Tuesday, 26 August 2014

♫Sunshine on my Shoulders♫

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
I'd give to you the day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I'd tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I'd make a wish for sunshine for all the while

~John Denver~

Brandon Marsh - Summer

How I wish the above was true. I’d some discomfort on my left shoulder for about a few weeks but I just ignored, as you normally do. But then, one night my shoulder was throbbing like mad and I couldn’t even lie down to sleep. We tried both hot and cold compression and it still didn’t ease the pain. There were no bruises, nothing. In the end, I’d to sleep downstairs in Babe’s reclining chair with my shoulder being supported by piles of cushion. I called the office and informed that I’m on sick leave and made an emergency appointment with the doctor. I was diagnosed me with bursitis or frozen shoulder, where the lining of the shoulder joint was inflamed. How it happened no one knows especially when I’m right-handed.

Shots from Home

I was given Naproxen to help ease the pain and reduce any inflammation in the shoulder. I was also told to have my arm in a sling to keep it relaxed and to make an appointment in a week for a steroid injection. Unfortunately, I experienced very bad side effects with the tablet. I was throwing up and had very bad heart burns which aggravated my condition. I went to the doctor the next day and was given Tramadol and a whole week sick leave. Taking these tablets made me so tired and very sleepy that Babe had to wake me up for meals, drinks and trips to the bathroom. Thanks Babe and it made things worse because he wasn’t feeling well too. Oh dear…Shots from Home

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

~John Lubbock~

For the whole week, I was sleeping downstairs on Babe’s reclining chair. I was too drugged up to, tired and in pain to care what was happening around the world. Sad huh but thankfully the 20th Commonwealth games in Glasgow kept me sane and interested since Malaysia was doing well in Badminton. They won 3 gold medals in the team event, men and women doubles team. In total, Malaysia won 6 gold, 7 silver and 6 bronze and was twelfth in the medal tally out of 70 participating nations. Well done to all the athletes that took part.

Earlier during the week, it was St. Swithin’s day when the folk rhyme goes …

St. Swithin’s Day, if it does rain

Full forty days, it will remain

St. Swithin’s Day, if it be fair

For forty days, t’will rain no more

Here in my corner of Coventry, it was warm and dry. Whoop…whoop. Summer was here to stay. A steamy two week spell was in the offering, although with a threat of thunderstorms as a ‘Spanish plume’ headed our way. The patio door was always opened to cool down the house and let some breeze in.

Shots from Home - Hot summer days

It was lovely in the morning when the morning chorus from the tree sparrows which lived in the hedges delighted us with a melody that only they can sing. But I’m sure our feathered friends were wondering what they’d done because we haven’t top up the bird-feeder for nearly a fortnight. I photographed a featherless Dunnock covered with avian pox and then Babe spotted another one. We stopped feeding the birds so that they feed elsewhere. We don’t want the healthy birds to be affected. We washed and disinfected the bird-feeders and watched closely to see if any more birds were affected. Thankfully, none and only one of the affected bird turned up and he looked like he’d recovered.

At work, the University was buzzing when the six-metre high Lady Godiva puppet made an appearance. I’d a front seat view of the Imagineer Production team assembling her right outside my office. She was here to welcome the 900 theatre academics from 68 nations for the World Congress of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR). In variation of Godiva’s Odyssey, the puppet woke up in the campus and then made her way along the main road, guiding all delegates to the Arts Centre. What an amazing welcome. It was lovely to see Lady Godiva again.

Godiva Awakes at Warwick University.

After 30 days of fasting, the new moon of Syawal was sighted without any controversies. Syawal meant “to lift or carry” was the 10th month of the lunar Islamic calendar and the first day was Eid. Due to the discomfort in my shoulder, I wasn’t able to cook anything special. But for my colleagues, I brought shop-bought Baklava which we enjoyed during the departmental meeting where the head of Client Services, our new division manager, joined us. She updated us on what was happening and what she expected from us. Nothing new … we just continued like before

May Ramadan leaves us with Allah’s forgiveness and mercy, and the coming Syawal bring happiness and peace especially with what was happening in the Muslim world.

Shots from Home

Before I fell ill, we made another trip to Draycote Meadow to see if the Marbled Whites were about. It was a lovely day to be out and it was butterflies galore. We just don’t know where to point the camera. Despite its name, they were more closely related to the sub-family known as the “browns”than the “whites”. Check out the stunning black and white markings. Early morning was a good time to see them, as they warmed up with wings held open absorbing the sun’s rays. Very conspicuous, even from a distance, as they were the only white object, fluttering in the meadow. I loved watching several all vying for space as they fed on the flower head.

