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Photos: A heron by my river one lunchtime

 This was a reward for the habit I am trying to get into when I'm popping to the shop in my town - via the scenic route of course - the habit of slipping the camera into my pocket. I feel like I should be on commission for this little Lumix TZ70 camera, but I still can't quite get over having this much imaging and telephoto power all wrapped up in something that in the old days we would call 'the size of a fag packet'. It is a nifty bit of kit and won't break the bank either. Today the heron was happy to pose and diverted me for no more than five minutes on the way for a lunchtime snack. Me that is, not the heron. It was most accommodating, I can almost forgive it for eating my trout.
Recent posts

Photos: Quick walk up onto the canal and the joy of shooting into the sun

 I'm still getting to grips with my new compact camera and I'm trying to acquire the habit of putting it in my pocket whenever I go out. Trouble is, what with the camera, handlens, pocket binoculars, sound recorder, smartphone... I am starting to feel like a one-person mini-media storm looking for someone to break over. Oh well, no one said it was going to be easy. A quick late morning walk round the block and up onto the canal today. It was a lovely light. Shooting into bright sun is always unpredictable but often seems to produce pleasant surprises. Here are a few pics from Newtown Marina on the Peak Forest Canal, complete with fading Christmas decorations on the barges.  

Podcast: The Trout and the Heron

 This a quick podcast I made down by my local River Goyt, just on the Derbyshire side of the Derbyshire - Cheshire border. It is about a heron hunting where I am pretty sure trout are spawning, but because the water is coloured and the angle is such it is difficult to see what is going on in this river sometimes - it is a mix of detective work and guess work. But I suspect the heron knows. Really it is just me talking to myself for eight minutes from the middle of a tree. I made this for people who are interested in the wildlife they see on and around a river, but may be not so sure about what is going on beneath the surface. If you fancy a listen then click the link below. The Trout and the Heron on Soundcloud And if you are inspired to find out more about trout then there is more information than you can shake a stick at on the excellent Wild Trout Trust site , and if you fancy a bash at kick sampling and becoming a part of the Riverfly Partnership citizen science network I mention i

A walk onto the canal and by the toffee factory

 A quick walk up onto the canal today to play with my new Lumix Z70 camera again. It was a busy day on the canal - the dredger was out, and it looks like some development going to happen canal-side. Walked by the marina. I love canal barges. I used to want to live on a barge when I was a child. That or a static caravan.  That last shot has got Swizzels in the background, the local sweet factory. Here are some more shots of Swizzels: I caught my pike outside here the other week. Yesterday I saw someone in town, another angler, and I was telling him about this pike and he told me there were some big pike in there, pike as big as your leg. Mine barely made a shin. Maybe next time. Swizzels is such a landmark in the area. It announces its presence via your nose as much as anything, as a succession of smells can take you back through your whole childhood in a single day. The factory is there suddenly on you then it trickles out into woodland and open country again, like the town itself. I&#

A walk up the hill in the mist and down to the river

 I needed to recharge batteries today (the ones in my head I should probably specify, not in any device!) so I took my friend's spaniel up the hill at the back of my town. The track leads up to Mellor which is on the Derbyshire - Cheshire border, overlooking the Cheshire plain. It was a wet, misty day but I love walking in the winter mist, with the bare branches, it is like walking through a pencil sketch that is constantly being rubbed out and redrawn again ahead of you. We reached a small pond which doesn't usually catch much of my attention but today the mist gave it a greater presence. I am still familiarising myself with a new, compact camera - a Lumix Z70 - so part of my purpose today was having a play with the camera. Some photos through the mist: Then we dropped down the hill towards the river and went through a farm that has a wonderful, tumbling down out-building, the sort that is being taken back by bramble and lichen and has enticing wooden doors. I got the obligato

This is how ladybirds die

This might be something else to worry about in terms of a datapoint on the longer term climate trend but as weather goes I think it is pretty near damn perfect. Mid September and in parts of the UK temperatures are set to top 30 degrees this week in a clean heat but this last few days the mornings have started to move in the autumn. So we have got this cool, early day chill, a heavy covering of dew and the dog is wired with scent as we walk onto the common land. Slime on the cobbled hill dangerous under boot, mud, the metal rainbow of an oily film on the puddles around the drainage channel that enters the river at the bottom of the lane. Then a brush through wet stands of hogweed and willowherb and skeletal butterbur leaves, an unfamiliar feeling of cold against the squint of the tinfoil sun. Turning it bronze. It is the change, the transition, that comes always suddenly as a dawning shock. Pause at the goat willow, its old trunk split into a perfect seat and every time I pass I see a

The minutes are slipping away

In George Monbiot’s excellent article published today (Wednesday 12th August 2020) he exposes the shocking regulatory failure that has led many of our rivers to lose their hard-won gains in terms of pollution over the last few decades. In that article Monbiot states that: “As an agricultural contractor explained to the Welsh government, some farmers are deliberately spreading muck before high rainfall, so that it washes off their fields and into the rivers. A farm adviser told the same inquiry that only 1% of farm slurry stores in Wales meet the regulations.” To substantiate those claims, he links to a blog post I wrote for Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Magazine, which in turn quoted extensively from the November 2019 minutes of the Wales Land Management Forum’s subgroup on agricultural pollution, hosted by Natural Resources Wales. My blog post can be found here , which links to the minutes in question which can be found here (scroll down). Follow that link and you will see that the l