Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
No Google Adds here.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Part Two

Part two of  'A Little bit of English Countryside'

Wilstone Reservoir.

A favourite of mine, the local birders, and the birds.
Amongst some of the birds seen, were Little Egret, plenty of Canada Geese flying in from the surrounding fields, and a juvenile Black Tern skimming over the water.

No pictures taken from here this trip worth showing, apart from this one,

 Roy's bike?

but some video to give a flavour of the place titled part two.

The final destination was College Lakes.

  We'll imaginatively call this, Part Three

Picture shortage again, so hopefully video will capture the feel.  

It may be the 'flagship' reserve of the local Wildlife Trust, but I think too much money, (my money, because I'm a paying member), has been spent on a fancy visitor centre, and a luxury hide.

The visit kicked off to a good start with a Hobby circling the lake, and then making a half hearted attempt to chase down some circling Swallows. What a turn of speed he had! No video, I was too enthralled watching.
He quickly gave up though, and continued riding the air, scanning the area below.
A Buzzard sat atop a tree, until he was dislodged by  a couple of Crows, and that was probably the real highlights.
The view from the 'wonderful' hide produced a Moorhen, and a couple of Mallards.

My own view, and just a personal view, is all the renovation and tarting up of the place has had a detrimental effect on some of  the bird life. The place has become a sterile playground.

I walked round half of the reserve, and then gave up in disappointment, and turned back to the car park.

part three

(My visit produced 22 different birds; the birds outnumbered by the large amount of young screaming kids and mothers enjoying the sunshine.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind kids; but not when I'm trying to watch some birds and wildlife. Take 'em to the bloody park; not a nature reserve.)

Maybe I've turned into a grumpy old git.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Friday, 26 August 2011

A little bit of English Countryside

A bit of a change today.

(For a lady half way round the world, but missing a bit of England. Hope you enjoy it Gemel)

A few days ago, I had an enjoyable day out at three different places; all within a 30 minute drive from where I live.

I started at Ivinghoe Beacon; a prominent hill and landmark in the Chiltern Hills, standing 233 m (757 ft) above sea level. Some fantastic views on a clear day, and my intention was to get the sunrise.

Next stop was Wilstone Reservoir, just up the road. A mixture of water, farmland and woods; it's part of the 'Tring Reservoirs', and a great place for birds. It was constructed in 1802 to provide water for the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

Finally I stopped off at College Lakes, a nature reserve managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxford Wildlife Trust. Once a chalk quarry, College Lake has been restored over 20 years into a mix of different habitats and is now one of their flagship reserves.

Maybe I should do this in 2 or 3 parts; it might turn into a monster; especially with the video.

Ivinghoe Beacon

After making my way to the top, I was ready to die. I struggled to get my breath, and my chest felt a bit tight. It certainly got the heart pumping!
The anticipation of the rising sun was growing, as the sky took on a red hue.

And soon the sun rose on the horizon.

The view from the top of the hill was pretty good.

 The early morning mist shrouded the landscape like water.

As the sun climbed the sky, everything took on a brief golden glow.

An amazing amount of Harebell adorn the summit too.

Birdlife from the top of the hill included Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, and a large flock of Linnet, that took a liking to a particular tree.

A few butterflies; amongst them this one,

 Common Blue

And then the easier walk down towards the car park. The sun, now higher in the sky, backlighting the trees in the distance.

Next stop, Wilstone Reservoir I'll do that in part two.

A video, to try and capture the 'feel' of the morning.

Enjoy the upcoming day and weekend.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Look

I love the way birds give you that certain 'look' at times.

Here's a variety of 'looks'

The casual, over the shoulder glance, that says 'I know you're there!'

 A Dunnock. He knows I'm there, but feels fairly safe with distance.

 Grey Heron. 'Don't come any closer, I see you.'

Then there's the 'startled look'

 Reed Bunting. 'Where did you come from?'

One of my favourite 'looks' is the 'intense stare'

 Willow Warbler

 Reed Warbler

But who can resist the 'curious stare'
The WTF! look, as the shutter fires, and the birds curiosity is greater than the desire to move on.

 Greylag Goose


And my favourite little 'lookers', get two pictures to end with

 Long Tailed Tit

Visit WBW for more 'great lookers' from around the world

Monday, 22 August 2011

Monday Macro

Apologies if you've seen this before. It's one I posted the other day on my other blog, but I'm in a rush today; off out up a hill, and some water.

