Friday 31 March 2017

Sefton Park, Liverpool

On Mother's Day (the British one) Partner-who-loves-tea suggested we have a trip over to Sefton Park to see if we could see the Kingfishers which had been there for a few weeks.  The weather was wonderful - the first really warm Spring day.  One can tell the first day of Spring - it is that day on which one can first put one's foot on seven daisies.

For years now Daffodils have been planted in Sefton Park in support of the Marie Curie charity which supports terminally ill patients.  They were out in profusion.

You can read more about the Marie Curie organisation by clicking here.

Sadly the Kingfishers moved out of the park about a week ago according to a helpful fellow naturalist that we met.  But there was still plenty to photograph.

And the rest of the wildlife was out in force including a Dabchick (or Little Grebe).  I have seen Dabchicks previously when I was a voluntary warden at Ainsdale Nature Reserve but that was over thirty years ago.

A Coot was sitting on its nest, only getting off to have the occasional shower or to chase away marauding Magpies.

Moorhens dabbled in the brooks and on the lake margins.

And the plentiful Mallards were joined by a few Canada Geese.

I was always told that Rooks banded together (in a parliament) and Carrion Crows were not seen in larger numbers than twos and threes.  The Carrion Crows in Sefton Park had obviously read a different book - there were hundreds of them scattered around one particular field.

A Grey Squirrel came begging for nuts but we didn't have any with us.  Better luck next time, little one!

And these were the only drops of water we saw all day!

We paid (literally) a visit to the Palm House but I'll tell you about that another time when I'll also introduce you to Peter Pan, Eros, the bandstand and the Fairy Glen.  To finish today's post - how about this for a fantastic tree trunk.

Thursday 30 March 2017

Mr Mac

"Excuse me - do you have any spare food lying about, by any chance?"

"Pretty Please!"

Monday 27 March 2017

Massive Wirral explosion

My brother, GB, often comments how fortunate he and I are not to have lived through a War.  (Technically, he did because he was born just  before the D Day landings of World War II though two years after the end of the Liverpool Blitz in which around 4,000 people were killed – a death toll second only to London.)  It was the Blitz of which Merseysiders were reminded on Saturday night when my son came from his room – with the TV on quite loud - into the kitchen to ask ‘What was that big bang?’

It turned out to be a gas explosion in New Ferry six miles away.  Over thirty people were injured but, by the grace of God or the Fates, only two are in a serious condition, though one of those is in a critical condition.  Had it been an hour earlier the Dance Studio, which was completely demolished, would have been full of children.

Sadly, Lan’s Chinese Restaurant is among the many buildings demolished or damaged (probably beyond repair).  Last time he stayed with us GB treated us to a meal there and Partner-who-loves-tea and I had talked about going there for a meal this week!  The spot where GB parked his car that night was completely buried under rubble.  Eighteen people in the restaurant were injured.  Prayers and thoughts are with everyone affected but most especially the two in a serious condition.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Pretty in pink ??????

This is an extract from The Guardian's introduction to the cars and drivers of the 2017 F1 season which has begun this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix.

I had to laugh and wonder if the advert for Disney's Beauty and the Beast was a subtle comment on the new Force India livery.   All the F1 cars are beasts and I love to hear them roar.  This year the tyres and cars are wider and look even better than they have for a few years.   Most of them are beautiful.  But not, in my view, the Force India!

The team has a new sponsor - BWT (Best Water Technology). Good for them - F1 needs all the sponsorship it can get.  Although the BWT logo colours are blue and white they have a range of products including -

As a result the Force India F1 car has ended up being pink.

Not everyone will agree with me but I have to say from my point of view F1 cars are not pretty in pink!

Saturday 25 March 2017

Guide to Drinking Tea

Found on the wall of the delightful Rosie Lea tearooms in Hoylake on the Wirral peninsula.  (Click to enlarge).

Friday 24 March 2017

The Empire Inn Sign

At the corner of Hanover Street and Wood Street in Liverpool there is a pub called The Empire.  It has had that name since its reconstruction around 1914 prior to which it was the Dewdrop Inn.

A traditional Liverpool drinking den, it is "hard to imagine anybody spending an entire night in the Empire. Little more than a small room hugging the corner of Wood and Hanover Streets, it stands too close to the hip-happening places to warrant anything more than a quick visit while you wait for queues elsewhere to die down."  So says one of the local reviewers of pubs and clubs.

I  suspect it got its patriotic name from the air of jingoism that prevailed at the outset of the First World War. The picture on the sign does not appear to bear any direct relationship to the name.

A police report from 1892 stated "This house has been most unsatisfactorily conducted during the past year.  The police, when visiting, continually find large numbers of prostitutes on the premises. "  The magistrates ignored the police objection to the renewal of the premises' licence and 125 years later The Empire is still going strong.

Thursday 23 March 2017

P C Keith Palmer

Keith Palmer, the unarmed policeman who was stabbed to death by a terrorist as he stood guard outside Parliament, has been described by Theresa May as "every inch a hero" whose "actions will never be forgotten".  The 48-year-old husband and father was attacked by a man armed with two knives in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament.  The assailant, who moments earlier had struck a number of pedestrians with a car on Westminster Bridge before crashing the vehicle into railings outside Parliament, was shot dead by armed police following the attack on the officer.  Conservative MP James Cleverly, who served with PC Palmer in the Royal Artillery, described the officer as "a lovely man".  A minute's silence was held nationwide at 9.33am, including in the Palace of Westminster and at New Scotland Yard, to commemorate the three innocent people killed in Wednesday's assault on Westminster.  The time for the silence was chosen in honour of murdered police officer PC Palmer's shoulder number - 933.

The two other innocent victims have been named as teacher Aysha Frade and American tourist Kurt Cochrane.  Around 40 people were injured - some critically - and thousands more will never forget their traumatic experiences.

Even as officers shouted for people to stay back in the immediate aftermath of the terror attack, Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood MP rushed forward to try to help the fallen police officer.  The 51-year-old former Army officer fought to resuscitate PC Palmer, giving him mouth-to-mouth as he lay bleeding on the cobbled courtyard at the foot of the Houses of Parliament.  But his fight was in vain.   Mr Ellwood lost his own brother to terrorism: Jonathan, a teacher, was among the 200 people killed in the Bali bombings in 2002.  The former captain in the Royal Green Jackets, who served in Kuwait, was hailed a hero for his actions.    Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday morning, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Mr Ellwood's actions.

London's first Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan, commented  “Terrorists want to attack London is because they hate the fact that we don’t just tolerate each other – whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, member of an organised faith or not, we respect, embrace and celebrate each other and that’s going to carry on."  And this morning life in London carried on.  Assaults on democracy may continue but they will never achieve anything other than a deep repugnance for those who take part in such attacks.

PC Palmer's bravery and sad death are the headline news this morning, along with the deaths of Aysha Frade and Kurt Cochrane and the heroic actions of Tobias Ellwood MP.  But what we must always remember is that, as with every terrorist attack, the police and other emergency services rushed towards the incident and the injured just as they shouted for members of the public to run in the opposite direction, away from the danger.

As the Prime Minister, Teresa May, said: "Yesterday we saw the worst of humanity but we will remember the best."

Sunday 12 March 2017

Nature Photos

I'm not only sorting through my slides but I am trying to get some of my thousands of prints into order.  While doing so I came across a few that I thought I'd share with you.

 Grey Heron

 Grey Squirrel

 Stenocorus meridianus

Red Squirrel


Blue Tit

Friday 10 March 2017

Stonehenge - again

This was the version of Stonehenge I showed last week -

Thanks to Mrs Splapthing I now have a version of the ancient monument without any people.  She has also improved the photo generally and got rid of the bits of dust in the sky.  Good isn't it.

I just wish it was as easy to get rid of real people from queues, picnic spots, etc...

Sunday 5 March 2017

A couple of British Lizards

I have taken lots of photos of Common or Viviparous Lizards (Zootoca vivipara).   This is from a slide I took in Delamere Forest, Cheshire,  in 1983.

Someone caught this one and a small boy in our party (which was really hunting butterflies) displayed it for photos.

That same day I caught another one and the same young boy held it for me (very carefully) while I photographed it.  (They were, of course, released, totally unharmed.)

The next two are from a walk in Devon in 2015.

Although the quality of the slide below is nowhere near as good I am equally pleased with it because it is of the very rare Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)  I  have only ever seen a couple and to have managed to get any sort of photo pleased me no end.

The Sand Lizard is a threatened species and is strictly protected under UK law – as it is throughout most of Europe (it is a European Protected Species).

I am very fond of Lizards and one day may show you some of my many lizard photos from around the world, taken in zoos.

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