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Banished to the fens

Peter Moores Blog - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 22:37
Another family camping trip over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend saw me, again, surplus to requirements, opening up the possibility of a few days away at a destination of my choice. I have not seen Swallowtail butterflies in some time or photographed them since investing in some decent camera gear, so heading for the Broads and Fens of Norfolk seemed like an attractive option.Avocet, Frampton MarshThe reserve holds a healthy breeding populationAvocet feeding on the muddy scrapesNot too difficult to photograph in flight due to its highly contrasting plumage making it easier for autofocus to lock on
Checking the forecast before departure, my first morning away didn't look like great butterfly weather so I started my road trip with an early start at Frampton Marsh, over the border and the from Norfolk in the Lincolnshire section of the Wash. A group of Ruff had been lekking on the reserve viewable from the car park and having only seen this spectacle once before the opportunity to do so again was not to be missed.
 A few Avocet chicks had hatched at Frampton MarshAvocetLapwing chicks were also on the reserveThe adult Lapwing was nearbyA Little Stint was another wader of note on the reserveAs a Schedule 1 breeding bird, Ruffs can't be photographed at or near the nest without a licence, but as these birds were viewable from a safe distance the RSPB has been encouraging visitors to the reserve to enjoy the spectacle. On arrival I parked near the reserve centre and walked to the old car park near the sea wall from where the lek could be viewed. Avocet chicks had recently hatched in the scrapes by the roadside and the adults were alert to danger, calling loudly and mobbing any passing traffic on the road.
Two of the three males present in the Ruff lekThe female can be seen skulking on the water's edge - looking a bit disinterested hereThe male Ruff's headgear looks very ElizabethanThis male appeared to be bowing to the femaleThe battles between males were brief but fierceMuch has been written in natural history literature about the sexually charged nature of the Ruff lek but for an unconventional take on it, check out this Guardian article about 'Ruff Sex'. I would have borrowed 'Let's talk about leks, baby' from this piece as the title for this post but for the intellectual copyright theft it would have represented.
A distant Glossy Ibis was at Frampton MarshSeveral Little Gull were feeding over the waterSwift feeding over the neighbouring farmlandTree Sparrows were around the nearby farm buildingsSpring was certainly in full swing at Frampton, and with so many farmland birds seemingly in trouble and numbers of migrants apparently down, it was a tonic to see Tree Sparrows and good numbers of singing Sedge Warblers alongside the breeding waders. Unfortunately I could not locate the Turtle Doves which were present on my last visit to the reserve but I was reassured that one of their favourite 'purring' trees had blown down in winter storms and that they were still in the wider area.
Sedge WarblerAn energetic singerSedge Warbler
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3 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 20:01
Wakeham

A chilled out day in the back garden on another beautiful sunny day. Highlights bird-wise were 6 Swifts, 2 House Martins and a Peregrine Falcon over the house. Whilst in the bushes and neighbouring trees families of both Great Tit and Blue Tits feeding their youngsters.

In and around the flower beds lots of bees and hoverflies with several Early Mining Bees and Long Hoverfly & Marmalade Hoverflies. Plus a Dagger Fly.

A few images from today:

A Great Tit on the feeders.
I think this is an Early Mining Bee, Andrena haemorrhoa
And another..............
.........and another.
Long Hoverfly, Sphaerophoria scripta.............
..........another view.
I have no idea what these are, but there were a lot of them basking in the sun.
Dagger Fly, Empis tessellata
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mgtr8: Moths never caught before in our garden were Lilac Beauty & Small Seraphim. 30c is too hot. https://t.co/SaR7x2n5Ar

Nature of Dorset Reposts - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 19:14
Moths never caught before in our garden were Lilac Beauty & Small Seraphim. 30c is too hot. https://t.co/SaR7x2n5Ar
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johngifford50: So there are moths at Broadwey 155 last night with Mocha a 1st for me, 3rd wk of Aug & Copper Underwing on cue. https://t.co/ehkB9iHPXD

Nature of Dorset Reposts - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 19:07
So there are moths at Broadwey 155 last night with Mocha a 1st for me, 3rd wk of Aug & Copper Underwing on cue. https://t.co/ehkB9iHPXD
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johngifford50: Some variety at last in the Broadwey trap. Red Underwing and Oak Nicteoline. https://t.co/x9OsOnOqBr

Nature of Dorset Reposts - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 19:06

Some variety at last in the Broadwey trap. Red Underwing and Oak Nicteoline. https://t.co/x9OsOnOqBr

Title johngifford50: Some variety at last in the Broadwey trap. Red Underwing and Oak Nicteoline. https://t.co/x9OsOnOqBr Post date 19/09/2017 - 20:57 Photo Date Species Red Underwing Site Upwey and Broadwey Area Contributed By John Gifford
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Rustic Shoulder-knot

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 19:02

 

The larvae feed on various grasses so this is quite a common species

 

Photograph by: John Gifford The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Frosted Orange

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:59

Widespread and common near damp grassland habitats

 

Photograph by: Phyl England The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Coxcomb Prominent

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:54

 

Found in small numbers in and around wooded habitats

 

Photograph by: Nick Hull The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Great Prominent

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:48

Associated with mature broad-leaved woodland, especially oaks

 

Photograph by: Mark Andrews The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Lobster Moth

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:43

 

A widespread woodland species with a bizarre looking larvae!

