Saturday, 10 November 2012

Loynton Moss in Autumn

A lovely walk around Loynton Moss this afternoon, including a walk along the Shropshire Union canal

Shropshire Union Canal


The moss

Autumn leaves

Monday, 29 October 2012

Autumn colours

It is a wonderful time of the year to go out for a day with your camera, walking through a wood, kicking all the leaves, and enjoying all the Autumn colours. Unfortunately I haven't had the time when the weather has been good to do that, all I have managed so far this Autumn is to grab an hour when walking the dog up our lane, still there are plenty of Autumn colours to enjoy, even up our lane!

May be the weather will be kind at the weekend and I can get out with my camera again then.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

My thoughts on the badger cull - a personal view

As most of you will know, I now live surrounded by countryside, in fact I have always lived with fields no more than two minutes walk from my home, so I am no 'towny' and I certainly don't look at badgers as though they are some cute, cuddly, black and white fluffy animal that befriends a water rat - I have though enjoyed close encounters with them in the past and feel very privileged to have them as neighbours.
I am finding myself getting more and more frustrated about the badger cull and need to write a few of my thoughts down.

Bovine TB has been around for many years and it does seem slightly ironic that the year the number of TB cases in cattle fall in England is the year the government decides to implement a badger cull.

This badger cull trial has been given the go ahead despite leading scientists saying it won't help - even Lord Krebs who designed a previous trial has concluded that 'culling is not a viable policy option' and this weekend a letter has been signed from thirty leading scientists in this field and published in the Observer accusing ministers of not telling the truth and demanding the immediate abandonment of the killings.

It is possible to control transmission of bTb from cattle to cattle and cattle to badger with tightening up movement controls of cattle, along with effective testing and bio-security measures i.e. preventing badgers entering farm buildings and accessing stored cattle feed, if badgers can't access these areas they will not 'contaminate' by toileting and grooming. Apparently cattle tend to avoid grazing contaminated pasture unless there are very large numbers of grazing cattle when the less dominant cattle may be forced to eat from poorer grassland.

Contrary to what farmers have been led to believe, there is an effective cattle vaccination but EU rules prevents its use. It has been researched and trialed in Ethiopia - It just needs to be licenced!
As far as I can see -the main reason the BCG is prohibited is because the vaccination can interfere with the skin test used to diagnose TB in cattle, but a DIVA (differentiating Infected and Vaccinated Animated) skin test is also currently being developed, which can differentiate between vaccinated and infected cattle.

It is possible to control transmission of badger to badger and badger to cattle bTB by vaccinating which was incredulously unbeknown to Anne McIntosh MP on 'Newsnight' a couple of weeks ago!
This vaccination has been trialed successfully by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and and is being carried out in Wales instead of opting for a cull, in Wales these vaccinations are being funded by the government. Other wildlife trusts are now starting to implement trial vaccinations on some of their reserves which are being funded by the individual wildlife trusts. Vaccination is not cheap so for the government, culling, paid for by farmers, is a cheaper option. An oral vaccine for badgers which can be added to food is currently being developed but looks as though that will be at least three to four years away minimum.

In the mean time many farmers believe that badgers are to blame for the spread of TB. I am very concerned that now the cull has been given the go ahead farmers may think they have been handed a carte blanc to go out onto their land and start eradicating their badgers without any licence. I am equally dismayed by reports that the cull is being opposed by animal rights campaigners who are threatening farmers considered to be supporting the cull.

The cull is also being opposed by many  NGO's and animal welfare groups who are totally against any intimidation or violent action towards the farmers, including The Badger Trust, The RSPCA and the Wildlife Trusts.

As you would expect the NFU is totally in favour of the cull, stating 'the NFU remains fully committed to supporting the government's science-led TB eradication policy to tackle what is a terrible and damaging disease. Our end goal is for a healthy countryside and that needs healthy badgers and healthy cattle. This policy and these pilots,will help deliver that. We will now work to help those delivering the two pilot culls to ensure that they are safe, effective and humane'
This is the same science that Dr Krebs who led the investigations, stated 'is not a viable option' and has shown that it will actually lead to an increase in bTb over the first 9 years due to perturbation, it is only after 9 years when there may be a positive impact of a 12 - 16% reduction of bTB in cattle - by which time of course we will have a vaccine for cattle anyway!

I am very relieved to read of farmers who are anti the cull. I follow some on twitter and I think I know some local to me, but I also know that I have started to see more badger victims of supposed 'road kill' in the last few weeks too - or is that just the cynic in me?
I am also very concerned that if the government admit they have made a massive mistake and call off the cull, more farmers will take 'matters into their own hands'.

