Wednesday, 19 October 2016

RSPB Rainham Marshes

Had a toil day from work yesterday and spent it at Rainham. Before the reserve opened I walked from the car park to the serin mound and back. The weather was overcast with short occasional showers, they were short because the strong south westerly was moving them through pretty quickly. It also meant that most things were keeping their heads down. Four Avocets in Aveley Bay were good to see and probably my first here this year, also Curlew and Redshank noted.

The twin towered visitor centre
a Redshank with a lot to say!
this Wren had found a sheltered spot near the serin mound
Mistle Thrush on one of the visitor centre's towers

Late morning and the sun had broken through so I spent a bit of time in the woodland area as it was sheltered from the wind.

there were a number of Common Green Shieldbugs on the bramble leaves

Blue Tit

Long-tailed Tit

a couple of Common Darters still around


male Common Wasp

Common Carder Bee

Comma butterfly


Comma again

young Marsh Frog on path near Butts hide, I moved him to the vegetation where he hopped off and disappeared before I could get a more natural looking shot!

From the Marshland Discovery Zone these two Little Grebes were munching their way through the sticklebacks and showing very well.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Islington Ecolgy Centre

Had a meeting at the Ecology Centre in Islington this morning and managed a brief walk around the nature reserve.

The centre is set in the beautiful surroundings of Gillespie Park LNR which is 2.8 hectare and home to a wealth of wildlife, including 244 species of plants, 94 species of birds and 24 types of butterflies.
The area includes ponds, woodland and meadow areas.

If you have never been it is well worth a visit and is open daily. A short walk from Arsenal underground station makes access by public transport easy.

Aster 'Little Carlow'
Sprays of small lavender-blue daisies add colour in late summer and autumn

still a few Speckled Wood butterflies around

Sunday, 2 October 2016

A week in north Devon

We spent last week in Woolacombe, north Devon. It was a family holiday so no birding although I did see Ravens on a couple of days and photographed a few of the more obliging species mainly Jackdaws and Pied Wagtails. It rained each day and was often misty making photography difficult, well at least that is my excuse!

Just down the road is Ilfracombe

The small harbour is surrounded on three sides by tall cliffs, there is plenty of parking on the harbour and boat trips running from here to Lundy Island. Above the harbour is St. Nicholas Chapel dating back to 1321 the chapel was built as a place of worship for the people of Ilfracombe living and working around the harbour. From the middle ages the chapel maintained a light to guide shipping into the harbour. It is still a working lighthouse today and is said to be the oldest in the country. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1540 St Nicholas ceased to be a chapel. Between 1835 and 1871 a Mr John Davey lived in the chapel as lighthouse keeper raising a family of 14 children. The chapel was also used as a reading room and a laundry. Since then it remained much neglected until 1962 when it was restored by the Rotarians of the town. The chapel is today regarded as a special place of interest within the town and is an iconic landmark overlooking the harbour.

St. Nicholas Chapel

Ascending the climb to the chapel, although it looks like Coco is going the wrong way!

St. Nicholas Chapel

view from the chapel looking inland

view from the chapel looking out to sea
Ilfracombe harbour viewed from St. Nicholas Chapel

In the picture above you can see the statue 'Verity' which stands at the entrance to the harbour.
Verity is a stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst and stands 66.4 feet tall looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales. It has been loaned to the town for 20 years. The name of the piece refers to "truth" and Hirst describes his work as a "modern allegory of truth and justice".
Members of North Devon Council referred to the controversial nature of the statue as a potential boost to tourism. Local reaction was very mixed, with those critical of the work calling it "ugly" and stating that "it isn't suitable for a Victorian seaside town". Before they allowed planning permission the council received 100 letters from people who objected to the installation of the statue, and 177 letters supporting the application.
Hirst, who lives in Combe Martin, has loaned the statue to the town for 20 years starting from its erection on 16 October 2012.

Damien Hirst's 'Verity'
Mortehoe is a village and former manor on the north coast of Devon, England. It lies 10 miles north-west of Barnstaple, near Woolacombe and Lee Bay, and is sited in a valley within the hilly sand-dune-like land behind Morte Point. The parish population at the 2011 census was 1,637. Mortehoe can trace its origins back to the Domesday Book, and beyond. Always a farming community, in former years it was a base for smugglers and wreckers. Since the coming of the railway, notably the Ilfracombe Branch Line, Mortehoe has become much more dependent on tourism, with numerous camp sites and Holiday camps in the vicinity.
Early morning walk to Mortehoe

early morning walk to Mortehoe

Mortehoe two Ravens flew over 'Kronking' away just after I took this shot

Woolacombe is a seaside resort on the north Devon coast, and lies at the mouth of a valley (or 'combe') in the parish of Mortehoe. The beach is 3 miles (4.8 km) long, sandy, gently sloping and faces the Atlantic Ocean near the western limit of the Bristol Channel. Famous for its chocolate cookie industry.
It is a popular destination for surfing and family holidays and is part of the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The beach has been managed by Parkin Estates Ltd for over half a century and has over the years continuously been recognized as one of the best beaches in Europe. It won the title of Britain's Best Beach in the "Coast Magazine Awards 2012" and was awarded the same prize of Britain's Best Beach in 2015 by TripAdvisor, also ranking in their polls as 4th in Europe and 13th best in the world. The beach water quality is monitored regularly by the environment agency and meets its highest standards.
early morning view across the bay
beach café with stunning views over the bay, also does a great hot chocolate

sections of the beach are dog friendly

See I told you she was half Ewok!

warm, sunny and calm day on the beach.....not!

Jackdaws - I saw hardly any Magpies all week and none at all in the towns, but there were lots of Jackdaws. The Jackdaws had learned that where there are tourists there is likely to be food, and being scavengers they are happy to eat almost anything. This association with people provides an opportunity for a few photographs!

Coco copying a Jackdaw!

Pied Wagtail - This extremely confiding bird was feeding in a small raised flower bed in the middle of a car park in Woolacombe Bay and was oblivious to people walking past no more than two feet from it!

this adult was on the pitch & putt course

Croyde Bay - Croyde is a village on the west-facing coastline of north Devon. The village lies on the South West Coast Path near to Baggy Point, which is owned by the National Trust. It lies within the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Croyde village and its beach faces the Atlantic Ocean near the western limit of the Bristol Channel.
The past 30 years has seen large increases in younger visitors develop around surfing, the bay is one of the most picturesque in north Devon.