Thursday, 23 August 2012

♫Always Look on the Bright Side of Life♫

Coventry Olympics S5700  03-08-2012 16-36-13
Did you join the sing-along of the above song with the 80K strong crowd at the Olympics closing ceremony? The audience were treated to a taste of Britain’s comedy heritage when Monty Phyton star Eric Idle appeared on stage and led the rendition. Unfortunately, we’d just returned from a trip from Norfolk and was too exhausted to stay up to watch. But I bet everyone had a ball.

The Olympics was now over. My thoughts were on the brilliant performance of the Team GB women athletes. Of Team GB’s impressive 65 medals haul, 26 were won by women with 12 gold, 8 silver and 6 bronze. Their achievements had given the Olympics some of its most breath-taking and emotional moments. From Lizzie Armistrad winning the first medal, a silver for the road race, to Samantha Murray, a silver for the modern pentathlon, taking the last, British women had risen to the occasion.  Coventry Olympics 2012 S40  23-07-2012 10-01-05
Rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning started the gold rush and more first place finishes followed. Team GB poster girl Jessica Ennis’s golden victory was in the heptatlon. In the cycling, Victoria Pendleton conquered the keirin, while Jo Roswell, Laura Trott and Dani King won the cycling team pursuit. Laura Trott and dressage Charlotte Dujardin won 2 a-piece while Jade Jones got one in taekwondo. On the water, Katherine Grainger/ Anna Watkins hit the gold standard in the double sculls,  Katherine Copeland/Sophie Hosking in the lightweight doubles and Helen Glover/Heather Stanning in the coxless pairs.

A record-breaking crowd at Wembley of 70K+ saw Team GB women beat Brazil 1:0. Winger Karen Carney described the night as “My dream came true when I walked out at Wembley. I think that is every boy’s dream, let alone a girl’s dream, to do that.” We saw them playing in the City of Coventry stadium and a pity they lost 2:0 to Canada. Boxing was the last sport to achieve Olympic gender equality and Nicola Adams got a gold in the 51 kg flyweight.

Coventry D200  22-07-2012 12-30-07_stitch
The headmistress and president of the Girls’ Schools Association, Louise Robinson, praised the ‘phenomenal female role models’ the London 2012 Olympic Games had given to young and not so young girls. She said: “We are now in the enviable position of having a phenomenal number of female role models for school girls, thanks to Team GB’s performance. I do hope we can manage to maintain at least some of the tremendous media momentum behind these sportswomen so that young girls across the country can continue to see, and aspire to be, women of real achievement. We must see at least one of these medallists included in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year line-up as it was so disappointing to see no women nominated last year.”

It was really inspiring to see young women who care about more than fake tans, fake hair and fake relationships to get attention. These were women who are proud to look powerful, who have muscles and who aren't afraid to sweat and pant their way to a gold medal. What an inspiration to the next generation which was the motto of the Olympics.
Coventry FZ28  29-07-2012 14-38-08

And it was not just British women who’d been making the headlines. London 2012 was the first Olympics in its 116-year history where every nation had fielded male and female representatives, and the only one in which women had competed in every sport. For the first time, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei sent female sportswomen. For the first time in its history too, Malaysia had afforded a female athlete – diver Pandelela Rinong – the honour of bearing the country’s flag at the opening ceremony. And she got a bronze. Syabas* and what an inspiration to the girls back home.
Everything about the Olympics was first class, and women were treated as athletes and equals.”
~Elizabeth Robinson Schwartz~
We missed the closing ceremony because we’d just returned from another adventure in Norfolk. We were checking out the Titchwell Marsh RSPB nature reserve. There were so many reserves in this part of the world and we planned to check them one by one. We left at about 9 am and the 196.2 km trip would take us about 3 hours. It was lovely driving through the countryside. Fields and fields of wheat and corn as far as the eyes can see were shimmering in the sun with little ripples breaking upon the surface with even the slightest breeze. Farmers with their amazing machines were busy harvesting hay. “Make hay when the sun shines” was definitely the right way to go. Bales of hay dotted here and there waiting to be collected and stored in the barn. 

Roadtrip Titchwewll RSPB D3100  12-08-2012 15-03-37It was a smooth journey until we reached the Hardwick Roundabout. We were stuck here for nearly 30 minutes before we managed to drive through and then we started crawling to our destination. We have been to Norfolk many, many times and this was the first time we faced so many obstacles. Well, it was the school holidays and Norfolk was a very famous holiday destination. We lost count the number of times we were stuck behind caravans, motor-homes and farm machines. Titchwewll RSPB D50  12-08-2012 14-16-15
Finally we arrived at our destination. After paying £4 for parking and using the facilities, our adventure began. Armed with a flyer, we walked along the 200 metre Fen trail and boardwalk to the empty Fen hide. It had brilliant views over the reed-beds but nobody was at home. From here, we took the 100 metre meadow trail that linked the Fen trail and the West Bank path. There were plenty of butterflies flitting from one flower to another while dragonflies were busy patrolling. When we looked up, a bird of prey was “dancing” in the sky.

