormous boots and a man who may or may not have been Prince Rupert striding about imperiously amidst scene setting barrels, cooking tripods, and a large number of filming types.

Hopefully, the commotion scared up plenty of gnats for them to chow down on.

A couple of chaps wondering where to get a decent flagon of mead in Newark

I call you Prince Rupert! Although you probably aren't actually him.

Prince Rupert and chums watching filming

Luxury wardrobe department

Now that'w what I call boots

Downton Abbey bottle fail, with added trainer horror

Saturday 16 August 2014

Another Beautiful Newark Pictorial

More pictures from the locality! Seen while running, cycling, walking, and mooching.

Boundary Road Blackbird

Buddleia bee

Blackbird again

Speckled wood, Clay Lane

Gatekeeper, Clay Lane

Female common darter, Beacon Hill Park

Very pale sort of bumble

Tree bumblebee on lavender

Small tortoiseshell, Sconce Park

Barely alive smooth newt found in some brickwork

About as good as my new phone will take of a bee

Speckled wood by the River Devon

Nestling in the lavender

Thursday 14 August 2014

The Swifts Desert Us Only Slowly

Last night as I cycled home from walk, I was heading along Balderton Gate, when a familiar aerial scimitar suddenly flashed down in front of my nose, before heading off to the South over the sheltered housing, inhabitants oblivious, and probably envious if they had seen it.

It was a swift. Mid August and they are still around, although in very small numbers. There was a day last week when I didn’t see a swift and pronounced “Well, that’s all the swifts gone then, they know the weather is turning grim” only to see a largish flock of them making merry over Millgate the next day eating every gnat out of the sky.

Cunning little apodids.

These birds mean so much to me. I find their antics endlessly engaging, and their appearance in April the second harbringer of spring, after the emergence of citrine bright brimstone butterflies. And then their departure, normally a sudden one at the end of July / Beginning of August is a doomy sign of the approaching colder months and terrifying bicycle rides to work in snow and ice. They melt away with the sunset, not to be seen until next April, as the chill begins to bite a little.

It’s not been like that this year. 13th August and they are still about, large numbers have been reported over RSPB Langford Lowfields. It may be that the strong South-Westerly winds has delayed their migration, and now the wind has switched to a cool North-Westerly this may help them take flight for their winter holiday. It may be that the individual I saw yesterday was the last I will see.

This makes me sad. For nothing I will see in Autumn or Winter will have the same joy of flight, and screech of life, as the sickle winged swift of Summer.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Memories of my Grandfather's Wartburg

The weather has kept me inside most of the day, aside from a brief ten mile cycle blast late in the day, through a Coddington village rich in swooping swallows by the windmill, and stubby house martins - always reminding me of piebald flying fish - over the school in fair numbers.

But I have the need to write. Only question is; what about?

Salvation came in the unlikely form of "James May's Cars of the People". My eyes turned a somersault when I saw one of them, igniting a whole slew of memories from a very young age.

For my Grandfather, who died in 1976, had a Wartburg, a 50s issue one. My memory of it was exactly the same as the one shown in the programme, a red and white rasberry ripple of a car vaguely reminscent of one of those old Citroens that went up and down like a hovercraft. Just like this one.

Wartburg 311, courtesy of Torsten Maue, Wikimedia
How it ended up in South-West Scotland is anyone's guess. Apparently my grandfather bought it for £20 from a local garage in a part of the world where communist cars were unusually common; we had family friends with Ladas.

I was very very little, but my memory is trying to tell me one or two things, initially a Proustian memory surge caused by smell. I'm sure it smelt bad, of oil, petrol, chemical smells and cheap leather furnishings. It was also very very bumpy, I seem to remember always rolling around the back seat as it bunnyhopped its way over rough Scottish roads. This wasn't helped by my only signifiant memory of my grandfather is him getting into a low speed accident in it while I was messing about lying on the floor in the back.

Where we went in it, I have no idea. I have memories of chasing sheep as it was parked by the roadside, sheep that looked back at me with contempt as they ensured my terrifying 3 year old platinum  blond self could never get near them. Another time, we may have driven to Whithorn, where I was told  - rather dangerously - to look for Eagles around the rocky coast. Eagles! I doubt there were any within 150 miles.

Sergeant Howie was burnt in his Wickerman at Whithorn, by the way.

Grandfather died in, I think, 1976 walking home one night - his heart gave out. He'd had a colourful life pre-WW2, I've seen pictures of him in a Del Monte man outfit in Hong Kong and Singapore when he was a buyer for Templetons or some other Scottish store. After the war, he drove buses.

That is about as much as I know and remember...and all inspired by the long haired one from Top Gear, and a crummy East German pig of a car made from toxic waste cotton.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Swallows on the Trent

Managed a lovely run out to Farndon today on a warm, but not unbearably so, afternoon.

Ringlets seem to be out of stock round here at the moment, but meadow browns are still around Willow Holt pastures in good numbers. Only saw a solitary common darter - there were a lot around the Holt last year - perhaps they were scared off by my inhuman running app calling out my mile splits in a disembodied voice. Ditto the southern hawkers that usually patrol the Holt's river stretch.

Indeed all was quiet all round the route, the August wildlife lull seems to have well set in. No damselflies, only a solitary brown hawker on the Power Station reach, and only a few large white butterflies in the air by the river.

Luckily a couple of beautiful sights made up for the comparative paucity of wildlife along the Trent.

The first was a lovely flock of about 25-30 goldfinch feeding on thistle seeds, golden wing bars catching the sun. And then, by the old windmill section of the bank, a number of swallows were taking advantage of the insect rich air, skimming the river with those powerful, reaching wingbeats before pulling up sharply skywards as they feed themselves up for migration. Other birds flattened blades of grass with their slipstream, making me feel like such a feeble, landlocked lump of a human.