Draycote Meadows - Hot dark day

After being stuck in the house for days, we went for a short walk at our favourite playground to get some fresh air and put a bit of colour. First stop was the Buddleia bushes where the flowers were blooming profusely and deliciously scented. No wonder, butterflies were attracted to them in drones. This butterfly bush produced nectar that had a higher content of sucrose, glucose and fructose than many other garden flowers. It was lovely watching the bushes covered in swags of flowers and dancing with nectar intoxicated butterflies butterflies in the sunshine. We walked towards the wind-pump and kept a close eye for the blues flittering about in the scrubs. There were plenty of them. We continued towards New Hare covert and it was again butterfly galore.

Brandon Marsh - Summer

From Cocoon forth a Butterfly
As Lady from her Door

Draycote Meadows - Hot dark day
Emerged -- a Summer Afternoon --
Repairing Everywhere --

Draycote Meadows - Hot dark day
Without Design -- that I could trace
Except to stray abroad

Draycote Meadows - Hot dark day

On Miscellaneous Enterprise
The Clovers -- understood --

Brandon Marsh - Hot summer days
Her pretty Parasol be seen
Contracting in a Field

Shots from Home
Where Men made Hay --
Then struggling hard

Brandon Marsh - Hot summer days
With an opposing Cloud --
Where Parties -- Phantom as Herself --

Shots from Home - Hot summer days
To Nowhere -- seemed to go
In purposeless Circumference --

Brandon Marsh - Summer
As 'twere a Tropic Show --
And notwithstanding Bee -- that worked --

Shots from Home - Hot summer days
And Flower -- that zealous blew --
This Audience of Idleness

Brandon Marsh - Summer
Disdained them, from the Sky --
Till Sundown crept -- a steady Tide --
And Men that made the Hay --

Brandon Marsh - Summer
And Afternoon -- and Butterfly --
Extinguished -- in the Sea --

~From cocoon forth a butterfly by Emily Dickinson~

Brandon Marsh - Summer

Even dragonflies loves the Buddleia

We went straight to Steely Hide and had to rush a bit because the weather was beginning to turn. We looked through the slats and there was a kingfisher perched on the pole. We opened the window very slowly and watched it fishing. It waited quite patiently before suddenly plunging down into the pool with a blink of an eye. Unfortunately, it came up empty handed and flew onto the stump in the middle of the island. It was there for a few minutes before flying down the river channel, like a blue flame, with its piercing cry trailing behind it.

Brandon Marsh - Summer

After a week resting, my shoulder was a bit more mobile. We celebrated by checking out what the natives were up to at Middleton Lakes which was just a short drive away. This site was buzzing a few weeks ago when a Pacific Golden Plover brought twitchers all over the country. Predictably, I was out of action at that time. After paying the entrance fee and having a chinwag with the friendly volunteer, we made our way into the reserve. The heronry was quiet and the tall reeds had obstructed the views of the bird-feeder from the boardwalk. As we walked past the farmhouse, we were greeted by this amazing sight of an usually looking duck with a wonderful regal air about it. It was a crested duck with the powder-puff of feathers on its head. The crest was actually caused by a genetic mutation that caused the duck to be born with a gap in its skull, which was filled with a growth of fatty tissue. It was from this growth that the pouf of feather sprouted.  

RSPB Middleton Lakes

There was a tall dead tree in the compound and I saw Nuthatches, Linnets and Goldfinches taking turns to perch. Unfortunately the sun was right above us, that the photographs didn’t turn up right. But, I love this dark silhouettes of the swallows taking a rest on the electric lines. Soon, they will be migrating back 10k miles, across Europe to South Africa crossing the Sahara desert on the way to spend the winter. As the time to return was approaching, they become restless and often seen perching in large flocks. Perhaps, they were waiting and twittering about the right moment to fly.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

Along the path, Babe was busy photographing the bugs and the bees. The striking black and yellow striped Cinnabar caterpillars were busy munching on the Ragwort plants.  The poisonous Cuckoo pint berries stood out like a beacon in the woodland habitat. It was quite cool walking under the canopy of trees and then we faced the intense temperatures and heat haze as we got out into the open. Green woodpecker cries could be heard but not seen. I was distracted by a little brown bird flying in and out of the reed-beds. I crept slowly and had a lovely view of Reed warbler hunting for food.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

