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
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Friday, 31 August 2012

A bit of this, and a bit of that

A selection from the last few days, before they're consigned to a distant memory in my head.

An invasive introduction here, and one that causes concern where it grows rampantly.

Orange Balsam.  I think it's rather nice myself.

Some sunshine does make a difference to pictures, especially when you combine water.

Part of the Grand Union Canal, that runs through Milton Keynes

Nearby is a future 'nature reserve'. Still in the process of construction, and gravel digging, it is attracting some good birds already. Here's a shot of a hole.

Going to be one of the future lakes that make up Manor Farm, in Milton Keynes. I wish they'd get a bloody move on with it.

A young one next:

A juvenile Grey Heron, looking very young.

A couple of butterflies next.



Another bird,


A couple of dragons:

Ruddy Darter

Migrant Hawker

Brown Hawker

Another butterfly, before it flies off

Large Skipper

and if you're still with me, a couple more birds to finish with:


Great Crested Grebe

and I'll finish with a grown up Grey Heron

Well, if you stuck with it to here, you deserve a medal.  Have a great upcoming weekend, and I hope the sun shines where you are. If it does, don't forget to put some water out for the birds.

Put some out anyway, they always need it.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Yesterday, myself and Trevor, had a great day out, at two nature reserves in Hertfordshire. We started at Amwell, and then went on to Rye Meads.

Neither of us had been to Amwell before, and since Rye Meads doesn't open till 10 a.m., we made Amwell our first stop.

There has been a report of a Redstart in one of the fields, so a possible bonus if we managed to see it; although neither of us are 'twitchers', it would be good to see it while we're there, but certainly not the end of the world if we didn't.

We parked up in the narrow road, (no fancy car parks here), and made our way down a leafy track, towards the reserve.

Across a railway line, over the river Lea, and eventually one of the lakes lay ahead.

 A 'welcome' notice, and another large board, that had a list of the recent sightings.

 A great idea. I was warming to this place already.

We set of down  a track road towards one of the hides. A very impressive hide too.
Clean, tidy, and giving good views over the lake.
After a while we left there, and made our way round towards the next hide. Three in all, and all equally clean, and tidy.
From the 'White Hide', excellent views over the biggest lake, Great Hardmead Lake, and the many birds that were there; amongst them,

 Little Egret

Eventually we left the comfort of the hide, and set off towards the next lake.

 There is also a meadow here, and a dragonfly trail. It's also where the Redstart has been sighted.

Walking down the leafy track, we stopped occasionally to photograph the dragonflies and butterflies that were in abundance.

Speckled Wood

A gentleman walked past with some binoculars round his neck, exchanged a few pleasantries, and carried on.
We finally reached the gate to the meadow, and as we went in, we saw binocular man off to our right, chatting to another man with a camera, and lurking a short distance from the bush where the Redstart had been sighted.

We carried on along the path, towards the boardwalk that crosses over the wet meadow. We agreed we'd go look for the Redstart in the bush, later.

A few more dragons and butterflies, a Sparrowhawk overhead, and then we began to make our way back towards binocular man, camera man, and Redstart bush.

Something caught my eye as we slowly walked there.
Over on a wooden seat, not far from our destination, sat a bird.

 The Redstart. A little distant, but the Redstart nonetheless.

The funny thing was though; to me, anyway, the two intrepid bird watchers had been joined by a third. All three were gazing lustily towards Redstart bush.

 And just a few yards behind them, a Redstart was gazing their way.

 The irony.

When we first saw binocular man along the track, he hadn't mentioned the Redstart.
Maybe he thought two blokes heading that way, with cameras and binoculars, weren't interested in birds, or a Redstart that is not exactly as common as a pigeon.
Or maybe he was just a miserable bugger, and wasn't going to tell us.
Well, here we were, looking at a Redstart,

that was behind them, looking their way, while they were looking at a bush.

As we walked past them, they looked over briefly, and then set their silent gazes, lovingly at the bush.

I was so temped to call out, 'it's behind you!!'

But I thought, 'nah, sod 'em'.

Monday, 27 August 2012

I feel a rant coming on.

I don't buy newspapers. If I want to know anything, I look out the window to see if it's raining or sunny. Besides, if I want 'other' information, I can look at the many newspapers online.

The same with TV. I've not had a telly for many years.
I think the last time I had one, Ena Sharples, Minnie Caldwell, and Martha Longhurst, sat supping stout in the snug of the Rovers, and put the world to rights.
I don't miss not having one.
I'm not a sports fan, reality show fan, soap addict, or 'talent'(?) show watcher. It doesn't leave much else on there, does it?
I can watch a DVD; one that I want to see, when I want to see it.
Nature programmes?
I got i-player for that.

When I had my pc built, I specifically didn't want a TV card.
I had my cable disconnected many years ago.

About four years ago, I started to get letters from the TV Licence people.

'We have no record of a TV Licence at this address. If you watch TV, you need a licence ..... etc. etc.'

I didn't reply. Why should I?

About every six weeks I'd get another letter; each one more menacing than the last.
They would explain the penalties for not having a licence to watch TV, and eventually even threatened court action if their investigations revealed I had a TV, and no licence.

One day, a knock at the door.
Jovial fat man with clipboard from the TV Licence people.

He caught me on a good day.

'Come in!' I said, sweeping him into my small accommodation.
The poor man hardly got a word in, as I ushered him into each room, to show no TV.
'This is the bedroom. This is the living room. This is the toilet. And this is the airing cupboard. Do you want to look in the shed?'
He didn't.
'Now write down I don't have a telly, fuck off, and stop sending me these bloody letters.'

