Category Archives: wildlife

wildlife

Contents
Paris Eurostar, War Horse, Wildlife time capsule
Paris breaks time capsule with Red Breasted Goose
Mid May Time Capsule
George Osborne’s full-blown attack on the countryside will delight rentiers
Blue House Farm North Fambridge
Sunrise on Wanstead Flats
time capsule June 8th to June 22nd, 2010

Paris Eurostar, War Horse, Wildlife time capsule

Eurostar Breaks to Paris

Taken June 9, 2011 at 8:39 am

 

 

Betty Blue Eyes

Betty Blue Eyes

Taken June 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

 

 

War Horse

Taken June 20, 2011 at 2:41 am

 

 

Epping Forest Theydon Bois

Epping Forest Theydon Bois One of my favourite spots for quick breaks away from London.

Taken June 14, 2011 at 10:36 am

 

 

Greylag Geese and Goslings

Greylag Geese and Goslings

Taken June 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

 

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Paris breaks time capsule with Red Breasted Goose

Well well, so this time last year I was enjoying one of our best ever Paris breaks with a smart hotel in the Marais and hot summer sunshine. I was lucky to have recovered just enough to be able to walk about quite a lot and really make the most of our four day break in Paris as well as enjoying the Bateaux Bus trips on the river Seine. As well as the usual walking around the city enjoying cafe and restaurant life, we also managed to fit in a trip to see the art installation at the Grand Palais. A giant sculpture by Anish Kapoor, the designer of the London Olympics site Orbit Tower, filling most of the enormous exhibition space just off the Champs Elysee’s.
But first, look at the handsome and rare visitor we had on the local duck pond, or rather Lake Alexandra as it should be called – a Red Breasted Goose no less! And a wild one too, I’m sure.

Red Breasted Goose – Wanstead Flats Alexandra Lake

Red Breasted Goose – Wanstead Flats Alexandra Lake

Taken May 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm

 

 

 

Eurostar Paris Gare du Nord

Eurostar Paris Gare du Nord

Taken May 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm

 

 

 

Anish Kapoor – Leviathon – Paris Grand Palais

Anish Kapoor – Leviathon – Paris Grand Palais

Taken June 1, 2011 at 9:25 am

 

 

 

Paris Marais

Paris The Marais Paris Marais

Taken June 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm

 

 

 

Eurostar Breaks to Paris

Taken June 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm

 

 

 

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Mid May Time Capsule

Here’s the mid May time capsule including photos from the Kew temporary garden outside the British museum, goslings at Alexandra Lake, Wanstead Flats and the London Orbit Tower.
Last year the themed garden from Kew at the British museum was Australia, with mostly the dry regions of Australia represented, because that’s what the site has been used for in previous years to best advantage, eg the South Africa garden. This year it’s going to be North America and I believe the installation is already well underway. They brought in some impressive rocks too.

Australia Garden at British Museum

Australia Garden at British Museum

Taken May 12, 2011 at 9:51 am

 

 

The memory can play tricks when it comes to thinking that the seasons are advanced or retarded, but the time capsule provides evidence. Clearly there were Greylag Geese goslings up and about around the Alexandra Lake this time last year, and at about the same time I counted 42 Canada Geese goslings. This year at just after the same date, there are 34 Canada goslings so far, and no sign of any breeding Greylags yet. Also no mallard ducklings and very few coots chicks spotted so far.

Greylag Geese and Goslings

Greylag Geese and Goslings

Taken May 13, 2011 at 11:42 am

 

 

Greylag Goose Tongue

Greylag Goose Tongue

Taken May 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm

 

 

It’s taken almost the full year but the Orbit Tower is now officially completed after having been started well before this time last year apparently. The structure is controversial as ever, not least because of the mystery surrounding how the public will be able to climb the tower. It’s going to be open during the 2012 London Olympic Games, and it seems like there will access via general tickets to the Olympic Park, which cost £10 but then recently it was announced that Orbit Tower Tickets will cost £15 and it’s not totally clear whether this is in addition to the Park tickets, but I suspect that to be the case.

The Orbit Tower 12th May 2011

Taken May 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

 

 

The Orbit Tower 12th May 2011

Taken May 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

 

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George Osborne’s full-blown attack on the countryside will delight rentiers

The Conservative Party hate everything about Britain and are busy dismantling it.