But then, that is the swallow's privilege, to make people feel jealous of their powerful flight and graceful forked tails. I enjoy watching them so much when I have my tea at Rumbles, as I did today, as a reward for my 8.1 mile effort.

A distance that probably wouldn't even tire a swallow, I reflected as I slumped down into my outside seat at the cafe, tea in hand.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Will Storr - Of Heretics and Skeptics

Or, a warning for the ultra-skeptics amongst us.

I’m not a book reviewer. I’m not a scientist. If I was, I’d be writing a proper piece  using reams of notes, annotated margins, and perhaps dictaphone recordings of interviews with some of the protagonists. Tucked behind the mantlepiece would be a copy of my contract with the Times Literary Supplement.

Instead I’m writing this in a works second string canteen, with a mound of banana peel by my left elbow, and a brain possibly of insufficient ability to attempt this task.

“The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science” is a book by Will Storr, a writer with an apparent religious family background, and issues with mental health in his past. In it, he makes Louis Theroux style visits on “independent thinkers” - a hardline creationist homophobic preacher, devotees of extreme yoga therapy, homeopaths, UFOlogists, and in one memorable chapter, Holocaust denier (or perhaps no longer) David Irvine and a merry band of right wingers as they tour the Extermination camps of Europe.

He also spends time with the Skeptic movement movers and shakers, as they attempt a mass homeopathy suicide, and original Skeptic hero James Randi.

The book is fascinating, although sometimes you feel that the time he spends with his subjects is almost cut short just as his visits get into their stride - something you never feel with Theroux, say - and that he has to throw some proper, but tough to follow, science as a little bit of padding. However, this may just be myself as a non-scientist who prefers the character case studies.  Saying that, the chapter dealing with Recovered Memory Syndrome is truly dramatic, and here Storr really does get to grips with the damage that can be caused by dabbling with this sort of therapy, especially when the investigator is so convinced the abuse exists that any rational refutation is ignored.

And this is the crux of what the book is about. He finds that in some cases, the Skeptics are just as dogmatic, if not more so, than the so called cultists, and a lot less sympathetic in a kind of striving for uniformity of thought. Their methodology is also called into question, when really there experiments should morally be far more stringent than those they seek to discredit.

Ultimately, however, all the evidence in the world is pointless if your brain is going to ignore anything that doesn’t agree with your own innate prejudice, deeply ingrained by years of seeing the world from your own perspective. This is something called “Confirmation Bias”, a way of skewing the world to fit your own vision that both the cultists, and the Skeptics, and myself, are guilty of. And to me this is quite frightening.

How can we be possibly open minded, if our brains won’t let us? Is everyone who says that they are truly open minded, nothing other than a bigoted liar who sees only what they want to see?

It is disturbing. And a point brilliant explored by this book.

Copyright Creamcrackered 05.08.14

Sunday 3 August 2014

Perseid Alert, People!

Yes, it's that time of the year again, when the most enjoyable meteor shower of the year hits our skies again, the Perseids.

I say most enjoyable, because the honour of being the richest and easiest to view goes to the December Geminids these days, which to my way of thinking never used to be the case. But clear skies in December mean freezing cold and falling off appendages, something you don't need to worry about with the Perseids, which can be watched from a comfy garden chair (best after midnight) with a glass of something cool and pleasant to hand.

Without catching hypothermia.

August 12th is the shower maximum, but meteors will be visible over the next few nights until then, gathering in number each evening. Perseid meteors tend to be quite swift moving, but they are still easy to see, and if you are really lucky, a fireball, a very bright meteor that leaves a trail, and burns up perhaps in a flash of pink and green.

You'll never know unless YOU LOOK UP.

More information here;

Meteorwatch Guide

Saturday 2 August 2014

The Kingfisher of Hawton Village

I took a different route today on my new "run to Rumbles cafe" route; instead of going along Grange Road, or hugging the path next to the wheat and rape fields at the back of Grange Road, I actually cut across the field along a rough track towards Hawton Village.

This is the second time I've run this route, and as with the first time, I appear to have trodden on some kind of celestial switch somewhere that immediately prompts rain to fall from the sky in drowning quantities.

There's a little dyke running into Hawton Village that presumably runs into the Devon somewhere. I kept my eyes open for as long as I could until they became little optical swimming pools, noticing what may have been a common darter overhead. But as I came to the end of the path, where it met Hawton Road, it was actually below me the aerial action took place. A flash of colour emerged from a tree by the roadside, shot past me, a yin-yang of blue and red, and flew a good 50 metres just above the water before it went out of view.

A kingfisher.

I love seeing these spectacular waterside dwellers, it is an unusual occurrence for me, living as I do in town. Depending on the light they can look almost stellar, a glowing neon shape that barely looks like a bird. But today, it looked like an illustration, an "Observer's Guide" plate made real, as it flew by.

It made my day, a day when the joy of still seeing swifts over Newark was cooled by the fact that that may have been the last time for the year.

Friday 1 August 2014

Life in the Lavender Pictorial

Hopefully, here are the photographs of the bees in the lavender doing their thing! If anyone can ID them that would be fantastic. It does go to illustrate that my new Moto G LTE is not the best at taking pictures of anything where there is the slightest degree of movement, it throws the autofocus out.

I am now on the look at for a reasonable compact camera I can take out running or cycling. Because by gosh I like the word "Pictorial" and don't want to have to give it up.

White tail?

Male red tail

Close up of white tail?

This was a huge queen red tail

Distant shot for comparison

Early bumblebee