Attenborough says count butterflies; so this is how it is on Clearwell Meend.

I was motivated to spend an hour or so photographing the butterflies on Clearwell Meed today because we have recently had some Marbled Whites in the garden. As I had expected there were lots flitting about up there, possibly they were just about out numbered by the Meadow Browns, but they of course look more spectacular.

There were quite a few skippers about, I think both Small and Essex skippers. They are very difficult to tell apart, it all come down to the tip of their antennae and  the Essex has a distinctly black tip, as does the one below.

The Small skipper does not have a noticeably black tip…  Could this be him?

I also saw a Peacock, a Red Admiral and several Gatekeepers.





There were also lots of day flying moths, including Silver Y and Six spotted Burnetts.

And now a day later David Attenborough has urged us all to go out and count Butterflies, so who is ahead of the game…. Big butterfly count


Pygmy Falcon

Getting near to going home time but we are still touring round. Now we are on the Orange river…. which is actually green at the moment. Yesterday on our way from Springbok to Uppington we detoured to the Augrabies  Falls, which are on the Orange river. Absolutely amazing scenery and there is a game reserve, part of which was accessible to us in a non 4WD vehicle.  On the way round we saw this little bird of prey. A Pygmy Falcon, it only weighs about 60grams

What a little gem

Westfield College 1970

‘At its meeting on Monday 6th July 1970 the College Board of Examiners for the BSc degree agreed to forward to the  University the following recommendations received from the College Sub Boards.’

Sub board in Biology;

Backhouse Mary, Denton Gary, Mitchell Sonia, Nolan Christopher, Payne Michal, Thomas Susan, Andrewartha  John, Betney Elaine, Burrows Lynne, Gee Shionagh, Harwood Colin, Herrett Guiiano, Hiscock Keith, Lewis Helen, Millner Richard, Selbey Judith, Sharpe Paul, Thomas Mair, Toole Anthony, Watts William, Adamiecka Kathleen, Ball Nurit, Binbrek Fardosi, Capstick Selwyn, Cotgrove Anne, England Janet, Field Brenda, Furness Richard, Harmatali Tiiu, Hemmings Norman, Heys Allan, Hulme Sarah, Johnston Andrew, Laverack Frances, Lythgoe Francis, Skitch Jeffrey, Tacon William, Waterman Alan, West Frances, Wheeler Teresa, Bartlett Penelope, Irvine Susan, D’Sa Milicent.

Sub Board in Chemistry;

Branston Peter, Davis Rosemary, Callaghan Ian, Carter Jenifer, Collins Lynda, Dicks Valerie, Bellini Roberto, Carrington Roy, Gichard Linda, Woods Eleanor, Matheson Andrew, Howey Reed.

Sub Board in Chemistry/Biology;

Dineen Robert, Kania Helena.

Sub Board in Physical Sciences;

Howard Jennifer, Trevail Peter.

Sub Board in Mathematics;

Hills Margaret, Polwarth Mary, Thompson Susan, Wragg Barbara, Dinsmore Brenda, Pemberton Jean, Simmers Judith, Taylor Ronald, Whitworth Peter, Williams Richard, Bailey Brenda, Beattie Isobel, Bohill Ian, Greenwood Christine, Hillier William, Kaye Stephen, Macklin Ruth, Moffat Alison, West Sally, Bodhams Jacqueline, Berry Janet, Dyer Angela, Hodgson Susan, Rothwell David, Sharp Susan, Wright Reginald, Roberts Philip.

Sub Board in Physics;

Klee Marilyn, Scarsbrook Jennifer, Mayfield Ann, Turner David, Abbit Tony, Dixon Susan, Liddell Andrew, Pitts Eleanor, Griffiths Michael, Hopkins Caroline.


So there you have it, some names are familiar, some are a complete mystery but this was the 1967/1970 batch……  If you know any then why not alert them to the Westfield College, University of London Face book group.


Forest of Dean in February

A day out in the Forest of Dean, there are so many choices of where to go but I opted for Worsgreen and Crabtree Hill. Just as well I took my wellies as it was thick mud.

However it was warm and occasionally sunny. This photo of the edge of Worsgreen lake is a composite of 4 photos using the focus stacking technique on photo shop plus which I recently invested in.fod-feb6

Lots of people about as it is half term, so the chances of wild boar or deer were reduced. I did see two fallow deer a long way off but they were fairly well into the trees when I first saw them and then never came out, at least not whilst I was watching and waiting.

I did see the Great grey shrike, in the distance, also distant views of a Sparrow hawk, Goshawk and a couple of Buzzards.  On the lake there were a couple of Goosanders a pair of Teal and the usual Mallards Coots Swans etc.