Now the coalition government intends to strip away protection from our most treasured places, as the chancellor establishes his Republic of Gideon, finally big landowners have their champion of slash and burn capitalism


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “George Osborne’s full-blown attack on the countryside will delight rentiers” was written by George Monbiot, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 1st December 2011 14.26 UTC

What sort of a world would George Osborne like to live in? I imagine him fantasising about the Republic of Gilead in Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Unprotected workers, assigned their places in a fixed social system, crawl over toxic waste dumps, while the upper castes, though rendered sterile by unregulated pollution, live without fear of democracy, trade unions or the minimum wage.

The Republic of Gideon began to take shape on Tuesday, when the chancellor launched a full-spectrum assault on both workers and the environment. In his autumn statement, he curtailed public sector pay and, once again, hammered the tax credits and benefits upon which the poorest people depend. At the same time he gave away £250m in yet another bailout for big business: in this case the UK’s most polluting industries. Read Damian Carrington’s withering exposure of this exercise in crony capitalism, and you will rage and gnash your teeth.

He also snuffed out the government’s attempts to limit the amount of transport fuel the UK consumes, announced the construction of new roads, airports and power stations and reneged on the promise the energy secretary made just a month ago, that there would be “absolutely no backsliding” on carbon capture and storage at the UK’s power stations. Now the £1bn set aside for CCS will be given (in the Treasury secretary’s words) to “different sorts of projects”. Another corporate tax break perhaps?

But perhaps the worst of Osborne’s environmentally destructive proposals was his attack on the laws protecting England’s wildlife and places of natural beauty. These were first introduced in 1994 by the previous Conservative government. He claimed that they are “gold-plating” European rules and “placing ridiculous costs on British businesses”.

He is wrong on both counts. The Davidson report in 2006 found that the European rules had not been gold-plated. The laws defending our special areas of conservation and special protection areas impose costs on business only if business wants to trash the few corners of England which have been placed off-limits. That means spots such as Lyme Bay, the New Forest, Epping Forest, the Norfolk Broads and Flamborough Head.

Why should corporations be allowed to do to these treasured places what they can do anywhere else? Osborne might as well complain that the rules forbidding developers to knock down St Paul’s cathedral and build a new bank there place “ridiculous costs on British business”.

His intentions are spelled out in more detail in the Treasury’s national infrastructure plan 2011. To prevent the protection of our natural heritage from imposing “unnecessary costs and delays” on money-making projects, the Treasury will “give industry representation on a group chaired by ministers so it can raise concerns … at the top of government”.

This, remember, is a government umbilically connected to big business, which has so thoroughly infiltrated Westminster and Whitehall that government and corporations are almost indistinguishable. Now the Treasury claims that business needs even more access?

Worse still, bodies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency, which are supposed to defend our treasured wild places, will now “have a remit to promote sustainable development.” This is a complete inversion of their purpose – from restraint to promotion.

The Country Land and Business Association, representing the class of rentier capitalists whom Osborne appears to see as his natural constituency, professes itself “delighted” with these proposals. I bet it is. The big landowners it represents have been pressing for slash and burn capitalism for years, while simultaneously insisting that the taxpayer stocks their wine cellars and cleans out their moats through farm subsidies. Now they have a government which gives them everything they ask for.

These people will never be satisfied. No ancient woodland, no Bronze Age burial mound is safe: unless it is protected by the kind of rules Osborne now wants to dismantle.

As for stimulating the economy, it’s hard to see how the UK can win the race to the bottom to which he appears to have committed us. If this country tries to compete by tearing up the rules protecting workers, the unemployed, the environment and our quality of life, it will be worsted by China and 100 other nations with cheaper labour and laxer regulation than ours.

This seems obvious to everyone except ministers and officials. UK Trade and Investment, the government body which promotes this country to foreign investors, boasts that “compensation costs [ie wages] in the UK are less than most of the western European countries.” It has “one of the lowest main corporate tax rates in the EU, generous tax allowances and … low social welfare contributions.” And “the UK’s labour market is one of the world’s most flexible.” Come to Britain, where you can treat your workers like dirt.

In the wake of this autumn statement, perhaps UK Trade and Investment will now seek to entice investors away from Guangdong with the promise that there are tax breaks for the biggest polluters, no planning laws worth their name, and special access to ministers if you want to trash England’s beauty spots.

