Sunday, 26 January 2014

New Macro Lens

You will all have to forgive me for posting these test images but it's my first play around with my new macro lens and I was very excited at the thought of this new hobby.

I have to say it's not at all easy-it's really not point and shoot photography. So I'm very glad that I went on those couple of courses last year to learn more about my camera. I know I need more practice at the focus and also found it hard to hold still as it's quite a heavy and big lens.

Pine cone


Pine cone again

Tendrils on the Passion Flower plant

Fungus on old tree stump

This is very small fungus, but the macro makes it look big

More tendrils of the Passion Flower

The rest of the photos were pretty rubbish! So a lot more work is needed.

As a lot of you know it is the RSPB great garden bird watch this weekend and terrible weather has arrived here just in time to keep them all away. A few wood pigeons, a magpie and a blackbird are all that ventured out today.

A few more things happening on the web that you might be interested in

Call to ban wildlife snares in England and Wales-Cats Protection and League Against Cruel Sports have teamed up to try to get 60,000 signatures on a petition for the Secretary of State, Owen Patterson. Please take a look at the information on this page and see if you'd like to help

A Herons view has been looking at a few environmental disasters and posted some interesting things recently, take a look at for some serious reading and fairly depressing environmental issues and also this outlaw ecocide blog from the same ecologist website

Wild China on the BBC. I watched the Shangri-La episode and it was breathtaking, there are still some episodes left to watch on iPlayer

January 2014 has not been great-the credit card takes a bashing!

This month has been a disaster financially and I can't wait for it to end, not long to go now. My dog has been limping for a while and it's been getting worse. So after over £300 in vet bills for x-rays and blood tests, his kidneys are ok, but the x-rays revealed nothing more unusual than some arthritis which we knew he had. So after more vet visits and more tablets, he's just lame and we can't do much more. We have just started him on gabapentin to see if it works better for pain relief-poor little chap. He's happy though not able to walk as far or play as much.

One of the cats has been quite ill with a nasty infection which came back after treatment so that's another £100 spent.

I went to the dentist for a check-up and one of my big fillings had cracked with decay underneath, so that had to come out, and then that revealed a small hole in the back tooth so that filling came out too. With private dentistry, a large filling in one tooth and an inlay for the other, it's been a very very big bill.

On Friday night part of the temporary filling broke off, so on Saturday morning I walked the dog, and jumped in the car to go to the vets to pick up the dogs new tablets, then on to the dentist and one of the tyres was half flat.....aaaghhhh. I managed to get to the vet since I only noticed the part flat tyre as I was driving, abandoned the car at the tyre place in Brixham and walked back down to the dentist......what a morning! Fortunately the tyre cost £8 to repair...that's about the smallest bill I've had all month....oh and the car tax is due on 31st. Roll on February!!!!!

Moan over!

On a much brighter note it's a big birthday for me coming up. In a couple of weeks time I'll be 50, although I can't quite believe it, time has flown by. Hubby has bought me a new camera for wildlife photography as my 200mm lens just can't get close enough. After much research and thinking about what would suit me best, I've gone for a Panasonic Lumix FZ200 bridge camera. I can't wait to try it (it's been wrapped and hidden away until my birthday). I looked at the Nikon 400 mm zoom lens but it was quite large and I just didn't feel I could sling it over my shoulder and go for a walk into town or Berry Head. I'm really hoping I can get some great photos with the zoom lens on the Panasonic. As a birthday treat we are also off to Bristol, and a concert in the evening to see Del Amitri.

A lot of cold wet and windy weather to come this week, but at least the sunrise is happening sooner and the sunset is later.
Wishing you all a good week ahead

Friday, 17 January 2014

Berry Head Napoleonic Fort

Berry Head was a Napoleonic Fort built to defend Torbay from the French, and was once an iron age fort. There are still the ruins of two large Napoleonic fortifications; North Fort and South Fort which are now Scheduled Ancient Monuments. All this sits in the Berry Head National Nature Reserve.

The South Fort

Layout of the South Fort from the Berry Head Visitor Information Boards

The Guardhouse and the Powder Magazine buildings which are just as you step across the moat and drawbridge

 Ramparts of the South Fort

Lichen and plants growing on the top of the rampart walls

 The kitchen building and the lookout pole

The Powder Magazine which has 4 foot thick walls

The Fort was built to establish a coastal defensive gun battery on the headland at Berry Head.