It is never too late to act to help the plight of the badgers, there is a petition which currently stands at over 155,000 signatures. If you want to do more then you can email your MP and MEP for more information take a look at what the Wildlife Trusts website

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sometimes you can miss things when they are right in front of your face

On our walk today we were fascinated by this moss growing on a wild rose in the hedgerow

 So I spent a few minutes looking at it and photographing it with the intention of posting the photos on this blog later to ask if anyone had seen this before and what it is. So can anyone help us out with this?

BUT it wasn't until I was looking at the pictures later this evening that I spotted something else - how could I have missed it?

Have you spotted it yet?

just going by what can be seen on the photo, it looks as though it is a common hawker or it could be a migrant hawker dragonfly

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A day lakeside at Coniston

A long way to go for a day out,  3 hours drive each way but  a lovely relaxing time once we were there, daughters birthday and her request was a day by a lake, not doing anything just sitting!
So our destination was Coniston Water and the sun shone.

Lots of time to watch the activity on the water, a variety of water craft.

and ducks of course

For a short time time our peace was disturbed by a group of five young lads who chose 'our' beach to set up and launch their inflatable, very entertaining watching them work out how to fit all five in without the sides collapsing and then how to paddle in a straight line, but somehow they made it across the lake and back safely with no life jackets

Our dog was happy just to stand around in the water and occasionally chase the odd stick

although we did manage to finally wear her out as Mr S and I couldn't quite manage 5 hours sitting down on the shore so we did take her for a short mile or so stroll through the woods, following the 'purple trail' a very pleasant and not to arduous a walk

Dor Beetle

 all in all a very pleasant, thoroughly lazy day.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

This Southern Hawker dragonfly was in no rush to fly off - thankfully!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

K1M - Mens kayaking at the Olympics

Yesterday we were at Lee Valley White Water Centre for an Olympic treat - a fantastic day out!
Walking through the park from the station to the centre I had to ignore the dragonflies damsel flies and little egrets that were flying around as we hadn't gone there for the wildlife.
On the information - we were told to arrive early - so that is what we did, only to be stood in a queue waiting for the gates to open an hour later. Still time seemed to fly by and we found ourselves in the centre in time for lunch. We grabbed a grilled sandwich and a drink which we then took with us to our seats and sat and waited.

It was great watching the stands fill up with so much colour - flags from all over the world,

We were sat immediately behind a small group of Japanese and in front of them were some Italians.
While we were sat waiting for it all to start the screen flashed to the Ladies pairs rowing at Eton Dorney and GB's first gold medal of the games A great way to start the day!

Then after enduring the pre-competition interviewing by the very much over enthusiastic, Canadian I think, presenter, the semi finals of the K1M (Mens Kayaking) could start!

These were the unlucky kayakers who didn't make the finals
Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Belgium, and unfortunately Richard Hounslow GB.(there's always tomorrow)
New Zealand


GB - Richard Hounslow

GB- Richard Hounslow

Time for a break....

and the mexican waves.....

... before the final.

The Final
First one to go down was Etienne Daille of France a 22 yr old sports student.

Daille picked up 2 penalties and finished with a time of 101.87

next to go 23 yr old Kazuki Yazawa of Japan - you should have heard out Japanese fans in front of us!!!!!

Yazawa finished clear with a time of 104.44

Next to go 25 year old Vavrinek Hradilek from Czech Republic

Hradilek finished with a clear time of 94.78  putting him into first position.

Next to go was Helmut Oblinger a 39 year old sports teacher from Austria

Oblinger picked up 2 penalties and finished with a score of 104.28

Next was Benjamin Boukpeti 30 year old from Toga

Boukpeti picked up a massive 52 penalties so his finishing time was 152.23
Half way through and following on from Boukpeti was Hannes Aigner a 23year old Economics student from Germany

Aigner finished with a clear time of 94.92 placing him currently in 2nd place

Next to come was 26 year old Samuel Hernanz from Spain

Hernanz finished with a clear time of 96.95

Next to come 27 year old Daniele Molmenti from Italy

Molmenti finished a fantastic clear round with a time of 93.43 putting him in first place.

Next to come Mateusz Polaczyk 24 year old student from Poland

Polaczyk finished with a clear time of  96.14

Next to come was Peter Kauzer 28 year old from Slovenia

Kauzer finished with 6 penalties taking his time to 101.01

So that completed the K1M Final
 and the final standings were
1st  Daniele Molmenti - Italy
2nd Vavrinek Hradilek -Czech Republic
3rd Hannes Aigner - Germany.
Bring on the medal ceremony

                                                     Bronze - Hannes Aigner- Germany

                                            Silver - Vavrinek Hradilek - Czech Republic

                                             Gold - Daniele Molmenti - Italy

                                                              The National Anthem

Congratulations to the medallists -
it just wasn't going to be GB's day -
Unlike today C2M gold to Scott and Baillie and silver to David Florence and Richard Hounslow - Huge congratulations to you all