In the pool, Moorhens with chicks were busy feeding. Great Crested Grebes were paddling lazily across and sometimes diving and coming out with a fish to eat. There were plenty of signs to warn visitors about major flood defence works being carried out by the Environment Agency to the south of Fishers Mills Bridge. We could see huge machineries being operated near the River Tame, the noise breaking through the silence. We were quite excited to see a Great Crested Grebe flying around the reserve. We seldom see them fly because they needed to run a long way along the water before to take off, while performing rapid wing-beats as it does in flight. We were able to see the beautiful black and white wing pattern during flight.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

Along the seasonal trails, we’d to watch our steps because recent landscaping works meant that the path were very muddy. We stopped at the woven willow viewing screens to look at the wetlands and the scrapes and there was nothing about. But along the path, we came across several dragonflies sunning themselves in the heat. As we walked along River Tame, at least 40 Canada Geese were enjoying a rest, bobbing up and down in the water and among them was a hybrid.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

We checked out the Lookout Hide overlooking the northern scrapes. By this time, we were drenched in sweat and had to take our coats off to cool down. We’d a long, cold drink and had a pasty each to replenish and recharge. Babe counted at least 3 dozen Mute Swans in the vicinity. We watched the ones close to us, feeding by reaching the aquatic vegetation and plunging its long neck into the water, or ‘upending’, tail in the air. And then another white wader flew in with attractive white plumes on the crest, back and chest, black legs and bill and yellow feet. The liveliest hunters, among the herons, they fed chiefly by walking through the lake and snapping at prey, or by running and agitating the waters with their feet to disturb prey.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

From time to time, a flock of Goldfinches flew to the thistle and teasel bushes near the hide. We could hear and see them feeding, their long, fine beaks allowing them to extract the otherwise inaccessible seeds with their liquid twittering calls. Another flock of birds with an undulating flight flew into the thick bushes in the middle of the island. They were Linnets and I think they were breeding here because they kept on coming in and out.The males were attractively marked with crimson foreheads and breasts while the females were browner.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

We walked back through the Jubilee Wetlands North where we passed small pools covered with algae. The authorities were trying their best to clear these pea-soup because we could see piles that had been scraped dumped by the sides. We also saw a small herd of ancient English longhorn cattle feeding on the scrubland. The notable long, curved horns that served to distinguish this breed from others made them appear aggressive but they were actually quite docile. They provided the hoof-power to look after the sites by grazing to remove the coarse grasses. This prevented grasslands from turning into dense woodland and was also an environmentally friendly way to maintain the reserve. Unfortunately, on such a hot day, they were feeding in the shade. I don’t blame them.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

A something in a summer’s Day
As slow her flambeaux burn away
Which solemnizes me.

RSPB Middleton Lakes
A something in a summer’s noon —
A depth — an Azure — a perfume —
Transcending ecstasy.

RSPB Middleton Lakes
And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright
I clap my hands to see —

RSPB Middleton Lakes
Then veil my too inspecting face
Lets such a subtle — shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me —

RSPB Middleton Lakes
The wizard fingers never rest —
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes it narrow bed —

RSPB Middleton Lakes
Still rears the East her amber Flag —
Guides still the sun along the Crag
His Caravan of Red —

RSPB Middleton Lakes
So looking on — the night — the morn
Conclude the wonder gay —
And I meet, coming thro’ the dews
Another summer’s Day!

~A something in a summer’s Day by Emily Dickinson~

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Every Summer Has A Story To Tell

We joined Muslims around the world observing Ramadan, the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Throughout the next 30 days, adults will be fasting and praying from sunrise to sunset, and abstaining from smoking and sex. The observation of Ramadan marked the anniversary of the Quran being revealed to the Prophet Mohammed SAW in 610CE. It was observed annually after the sighting of the new moon and lasts for 30 days until the next new moon appeared.

Ramadan is a month

whose beginning is mercy

whose middle is forgiveness

and whose end is

freedom from the fire

~The Prophet, Mohammad SAW~

I was looking forward to fasting and followed it with military precision. Thankfully, although it fell in summer, the weather was much cooler, unlike last year. Since I don’t take tea breaks and only a short lunch break, I left work at 5 pm. There was ample time for prayers and meal preparations for breaking fast which was around 9.30 pm. At work, I put on my headphones and listened to the recitals of the Quran and its English translation. It was my aim to complete the 114 surah or chapters during the holy month. During my lunch break, I joined the university’s Muslim communities to perform the Zuhur prayers. At home, I’m in the kitchen at 7.30 pm to prepare the meals. I break the fast with a bowl of soup and a mug of coffee before the Maghrib prayers. Then only, I tucked into my main meal. Nothing elaborate but with plenty of vegetables and fruits for desserts. It was a nice surprise that we found these fruits called Rambutan from the supermarket. My parents grew them in Malaysia, although these came from Thailand. You have to peel these hairy skins and inside were white juicy flesh that covered a hard seed which you don’t eat. They taste like lychee. Yum…yum Shots from HomeI make sure that we have plenty to drink to keep hydrated which was quite hard. I went to bed early at about 10 pm on a very full tummy and Babe woke me up at 2.30 am for my sahur. This will be my last meal for the day which was usually a peanut butter sandwich and a tall glass of water.  Then back to sleep again before the alarm goes off at 6.30 am. It was very challenging but very rewarding spiritually.

“o you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you …(2:183)

I had to undergo a crash course in microfiche training because there were 12 drawers of microfiches to be catalogued. Gulp !!! During their annual blitz, the Collection Development team stumbled across these drawers that were missing from the catalogue. They were the British official publications consisting mostly of the House of Common papers, 1901-1021, that were not published by the Stationary Office. I’d a one-to-one training with Sara, one of the Learning Advisors. It was so time consuming because to find the information that I needed I’d to scroll through soo many document pages on just one card. By the end of the day, my head was throbbing like crazy. It was going to take a long time for me to finish because I need to compress all these into just one bibliographic record. No pressure then…

Then it was time for the dreaded Library Review aka Restructuring process. It was deja vu for most of us as we were herded into the Physics lecture theatre. When everyone had seated, we awaited breathlessly for our faith. It took some time for us to digest stuff as we squinted through the power-point presentation. There was a sigh of relief when we found out that most of us escaped the cull. My department will be joining Client Services because the Digital Infrastructure and Learning Technology was disestablished. A new Scholarly Communications Division was created in its place and comprised of the e-Repositories team and another new named department, the Digital Services, Systems and Development. The Modern Records Centre was moved to the Academic Services. The existing main Library Facilities and Environment teams were merged to form an expanded Facilities Team responsible for servicing all the learning spaces and worked in partnership with the Academic Services that supported these spaces. This merger resulted in a number of redundancies which hopefully will be mitigated in the new structure. I sincerely hoped that this review/structure will take the Library forward to what it aimed to be. All of us were looking forward to learn more about the Scholarly Communications Division.

After what had happened during the week, I was so looking forward for a break to clear my head. We went for another long drive to Bempton Cliffs to say our goodbyes to the seabirds before they return back to the sea. It was 16C in the car and we drove past fields of ripening wheat in the sunshine and showers. Then we slowed down as we came through miles and miles of road-works from Northampton until the M18 junction.  We’d the roof down when we heard a thunderous roar flying over us at Howden. When we looked up, we saw the Red Arrows zooming past doing some serious manoeuvres. Whoop…whoop they must be on their way to Yorkshire for the initial stage of the Tour de France.Roadtrtp to Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire

We arrived in buzzing Bempton Cliff just after the rain had stopped. After using the facilities and paying the parking fees, we checked the compounds for Bee Orchids. Unfortunately, they’d already past their flowering season and looked a bit tattered. Jackdaws were everywhere in the car-park eyeing for potential scraps. The Tree Sparrows on the roof top of the visitor centre were making themselves heard with their conversational calls . Some were seeing disappearing between the tiles with food in their beaks and some were bringing in nesting materials. Must be for a second or third brood. RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

Green fencing were erected around the visitor centre. It was for an amphibian monitoring project as part of the work Work Ecology were doing to collect any Great Crested Newts for re-location. The site had to be clear of the protected species for at least 5 days before any construction can take place. The reserve had received funding for major improvements for the visitor centre. Couldn’t wait to see what they’d done when we visit next year. We checked all the pails but didn’t find anything. But then Babe spotted this handsome fella crawling along the screen trying to get across. We followed him to make sure that no one stepped on him. We also stopped to read a few poetry that were posted along the path. It was for the Bridlington Poetry festival.RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

The meadows that flanked the path looked overgrown and was nearly past their best. We could see a few butterflies flirting about but they were too far to be identified. As we got closer to the cliffs, the sound, smell and sight of a seabird colony assaulted our senses. No matter how many times we came here, we were always struck by it. A hot summer wind kicked up out of nowhere, enveloping us in the very familiar pong :-). This time we decided to go to the left first and headed towards the Grandstand. Everyone was straining their eyes for the Puffins and seemed to forget the rest of the birds that were dotted below them. I don’t blame the visitors because the site seemed to promote the Puffins more. RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

It was mayhem at the bottom of the view-points. The place was alive with the hustle and bustle of the different kinds of seabirds. Neat silver-grey and white Kittiwakes danced past us on buoyant wings, and the cliffs resounded to their names constantly being called.  Most of the ledges were filled with them and their impossibly cute and grey fluffy chicks of various sizes spilling over the whole nest. They were thriving with every nest containing 1-2 young living in precarious conditions. Some of the chicks were panting away because of the heat. I hoped they’ll make it to adulthood. After the breeding was over, they will fly out into the Atlantic where they spent the winter.RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

Dark brown Guillemots were densely-packed in colonies, en mass on the ledges. We squinted but we couldn’t see any chicks at all. I was chuffed to photograph a Bridled Guillemot  which have a white ring around the eye extending back as a white line. Nearby, were the jet-black Razorbills, tucked away in crevices and cracks. As we looked down, low over the sea was a Fulmar almost stationary, wings outspread. We haven’t seen any on the cliffs. But then, Fulmar chicks were usually the last of the seabirds to hatch as they tend to breed later.RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer We checked out a favourite spot where we never failed to see the Puffins. There were 3 of them together. Whoop…whoop. With their bright orange legs, colourful bills and comical, waddling walk, it was hard not to be cheered by the sight of these adorable birds. These plucky seabirds spent 8 months out at sea before flying in to these rocky cliffs each spring to breed. And when they arrived, they were in the mood for socialising. It was as though they’d been apart so long that they were keen for a good chinwag. It was a joy to watch them as they busily meet and greet. RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

Puffins nest in the holes in the chalk cliffs.  It was unusual to see the Pufflings during the day. They leave at night under the cover of darkness to avoid predation. It was really incredible that they spent 40 days living in the caves and still know how to dive within seconds of being in the water. We would love to see the parents ferrying beaks full of sand eels for their chicks but not today. They were too busy scrutinising us oohing and aahing over them. RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

For us, the Gannets were the crown prince of seabirds. They were Britain’s largest seabird and boy do they stand out when they were in flight with a six feet wingspan. In 1970s, there were 20 pairs breeding, but by 2012 there were 11,000 pairs and 10000 non-breeding birds. As a result of the population explosion, more young Gannets were loitering around the cliff tops and interacting with each other with low-intensity territorial and sexual behaviour. They also tended to be pull the grasses on the cliff tops resulting in these areas to be void of vegetation. RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

As usual, we went back to the car for refreshments before tackling the opposite side of the reserve. This year, potatoes were grown on the fields. There were plenty of signage to inform visitors to stick to the path. We stopped at a familiar spot between New Roll-up and Staple Newk where you can literally be eye-to eye with a Gannet as  they glided past just a few feet away. Check out those beady blue eyes, beautifully outlined in black with the buttery-yellow head and beak. We just don’t know where to point the camera as they suddenly rose above the cliffs before flying away. There were also plenty of youngsters in flight. RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

Bryan Nelson, introducing the Gannet, described the stuff of a gannet’s life as “rock, wind waves, seaweed, guano and fish together with constant interaction with its fellows”. You could see all these at Staple Newk where on the famous arch, hundreds of fluffy chicks were sitting on nests made of sticks and seaweeds with their parents. Most were still covered in fluffy down. The chicks loose their down feathers during the second and third month as they developed the speckled plumage of the juvenile stage. There were constant noise and motion, birds leaving the nest and heading over the sea, birds arriving back, landing and jostling. RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

We were quite disgusted by the behaviour of several photographers who climbed over the fences to get close to these birds. Why when they were equipped with some serious photographic equipments? Don’t they realise that these chalk cliffs were 350 feet above sea level and below them were sharp rocks and crashing waves. There were soil erosion along the coastal path and they might make it worse by trampling on the edges. But crucially, these selfish behaviour will flush, alarm or cause the birds to stop what they were doing which will disrupt these breeding birds. They might not nest here again next year and worse still, these irresponsible behaviour put these birds at risk and might abandoned their dependent chicks.RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

Phew… rant over. For us, the welfare of whatever we were photographing always comes first. We will also never risk our lives for the perfect photograph. Anyway, I’m more of the point and click photographer. Thankfully, the song and song-flight of a flock of birds on the fields caught my attention. They were Skylarks and one even raised its short crest which they do when they were alarmed or excited. I’m glad that they were flourishing here because their recent and dramatic declined made it into the Red List species. In Norfolk, it was believed that if larks were flying high early in the morning, it would be a fine day. We bid goodbye to this wonderful reserve with promises to come again next year, Insyallah.RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

Fast wanes the summer now...
Autumn's mellow misty arms reach out embracing all.
Ripened fruit means harvest time, alas so soon so soon.
When did the summer slip away? Where did it go?

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer
Melancholy thoughts recall such times she shared
with those who knew her warming kiss.
Slipping fast she pines even now in dying,
for those she held if only for a moment in time.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

The days grow quieter now
and the unmistaking whisper of winter is felt
in every nook and cranny, every crack and crevice
of this whitened chalk perpendicular once awash
with a cacophany of sound.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer
But that was long ago, when the summer laughed
at the funny little clown with the funny little face.
Alas now his laughter is no more. For the summer is dying
and the little clown is gone... gone from ‘Seabird City.'

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

But wasn't there a time? Wasn't there a summer?
When first May then June July and August
forbade her from ever growing old.
It seemed for a time that she might remain forever young.
And yet even now she withers and grows old,
betrayed by time itself.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer 
These cathedrals of sound which only yesterday rang out
are silent now. Where once the Puffin shared with her
his comic face and sense of purpose, comforting her with
his comings and goings his to-ings and his fro-ings.
Alas even he is gone now. Gone to the sea, the ever calling sea,
leaving her alone with only memories.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

With wistful smile and resignation the waning summer
mourns his memory, and commits herself to her loneliness
and her dying.
Yet she has her memories, and will take them with her
as she fades and dies.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer
Soon the dawning of a new summer will once again
herald the return of the little clown to the city
of a hundred thousand voices.

RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

The Puffin... the funny little clown with the funny face
will cause yet another summer of chattering laughter
to ring out around the ramparts and high pinnacles of this place.
The chatter of thousands will echo up and down
it's granite walls and lofty places.

 RSPB Bempton Cliffs - Summer

From out of the nooks and crannies, the cracks and crevices of this place,
will come again the unmistakable sounds of summer.
For the Puffin is returned again... returned to Seabird City.

“Seabird city by T. W. Ward”

After yesterday’s exciting adventure, we went for a gentle stroll to Draycote Meadows. We were hoping to see the Marbled Whites but they were quite flighty and not willing to pose. But there were plenty to keep us occupied. This flower rich meadow was teeming with lady’s bedstraw, pepper saxifrage, yellow rattle, adders-tongue, spotted orchids, meadow vetchling and moonwort. It was a stunning and inspiring sight which lifted our spirits. As we walked along the path, summer grassland butterflies and grasshoppers kept us busy.We didn’t stay long because it was hot and humid and the sun was a ball of fire waiting to combust.Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the lady.

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
that is a field folded.

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun’s going down

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

whose secret we see in a children’s game
of ring a round of roses told.

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

Draycote Meadows - Hot and humid

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

~Often I am permitted to return to a meadow by Robert Duncan, 1919-1988~

Then we nipped over to our favourite playground to see what the natives were up to. Swallows resting on the wires greeted us when we parked the car near the wall. It looked like a juvenile and we waited to see if the parents would come to feed it but not today. It flew off to join the others, trilling and calling to each other. We watched them performing aerial acrobatics as they chase after flies. But I was distracted by a nasal, wheezing call and when I turned around it was a Greenfinch. He was looking at his best with a dull olive-green and greenish-yellow on the breast and rump, together with bright yellow wing flashes.Brandon Marsh - Summer days

As we walked through the sensory garden, colourful Goldfinches were busy calling in their high-pitched rapid twitter. Commas, Ringlets, Tortoiseshells and Peacocks were also busy enjoying the flowering nectars, flirting from flower to flower. But as we walked towards the mouse maze, we saw literally hundreds of Cinnabar caterpillars munching on the Ragwort plants. Ragwort were listed as weeds and contained many different alkaloids, making them poisonous to animals and giving them an unpalatable, bitter taste. Although in ancient times, Ragwort were used as a dye, an aphrodisiac and for relieving pain and inflammation,Brandon Marsh - Summer days

With bold patterns of bright yellow and black stripes and short black hairs covering their bodies, these beautiful caterpillars munched through the plants and assimilated them, becoming unpalatable themselves through chrysalis and finally to the colourful red and black Cinnabar moth.  Their striking bright colours act as a warning to predators that they were dangerous to eat. As they were extremely unpalatable, these caterpillars openly sat on their food plant during daytime and were easily visible as they devoured the ragwort.Brandon Marsh - Summer days

A wise Brazillian organic coffee farmer, Joao Pereira Lima Neto of Fazenda Santo Antonia de Agua Limpa, once said

“when nature sees a problem it sends life to fix it but when man sees a problem it sends death to kill it”.

We continued our walk with Babe stopping at nearly every plant because there were hundreds of bugs, spiders and bees to photograph. I was much more interested in the wild raspberries and blackberries that were ripening along the path. Hmm… crumbles and jam came to mind. We made a pit stop at Baldwin Hide where the Common Terns were still sitting on eggs. It was still very quiet in the birding front. The insistant, piping calls of the Oystercatchers caught our attention as they flew on to the main island. The juvenile was now an exact replica of its parent and still trailing after the parent as they fed along the mudbank. Brandon Marsh - Summer days

We also made another trip to Bradgate Park because I wanted to check out the red-tailed hawk handling at the Lady Jane Grey ruins. But we arrived too late for the event. Nevertheless, there were plenty of things to keep us busy. Herds of deer were mingling with the visitors. Thankfully, no reckless behaviour like the last time we were here when a grandmother let her grandchild who was a toddler walked so close to a couple of deer. More deer were scattered all along the River Lin, feeding and snoozing, shading from the bright sun which felt like a hot ball of misery glowering down on the park.Bradgate Park - A dull summers day

We continued walking when we heard the clip-clop of the horse carriage pounding the pavement behind us. But we were more interested in another herd of deer that were feeding by the water falls. One of them was a pink fallow buck. We think it was not an albino because it doesn’t have the characteristic pink eyes, although it was quite hard for us to see from where we were standing. It might be a Judas deer because in the wild, the colouring stood out among the herd and visible to predators. Check out the large and palmated antlers.  Bradgate Park - A dull summers day

We walked past a family feeding the ducks and stopped to watch the numerous Mallards, Moorhens and Black Headed Gulls squabbling over the chunks of bread. I scanned the waters for my favourite Wigeon which I’d not seen for ages. I didn’t see him and I hoped that he wasn’t predated. From under the reeds, a family of Tufted ducks with 6 adorable ducklings appeared. Aah…They took to the water at such a young age, diving and feeding on surface insects. The definition of like a duck to water comes to mind :-). It was such a joy to get so close to these ducklings.Bradgate Park - A dull summers day

We walked on the grassy path towards the ruins. On the bracken, I spotted Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Ringlets and Small tortoiseshell. When we arrived at the ruins, we found it locked and there was a notice at the gate. There was a theatre performance later in the evening and the performers were rehearsing. We walked towards the deer sanctuary and took a breather. We saw a Red Deer having a snooze under the trees. On the way back, we came across Tree-creepers working their way up the tree trunks. When we got to the car, we were being watched by this Robin and its adorable fledging.Bradgate Park - A dull summers day

We left early because I wanted to get the ironing and dinner done before the finals of the World Cup was on. Germany was playing against Argentina and to paraphrase Gary Lineker, 32 teams chased a ball for a month and, at the end, the Germans won Gotzke scored a brilliant extra-time winner. He demonstrated a perfect technique and commendable calm to chest down Schurrie’s pass and swept in a left-foot finish. The success meant that they were the first European team to win the trophy in South America. Well done to the Germans and hopefully England will do better in Russia in 2018.

“Stories don’t always end where their authors intended.

But there is a joy in following them, wherever they take us”

~Beatrix Potter~

Shots from Home