The North Fort

The Napoleonic Fort Guardhouse 1802, Grade 2 listed building, now a lovely visitor centre and cafe

 Love this photo with the ship in the distance and the dog on the grass

Looking across to Berry Head from the Coastal Path

A view through the ramparts to Torquay
There was accommodation for up to 600 infantry militiamen and artillerymen forming the garrison. Overcrowded squalid conditions were reported with wives and children crowded into one room with a curtain for privacy. There was very limited open space and poor ventilation. No toilet/washing facilities were provided inside the barracks and a wooden tub placed in the centre of the room served as a urinal at night. Records from the time show higher than usual mortality among the soldiers’ children at Berry Head.

After a hundred and twenty-five years, the Second World War brought the Army back to the Forts.  It served three main purposes:
a signal station
an anti-aircraft gun site
an aircraft reporting post

A Royal Observer Corps post (underground bunker) was installed and to be used to monitor and report radioactive fall-out following a nuclear attack.

The R.O.C. post was adapted from one of the surviving roofless stone buildings, being given a protective cover with observation slits. 

Hopefully these photos will give you an idea of the scale of the Nature Reserve and the lovely areas where everyone comes to stretch their legs

Images from the top of Berry Head which is 200 feet up the cliff face 

...and just in case you didn't believe me, here I am standing on the edge looking down at some walkers on the rocks below. It wasn't a windy day!

Beautiful view out across Torbay from the end of Berry Head

 The Breakwater

Some of my feathered friends having a rest as I walked back home along the coastal path, I wonder if any of them are my rescued chicks?

I have been away in London with work which has taken time out of my week, preparing and travelling, not to mention's such a busy, noisy place!

Anyway I hope to catch up with everyones posts over the next few days

Have a good weekend

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Visit to Totnes

Totnes-twinned with Narnia! I kid you not, someone carefully wrote 'twinned with Narnia' on the council welcome sign on the main road-it stayed up for several months and I think quite a lot of people were sad the day it was removed.

Here are just some of the community projects and open spaces that Totnes has to offer

Totnes is a lovely town and deserves a visit if you are ever in the area. The high street is full of small independent shops of all kinds and the back streets are full of pretty cottages and interesting buildings. If I had known about Totnes when I was younger, I would have moved there and never have lived anywhere else.

On my visit on Friday (due to the dog needing x-rays at the new veterinary centre) I had a few hours to wait before picking him up again, so I took my camera and went for a walk around. I sadly couldn't choose the weather for this walk about. Such stormy weather with thunder and lightning, hail, rain, sunshine and flooding all in one day, sometimes all in one minute. I had to keep running for cover. At one point the shop lights were flashing and the thunder rattled directly above our heads. I ran in from rain and hail for most of the morning with the camera tucked under my coat.

The Parish and Priory Church of St Mary. 120 ft tower is build of red sandstone from Paignton in the 15th century.

Walkway of Medlar trees in the churchyard

Totnes castle is a Norman motte and bailey castle built in the 11th century and one of the best surviving examples. It was closed so I couldn't go in to get better images, so this is from the outside.

Totnes Guildhall a 16th century building and originally part of the Benedictine Priory.

I will go again to Totnes when the sun is shining, I have missed out so much from this beautiful and interesting town, but the weather got the better of me and my camera. Here is the website of the Totnes Information Centre if you'd like to know more.

The Totnes Badger Vaccination Action Campaign

I saw this article in the local paper over Christmas and thought you'd be very happy to hear of the efforts of this group. They are a voluntary group funding themselves and training to vaccinate badgers against bBT and save farmers money as an incentive. They give their time freely and all the equipment and licences but ask each farmer to pay £30.00 for the vaccination cost.Take a look at the Village of Cornworthy website here to find out about this vaccination programme and why it's so important.

I'll leave you with a few images on the site of Dartington Cider Press, where the river Dart runs alongside and woodlands walks will take you to Dartington Hall (another trip for the future).

The river was full and flowing fast downstream where in Totnes itself the river was close to bursting its banks in combination with high tide.

We still have terrible wet and windy weather here, but it's not as bad as before Christmas. In between we have had some clear sunny spells which meant we were able to get out and about with the dog and walk along the beach at Broadsands, Shoalstone Pool, Berry Head and The Breakwater.

Have a good week everyone, hopefully it'll be less wet and windy for all of us. I hope none of you are clearing up after flooding or storm damage.