The last of November


I’ve been having a good time misidentifying birds lately; blackbirds that are thrushes; bluetits→great tits; sparrows→dunnocks and, of course, chaffinches that turn out to be bullfinches and vice versa. I post most of my pics up on Twitter on the day I take them. Twitterites aren’t backward about telling you when you’ve got an identification wrong. Consequently I’m going to be a bit generic about my bird IDs. Anyone wishing to tell me what a bird I’ve got down as a LBJ (little brown job) actually is, is welcome. I know that all blackbirds are thrushes but all thrushes aren’t blackbirds.


Monday 25th November 3013

This is kipper … kipping.DSC_2650DrawerCat


Gulls will attack anything that they think may be encroaching on their territory. This poor crow had to shelter on a tree but was chased off shortly afterwards.DSC_2634CrowGull


Robin among the brambles:DSC_2603Robin


A rather beautiful thrush berrying in hawthorn:DSC_2584Thrush


Silhouetted blackbird halfinching a haw:DSC_2580Blackbird


Inverted tit:DSC_2515Tit


Sharing a tree:DSC_2498TitRobin


And another tit:DSC_2476Tit


This pair of magpies were sitting on the tops of a rugger goal.DSC_2461Magpies


Speaking of ‘shoppery, here’s the original …DSC_2445GoldfinchO
… and the ‘shopped versions of a goldfinch:


The parent grebes are now home alone, having kicked all the kids out:DSC_2411Grebes


The colours of Autumn:DSC_2401Autumn


Is “silver” birch a misnomer, how about *golden* birch:DSC_2397Gold


A final tit for the day:DSC_2390Tit


Last post I started with a daytime moon and said that it had taken a bit of ‘shoppery. Well here’s the original and the published versions:




You can see that it’s the same pic but the sky and moon are ‘turned up’ on the right. That’s how it looked to the human (well, my) eye, so I don’t think it’s really cheating.


Not a lot doing, the weather wasn’t up to much but the day’s star was the sky.

Even before leaving home the sky from the back window was worth a snap.DSC_2658Sky


The one bird worth picturing. In the middle of a field the heron was on the hunt:DSC_2682Heron


A little later the sunset was beautiful:DSC_2731sunsetDSC_2764Sunset


The word is shortened form of “Photoshopping”, i.e. using a manipulation program on pictures. The standard by which such programmes are judged is Adobe’s Photoshop. Nothing comes up to the standard but for amateurs of the skint variety it’s prohibitively expensive. I used to have a pirated copy which I used way back.

Now that I’m using Linux I don’t have the option of Photoshop, at least without pissing about a lot, so I use “(The) Gimp”. GIMP was originally just for Linux but now has Windoze and Mac versions.

Generally I use the GIMP for retrieving the original view of my unaided eye from the camera’s output. This usually involves reducing the black to white spread and possibly “upping” one or two colours. Obviously most pictures are also cropped to show the object of interest to best advantage.

For the web there’s no point in uploading a really high def pic so a lower quality, I use 80% most often, is perfectly acceptable – it also means that should anyone want to nick a pic, for whatever reason, they don’t get the best.




These two are a perfect example of what happens: cropping to allow the object of interest to take centre stage but also to give it “somewhere to go”*. The white end of the spectrum is dragged in to lighten the background and the black end slightly to heighten the contrast. After cropping it is resized slightly and saved at 80% quality. See herelink for something I wrote earlier.

*By “somewhere to go” I mean that the subject shouldn’t fill the picture. Leave space in the direction it’s moving or looking. (Not a hard and fast rule 🙂 )


Still Autumn colours on the lake:DSC_2774AutumnColours


The sparrow tree in full bloom.DSC_2791SparrowDSC_2793Sparrow


These little beggars float around in a flock over quite an area:DSC_2811LongTailed


Perching on a post:DSC_2818Robin


Canal reflections:DSC_2833SkyCanal


“Our” kestrel posed over the canal:DSC_2858KesDSC_2860kes


A final Little Brown Job:DSC_2907LBJ



I hate “work” and have done for my whole life. By “work” I mean that which ninety percent of the populace have to do between education and pension – or starve. My first job was as trainee “chocolatier” at a factory which was then in Sheffield – the company still flourishes despite my absence. ‘Twas OK but a bit too physical for me – humping great sacks of sugar was the last straw and I walked after about eighteen months.*

When I was young the job market was totally different to today’s. There were jobs going begging. I once took two offers of employment at the same time, did a day at one, decided that I didn’t like it and started the other the next day.

After a bit of drifting around I started as a warehouseman/ counter assistant at a trade motor spares firm. Left there under a cloud (no names no pack drill) and headed for London.

The only person I knew in the south was an old schoolmate, I have no idea how I’d kept in touch, called Dave T. He was living in a rented bungalow on Canvey Island with another Sheffielder (actually Dronfielder) name of Phil. They had both been students at Uni of London and were working for what was then (I think) The Gas Board. There were several installations on Canvey where Algerian(?) gas was imported in tankers and pumped to storage tanks before being added to the national gas grid.

Looking back this was probably my happiest time – a glorious summer on the coast (well, the estuary) with little to do except collect my dole and sail in Dave’s mirror dingy. Even the music was memorable – ask me sometime – but make sure you’re out of earshot. It was 1966 – think The Kinks.

For a short while they, and I, moved to an old vicarage on East Ham Manor Way near North Woolwich – surrounded by nothing (the whole area had been bombed flat in the war). I tried to be a hippy – mooching around the King’s Road in tie dyed tops, bell bottomed jeans and so on but my heart wasn’t really in it. All good things come to an end and Dave and Phil moved to Putney and had no room for little old me. So I returned to Shiny Sheff.

