Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

One For Sorrow

One bird that I've generally failed to get a good shot of is Magpie. They are a common enough bird, and whilst they can have a fairly ordinary pied appearance in some lights, in good light they come alive with superbly irridescent blues and greens. They are canny birds though, and seem to have a sense for movement of the shutter finger and get out of the way. Unless of course you have a lens the size of a small car, when you can happily photograph them from a mile away. Which I haven't.

Today I nipped into Watermead Park whilst out and about hunter-gathering for a family meal. The water levels were predictably high, almost to the point where the two lakes were conjoined. Large areas of grassy paddock and fields were under water as well. There wasn't much loitering around the car park area, but this Magpie was. Despite having a slightly dodgy right wing it was perfectly able to fly, but I did manage to get a few nice shots for a change.

The 'feeding area' where you can normally get close to gulls perched on the metal bars was under water, though today there were no gulls loitering around there anyway - all seemed to be out feeding on the easy-pickings of a flooded paddock.

Would have been a shame to come away with no other shots though in such good lighting, so I pointed the camera at these .....

Monday, 19 November 2012


I sincerely hope that none of this is defamatory. Any sort of Tory is bad enough, but defamatory is definitely bad. Unless of course you are the one that has been defamed and you are a tory Lord, in which case it can be damned lucrative.

A defamed tory Lord - see how upset he looks

So, through shoddy journalism the BBC reported that bla bla - you all know that bit. Lord McAlpine was not named by Newsnight, but the web went into overdrive and before long his name was being banded about as a candidate. Was this web activity a direct result of the Newsnight report? Maybe not - it appears that McAlpine was named as being linked with such activity much longer ago by Scallywag Magazine in the 90's*, well before shellsuited Saville was posthumously awarded the title of Top Kiddy-fiddler.

Anyone who has been accused of involvement in such abhorrent activity is highly likely to be a bit narked, and McAlpine is no different. And he is now actively ensuring that everyone knows how narked he is by taking legal action and raking in the damages. I note however that he magnanimously agreed a settlement with the BBC of 'just' £185K as he recognises that it will be the licence paying public that pay for this. He is less likley to be so generous to ITV after Schofield proffered a list of names from the web to Camoron live on the This Morning show.

I guess those damages are tax-free? Still - that doesn't matter a jot to McAlpine as he gave up his seat in the Lords in 2010 due to his concerns over plans to force working peers to give up their non-dom tax status, and he did not want to pay full British taxes.*

Is it just me? Seems that McAlpine, upset as he may be, is not going to be as damaged as the people and organisations he is pursuing. Rather, it looks set to be a pre-Christmas tax-free windfall!

Meanwhile, McAlpine is reported to have said of paedophiles "They are quite rightly figures of public hatred - and suddenly to find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying,"*

How strange for a key Tory figure in the Thatcher years to only now realise that he may have been considered a figure of public hatred ..........

An photographic representation of what figures of public hatred may look like

*Note that I am not a journalist and I have not cross-checked my information with multiple sources - how bloody shoddy is that!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Ibiza Moths

I saw a few moths whilst over in Ibiza - mostly casual sightings of moths roosting on various walls etc, though I did see a fair few Humming-bird Hawk-moths zipping around. I didn't take the macro conversion lens, so I used the in-built macro zoom in the Lumix to get some record shots. I'd forgotten how noisy and horrible an image you get versus using the lens, but you get the gist. The first two are completely new species for me. Aside from these, I also saw Vestal and Rusty Dot Pearl.

Spanish Carpet

 Compsoptera opacaria

Crimson Speckled

Humming-bird Hawk-moth

Rush Veneer

Beautiful Gothic

Small Dusty Wave

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Cramp Balls

I got Cramp Balls today at Swithland Wood. And a Stinkhorn, and Hairy Curtain Crust. In case anyone is wondering, you haven't just inadvertently stumbled on a Finbarr Saunders storyline - these are all vernacular names for some of the fungi I found this afternoon.

Like any other branch of natural history recording, there is a skill to finding fungi. However as I do not possess this skill I once again resorted to shambling about in hope rather than with knowledgeable purpose. It was a dull day in any case, and within the damp woodland the light was pretty poor. It was the sort of light where using flash at a distance just results in under-exposed shots, so it was a case of either very long shutter speeds or flash just for real macro stuff. Whilst this next shot is not particularly exciting, I'm very pleased with it given that the fungi is black, and it was on a dark wet log in the shade in what was already dull lighting. Using a tripod and the camera on self-timer mode, this shot it the result of an 8sec exposure at ISO80 f8.0. I could easily have gone for higher ISO but the shot would have been grainy as hell.

Cramp Ball, or King Alfred's Cake (Daldinia concentric)

Here's a selection of other bits that I found ..

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Common Bonnet (Mycena galericulata)

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

Yellowing Curtain Crust (Stereum subtomentosum)

Silverleaf (Chondrostereum purpureum)

Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa)

Another crusty type thing I can't identify

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Grey, Gull

Today was one of those dank foggy days where the light is shite and everything looks as grey and miserable as the weather. Like this Lesser Black-backed ....

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The wild side of Ibiza

Here's some random bits from Ibiza ...

Red-veined Darter



Some sort of fish

Lots of these large-ish snails - no idea what species

What cricket is this?

A smart but unknown bug

Found a few Swallowtail larvae on Fennel

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Ibiza Wall Lizard

Here's a load of wall lizard images from Ibiza. They were pretty much everywhere, in various ages, sizes and presumably sexes and variable in the colouration and intensity of the markings. I have to say they were brilliant to watch - very charismatic and, if you're careful, quite inquisitive. I could have watched them for hours. When I checked the ID I was pleased to find that the wall lizards in Ibiza are Ibiza Wall Lizard (Podarcis pityusensis).

This last one is not an Ibiza Wall Lizard as I'm sure you noticed. It's the ubiquitous Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica). Again we saw a fair few during the week, including some that were obviously this year's young, but almost all were at night when I was without camera. This one was on a ceiling in the hotel.