Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

I have always admired this shrub in a neighbour’s garden – it always looks so healthy and full of blooms. I knew it was a rose but have only just discovered that it is a Japanese rose, Rosa rugosa

In a garden beside a nearby street there is an excellent arum lily planted in the of a Magnolia tree…

…I always thought these rather funereal and called them arum lilies, but they are also known as call lilies and are a species of Zantedeschia

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Male sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus) on the garden fence

For once I was lucky. I often see birds in the garden when I am at the kitchen sink but don’t have my camera to hand. This time a male sparrow hawk was sleepily preening itself on our highest fence and didn’t seem to be in a hurry. Maybe it was satisfied after a good meal. I had time to dash upstairs to get my camera and the magnificent bird stayed for maybe 10 minutes, fluffing up its downy feathers.

Once or twice the hawk looked me straight in the eye

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Primroses in the garden on April 1 – they have been in bloom for quite a while

I apologise for neglecting my blog lately – I am still ridiculously busy and on top of that we have been decluttering and decorating a study / box room for a few weeks so I haven’t really had any down time to “play”.

Three years after the first coronavirus lockdown and my move to working from home I feel like I am still more or less “shielding”. I go out rarely but at least I have stopped wearing a face mask when I catch a bus into the city centre occasionally.

Luckily the garden still gives some solace as Spring arrives. The plants are waking up and the songbirds have been very vocal – blackbirds (Turdus merula), song thrushes (Turdus philomelos), robins (Erithacus rubecula) and notably a blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). The long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus) visit almost daily, a pair of goldcrests (Regulus regulus) come at least weekly and one morning I heard the chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) for the first time this year.

I still think of this bleeding heart as Dicentra spectabilis, but the new name is apparently the cumbersome Lamprocapnos spectabilis – I bought this plant at the Cardiff RHS Show many years ago and it still flowers every Spring

Self-seeded violet in a pot – we have lots of these and they are messy but cheerful

The jay has been in the garden more often this year

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Little man on the pavement, about two inches tall…

I am always looking down at the pavement – partly so that I don’t trip over anything. But I also like to spot unusual things. I wondered what this little plastic person was and when I passed it a second time I flipped it over…

…it looked like a Christmas elf decoration of some sort

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I saw this moth on my kitchen window and it stayed there all day, just moving an inch or two down the pane…

I went outside and took this picture of its top side, which i hadn’t expected to be grey-brown

It turns out there was no need for excitement – this is simply the “dark” version of Cydalima perspectalis, the box-tree moth, which I had previously spotted in its paler form here.

This is an invasive species and I have seen far too many examples of this moth lately. At least I no longer have any box trees myself and this particular specimen looks rather worn and missing a few legs. Apparently they are around from late July until mid September, so as this is late October it is probably on the way out…

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I don’t get out much these days but noticed this mackerel sky over the New Theatre in the centre of Cardiff recently

The weather has been very changeable for several weeks, so there has been no shortage of this kind of sky in the area of Canton where I live…

…and another one – sorry they are just phone snapshots, nothing particularly composed about them

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Brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) in the bathroom at night

Sadly I don’t see many moths these days but the other night I noticed this medium-sized yellow moth perched on the bathroom tiles. I caught it in a glass and tried to make it go out through the window but of course it came straight back, attracted by the bright light. It soon disappeared behind a light fitting and I have not seen it since. I looked it up and it is a common British moth, the brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata).

This reminded me that I saw another moth back in the heady days of July but forgot to blog about it at the time…

Mystery moth viewed through the bathroom window…

…view from outside the bathroom window – the moth stayed on the glass in bright sunlight for several hours

The medium-sized moth was spectacular but turned out to be an invasive species accidentally imported from south-east Asia. It is known as the box-tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis) and was first seen in Kent in 2007. It has now spread through southern Britain. The larvae feed on box-tree foliage.

I did encounter a third moth over the last month, but was so keen to remove it from the house that I did not take a photo. It was a very dark shadow on the curtain net one night and turned out to be a large Mormo maura, the old lady moth or black underwing, It looked very sinister. I caught it in a glass and released it under a street light.

Although I didn’t snap it this time, I found that I had taken this picture of an old lady moth on an outside wall on July 18, 2011…

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Juvenile great spotted woodpecker [Dendrocopos major] in the garden, its beak messy with fat from the feeder

I thought our great spotted woodpeckers had failed to breed this year as for a long time all I saw was a solitary male. But a couple of weeks ago this young one appeared – although the top of its head is now fading from bright orange to red. The adult female has no red on its head and the adult male a red patch on the nape.

The other young birds are also growing up now…

Young blackbird [Turdus merula] on the bird bath

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This lovely golden Kalanchoe on the kitchen windowsill brightens my spirits when I am washing up the dishes…

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The Churchill College ladies’ eight in winter 1973 – that’s me in the front row on the right, during my first term at Cambridge University…

Today is the traditional Varsity Boat Race on the Thames in London, between Oxford University and Cambridge University, about which I am always nostalgic, although I have never been there to see it. There is a preview, from the point of view of Cambridge, here…

The first men’s race was in 1829 but nowadays there are four races – men’s and women’s plus the reserve crew races between Isis (Oxford) and Goldie (Cambridge) for the men and Osiris and Blondie for the women. (more…)

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