Archive for the 'plants' Category

30
Dec
18

2018 – the best bits

2018 for me set off being a somewhat muted year but rapidly escalated into something as special as it gets. Finding someone special to share my life was a revelation that I didn’t expect. The downside of that is a whole planet separates us. 2019 will be spent putting that right.

One discovery for me in 2018 has been the state of Victoria in Australia. The pull of this part of such a remote continent has been extreme. It’s undulating landscape, amiable weather, compelling wildlife and of course one special inhabitant have made this the most special place I’ve ever been. Australia is just the best. My two months here within 2018 have been the most outstanding part of my personal year. Within that two months Tania has taken me to some fabulous places. Mountains, remote bushland, deep dark eucalypt forests, small islands and open wide beaches. However, one place stands out in my mind as it holds birds that have been a part of my life for so long in the UK. Rare birds. Birds that blew to the UK as waifs and strays. Birds such as Red necked Stints and Sharp tailed Sandpipers. In Victoria, Werribee has a water treatment plant holding these birds in mind boggling numbers. Numbers I could only have dreamed about. Who would have thought a sewage plant would have topped my years best bits… but it has. It even topped the Beluga in the Thames!

But what of my professional year. There have been some great times. Scilly once again was terrific, so was Wales, the Farnes were at their best and the Scottish tours were formidable. Picking the best? … well that’s easy. The 2018 Mammal Tour of the UK. Without doubt the best tour I’ve ever done. Some fabulous wildlife; Minke Whales and Dolphins of three species you could have touched. Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and Badgers at arms length. However, to single out one moment of the tour I would have to go to a small beach at the fishing port of Wick on the Scottish East coast. Reading books from being a child through to adulthood enables everyone to conjure up dreams. Bucket lists. Events to experience. Things to see, places to go. I crossed off number one on my own bucket list on that small beach last May. My guests and I experienced the sight of a Walrus in British waters. OK it’s not the cuddliest looking animal you’ll ever come across. But hell … what an animal!

Roll on 2019. Happy New Year.

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15
Sep
18

Don’t start

I went to Leeds this week. My god it’s changed since my business development days. I was a stranger in a ‘hip’ city full of instrument carrying bearded students wearing converse footwear without socks. I don’t like cities. Too many people. Too much traffic. Too few green places and not enough connection with the real world that should matter; but sadly doesn’t. This was the realm of a disjointed population. A developing culture determined to be set apart from its origins.

As Holly, my daughter, and I walked from the university to her halls of residence I heard familiar noises. It’s like hearing your name mentioned in a crowded room. It stood out. I looked up to see a small gang of Pied Wagtails flutter down from the escarpment of a Victorian facaded building into a sparse ornamental tree being choked at the roots as it bulged the edges of surrounding designer brickwork. The crowds around us oblivious to their presence. Even here nature was taking a stand; trying to compete with the noise of traffic and pushing back the paving. The tree and the wagtails brought a smile to my face.

Holly was just asking me if I thought the name of the nearby café would have been purposely named based on it’s address when I heard another sound. Less familiar … but I recognised it. It took me a little time to locate the Black Redstart calling high above the café. A bird of scree and rocky valleys had found a home here in a concrete and plastic pretence.

A migrant … or even a breeder perhaps?

 

15
Jun
18

Quiet and Peaceful

You would think that Norwich, the county town of Norfolk, being only 100 miles from the centre of London would mean the whole of the county would be overrun with visitors. However, it’s a county where it is still possible to find remote areas. Remote and quiet.

I had been out on the marsh for around 2 hours. I had seen nobody. Nothing but a pair of Marsh Harriers quartering the reedbed for company. I was walking slowly on a floating mass of vegetation. Stepping forward the whole ground around me moved for a radius of several metres. It was like walking on thick pale green custard. If I stood for a while I slowly sank until the cold reminder of my boots filling with water prompted me to move. The thought suddenly occurred to me that if this meniscus of vegetation broke I should slip without a trace beneath the bog only for my remains to be discovered in the next millennium clutching camera and rechristened ‘Canon man’

All dark thoughts disappeared under a cloak of excitement, and relief, when I looked down to see the smallest twist of flowers struggling for attention amid a thatch of rushes. The most iconic of Norfolk’s orchids was reaching skyward, fingers outstretched, at my feet. Along with Bittern, Swallowtail, Norfolk Hawker and Crane; the Fen Orchid has to be listed within the county’s ‘big five’. As rare as it is beautiful this small delicate gem is only now found in dune slacks around Kenfig in South Wales as well as Norfolk.

