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Saturday, 26 September 2015

Did I see a Male Montagu's Harrier or Hen Harrier?





My wife and I went to the bird hides in the Fenland of Manea, just across from Ely cathedral. We often go here and I have done a number of blogs concerning looking for birds of prey at these hides. It was a very fine late September day with clear blue skies. Therefore Carole and I decide to take a quick drive into the Fenland village and out towards the bird hides once again.

Upon a gate post along the dyke, Carole caught sight of a bird of prey perched and surveying its surroundings. At first we thought it was a common buzzard. It was not a marsh harrier, which always seem to be about this part of the fen. As I looked more closely I could not make out if it was a Hen Harrier or even a Montagu’s Harrier.

We were in a marshy or watery habitat and Hen Harriers prefer treeless moorland. The fen does not have many trees but it’s not moorland. Therefore, I wondered if it was the rarer Montagu’s Harrier. They are very similar to a Hen Harrier and are only summer visitors. They migrate in late September or early October. They are scarce and only breed in small sites in Eastern England, which is where the Fenland is. This bird had all the grey trimmings of a male Montagu’s Harrier, but it could have been a Hen Harrier instead. It was at a fare distance and I took many shots.

The harrier kept flying from the gate post onto the soil and then back. At one time another hawk landed on a post further up by another bird hide and I got a few shots of both.

In the end, I decided to try and move closer for better shot. I managed a few yards along the bridal path once coming down the bird hide’s steps. Then the hawk got spooked and took off. As it went into the clear blue sky I managed to get a few more shots.


If anyone with such knowledge could confirm what type of harrier it is, I would be grateful. I’m thinking it might be a Montagu’s Harrier but I can’t be sure.






























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Thursday, 24 September 2015

When did Van Gogh Paintings Happen to Me?


I think anyone can recognise a Van Gogh painting. I’m no expert in any sense of the word, but there is most definitely something that carries a unique style or signature about his work.

The colours are very vivid and the swirling brush strokes all seem to scream Van Gogh. I’ve even seen modern day artists paint things in his style, mimicking the same presentational flair of swirling vibrant colours. A picture of Batman (comic hero) on a U.S. city roof top. It is obviously a cheesy and comical take, but the tribute is there. “Oh a Van Gogh style,” we say humorously.

The first time I remember seeing a Van Gough painting was the Sun Flowers. I had heard the name like many other late artists' names. They were names that meant nothing because I did not know a painting or style belonging to any of them. But this was the very first time I could put a picture to the artist known as Van Gogh. It was the Sun Flowers. I was so unimpressed at the time. I could not appreciate the bright colours or any of it for it seemed juvenile to me.

I was an ordinary secondary school lad with impressions of epic and panoramic battle scenes like Waterloo paintings or Trafalgar. There were comic books in every news agents with graphic packed boy orientated battle stories. How on earth could people like this Van Gogh painting of, what looked like, infantile sun flowers?

Then as time went on and the years rolled by, I came of age and saw many things in a different perspective. Van Gogh slowly dawned upon me. I began to see other paintings of his and was still unimpressed, but I began to notice the style and also learn something of the man. Gradually, (I honestly don’t know when) Van Gogh happened to me. I just began to look at his many paintings and realised how wonderful and full of colourful life they really were.

Today I get great pleasure from looking at his paintings. I don’t know the names of them all because it is unimportant to me. I just know his style and feel that little twinge of delight when seeing his pictures (or paintings for the more seasoned Van Gogh fans.)


Above is one of my favourite Van Gogh paintings. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

How Nature Re-claims its Own When Humans Are Removed from the Eco Equation.



Nature Re-claiming its Own as Humans are Removed from the Eco Equation.

This documentary about the sudden disappearance of humans was fascinating. What an eerie beauty. I would love to walk about 150 years after such an event. I’m sure it would be a mesmerising experience. It makes me realise just how fragile we are and how nature is a very durable and patient entity. Just waiting and somehow knowing. Nature has seen it all before and can sigh with inevitability. One way or another all nature has to do, is wait.