 

Photograph by: Mark Andrews The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Purple Clay

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:40

Widespread but not common and often found near heathers

 

 

Photograph by: Mark Andrews The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Small seraphim

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:34

 

A species favouring damper habitats, widespread but local

 

Photograph by: Martin Raper The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Small Rivulet

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:30

A common and widespread species often found in gardens

 

Photograph by: John Gifford The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Dogs Tooth Moth

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:24

 

A widespread and locally common species of open habitats

 

Photograph by: John Gifford The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Copper Underwing

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:21

A locally common woodland and scrub species

 

Photograph by: John Gifford The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Oak Nycteoline

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:16

 

A small and variable moth who are associated with oaks and woodland habitats

 

Photograph by: John Gifford The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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Cabbage Moth

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:12

A common species of open grassland, farmland and gardens and can be a problem with brassica crops

 

 

Photograph by: Martin Wood The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
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3 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Six: South Georgia - Legacy Of Whaling

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 18:00
As mentioned in the previous Post, Grytviken & South Georgia played an important part in the story of the life of Sir Ernest Shackleton. But it wouldn't be part of the story, if it wasn't for the history of Whale & Seal hunting on the island. Fortunately, that is long in the past & all Cetaceans & Seals are now fully protected by law within South Georgian waters. The Seal numbers have recovered, but it is still a much longer recovery for the Whales. However, the legacy is whaling is still present in South Georgia. We were still sailing into Grytviken by the time we had finished lunch so there was some time to admire the scenery.
The approach to Grytviken was full of stunning scenery: Even if the weather was looking like it was going to rain soon
Grytviken Bay is tucked inside a larger bay & there are several glaciers in the main bay
Another glacier
A third glacier: By this point, the clouds were getting lower, the light was getting poorer & the rain startingSouth Georgia Pintail: They are easy to identify as they are the only Duck on South Georgia (even as dots)
The photos for the previous Post about Sir Ernest Shackleton, Tom Crean & Frank Wild were all shown in black & white. This Post is using sepia to again represent a time in the past. Overall, I think the photos look better in black & white. However, it was fun to try something different.Abandoned ship: This looks like a shipwreck. However, it is more likely to have been abandoned by the whalers when they pulled out of South Georgia as it would have been more expensive to sail it away from South Georgia, than just dump it. There was clearly no morale responsibility in their actions. After made good money out of decimating the great Whales & Seals in the Southern Oceans, then just cut & ran, leaving their ships & whaling stations to pollute South Georgia
Another abandoned ship: Following the rant after the last photo, now the ships & bases have been abandoned, then I think it is right that they are cleaned up & made safe, so visitors can see the historical legacy. This will help get the message across about the damage the whaling industry has done to Antarctica & the Southern Oceans. Sadly, this won't change the attitude of the Japanese government which is still whaling in the South Oceans, despite the official whaling moratorium that was signed in 1982. The Japanese claim they are killing the Whales for science, but it is purely for commercial Whale meat in the shops. Whale meat only really entered the Japanese diet as a result of food shortages after the Second World War, so the Japanese don't even have a real historical tradition of Whale hunting
Grytviken is next to the official British base on South Georgia at King Edward Point. The first thing we needed to do was have the UK authorities come on board & officially clear the ship to land people in Grytviken & for the passport stamps. Fortunately, we had been relieved of our passports when we joined the ship & this allowed the ship's team to present all the passports in one go to be stamped for our entry & exit visas. It would have been a far more painfully slow process, if we had had to queue up one by one to present our passports. Once the Plancius & our entry had been approved, we were free to jump into the zodiacs to be dropped close to the small cemetery. 
Entering the final bay containing Grytviken & the King Edward Point base
King Edward Point: The small British base & administration centre in South Georgia. It is good that the modern base is separate from the old whaling station
In the bay beyond King Edward Point is the ex-whaling base of Grytviken
The Petrel: An ex-whale-catcher & sealer
The Albatros (left) & the Dias: The Albatros was a whale-catcher that was converted to sealing, whereas, the Dias was a trawler that was used for sealing
Some of the old Whale & Seal oil tanksAfter the visit to Shackleton's grave in the small Grytviken cemetery, we had a few hours to walk along to explore the whaling settlement, excellent museum & send some cards from the post office.
The rain hadn't eased as we walked to the walking settlement
The Louise: She was initially used as a timber transporter, before being bought by the whaling company & used to transport the equipment to establish the whaling station. She was later used to store coal for the whalers. She was considered to be the finest example of an American 'Down-easter' deep water sailing ship, before she was burnt to the waterline during an exercise in 1987 by the garrison based at King Edward Point
The Louise