As we walked along the West Bank path, the reserve was bathed in summer colours. Thistles and docks lined the path creating a gorgeous corridor of golds, reds and purples. Yellow ragwort flowers brightened the banks like little blobs of sunshine. We knew the reed-beds were Bearded Tits territories but we didn’t see any. As we continued walking we met 2 familiar faces from Brandon Marsh. What a small world. We chatted for a while before continuing our walk.
Titchwewll RSPB D50  12-08-2012 12-24-02
We stopped at Island Hide situated on a freshwater marsh. The elegant Avocets were busy feeding along the mudbanks, sweeping sideways with their upturned bill. A Little Egret was seen feeding at the far end of the marsh. We could see so many waders but they were just too far away. It was a nightmare for us as photographers. But it was still lovely to see them.
Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-49-005
We continued on and we were engulfed with the echoes of the call of the curlew, one of summers’ most evocative sounds. Babe spotted one landing and as usual, it was just too far for a good photograph which happened to be a common theme for this visit. We walked along the Parrinder wall where we could see the Goldfinches feeding on the thistles. The Parrinder hide was the latest hide to be opened. A huge flock of Golden Plover were flying around the reserve, their lovely colours glittering as they fly.

Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-17-44

“A Golden Plovers’ golden music calls
Across the moor, a heady fragrance spills
From freshly-opened pest, then silence falls”
~R.S.Morrison, Word on Birds~
Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 12-57-50

The salt-marsh was carpeted in colour. The blankets of purple on large parts of the marsh were created by the papery flowers of the common sea lavender. We spotted the piece de resistance, a flock of spoonbills with its white plumage and yellow ochre chin. And they were having a siesta. On the same island, a large flock of Oyster-catchers too were having a siesta. I don’t blame them because it was hot, hot, hot.

Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 12-58-049
We continued walking towards the beach where we could see the remains of an old forest. Overhead, the sky was a bright bowl of blue and in front of us was the rolling waves of the North Sea. The water was crisp, clear and clean – and oh, so cool! It was very tempting to have dip. The  beach was packed as people enjoyed a sweltering 27C heat on the hottest day of the Olympics. Part of the beach was cordoned off because of nesting birds although I didn’t spot any. Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-28-050
On the way back, the Avocets, Shelducks, Lapwings and Common Sandpipers were feeding very close to the path. Common Gulls were making themselves heard, squabbling among themselves. Suddenly, a weasel appeared right in front of us. We don’t know who was more surprised to see the other. Babe only managed to get the back end before it disappeared into the bushes. It was a lovely ending to a lovely day at a lovely place.
Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-48-04
“What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”
~Gerard Manley Hopkins~

Brandon Marsh D300s X2  10-08-2012 14-32-007

On Saturday, we made a pit stop to our favourite playground. Babe had seen the Kingfisher at Steely Hide and had taken several gorgeous shots. I had not seen any this year and wanted to see one. Unfortunately, we’d seen a lot of people heading towards that direction and knew that the tiny hide will be packed to the brim. Thankfully, there were plenty of things to point my camera.

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-03-066
Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life.  And everyone deserves a little sunshine. 
~Jeffrey Glassberg~

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-09-19

I always loved this Buddleia jungle. I’m trying to create a similar patch in our garden. The reason was that butterflies loved them and that was why it was also known as the Butterfly bush. We spent nearly an hour photographing the numerous gorgeous colourful butterflies feeding on the flowers. There were Brimstone, Comma, Admiral, Peacocks, Speckled Wood and Tortoise-shell. People walked past us but no one stopped to admire these lovely butterflies. Everyone was rushing hoping to see something spectacular but they just couldn’t see what was in front of them.

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-13-15

“And where the pretty butterflies
Their glancing beauties show;
It makes me to think
All things with beauty glow”
~Lizzy, 1857~

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-34-009
We walked towards the sheep field. Small whites and grasshoppers were all over the place. We spotted a bald robin trying to hide behind the bushes. The poor thing was moulting. The yellow Ragwort shrubs were covered with Cinnabar caterpillars. You have to look closely because they were very well camouflaged. We spotted more butterflies taking advantage of the lovely weather as we continued walking.

Brandon Marsh D50  05-08-2012 15-31-29
The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity. 
~Attributed to George Carlin~

We walked through the forest to cool down and made a pit-stop at Wright hide. The island was covered with overgrown lush vegetation due to the wet summer. Greylags, Canada Geese, Swans, Lapwings, Gulls, Mallards, Teals, Coots, Herons, Cormorants and Moorhens  were out and about on the mudbanks, enjoying the warm weather. A pair of Common Sandpipers flew in but they were chased away by the Lapwings. It was very warm in the hide that we decided to call it a day.

Brandon Marsh D300s X2  11-08-2012 13-58-12
That night we stayed up late to see the Perseid showers. As Earth ploughs through the debris stream left by a giant comet that had been circling the sun since the birth of the solar system, fragments hit the atmosphere creating an incandescent display. We sat in the garden looking up at the sky. The longer we wait, the cloudier the skies became. It was freezing, too. After about an hour, we gave up and went to bed. Babe woke me up at about 3 am but when we looked out of the window, it was still very cloudy. Hmm…not a good day for star-grazing. I was quite jealous when I found out that in some parts of the UK, people had seen the spectacular showers. Better luck next time.

I also would like to wish a very Happy 51st birthday to my brother-in-law, Khamarul, in Malaysia. I hoped he’d a lovely day and ♫always look on the bright side of life♫.

Coventry D7000 M  10-08-2012 08-27-03 *Congratulations in Malay

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