Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 269 - Great Crested Grebe

I'm almost at the end of the birds I photographed when I was in Europe, and it seems appropriate to feature a bird that I can see both on my travels to the UK and back home in Australia.

The Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) found across much of Europe and Asia. There are African Australasian subspecies as well, and of course its the Australasian I see the most.  'Podiceps cristatus' means crested bum-foot (!) which refers to the crest on the birds head, but also how far back along the body the feet are found.  Its little scraps like this that keep me going you know!

I found the the birds in the pictures here at Ham Walls RSPB Reserve in Somerset.  Seeing Great Crested Grebes on an RSPB reserve is very appropriate, as it was the decline of this bird due to the hat trade that brought about the formation of the RSPB in 1889.

There seemed to be a great deal of both synchronised and unsynchronised preening going on with these birds - which are an adult and two well grown chicks.  The light was poor and the birds a little more distant that I would like - but a little bit of cropping works wonders!










As ever you can join in with WBW by clicking on the blue button below the thumbnails.   SM



Monday, 18 September 2017

River Brathay

I seem to be swimming against the current at present!  Just too many things happening - fortunately I only have a few more days to go before I can take a short break and get back on an even keel!

So, in interim here are some shots go the River Brathay in The Lake District in the UK.

I was asked yesterday if I missed anything from the UK - it's not an unusual question I find - and I said without hesitation "the landscape".  I suppose these picture may explain why.








You can find more pictures from around the world here at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 268 - Robin

The Robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a popular and very familiar bird in the UK.  I found this rather obliging individual at the Ham Walls RSPB reserve when we were in the UK.

It's another very busy week here, so this post is not going to be very long!

One of the things I like about Robins is the way in which their name has spread around the world - in many parts of the world, any bird with a red breast is a "Robin" - regardless of taxonomy or genetics. Its the same for black and white birds, many of which have Magpie in their name.

These are the best image I have managed to take of what might by the 'original' Robin.  I rather like them.





As ever you can join in with WBW by clicking on the blue button below. SM

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Jack's Rake - Pavey Ark

One of the (many) things I wanted to do when I was in the UK was climb up Jack's Rake with H.  H is a bit of a thrill seeker and I was sure he would enjoy it.

Jack's Rake is a scramble / very low grade rock climb up the face of a 'cliff' to the summit of Pavey Ark.  The cliff is about 400 ft heigh, and rises up from Stickle Tarn.

It's a great place. If you want to have a look at the cliff face, there is a picture here.  I did not take huge numbers of pictures as I was concentrating on having a good time, rather than on other things (not that the 'other things' are not good I hasten to add!).







These pictures are just grabs from Go-Pro video, but they do give you a good idea of what it was like.

You can find more pictures from around the world - and possibly less vertigo - here at Our World Tuesday.

I hope any of you that have been knocked about by Irma are OK - and that you and yours are safe.  SM

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 267 - Mute Swan

Given that I spent a reasonable amount of time in the UK by rivers and lakes, it's not surprise that I have some images of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor).   This species is basically very obvious and easy to see in the UK all year round.  In fact, it's population is growing thanks to better protection and the banning of the lead shot that was used in fishing that was poisoning the birds.  (I am unsure if the lead pellets used in shotguns have been banned as well).

Mute Swans used to be known as the largest bird in the UK, but this claim to fame is now help by the White-Tailed Sea Eagle. Male Mute swans have a wing span of over 2 meters, and can weigh more than 10 kg.  By all measures they are big!

Having said that this is a common bird, I only seemed to be able to photograph it in poor light, from rocking boats or with way too short a lens! These are not the best pictures I have taken by a country mile, but I have never posted Mute Swans on WBW - so, here they are.

The first two shots (which I think are the best) are from Esthwaite Water in the Lake District, the third shot is from Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire and the last two shots are from Ham Wall RSPB reserve in Somerset.







As ever, you can join in with WBW by clicking on the blue button below.  Feel free to remind anybody you know in the land of bloggers that WBW is still running and we would love them to be involved!  SM



Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Near Hawkshead

The house we stayed in near Hawkshead, in the Lakes, was about a 20 minute walk from the village itself.  It must be one of the more scenic 20 minute walks in the world!  Classic English countryside with Lakeland Fells in the background.

One of the things that always blows me away when I get back to the UK, is just how green it is.  The two pano type shots are an attempt to play with the idea of a green sea, because the movement of the grass in the wind reminded me of waves.

The other two shots are just small stream beds that caught my eye.





You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Hawkshead Hounds

Greetings - here is a post to prove I am still alive.  Busy, busy, busy - but I think I have some time on Monday to catch up on comments.

In the mean time, here are two of the many good value hounds we met in our recent UK trip!



More pictures to follow - I hope!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 266 - Oystercatcher

I like when things turn up in odd looking places.

I was out with a friend in a rowing boat on Esthwaite Water in the Lake District in the north-west of the UK looking for ospreys when I found these Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) sat on the roof of a boat shed.

I had been able to hear them for a while, but never thought of looking on a roof for a wader!  Finding these birds here in summer may suggest that they bred somewhere near as, over the last 50 years, more and more of these birds have moved inland, away from the coast, to breed. Given these pictures were taken in early June they may have had a nest somewhere near by.

I rather like the contrast between the birds and the architecture of the building.








To join in with WBW just click on the Blue Button below the thumbnails.  Cheers SM.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Cellarium - Fountains Abbey

Although I enjoyed seeing the Pheasants and Squirrels, the real reason to go to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire was to see the remains of the Cistercian Abbey.  Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for 407 years, until 1539, when it was closed on the orders of Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

I had seen lots of pictures of the remains of main building, so rather than show more of them, I will share some images from one of the areas that I liked the most.  The cellarium was the part of the Abbey where food and drink was stored.  I would love to know what it looked like when it was full of life and food.





The green cast in the pictures is not a mistake, it really did look like that!  Centuries of moss must have stained the stone - and it could also be green light from the lawns outside!

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Squirrel!

Just to show that I have returned to the land of the living, here are some pictures of a squirrel from the UK.  This is the introduced Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) rather than the native Red, but I missed out on Nutkin on my travels.

The Grey Squirrel is not really very popular in the UK, as it has largely replaced the Red Squirrel over most of the country.  But, given I don't see any sort of squirrel on a regular basis I was still pleased to see this one - and so were my kids!





These pictures were taken at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire.