Cormorant WWT 12Cormorant WWT 1Cormorant WWT 5Cormorant WWT 8Splosh! Gull Photobomb! It wasn’t there when I decided to press the trigger…Cormorant WWT 4 (gull photobomb)Itchy neck? You just have to scratch it…Cormorant WWT 6Relaxed now, thanks…Cormorant WWT 7Cormorant WWT 9Cormorant WWT 10Cormorant WWT 11

Cormorant WWT 13Last sight of the one on the small rock: “Hey, photographer, for !@£$%&* sake leave me alone, ok?”Cormorant WWT 14


A short trip to Dublin brought the chance to wander round Trinity College, always an enjoyable experience. I’d either failed to notice the strange sculpture on the Berkeley Library forecourt on previous visits, or it has only arrived fairly recently. On a grey rainy day, it looked unpromising from a distance.Pomodoro Sphere TCD 12

On closer inspection, it was fascinating. The large bonze was donated to TCD by the artist, Arnaldo Pomodoro. As the TCD website says, “other similar works exploring this spherical format are on display at locations such as the United Nations plaza in New York, the University of California at Berkeley, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, and the Cortile del Belvedere at The Vatican Museums. This sculpture underwent a major conservation project in 2008 which brought the surface of the piece back to its original condition while also restoring its complex sub-structure and pivot.”

Here are some photos taken as I walked round the work. I was struck both by the reflected ‘cityscapes’ – possibly post-apocalyptic – that seemed to appear, and by the complexity of the construction.

Arnaldo Pomodoro ‘Sfera con Sfera’ bronze (click here for artist’s biography, pdf)

Pomodoro Sphere TCD 1 Pomodoro Sphere TCD 2 Pomodoro Sphere TCD 3 Pomodoro Sphere TCD 4 Pomodoro Sphere TCD 6 Pomodoro Sphere TCD 8 Pomodoro Sphere TCD 10 Pomodoro Sphere TCD 11

Click here to read the poem ‘Six Ways of Looking at a Pomodoro’ by John Scattergood (pdf document)

Credits: TCD website for info & links; all photos RH


This sequence shows a pair of Ringed Teal preening in late autumn sunshine. The series of images shows the movements of both birds and the marked variations in the colouring of the male over a few minutes. At one stage the vivid green sheen of the wings gave way to dark blue. I was also trying to use the water behind them to create an impressionistic effect, which has worked in a way.

Ringed Teal pair WWT 1 Ringed Teal pair WWT 2 Ringed Teal pair WWT 3 Ringed Teal pair WWT 4 Ringed Teal pair WWT 6 Ringed Teal pair WWT 7 Ringed Teal pair WWT 9 Ringed Teal pair WWT 10 Ringed Teal pair WWT 11


Sheep supposedly have peaceful, grazey lives. Counting them is allegedly soporific. But in reality they lead busy and productive lives. No sooner do they lamb than it’s time for the circle of life to begin again for them. In the evening sunshine the field gate swings open. A truck’s catch is slipped. Enter the ram, harnessed for action to mark his conquests and raring to go… 

Some photos were taken after the ram had been investigating the 7 ewes in the field rather closely. Two had lambed, 5 were pregnant. The ram is demonstrating a FLEHMEN RESPONSE – see which explains it better than I can, and with a particular reference to sheep.

Totnell Ram 8Totnell Ram 9Totnell Ram 5

THE FLEHMEN RESPONSETotnell Ram 6Totnell, Dorset - Ram - Flehmen response in SheepTotnell, Dorset - Ram - Flehmen response in SheepTotnell, Dorset - Ram - Flehmen response in Sheep


In September I posted about the 7 pregnant Poll Dorset sheep that a young farmer in our village had put in our paddock. I predicted “pastoral scenes, evenly-cropped grass… with pre-Christmas lambs in prospect…”.  The sheep were removed for a month or so to let the grass regrow. Yesterday morning there was an unusual sound coming from the field. Rounding the corner of the house we saw a single tiny lamb, 2 days old, mewing rather piteously.