He left, and I heard no more; until .......

The beginning of this year I started to get the reminder letters again.
The ones that steadily got more threatening, as they informed me there was no record of a TV Licence at this address; the last one, from Luton Enforcement Division,  dated August 2012, headed in large red capital letters:


signed by Derek Helsey, Regional Enforcement Manager.

Well, yesterday morning there was a knock at the door.

Small man, with hand held computer thingy.

' I'm from the TV Licence, and we have no record of a licence.'
'I haven't got one'. I said.
His eyes momentarily lit up.
'A licence?' he offered.
'No.' I said. 'Or a telly'.

He looked a little shocked at this.

I carried on; I'd been waiting for this moment.

'Why do you keep sending me these letters? I haven't got a telly. Don't want one, and haven't had one for years.'
He went to speak, but I beat him to it.
'I don't get letters from Anglian Water telling me I haven't got a fishing licence.'
'That's a bit different sir, .......'
Sir? Is he taking the piss?
'What do you mean different? No different at all'
'Erm, not everyone goes fishing.'
'And not everyone has a telly!'
'Well, 98% of the population does.'
Oh, getting all smart and technical now are we.
'Well, I'm part of the 2% that don't, and I like it that way.'

He asked if he could take a look inside, and explained that it would stop the letters from coming for a year.
'A year? What happens then?' I asked.
'We go through the process again.'
'Are you part of the SS?' I asked.

I told him there was no way he's coming in without a search warrant.
He fumbled with his hand held computer thingy, pushing keys, and said he would put down that I didn't have a TV. He warned me that the letters would come again after a year.

Bring it on.

Normal service will be resumed later.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A mix for the weekend

A random selection. A few were from a couple of days out with Trevor, when we went butterfly hunting; and the others from this morning round my local lake.

Red Admiral

White Admiral

A very tatty looking one, but a first for me.

Silver-washed Fritillary

Another tatty one; and again, a first for me.

Speckled Wood

Migrant Hawker

and from this morning, at the local

 Great Crested Grebe

Black-headed Gull

Chiffchaff ......  a young one.


Don't forget to put some water out for the birds.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Quick one

Just a few to start the week with.

Common Darter

Holly Blue


Willow Warbler

Sorry if you've seen a couple of these on the other blog.

Have a good week, and don't forget the birds need some water as well as food.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Day out

Had a good day out yesterday with Trevor, at Birdfair.

Joined a few clubs, signed a 'cruelty against animals' petition, entered some competitions, missed an amazing picture opportunity, (actually, didn't take many at all), blagged a couple of freebies, and spent loads of dosh.

We got there early, so had some refreshments, provided by hairy towers, a quick wander round a field, and then it was time to get in.

It's basically tons of stalls in marquees, on a big nature reserve.

The marquees house everything from wildlife charities, commercial birding products, (books, videos, scopes, binoculars, etc.), birding holiday tour operators, (I entered a competition to win a holiday in Texas; with the promise from 'Audury', that she'd get me a big hat if I win), photographers, flogging their wares, and everything else in-between.

Various 'birding' celebrities about; some selling, some mingling, and some doing talks .......... we watched some of Simon King's, who came across as a very genuine person. I liked the way he had all the kids down the front, so they wouldn't miss anything.
Yea, nice bloke.

The freebies were from a couple of 'birding' magazines. They usually have special offers at these places, if you subscribe to their magazine. Since I already subscribe to a couple, I said, 'what do I get?'
A book from one, and a pocket magnifier from another.

One of the people there, was the infamous twitcher, Lee Evans.
(not the comedian; but he did look funny)
Oh, how I wished I'd taken a picture.
Dressed in a dodgy looking striped jacket, and a pair of shades Elton John would have killed for, he looked every inch a ............ well, I thought twat.

Here's a picture someone put on twitter today.

Different jacket ........ same shades.
If I was married, I would hope my wife would say to me, ' Jeeez, you ain't going out like that, are you?!'

The big money went on another new toy.

I've always fancied a Trail Cam.
One of those things you set up, leave it, and it takes pictures or video, of what passes in front of it.
I had to try it out last night, to see what goes on in my garden, while I'm tucked up in bed. I knew I had a hedgehog visit; but what else?

A short video. First attempt, and I'm still fumbling with this piece of fairly expensive bit of kit. It won't let me download what it's captured, unless I go round the houses. A minor annoyance for now.

Here's last night.

It would seem the local cats are killing my small rodents.

So, a pretty good day. A three day event. Would I go again?
Yea, probably.
Would I go for the three days in the future?
Well, we saw everything in the time we were there. If there were 'talks' I was interested in, yea, probably. It is on a nature reserve, so I could always wander round there anyway.

All in all, it was an experience; with a few characters thrown in.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


When the sun shines, it brings out the butterflies; and the butterfly hunters.

(That's Trevor getting the low down on one.)

We sometimes meet up, to see what we can find.
Here's a few, from recent visits.

Brown Argus

Chalkhill Blue


Green-veined White

Large White

Marbled White

Large Skipper

Small Skipper



and the last one for now, a small brown butterfly, that settles with its wings closed.

Small Heath

however, with perseverance, and a lot of luck, I managed to catch a shot as he landed, with his wings open.

Very pleased to catch that one.

Enjoy the rest of your day, and week.

See you at Birdfair on Friday.