Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, Dorset



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


Sandwich is a cinque port, along with Hastings, New Romney, Hythe and Dover – we had some warm family disagreements discussions about these until someone managed to get a phone signal and look them up. The town has a large number of medieval buildings, and we enjoyed a quick look round recently when we were staying nearby.

THE FISHER GATE (1384) on the quaysideSandwich - The Fisher Gate 1384

THE BARBICAN (and toll house)Sandwich - the Barbican


Although viable vehicles using an internal combustion engine had only been in existence for about 6 years (and were few and far between), steam vehicles were not uncommon. It’s surprising to learn the variety of transport methods still catered for in post-Victorian England. I’d like to have possessed a ‘wain’. And a ‘chaise’, for that matter.

Sandwich - Toll table

RIVER STOUR at the quayside, with the swing bridge road that now leads to the BarbicanSandwich - River Stour

IS THIS FOR REAL? (looking at the modern screws, I concluded not)Sandwich - 'nothing happened'

ST PETER’S CHURCH (C13 / 14), now in the care of the Churches Conservation TrustSandwich - St Peter's Church c13 : 14

MEMORIAL IN ST PETER’S CHURCH with ambiguous tributeSandwich - St Peter's - Memorial

SANDWICH WEAVERS (1500)  a home and workshop used by Dutch workers in the c16Sandwich Weavers, 1500Sandwich Weavers 1500  Sandwich Weavers 1500


The quayside was used for army embarkations for wars with FranceSandwich - Swing Bridge over River Stour

Too good to miss (from a Kent Events website)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 



I very rarely reblog, but this set of photos from Foraging Photographer are so intriguing that they deserve to be shared around…

The Foraging Photographer

Actually it’s an incomplete metamorphosis, as dragon and damselflies not have a pupal stage like butterflies. Nevertheless, seeing a fully formed dragonfly emerge from the body of an aquatic nymph is a spectacular thing to see.

I’ve photographed the emergence of an adult dragonfly from its nymph body before – HERE – but I was very pleased to get the chance to do it again on Friday. To see a creature go from this…


to this…

…is one of the most remarkable transformations in nature.

Since we built our pond five years ago, we’ve had a variety of dragon and damselfly nymphs in there. As the pond has developed from bare sand substrate with a few plants through to its current state of abundant overgrown vegetation, different species have made it their nursery, the size of the nymphs (and eventual adults) increasing in size year on year. In the first…

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This little Blog has been rather more neglected than usual of late while we have been away. Now back in the UK, and hoping to pay it some attention soon now that all the fun is over… Book launched, fish caught, things eaten and drunk. Reality check starts… NOW.

JACKET GRAB JPGflyer 2Birds of Abaco Verandah1900063_10152069487394482_984358031_nunnamedMahi Mahi 1


There are various websites revealing the weird and wonderful oddities thrown up by the Google mapping projects. Google ‘Google Map Fail’ or ‘Google Streetview Fail’ for examples, including the location of Tessa Jowell inside the Houses of Parliament, complete with directions for reaching ‘Tony Blair’ in the time of 4 hours 40 mins. tumblr_l5i5rzwhj31qa0hs6o1_500The aerial mapping project has similarly revealed amazing vast drawings in remote desert regions, viewable only from the air; jet fighters laid up in municipal car parks; and Coca Cola logos in surprising places. By chance, I found one of my own when I was looking at the topography of the Oxfordshire / Wiltshire border.

Something of interest in a field close to Ashbury?Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.59.36

Zoom in – what on earth is that in the field near top centre?Ashbury 4

Mmmmm. Looks familiar, but out of place…
Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.59.52

Good grief – aliens have been at work…
Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 21.00.07

…and they plainly know all about undersea creatures on EarthAshdown jellyfish


Between Louisburgh, Co. Mayo and Killary Harbour to the south – the boundary with Galway – is a fertile plain. This gives way to an area of wonderful high mountains and loughs, and some of the best salmon fishing in Ireland. The plain is drained by rivers, and is the perfect location for one of Ireland’s great natural resources: PEAT.

Peat Country, Co. Mayo

The backdrop to the north includes the spectacular conical pilgrimage mountain CROAGH PATRICK, rising more than 2,500 feet almost directly out of the sea. Peat workings can be seen from the main road south, but they are best viewed by taking a side road through boggy countryside to the more remote areas.

Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 1Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 6Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 2Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 5

In places the cut turf is stacked like old-fashioned corn stooks,  in gently curving rows. The effect is of some organic work that the sculptor ANTONY GORMLEY might have dreamed up.

Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 4 Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 3