Saturday, 27 August 2011
Friday, 26 August 2011
According to this BBC article from 5th August, a Somerset nurseryman found the remains of a great tit in this large pitcher plant at his nursery.
It's not that unusual for pitcher plants to catch frogs, lizards and mice, as well as the insects they presumably mainly target, but this seems to be only the second time a bird-for-lunch has been reported.
The assumption is that the bird landed on the edge of the pitcher, leaned in to steal a tasty insect snack, lost its balance and landed head first in the pan. When our cat drinks from the bog, I worry that the same will happen to her!
Posted by Rob Clack at 16:28
Thursday, 25 August 2011
I was a little apprehensive, following our York experience. In York the lay clergy were very friendly and welcoming, but the big knobs were distinctly sniffy and remote. Not the happy experience you hope for at all.
In the run up to last week, our musical director had something of a struggle to agree a music list with the Canterbury folks, some aspects of which seemed perfectly reasonable, and others quite strange, so I started to expect the clergy to be much like those in York.
I'm delighted to say, the reverse was the case. They were completely lovely, and we had a simply brilliant time. The minor canon who lead us in the responses was a bit concerned when he saw there were only 14 of us on the first day, but when he heard us rehearse, he realised there's no deadwood in this choir - we all make a noise, and when we want to, we can be really quite loud!
We were astonished when we processed in for our first service on Monday, to see a congregation of about a hundred. Normally during the week there are more of us than them, but this week we never had fewer than about 75, and on Sunday, there must have been 300 in the nave for the eucharist. Of course, Canterbury is a big tourist attraction and also has significant numbers of pilgrims visiting. Still, awesome to think that we must have sung to nearly 1,000 people in the course of the week.
I had checked out a very useful website called Canterbury Explorer before we went, so we had some clues about good places to eat, and on Tuesday, six of us had dinner at the excellent, if pricey, Deeson's restaurant. There being just me and five women, I jokingly referred to them as 'my harem'. There were one or two negative comments from other choristers the next day, none directly to me, that they would have expected to be invited, but that's just bollocks. At no point did I consider organising anything for the whole choir, and they have absolutely no right to expect anything of the sort. Sorry, I find myself getting cross about it all over again! GRRR! The only person who could legitimately feel aggrieved was Cynthia, who is part of our little 'dining club'. I didn't ask her because she organised the accommodation and I thought (wrongly, as it turned out) that she'd need to be on-site to ensure things ran smoothly.
We had lunch twice in the delightful Café St Pierre (which doesn't seem to have its own website), once in the excellent Goods Shed and once in Café Mauresque, a middle-eastern restaurant. We also had dinner in the Mexican restaurant Café des Amis and in Café Mauresque. This might sound as though the food at the school wasn't good, but in fact it was very satisfactory, just we felt inclined to eat out much of the time.
The Goods Shed was a particularly splendid find. An old railway shed, it had a variety of stalls, selling fresh meat, fresh fish, vegetables, sandwiches, wine and beer, cheese, etc, as well as a restaurant where you could get an excellent lunch. We bought freshly made sandwiches twice to take as a picnic lunch, and were delighted both times.
On Wednesday after the morning rehearsal, we drove to Whitstable, where we ate our picnic on the beach, then west to Oare, where Jenny had spotted a bird-watching spot. That was spectacular, with about 50 avocets, hundreds of black-tailed godwits, a little egret, lots of lapwings, dunlin, cormorants and a few redshanks.
The choir always has one day off, when we don't sing a service, though we do rehearse in the morning. On that day, Jenny and I took our picnic to RSPB Dungeness for a spot of birding. It was windy and overcast, but we saw lots of really interesting birds, and had a most excellent time. Marsh harriers, great crested grebes, common terns and lots of ducks of various sorts. Excellent!
We also had a walk in Blean Woods nature reserve, which was really lovely. Didn't see many birds, but the wood, a mixture of coppiced birch, mature oak, open heathland, etc, was so still and quiet, we didn't care. We just ambled gently through, soaking up the peace.
And to round of a very satisfying, if exhausting week, I heard today that our director has had a letter from Canterbury, thanking us very much for singing for them and saying they're looking forward to us returning. We must have done OK if they're inviting us back!
Posted by Rob Clack at 12:05
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
So I was particularly smug when I just waited for much longer than usual on the boardwalk in Fowlmere yesterday, watching this big green and blue jobbie teararsing around, when it finally settled on a twig I could actually see clearly and get a decent photograph.
It's a male Southern Hawker,Aeshna cyanea and I'm pretty pleased with the snap.
I also saw my first Ruddy Darter of the season. I took this picture in July last year, and have just had to visit british-dragonflies.org.uk to check that it wasn't a Common Darter, but it isn't.
Posted by Rob Clack at 10:59
You can download it free from here https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/
I'm not exactly sure what the stuff about filters is, but I accepted the default EasyList filter which sees to work just fine.
Oh and in a fine irony (this is irony, isn't it?) the ads on my own blog have been suppressed! Ho ho ho!
Posted by Rob Clack at 10:07
Monday, 8 August 2011
We had to borrow stuff from the lovely Lorna and Richard, and had four barbies spread around the garden as well as loads of chairs and a reasonable number of tables.
Jenny and I were very circumspect about the alcohol in the early part of the evening, just to make sure all went according to plan, but once most of the eating had been done, we allowed ourselves to relax a little. The weather was kind and we spent the whole time outside, a regular trickle of people returning to the kitchen to replenish their drinks. As dusk came on, the night-scented stocks did their biz and all were suitably impressed!
Some people had driven, and they tended to drift away earlier than the rest, but most had come by train and caught the last train back to Cambridge, which meant it was almost midnight before they left. We, having had to work pretty hard, were absolutely whacked by this time, of course!
In the morning, nursing hangovers, we broke the back of the clearing up, then just idled the rest of the day away, recovering. It's rare for us to just sit about reading at the weekend, but that was the therapy we needed, so we indulged oursleves Sitting in the attic, I was reading a Classic Bike magazine that Richard had passed to me (I pass my Motorcycle Sport and Leisure to him and he passes me Classic Bike!) and started finding myself wanting to buy an early 1950's BSA 500, but Jenny was quick to point out that I hardly use the BMW, never mind a second bike in the stable, so that brought me back to reality!
All academic, of course, as I'm not going to get one!
Posted by Rob Clack at 16:13
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Posted by Rob Clack at 13:42
Sadly, I didn't take my camera, and my phone is useless in low light levels, so although I took quite a few photographs, none was worth posting.
On the birding front, I've been maintaining the "What's About?" sheet in Doug's absence, so have visited Fowlmere several times. I'm rather pleased with this action shot of a kingfisher, taken from Reedbed Hide.
Posted by Rob Clack at 11:19
I've been having a few problems with blogger, with which I'm now getting some help from the blogspot forum, so this is a new post just to try out the fixes they've given me. First, I need to upload a photo, so here goes.
This is a juvenile muntjac which walked across the front of Spring Hide on the bird reserve the other day. You can tell it's a juvenile because when I leant out of the front of the hide to take the photo, it watched me, instead of running away. Bambi, you're dinner!
OK, I've been up to other stuff, but that can go in another post after I see what happens with this one.
Posted by Rob Clack at 10:46