The Petrel: This is one of several old whaling ships just rotting in the harbour
The Petrel: The Petrel was built in 1929 in Oslo & is the best preserved of the whale-catchers in South Georgia. She carried on as a whale-catcher till 1956. In 1957, she was converted to a sealing vessel. She has been partially restored
The Petrel: The Petrel like the other remains at Grytviken, were just dumped when the whaling companies pulled out of the base. It would be good if any of those companies still trade for them to be made to subsidise the conservation & clean up costs at Grytviken. Especially, as there is still asbestos & other harmful pollutants present. However, I guess that is wishful thinking & the companies if they are still trading, would deny liability for any clean up costs
The Petrel: The harpoon gun is a testament to the massacre of the Whales that took place at the various bases in South Georgia. There are several other bases, but only Grytviken is normally accessible to Expedition ships
There are also extensive storage tanks for storing the Whale & Seal oil, as well as, the equipment that was used to extract the oil from the Whale & Seal blubber.The extensive Whale & Seal oil storage tanksSome of the old Whale & Seal oil tanksI guess these tanks were used to extract the oilSome of the equipment to extract the Whale & Seal oilAnother view of some of the oil tanksThe Albatros: Another abandoned whaling ship which was built in Norway in 1921. Again she finished her career as a sealing vessel before being abandoned
The church stands out as contrast to the old whaling industrial site
Another contrast was this small modern yacht: I wouldn't have liked to have arrived in such a small boatWhen Captain Cook visited South Georgia in 1775, it was estimated that there were 2-3 million Antarctic Fur Seals on South Georgia. Seal skins were big business in the Northern hemisphere in that period & 11 years later the first ship visited South Georgia after the Antarctic Fur Seal skins. Many more ships followed & each decimated the Antarctic Fur Seals with no regard to ensuring the populations were sustainable. One American ship collected 57,000 skins in 1800 alone. Over the following years, as the Antarctic Fur Seals became harder to find, Southern Elephant Seals were also killed in greater numbers. By 1920, Antarctic Fur Seals had been so heavily over hunted that there were through to have only been a few hundred left in South Georgia. Eventually, the breeding grounds were protected by British law in 1908 & hunting was banned completely in the 1960s. Fortunately, this action lead to a recovery to the Antarctic Fur Seal population to an estimated 4.25 - 6 million individuals around South Georgia. It is also believed that one of the factors that helped their rapid recovery was the decimation of the large Whales which also complete for Krill. The recovery of the large Whales has been much slower.
Grytviken during the 1911-12 whaling season with the factory in full operation: The stream rises from the blubber cookery. Huge numbers of wooden barrels filled with Whale oil are piled up throughout the factory site. Dead Whales are tied up in the bay awaiting processing & other processed carcasses have drifted ashore. In the bay is the sailing vessel Nor & the bargue Tijuca & transport ship Harpon are moored at the jetties. There is a small meteorological station at King Edward PointThe whaling industry in South Georgia was equally brutal. It began when Norwegian Carl Larsen arrived in 1904 at Grytviken & set up the first whaling station. Within a month they were killing & processing Whales for Whale oil. The profits were enormous as one Whale could be worth $100,000 in today's money as the oil was used to produce glycerine which was used for explosives, especially in the First World War. It was also used for a variety of other domestic users from lighting lamps to artists paint. The bones were also used to produce ladies corsets & the Whale meat was sold for food or animal food. Given the money that Larsen's company was making, there were rapidly requests for permission to create other whaling stations & licences for six other sites were approved by the Falklands Island authorities (who administered South Georgia in those days). These six sites still have abandoned whaling stations, but there is generally no access allowed to Expedition ships as the sites haven't been cleaned up to allow safe access. By the late 1920s, it was becoming more difficult to find Whales around South Georgia & factory ships were having to accompany the whaling ships further afield in the hunt for more Whales. As a result, the land bases changed to more of a support role for the ships. Between 1904 & 1966, 175,250 Whales had been processed by the seven South Georgia whaling stations & it is estimated that at least another million were killed by the factory ships. By the 1960s, whaling in the Southern Oceans was becoming commercially unviable as there were so few Whales left & the demand for Whale oil had disappeared as the petrochemical industry had been able to provide cheaper alternatives. At this point, the whalers simply abandoned the whaling stations in South Georgia without any attempt to remove the bases or ships. Thus, they are largely still as they were left, subject to the affects of around fifty years of South Georgian weather. The base at Grytviken has been cleaned up to some extent to allow visitors to see the whaling station with one of the original accommodation buildings having a make over to convert it into the museum.Blue Whale sculpture: This stunning sculpture was created by artist Helen Denerley as a prototype for a planned larger sculpture which commemorates the 54,000 Whales flensed at Grytviken & the 175,000 Whales brought ashore across South Georgia. It is made from scrap metal salvaged from the whaling station & includes two flensing ironsA final legacy of the whaling: Whale bones just lying in a stream bed
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Citril Finch (Carduelis citrinella)

Steve Carey - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 10:58
Citril Finch (Carduelis citrinella)Fanlo Huesca Spain3rd June 2018
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Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

Steve Carey - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 10:20
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) Escalona Huesca Spain3rd June 2018
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