Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pond carnage

The final breaking of warm weather has encouraged an emergence of flying ants, today (31.7.07). Many of them have found their way into the pond, where Pond Skaters are acting like Alaskan Grizzly Bears at a salmon run. These are times of plenty, my skating friends - but sharing a meal with a friend while you mate is surely going too far... (A640).

Oxymoron 2

Ruddy Heaven

Ruddy Darter, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough (31.7.07).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tern for the worse

I fear for this young Common Tern at Maxey pits (29.7.07), which appears to have a damaged wing (digiscope).

Juvvy Med

This juvenile Mediterranean Gull was the star bird at Maxey pits this evening (29.7.07), despite competition from the two Wood Sandpipers (one of which was particularly vocal). Mmmm, the scalloping (digiscope)!


The best thing about my new work place is the cycle ride to and from it. It takes me five miles through some pleasant parts of Peterborough and soothes the mind, as well as helping get me fit, tone my muscles and lose weight. Most days, I listen to my iPod as I cylce and it is vital that I choose the correct music for the journey as it moulds my mood for the ride as well as the day, but particularly the ride. Sometimes, I just listen to one track on repeat...

The message-filled music came loud and clear as I emerged the other day. Hundred-mile-an-hour winds were ice-blasting the side of my face and body with hailstones and sleet. I invoked the name of our Holy Mother during my descent through the storm to the side of the rowing lake.

A hairy-faced, gum-chewing old lady walking her hounds there was not pleased to see me, seeming to deliberately step in my path, forcing me up a little muddy slope to avoid her and her pack. She even had the cheek to try and whack me as I passed with a leather lead - to teach me a lesson for daring to cycle on the same path as her.

In accordance to this Biblical season, the rain came down harder, soaking deep into my bones. I continued riding - a frozen wet corpse. At Ferry Meadows, the puddles were lakes and it became harder to control the bike. I skidded, fell, and gashed my knees. The blood spilt out and joined my sandwiches, scattered in pieces in the mud. I was not pleased.

Final humiliation came as I passed through Lynch Wood. Unseen to my shaded eyes, a branch of a wild rose was hanging over the path. Thorns inevitably tore into my scalp, drawing further crimson.

But, it's all right now.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Sanderling, Maxey pits, Cambs, 28.7.07 (digiscope).

At Maxey this evening were:
Sanderling, 1,
Wood Sandpiper, 2,
Green Sandpiper, 14,
Common Sandpiper, 5,
Dunlin, 8,
Redshank, 1, juve.

Also usual breeding waders and a pair of visiting Shelduck with two youngsters.

Common Darter studies

Southern Hawker



The tenth dragonfly species to visit our new pond.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Water Measurer

This fascinating, cool bug was in our pond today (27.7.07). It looks like a child's drawing of what a Pond Skater ought to look like, and moves like the same drawing (A640). The eyes, for instance, seem to be in totally the wrong place.
For a bigger view, click the pics.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Photographed at Media House lake, Lynchwood, Peterborough, 24.7.07 (A640). This species was only recorded in the Peterborough area for the first time last year. It only reached the UK in 1999 and is still spreading northwards. Other sites in the local area where it has been found include Ferry Meadows (not far from here), Thorpe Meadows, Farcet Fen and just outside Crowland.

Click it!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chicory tip

Garlic flower

New pond insect

This male Black-tailed Skimmer was a new insect for our pond (22.7.07). It is the ninth species of drag to visit since we created it less than two months ago (DSLR).

For your records, the list goes:
Azure Dameslfly,
Blue-tailed Damselfly,
Hairy Dragonfly,
Brown Hawker,
Broad-bodied Chaser,
Four-spotted Chaser,
Common Darter,
Black-tailed Skimmer.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Sparrowhawk over our garden, Peterborough, 22.7.07 (DSLR)

The Face

Common Darter, our garden Peterborough, 22.7.07 (A640).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Maxey action

Black Tern (DSLR)

Maxey pits had a few good birds today (21.7.07), Including:

Black Tern , 1, found by Mark Ward this afternoon,
Wood Sandpiper, 2, (present since yesterday),
Turnstone, 6,
Common Sandpiper, 6,
Green Sandpiper, 7,
Dunlin, 6.