Everywhere the absence of human beings is a breath of fresh air for most life on Earth. Whales begin to increase in numbers. Wolf packs mixing with surviving domesticated dogs. In the sea, cod numbers replenish and grow up to six feet in length.

What is so amazing, is that our buildings and cities would rapidly vanish. At first there would be catastrophic pollution as power stations went into melt down and flooded the globe with radioactivity. Huge cleansing follows as rain and weather allow the Eco system to take control. Bit by bit the human world is eroded until man’s existence is not even noticeable anymore. Wild forests and wild animals will take over and become hardened and feral.


This raw beauty is destined to return again one day. Watch YouTube documentary below:






or link to: Click Here




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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Do you think multicultrulism is going a tad too far?




The British establishment is great at under playing problems or steering things away from the real issue. They like creating another issue for us all to focus on while under stating the real problem. But this is the final straw. I must have my say.

I'm certain these chaps did not buy their oyster cards to travel responsibly on London Transport. LT inspectors can be frightful bores and are apt to be very tenacious with fare dodgers in this day and age. An entire invasion force without appropriate means of travel would hand LT a windfall in fines. Who knows, it could go to improving areas of infrastructure that were not originally targeted for renovation. All well and good one might say, but I suspect these monies might go into the coffers of the big LT executive's pension fund.


The reality is; I don’t think the dalek invasion force thought this one out properly. They have not taken in to account, the intricate regulatory body that runs LT. They (LT) are absolute masters at gathering fine money with big penalty charges on top, and knowing how the average dalek is low on social respect for humanoid cultures, I think there might be the odd problem or two arising from use of public transport.

The mayor of London should launch a cultural awareness program for these daleks who, through no fault of their own, lack the social skills needed to travel on public transport. Many might argue that it is wrong to impose charges on them when they don't understand the rules and regulations.

How are we to embrace these diverse beings if we unfairly target them with apathetic fines. They'll feel alienated and marginalised. They may look for more diabolical ways of expressing their frustration. If so, it would be reasonable to assume that we might have a problem on our hands.






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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Marsh Harriers and Kestrels at the Bird Hides







Carole and I went, once again, to the bird hides at Manea in Cambridgeshire. They have views across the marshy fenland towards Ely Cathedral. Here all sorts of birds like to come and go. There are great migrations of birds all year round.

To be honest, I’m not too interested in these flocks that come and go because I like to spot the variety of birds of prey that seem to be increasing in numbers around the fenland. I think there have been some EU directives concerning banning certain pesticides. This has led to an increase in birds of prey as it was suspected that rodents, on which birds of prey feed; were becoming poisoned and then eaten by hawks, owls, falcons and buzzards etc. Thus the poison was passed on and this led to a bird of prey numbers diminishing.

This is one among other positive steps towards looking out for the birds of prey. Obviously, such legislation is paying dividends. I can’t believe I’m saying something optimistic about the EU. Well, there you go on that particular issue. Who knows, I might spot some flying pigs one day.

I used the telephoto 420mm to800mm zoom lens that I purchased and also the spotting scope and tripod. Armed with good binoculars, a picnic box and two coffee flasks; Carole and I set off with great aplomb to the bird hides. The zoom lens has to be worked manually. One can’t focus and get an automatic adjustment with this compatible adaptation. It was a cheap and cheerful zoom lens and is fine for a beginner like me, but new draw backs are coming into play. The lens is good for distance, but one does need a tripod because there is a small jogging upon taking the photo shots. Also, while on manual, one needs to go into the SO settings and adjust shutter speed and light too. Otherwise, the photo shot will be too dark. This was a trial and error learning curve with me.