More later if I feel like it.

*My first wage was £7/10/— : £7.50 in today’s money


Think this might have been the nearest thing to a murmuration I’ve seen for yonken:DSC_2935Flock


Big butch looking bugger:DSC_2936Sparrow


A long way off but worth a pic:DSC_2955DistantKes


Dumped buggy (at the botttom of a “cliff” beyond my reach):DSC_2960buggy


Little Brown JobsDSC_2964lbjDSC_2979LBJDSC_2987LBJ




Not a great music fan but I have played one or two instruments. My tone deafness is a bit of a disadvantage here.

Instruments I have owned, and played, are the bodhran, an Irish hand held drum used much in folky circles, which I have played at festivals; and the trombone ’cause it let me feel the right note without having to know it beforehand – did some free jazz with that.

My choice of music goes, like most folk I suppose, from classical through 50s pop to what’s going on now. Don’t care for rap or punk rock much but almost anything else goes. Just looked at my music on my hard disc: Edvard Grieg/Peer Gynt, Bach (lots), Lesley Garrett, Paul Simon, Saor Patrol (a Scottish pipe and drum folk group I saw at t’Edinburgh festival), Yes, and sundry others.

Most stuff that’s coming out now is total rubbish, but with hindsight it always was. For every “Sunny Afternoon” “Summer in the city” or “Winchester Cathedral” there were a dozen really crap infantile spacefillers.

(Started waffling about today’s pop but realised I don’t know anything about it so scrubbed the lot)

I don’t have anything that I listen to while out: one of the most horrifying ads out there is that one where a guy “hears only what he wants to” (Bose?) – never to hear anything outside one’s preplanned menu! One of the sadder sights of the modern age is the prevalence of ipods and earphones.

“And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk …” From Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.



Look like stones in these leaves but they’re actually fungi:DSC_3081fungus


Follow-my-leader, the girls following the guy:DSC_3088Tufties


One duck thrice – a bit of shoppery gets you those ducks for the wall:DSC_3098Mallard

I see and ignore this path daily:DSC_3116Path


What! Grass can’t be worth photographing:DSC_3165Grass


Maggie in a treetop:DSC_3172Magpie


Rather distant Kes about to stoop:DSC_3194Kes

I likes me my clouds, me:DSC_3211clouds


Leaves in the lock entrance:DSC_3231Leaves


Ian’s dogs have taken a shine to me:DSC_3243ArchyAlfy



Every day, almost, I walk round the pond, up the canal to Sandy Lane and down to town and back. En route I snap away at anything I fancy.

The main attraction is the pair of grebes on the pond. They, or their predecessors are the reason for my addiction to photography. Seeing a pair of them doing their mating dance some six or seven years ago and trying to photo them on my tatty little camera got me to buy my Nikon D80 and subsequently a 300mm tele lens. That’s quite an investment for someone with NO MONEY but stopping smoking has allowed me to finance this even more expensive habit. It’s expensive because you can always spend more – I’ve got a new camera at enormous expense, a Nikon D7000. 🙂

I’ve walked, and photographed, almost all of the Chesterfield Canal – there’s the last 10 miles to West Stockwith on the Trent to do yet. I’m mostly limited to where my feet or bus pass’ll take me. Clumber Park, Sheffield, Lincoln and Chesterfield have been the farthest so far. The canal around Worksop isn’t very wildlifeful (to coin a word). Apart from a few mallards and moorhens there’s only the occasional heron or swan although I have seen a cormorant and an occasional kingfisher in the distance. My highlight on the pond, although I didn’t know till afterwards was the osprey in July last yearlink.

Oh yes, why do I call it “Godfrey’s Pond” when the correct name is “Sandhills Lake”? I get to the pond via an entrance that doesn’t pass the large Sandhills notice so I got much of my local knowledge from locals. Anyone who’s been in the neighbourhood for more than a few years still knows it as Godfrey’s pond. Apparently it was owned by a local butcher of that name. Originally, of course, like so many water features it was a quarry. There’s still traces of a loading wharf on the canal. Might try to find more about the history of the pond (?).

Saturday 30th November 2013

Sparrows or Little Brown JobsDSC_3269SparrowDSC_3285SparrowsDSC_3290Sparrrow


Unknown bird twice:DSC_3337Bird


Caught this squirrel by accident while trying to snap a LBJ:DSC_3382Squirrel


On to Shireoaks Woodland (the old tip)
These fungi seem to be inside out or upside down with spores open to the sky above solid bases.DSC_3385FungusDSC_3388Fungus


A feast of goldfinches:DSC_3390GoldfinchDSC_3391GoldfinchDSC_3392GoldfinchDSC_3398GoldfinchesDSC_3401GoldfinchesDSC_3424GoldfinchDSC_3433Goldfinch

Gotta have teasels:DSC_3443TeaselsDSC_3459teasel


A wagtail on Doefield Dun Lock stonework:DSC_3511Wagtail


Treee in the canal:DSC_3541CanalReflection


Dunno what these were, they were sparrow sized.DSC_3546Flock




The sunset was great:DSC_3601sunsetDSC_3604SunsetDSC_3619sunset

And so to bed!

2 thoughts on “The last of November

  1. Love the sparrows. Why not take the path? I never see any starlings round here. My grandparents garden was full of starlings. What’s happened to them all? Thanks for the fungi – intriguing.



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