I was hoping for some Siskins or Redpolls but no luck. I did see a group of about 6 Reed Buntings.fod-feb8

There were also several Song Thrushes giving it their all. This one was on the ground presumably hunting for its dinner.fod-feb9

Finally on the way home I popped into Cannop  and  sat for half an hour with the truck window open and observed the visitors to the bird table, taking a few photos along the way. It was quite busy (birds that is not people) and at one point it was almost like Heathrow with the birds  lining up to land.fod-feb1

Most of the usual gang were on display, here are a few… Great Tit.








Hedge Sparrow







Marsh Tit….. well I assume Marsh, can you see a spot on the base of its beak?  Maybe, just.fod-feb3fod-feb2






And that was it,   nothing spectacular but a nice day with several conversations with other birders, walkers and just general folk.

LP’s Vinyl, albums

I have a box of old LP’s but no record deck…. many people are probably in the same situation.

Yesterday I was in a record sop in Stratford on Avon… all very nostalgic, but not that good for the owner because all I did was nostalgisise … is there such a word. There is now.

Anyway he recommended a web site called where you can get a good estimate of the value of your own records.11b4b3d2c48ca5b67aec94c69ff68444

When I got home I got my box out and went through them… nothing very exciting came up, mostly they were worth under £10 each, one was about £100 but that was a 6 album box set of Sonny Boy Williams, so each album was only about £17.  Then towards the end I typed in Black cat Bones….. Barbed Wire Sandwich and guess what it is rated as £250 plus… one is now for sale on ebay for over £500….. OK the guy has not sold it but it sets the bar.

So if you have not done so visit the above web site and check out your old albums, you might find some hidden treasure.

By the way I was never that impressed with the Black Cat Bones album but you can read all about it on Wikipedia and if any one has £300 then we can do a deal.

‘Barbed Wire Sandwich is a psychedelic heavy blues rock album released by Black Cat Bones in November 1969. The original vinyl version of the album is now highly sought after by collectors of rock and heavy blues music of the late 1960s and 1970s. It is the only studio release of the band.’

Paul Kossoff  was part of the band… that could explain some of the appeal.



Aylburton Warth

Aylburton is a village on the North side of the Severn estuary, between Lydney and Chepstow, so it is in England, just. The Warth is the bit down by sea, I do not know what warth means but it is what I would call the saltings.aylburton-warth10

The morning was fairly grey and the tide was out, never a good thing when you are birding as the waders are miles away and just dots on the horizon. I had binoculars but not my scope.

On the way down I saw stonechats, and a nice group of goldfinches.aylburton-warth1

There are large areas of teasels which no doubt attracts them.aylburton-warth15

Once onto the flat grassy area it was fairly devoid of birds, there were a few Meadow pipits and vast numbers of crows along with a few gulls. I am not much into gulls, I think they were mainly of the Herring species.aylburton-warth2

Initially I headed up stream/inland and this area is known as Lydney New Groundsaylburton-warth8

Apart from the huge numbers of Crows, into the thousands I would say, I did see Shell duck, Curlew, Teal, and what must have been Red legged partridge, but I was surprised that they were in amongst the large rocks which act as a sea defence. When disturbed they flew off low and fast, typical of partridge, but I never got a good view of them.aylburton-warth3

I turned back after about a mile in that direction and headed back in the westerly direction. This takes you out onto a mini peninsula. Out there I thought I could see an Egret in the distance. aylburton-warth6

So I adopted a technique I used to use when living in Norfolk and dropped down out of sight behind the sea bank and approached unseen. When I guessed I was about level with the bird I slowly climbed the bank and photographed it.aylburton-warth7

I expect this has happened to you at some time in the past. As I said this area is quite reminiscent of the Norfolk coast, and I felt quite at home, you could ignore the hills a few miles inland as it was quite misty and concentrate on the plants, all quite familiar, like this Buckshorn Plantain and Scurvy grass.aylburton-warth11

I also spotted some Sea Aster ( that’s what they have in Spain in the afternoon) I expect in summer this might be worth a visit to get some samphire…..which I do like.aylburton-warth9

Towards the end of the peninsula were a large number of peculiar metal baskets, presumably something to do with fishing, mussel culture, but I am not sure what.aylburton-warth12

I returned back along the dyke bringing water into the Severn from the village, presumably it also functions as method to rid the village of sewage??? Maybe this item had just got washed up there?aylburton-warth13

The sun did make a few brief appearances which produced some nice effects across the estuary.aylburton-warth5

And to round off my Norfolk nostalgia there were quite a few areas of Phragmites which is common in Norfolk where they call it Norfolk reed, but everywhere else it is called common reed.  No Bearded tits though.aylburton-warth14

I also saw Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Song Thrush, Dunock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue tit, Wren… but nothing very spectacular.