Three of the six Turnstones (digiscope)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pocket microscope

Common Darter exuvia taken with Canon PowerShot A640.

Click shots for enlargements.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Hunter

Pond action with the A640 (18.7.07). A pond skater takes on a tiny ant.

Don't forget to click 'em!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In the tea queue

The great Pluvialis occasionally records conversations she has overheard. I am nothing if not a plagiarist, so I can't resist contributing this from two unknowns at the tea-making area here at my new place of work:

“In my Plastic Padding mug, please”
“Yeah, I know.”
“The thing is, though it says Plastic Padding, it’s not actually made of plastic padding. It’s just a mug”.
“You should really sell it on eBay”
“”Yeah, I could sell it and say Plastic Padding cup, but surround it with words like rare and interesting to help it sell.”
“I should really sell my paperweight. It’s a pretty cool paperweight, but I don’t really like to sell things. I prefer to get all my things and store them in my loft”
“Which reminds me, I really must tidy my room. I still have those boots in there from the Land Rover launch.”

Blue-tail experiments

I took a walk around the sunny lake at my new workplace (Lynchwood, Peterborough). The best of the action was finding what is probably a new site for the rapidly-expanding Small Red-eyed Damselfly. This is what I saw:

Small Red-eyed Damselfy, several on lilies and weed,
Red-eyed Damselfly, several alongside the Smalls,
Blue-tailed Damselfly,
Azure Damselfly,
Banded Demoiselle,
Common Darter,

It also gave me a chance to try out my new (yes I'm copying Brian 'The Natural' Stone) Canon PowerShot A640 as a macro beast. These Blue-tailed Damselflies were what I came up with in a few minutes. Hmmmmmm, potential...

Don't forget to click 'em!

Tough guys

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another BBC

I've put a forked branch by the side of our pond, which I like to call the Kingfisher Perch, but I also rather fancied as a perch for dragonflies. Yesterday afternoon (16.7.07), as it was sunny for the first time in ages, a few drags were on the wing, and the perch proved irresistible to a female of my favourite insect, the Broad-bodied Chaser (DSLR).

Click it!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Broad-bodied Chaser

My favourite insect, our garden, 1.7.07 (DSLR)

Black-tailed Skimmer

Ancaster, Lincolnshire, 14.7.07 (DSLR)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Kingfisher, near Ancaster, Lincolnshire, 14.7.07 (digiscope).

(Click the King for a bigger one)

Sanson Ki Mala Pey

I love this song and listened to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (and party) singing it on my iPod on a repeat loop during my cycle rides to and from work last week, and think I will again this week...

So, it's nice to read what they are singing about, as revealed at this site

Sanson Ki Mala Pe

saaNsoN kii maalaa pe simruuN maiN pii ka naam
apne mann kii maiN jaanuuN aur pii ke mann kii Ram

With every breath I take, I chant the name of my beloved
I know of my heart, and God knows of the heart of my beloved

yahii merii bandagii hai, yahii merii puujaa

This is my salutation [and] this is my prayer.

ek thaa saajan mandir meN aur ek thaa pritam masjid meN
par maiN prem ke rang meN aisii Duubii ban gayaa ek hii ruup

One lover was in the temple and another in the mosque
but to me, immersed in the joy of love, both seemed same

prem kii maalaa japte japte aap banii maiN Shyam

Chanting on rosary, the name of Shyam [Lord Krishna], I become him.
Note: A Hindu God sung and revered by the patrons of love.

ham aur nahiiN kuchu kaam ke
matvaare pii ke naam ke, har dam

I am worthless except that
I surrender to the name of my beloved, all the time.

priitam kaa kuch dosh nahiiN hai vo to hai nirdosh
apne aap se baateN kar ke ho gayii maiN badnaam

My beloved is not to be blamed, it is no fault of his
I became infamous only because of talking to myself.


Osprey (DSLR).

You know you want to click it...