Today, I got some fine shots of marsh harriers and kestrels, but a new problem has come about that I did not anticipate. Using manual on my extended scope does require a lot of skill to get a moving target in focus, (flying hawk) and when the topic is in focus it can quickly move out and blur. It might move further away and distort or come closer and obscure. One must constantly adjust while following the bird in flight. Also one must keep the camera firmly upon the tripod or the shot will, again, blur when trying to capture the hawk in flight. There are a lot of things to think of and all this can be rather testing when trying to capture a moment. I had a marsh harrier come across the fen and it flew straight towards our bird hide. I was taking multiple shots while grappling with focus and tripod. The marsh harrier came so close that I did not need the 420mm to 800mm lens strength. I could have kept on the max 200mm lens with all it auto focus and would have had some great shots. I did not have time to change the lens in such a short time so I improvised and found some of the shots were blurred while some were fine. As the hawk circled it went out of focus and then as it returned and flew along the river it came back into focus. It was all rather fun as Carole and I gasped at the fine bird of prey – a female marsh harrier.

So now I’m planning on buying a totally compatible zoom lens for my make of camera and not the cheap adaptation that is limited where automatic focusing is concerned. I’m not knocking the cheap zoom lens because it has taught me much and I have still had much gratification from using it. I just think I’m ready to move on where the more expensive and better quality zoom lens equipment is concerned.

Our new spotting scope was put to good use too. We were in the hides for four hours and spent a very pleasant morning (bird of prey) bird watching. The marsh harriers were out in plentiful numbers but were mostly too far even for the full 800mm. However, we were able to observe well with telescope and binoculars. The crows are often a good source to alert us too hawks or buzzards because crows will harass birds of prey by gathering about them in flight. They certainly don’t like marsh harriers flying into their air space and will congregate around most hawks to try and intimidate them. Below are some of the shots that did not come out too bad. Well, not good, but one can see they are marsh harrier and kestrel.



kestrel



Kestrel in flight




kestrel flying off


A marsh harrier comes towards us across the fen


...as it nears it turns off along the river...


...then it turns back...



...it looks as though it might land...




   




...then it leaves...

... a murder of crows try to intimidate her as she leaves.



Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Have You Used the National Geographic 20-60x60 Telescope?




One can spend a lot on a camera, but this with the small camera or movie attachments is worth giving a go. I was impressed with this and ordered one online. I'll let bloggers know how I got on while bird watching in the Fen. 

I keep seeing a female Marsh Harrier, but can't get a good shot on the telephoto lens because of the slight wobble with a long lens at such distance. Upon a tripod it is hard to get the moving bird in sight too. There are many things to remember. 

Therefore, I'll try the telescope out and see if I can do something with an attachable camera too. 




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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home.




Tudor England was a place where very harsh and brutal executions still did not stop people from committing diabolical crimes. This YouTube documentary shows some of the terrible crimes of that time.






President Jean-Claude Juncker's Coming State of the Union Speech Should be Watched by all Europeans



Soon, President Jean-Claude Juncker will do a State of the Union address. Something all Europeans will need to watch. There is so much going on with the EU at present. I think we have reached a cross roads where a great many of the EU nations are wondering; “Where do we go from here.”


I would assume President Jean-Claude Juncker will have to use parts of his speech on the migration crisis. Because it is a very emotive issue of the moment. It is something, I’m sure, most people don’t envy him on. In fact all European nations are perplexed on how to handle such an imperative undertaking.


I would like to see him speak on a new protocol or mechanism for all EU peoples to be more involved with votes to decide how we get an EU president. This is because I feel that the future presidential candidates should be made more known and not continuously imposed upon Europeans.
President Juncker is head of an exciting project that could be so grand and wonderful, but Europeans need to feel more involved. These things are slowly developing, but we need to see this president of the EU talk on such things, especially electoral reforms where the Brussels big guns are concerned. Better democratic accountability all the way and a two way street so that Brussels can better access the attention of all EU nations. 



I also believe that national disgraced MPs who are forced to resign from their own nation’s political system should not be allowed to re-surface in the EU. I say this because some of our British MPs have vanished from the home political spectrum in disgrace, only to resurface as an EU MP when it is decided the dust has settled. I don’t think this puts the EU in a good light.