Southern Hawker

Back later. Enjoy the day

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011

Friday Flowers

Odontites verna

Flowering between June and September, Red Bartsia is a parasitic plant living partially off grass roots. It grows 15-40 cm high. (6" to 16")

A much overlooked plant, Red Bartsia has a dusty, careworn appearance, due to its dense covering of fine hairs.
It's a straggly, downy plant with narrow, toothed leaves that sit opposite each other along the stems. All the flowers on one stem face in the same direction.

It is a common plant of roadside verges, railway cuttings, waste grounds and other disturbed ground.

A short post today.

Enjoy the upcoming weekend, whatever you are doing.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

WBW, the young ones.

A few juveniles

Long Tailed Tit

Willow Warbler

Reed Warbler




Pied Wagtail


and finally, for now,

Blue Tit

For more birds from around the world, young and old, visit WBW

Monday, 15 August 2011

Monday Macro

My last week of work starts very soon this morning. A mix of early and late shifts, so blogging might be a bit erratic.

Anyway, for today, while I have a few macro's, here's another butterfly. This species is a lovely little visitor to my garden every year.

Holly Blue

Have a good week. 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Friday flowers

Yellow Loosestrife 

Lysimachia vulgaris

Also known as Yellow Willowherb, Moneywort, String of Sovereigns, Willow Wort and Wood Pimpernel.

Unrelated to Purple Loosestrife (which flowers at the same time of year and in the same habitats), and despite its structural similarity, Yellow Loosestrife is actually a member of the primrose family. It is common throughout the UK and Ireland and can be found in northern European countries, too,

As a general rule it is the early spring flowers that are yellow, but here is a late summer plant that has stunning bright yellow flowers to brighten up the countryside when it is becoming more dominated by blues and pinks.

The yellow flowers (June-September) are borne in long-stalked clusters from the upper leaf axils.

The Yellow Loosestrife is a tall, handsome plant, from 2 to 3 or even 4 feet high,

 found as a rule on shady banks or crowning the herbage of the stream-side vegetation. It has a creeping root, which persists year after year, and every spring throws up afresh the tall, golden-topped stems, whose flowers are at their best in July and August.

Each flower is about 3/4 inch in diameter, forming a cup of five petals, quite distinct at their tips, but joined together near the base.

When the flowers droop, the five-pointed calyx, whose edges are fringed with fine red hairs, are seen at the back of the petals. The five stamens look quite separate, but are joined together at the bottom by a fleshy band attached to the petals, so that they seem to stand on a little glandular tube.

An astringent herb, yellow loosestrife is principally used to treat gastro-intestinal conditions such as diarrhoea and dysentery, to stop internal and external bleeding and to cleanse wounds
It makes a serviceable mouthwash for treating sore gums and mouth ulcers.

Believed to quieten enraged beasts and, if put about the yoke of oxen, would calm them. Gargle for sore throat. Root infusion for jaundice and urinary problems. Gnats and flies dislike the plant so it was smoked indoors to get rid of them.

Pliny (AD 23-79) recorded that lysimachia, the plant's Latin name, was a tribute to King Lysimachus of Sicily, who was the first to discover its medicinal benefits. The name "loosestrife" refers to the plant's reputed power to prevent conflict, particularly between animals, and to repel insects.

 Enjoy the up coming weekend 

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis

The Green Woodpecker is the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in Britain,
and its loud laughing call has earned it the country name of the 'Yaffle'.

My usual view of this bird is,

It has a heavy-looking body, green mantle and wings, yellowish rump and whitish underparts.  The crown and nape are red, with a black marking around the white eye.

Females can be told from males by their completely black moustache and smaller eye-patch. Males have a streak of red along their black moustaches.

The tail is short, blackish with green barring, the bill is strong, and grey-black.

The legs are olive-grey.

Juveniles are copiously streaked and barred on the face, neck and underparts. Also, their upperparts are greyer with scattered pale spots and the moustache is speckled.

 They resemble adults after moulting in August-November.

They have an undulating flight, and will climb up tree trunks and branches, and move around to be on the side away from anyone watching.

As with other woodpeckers, the stiff tail feathers are used as a prop when it is clinging to a tree and its toes are specially arranged with two pointing forwards and two backwards.

They are a woodland bird and feed on insects, such as ants, beetles and caterpillars, by extracting them from crevices in trees with their long sticky tongue. The tongue of the Green Woodpecker is so long (10cm) it has to be curled round its skull. The tongue, which is armed with barbs at the end, is used for extracting ants. 
They are often seen feeding on ants on the ground, in garden lawns and pastures.

A handsome bird

To finish, a short video clip of a juvenile, taken at my local lake.


More birds from around the world can be seen at Springmans WBW