Number 2: the first in its field…Totnell Lambs Nov 3

It was soon joined by twin lambs a few days olderTotnell Lambs Nov 12

Then came the 2 mothers. Then the 5 still-pregnant sheep waddled into the field, all due to lamb within the next 3 weeks. Here’s one of the proud mothers.Totnell Lambs Nov 11

The sheep and lambs were numbered so it was easy tell which belonged to which. But whereas the mothers also knew their own lambs, it was taking the lambs a while to cotton on to the numbering system…  

Correctly matchedTotnell Lambs Nov 7

Number 2 has still to get the hang of the system…Totnell Lambs Nov 1

Number 2Totnell Lambs Nov 10

Number 2 and one of the twinsTotnell Lambs Nov 9

Pretty lambs all in a row

Totnell Lambs Nov 4

Settling in

Totnell Lambs Nov 8  Totnell Lambs Nov 5   Totnell Lambs Nov 2


There’s no great kudos in finding these particular otters. They are Asian short-clawed otters and they are one of the attractions at WWT Barnes, where a number are kept in a spacious enclosure. There’s plenty of water for them, obstacle courses (pipes and so forth) have been set up, and they look sleek and well-fed (as well they might be, with feeding times twice daily). I managed to see 3 at an uncrowded time, and one in particular seemed to enjoy being admired.



Halloween. Frequently a wet, cold and dreary day concluding with dubiously decked-out children ‘scarily’ collecting sweets with watchful parents in the shadows (and the odd teenage chancers ditto, but without the parents ). But this year on a warm sunny October 31st I went to have a look at some birds. To start with here are some black-headed gulls (winter plumage) enjoying a serious bathing and preening session at WWT Barnes.   

Black-headed Gull (winter plumage) WWT BarnesBlack-headed Gull (winter plumage) WWT BarnesBlack-headed Gull (Winter Plumage) WWT Barnes 7Black-headed Gull (Winter Plumage) WWT Barnes 8Black-headed Gull (Winter Plumage) WWT Barnes 9Black-headed Gull (Winter Plumage) WWT Barnes 10Black-headed Gull (winter plumage) WWT Barnes  Black-headed Gull (winter plumage) WWT Barnes  Black-headed Gull (winter plumage) WWT Barnes Black-headed Gull (winter plumage) WWT Barnes


I met this remarkable-looking bird at an owl sanctuary near Bodmin. I saw a sign to the place on my way back from Cornwall to Dorset, and diverted to investigate. I found a large, well-kept enterprise with plenty of birds, visitors and school parties. There was a very informative open-air display of several species that were explained in turn, and which visitors were in most cases permitted to stroke. A very worthwhile diversion that I’d recommend to anyone trekking along the A30 with a bit of time to spare. The place is called THE SCREECH OWL SANCTUARY.

Great Grey Owl 1Great Grey Owl 4

Many owl species can rotate their necks through 270º or more. This one managed a 180º rotation effortlessly, with its feet in identical positions.Great Grey Owl 5Great Grey Owl 2 Great Grey Owl 6


The estuary of the River Stour (“Store”), Kent lies between Ramsgate and Pegwell Bay a short distance to the south. Common seals can reliably be found near the mouth of the river, sunning themselves on the banks. These seals come in a variety of colours. In September some of this season’s pups could be seen growing up among the adults. To be frank, although I took plenty of photos of these lovely creatures looking appealing and / or in amusing poses, the end results were disappointing.  Partly, a rocking boat made sharpness difficult to achieve but mainly the adult seals just looked like bloated sausages lying in an unattractive landscape of mud and coarse grass. Here are a few pictures that were spared deletion…

Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 1 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 2 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 4 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 5 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 6 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 7 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 9 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 10 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 11 Common Seals, River Stour, Kent 12


We are lucky enough to have pied wagtails – usually just one pair – in the garden every year. They raised a family and for much of the summer there were 4 patrolling the roof ridge. Recently, prolific evening fly hatches have provided them with great sport as they hawk for the insects from the roof, fluttering briefly into action and returning to their perch. On some evenings they have been joined by up to 2 dozen other wagtails, and for half an hour at dusk they have looped and swooped round and round, eating on the wing. I wondered if there was a collective noun for wagtails to go with the charms, murmurations, murders and parliaments that other birds are awarded. The only one I found was in a jocular list by a determinedly downbeat birder, who applied the term ‘a permanent narcissism of wagtails’. 

Pied Wagtail Dorset 10Pied Wagtail Dorset 3 Pied Wagtail Dorset 4 Pied Wagtail Dorset 8Pied Wagtail Dorset 6   Pied Wagtail Dorset 9 Pied Wagtail Dorset 7