Even if foreign investors can be persuaded that the rules are slacker in the Republic of Gideon than in the grimmest export-processing zones of the developing world, what does “winning” look like in these circumstances? A bit like winning a nuclear war? “Yes, our nation has been reduced to a charred desert. But we’ve come out on top*. Rejoice, just rejoice!

“*Customers should be aware that when, in the previous clause, the government states that “we” have come out on top, it is in fact referring to a subset of the population: namely those possessed of sufficient means to have invested in underground bunkers. The government cannot be held liable if the rest of the population experiences alternative results. If you are not fully satisfied with this outcome, please contact your nearest mortuary assistant.”

In reality, the autumn statement, like much else that Osborne has delivered, has little to do with stimulating economic growth. It’s about transferring even greater powers and resources from the rest of us to an economic elite, the kind of people Osborne hangs out with on Nat Rothschild’s yacht. They are the only winners of the Chancellor’s pyrrhic victories.

www.monbiot.com

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

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Blue House Farm North Fambridge

Blue House Farm Bird Reserve, North Fambridge

Thursday is our new day off, so we took ourselves out of London on the Eastern Railway line towards Southend and then on the little single track branch line from Wickham to North Fambridge1  .

North Fambridge is a lovely quiet place with big skies, salt marsh estuary, boatyards, a good old pub and loads of wildlife. The flooded fields, dykes and river provide such special habitats for all kinds of birds that the main farm in the area, Blue House Farm, is now managed as an SSSI2 nature reserve by the Essex Wildlife Trust.

 

The large flocks of thousands of geese still haven’t arrived from Siberia and Eastern Europe yet, the weather over there isn’t quite cold enough all along the path but Brent geese were chomping away on the sward and flying alongside the sea wall in several flocks of fifty or more, which is a cheery sight on a mild and bright, relatively wind free morning towards the end of November. Other types of geese included Greylags and Canadas, about 25 Barnacle geese, and a small group of six White Fronted geese.

Will Marsh Harrier take a Wigeon?

Back home at Wanstead Flats we are always pleased to catch a rare glimpse of a pair of Teal on the Alexandra Lake, but from the furthermost hide at Blue House Farm we watched a group of about 150 teal being frightened up into the air by a pair of Marsh Harriers hunting along the reed beds. These colourful small ducks can fly really well, twisting and turning almost like a murmuration of starlings. Then one of the Marsh Harriers started to make a move towards a solitary wigeon we’d been watching sitting on the river. The Marsh Harrier approached like an Osprey towards a fish near the surface, talons outstretched to within a couple of feet above the hapless wigeon, who wasn’t in the least bit bothered by the very real threat of impending carvery, the Harrier hovered for a second, eyeing up the prospect, then seemed to think better of it and withdrew. The wigeon still didn’t move towards cover though, and the Harrier came back for a second approach, but again decided that it dan’t want to attack a whole duck right at the moment and headed off back to the reed beds where it was presumably hunting for small songbirds or mammals.

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  1. The Crouch Valley Line []
  2. Site of Special Scientific Interest []
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Sunrise on Wanstead Flats

I generally wake early and get started online before breakfast but yesterday I decided to try a sunrise walk around the Alexandra Lake  at Wanstead Flats. That’s where I often end up taking some exercise later in the day anyway, but the sky was clear and there are supposed to be some interesting migrant birds heading our way at this time of year.

Leaving the house I could feel the air was cold but on approaching the green open space that is the flats I could see layers of mist suspended over the frosted grass. When the sun poked up over the lines of trees it lit up the landscape with golden light.

Wanstead Flats Sunrise October 15th

Wanstead Flats Sunrise October 15th

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time capsule June 8th to June 22nd, 2010

Duck House

Duck House

Taken June 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm

 

 

Canal Boat Isabella Kennet & Avon Canal

Canal Boat Isabella Kennet & Avon Canal

Taken June 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm

 

 

Pumping Station

Pumping Station

Taken June 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

 

 

Hungerford Fete

Hungerford Fete

Taken June 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm

 

 

Small Pond Lilly

Taken June 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

 

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Thanks for reading Andy Roberts articles about wildlife on the DARnet Blog