Friday, July 13, 2007

From the archives... No 12

Cardinal Beetle, Peterborough, 25.4.07


Back in the late 1960s winters were still cold, every Christmas was white and ice and snow was commonplace. We lived in Cheam and when I was three, I think, we all went down to Nonsuch Park. I was dressed in my favourite little pale blue coat and we picked huge plates of ice from the pond and threw them back in.

Only when I threw in my giant icy slab I didn't let go and threw myself into the pond, as well. So, one of my earliest memories is of me looking up through frozen waters at my family on the edge of the pond.

When I was 12, our holiday boat was approaching a lock on the Thames and my task was to kick the fender things off the side. I slipped and plunged into the river. I was a rubbish swimmer, still am, and I floundered around a bit and mixed treading water with a sort of doggy-paddle to try to float and reach the ring my brother had chucked after me.

I drifted a bit and floundered some more, then relaxed and let my legs down, only to find that the water barely came up to my waist.

Flipping 'eck readers, I'm taking the plunge, here is a ropey poem. Whatever next?

28 Kingfishers

We saw twenty-eight Kingfishers.
He saw four times seven days of
pubescent ingrates, full of Spanish gloating.
It was an historic holiday,
the first for five years,
Elvis dead, the Ashes won.
He thought it a flop, and probably
wished I’d drowned,
when they fished me from the Thames,
Grandpa’s watch ruined,
more rust passed down Daddy’s line.
I wonder if he’s still alive.
I wonder if he knows she’s dead.
But, I barely think of him,
barely remember him.
I prefer to recall that
we saw twenty-eight Kingfishers.


Kittiwake, passing Cley, 1.7.07 (DLSR)

Thursday, July 12, 2007


In September 1996 my brother Graham and his wife Alexis came to stay with Jo and me in Sapporo for a bit. Grack came prepared for the food by importing 15 of those Peperami sausage things in his suitcase. Forget the wealth of tradition of Japanese cuisine, when in doubt about the grub, Grackle was always whipping out his little Peperami. But I digress.

Of course, they didn't want to be stuck in the city throughout their holiday, and neither did we, so we bundled into the Toyota and headed east to Nemuro and Shiretoko, birding on the way and staying in a variety of places on the way, but that's another story.

We didn't stay at Rausu where everyone goes these days in winter for the Stellers' Sea-eagles, but rather on the north or western side near the Shiretoko Go-ko, the five lakes. We stayed in the youth hostel. Shiretoko is apparently an Ainu word meaning 'the end of the earth' and it is a wild, largely uninhabited peninsula sticking out into the Sea of Okhotsk, with most of it unreached by road or track, but just by boat.

In May, Jo and I had seen a couple of Brown Bears near the Go-ko at a skin-blanching range of about 20m. And if you leave the tourist draw of the five lakes and head up the main track of the only road it soon gets into Black Woodpecker country with Crested Kingfishers and Brown Dippers in the fast streams. I like the name Kumagera for Black Woodpecker – the Bear Woodpecker.

At night, the sky was absurdly clear. Perhaps the clearest I have ever seen was on a tiny Fijian island, plonked in the middle of the Pacific without dust or light pollution, when the sky looked like it belonged to another planet, with stupid numbers of stars. That September night in Shiretoko, the sky came very close.

We decided it would be a good night to head out up the track through the peninsula, aiming for wilderness and looking for mammals, particularly bears. The four of us bundled into the car, and with Jo driving we were off. Apart from the odd Red Fox and Sika the mammals were not really showing by the road and our eyes were drawn back to the sky. The constellations become meaningless in this mass of new stars, so we decided to invent some new ones based on what we could see.
Out on that wild track, Jo joked that she could see a new one, like a row of lights. Ha, I said, that is just the reflection of the dashboard in the windscreen… good gag.

But it wasn't a gag.

Up there in the now very slightly hazy mid-reaches of the sky were lights, hanging, hardly-changing vertical lines, like nine stations on dial of a celestial radio. And they stayed there still unchanging, unexplained glows over uninhabited wilderness.

Lights over Shiretoko, Hokkaido, September 1996, by Graham P Weedon