Thank you to David for his more than perfect directions.

15
Aug
17

Charming Choughs and Delightful Dolphins

As one of my guests put it this weekend: “Charming Choughs and Delightful Dolphins”. She was referring to the Wild Weekend in Wales tour we were on. We got to see both Choughs and Bottlenose Dolphins. Among everything else we saw for me it has to be the Red Kites that topped the list. They are so enigmatic and powerful. To see 250+ of these birds wheeling in a kettle above us is just one of the UK’s wildlife spectacles. Next year’s tour is up on the website and open for bookings.

07
Aug
17

Kelling Heath and the Chalk Reef

If you have visited North Norfolk to bird watch or you live locally you need to be aware of something. DONG Energy (a Danish Company) have given planning notice of an offshore windfarm development called the Hornsea Project Three.
 
In a nutshell the offshore 342 wind turbines, 19 or so offshore platforms,12 transformer substations and up to 3 accommodation platforms will be located 121km northeast of the Norfolk coast and 160km east of the Yorkshire coast. They will be connected to the shore by up to six undersea cables running in a south-westerly direction from the windfarm to the proposed landfall at Weybourne in North Norfolk via a possible booster station based out at sea. From here it is proposed the cables will be buried in up to 6 trenches, running in a south/south-westerly direction for approximately 55 km and will connect to the national grid between Swardeston and Stoke Holy Cross in South Norfolk. the development area will be up to 200m wide along it’s length.
 
The construction of booster stations along the route may also be required.
There will be construction of temporary haul roads and temporary access tracks, both alongside and separate from the cable route used for the purpose of enabling the underground works
Notice has been given of the required temporary stopping up, alteration or diversion of any street and the permanent and/or temporary compulsory acquisition of land.
A couple of maps are available here Hornsea Project Three_Onshore_Statutory_Consultation_Plan_July 2017 Hornsea Project Three_Project Overview_Phase 2_Statutory_Consultation_Pl.._ showing the seabed route which importantly bisects the offshore chalk reef and also the proposed alternative route across Kelling Heath.
 
Birds such as Dartford Warbler and Woodlark will probably be effected. Adders and butterflies such as Silver studded blue may also be effected. It’s up to you, me and the rest of us to object if we find these plans unacceptable. You have until 20th September to make representation to DONG Energy, by email to HornseaProjectThree@dongenergy.co.uk or by post to Hornsea Project Three offshore wind farm, DONG Energy, 5 Howick Place, London, SW1P 1WG.
I have been sent details in my capacity as an interested party using the county for wildlife tours for my comments.
 
My thoughts: The government has stated that by 2040 there will be a major move away from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric cars and are investing heavily in battery technology to make this happen. This is good. We have to move away from the use of fossil fuels to countermand global warming effects. Power supplies must be developed to enable this change. We have several choices; wind and wave electricity production are two of those choices. So love them or hate them windfarms are part of the resolution. However North Norfolk does not feel like the place development of this kind should take place. I feel we could use the area around Paston to land the cables thereby keeping the heavy industry within Norfolk contained in one place and make the transport of energy to the grid without cutting across an internationally important chalk reef and a nationally important heathland area.
19
Jul
17

Jurassic Coast

Earlier this month I took a hike to the south coast with some guests for a tour in Dorset. A series of nature walks gave us some great Nightjar views, a Fox with cubs, some rare orchids, a family of Polecats put on a fatal performance; we had some wonderful seabirds and mammals and that elusive reptile the Sand Lizard gave us a few sightings. A few photos follow. Sadly I shan’t be running this tour next year but it will make an appearance in the future I’m sure.

Dartford Warbler

Garden Warbler

Marbled White

Musk Orchid

Pyramidal Orchid

Rosel’s Bush Cricket

Wall Lizard

Great Green Bush Cricket

Stonechat

Black Darter

Bog Ashphodel

Common Tern

Keeled Skimmer

Rose Chafer

Sundew

Wolf Spider

Brown Long eared Bat

Harlequin Ladybird

Ruddy Darter

Small Red Damselfly

11
Jul
17

Lonely and Single

The single spike of Lesser Butterfly Orchid in the whole of Norfolk was in flower the other day. Or at least I don’t know of any others. It looked particularly lonely amid the Southern Marsh, Fragrant Orchids and the odd Marsh Helleborine. Lonely but beautiful.




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