Time ladies and gentlemen please.

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings 2012 first post went live on Tuesday 21st February 2012, titled: White Peak Walk from Monsal Head Sunday 18th December 2011

I still remember now what was going through my mind, what to say, how to say it and would it be of any interest.

Peak Ramblers Ramblings is now ten years old, and while very far from the biggest blogs, it has been an enjoyable ride. A lot of people were starting out blogging at the same time, some I knew, walked and camped with and virtually all have long since stopped blogging.

Have I stood the test of time?

I doubt it from a content perspective, from the perspective of time, perhaps I should have laid Peak Ramblers Ramblings to rest long ago.

My last proper hill walking blog was Kinder Low and Kinder Downfall, a Winter Wonderland, a true winter walk, snow, clag, and although it was only a short duration, the conditions required the use of an ice axe and crampons.

The following photos are some of the last photos to be published before my accident.

There have been many breath takingly awesome moments, like being at Kinder Downfall when the wind was taking the water back up!

I have provided a full list of all my blogs still open for reading at the of this so if you want to have a look back at any, or even all, then please do.

However, I feel it is right to call time on my blogging. It has become difficult to find content to write about.

Peak Ramblers Ramblings was intended to be a walking blog, the hills, moors, camping, the places I visited along with the people I met, walked and camped with. As many will know, that was taken away from me back in February 2015 when a motorist ran a red light while I was legitimately on a pelican crossing, resulting in major lower right leg reconstruction.

As a result, my leg is now very misshapen, swells up a lot and I can no  longer easily find trousers or footwear to fit, so suitable outdoor clothing is no longer an option to sensible hill and moorland walking, something a lot of people find hard to grasp, but that is the sad reality.

So I have turned my outdoor activities to wildlife and landscape photography, it gets me out and gives me that escape from urban life I need to escape from.

At that point I decided to write about my experiences with photography, the places I’ve been and what I saw. Although the change to vlogging, and other forms of video sharing of stories, adventures and exploits has been building up for years, Covid-19 changed that with the big turn to video calling and vlogging. Even though vlogging isn’t new, it just isn’t for me.

The way people interact via social media and other platforms has changed somewhat over the last decade, and I feel the time is right to call time on my blogging.

Facebook, not that I use Facebook, has changed how people interact there, along with greater use of YouTube and Instagram, neither of which I enjoy using. I used to enjoy YouTube, but today it seems to me to be more money orientated, and I’m not interested.

Even though vlogging can be done without facing the camera, and I’m one of those who prefers to stay behind the camera, not infront, and while I don’t knock those who stand in front of a camera, it really isn’t my thing.

Instagram isn’t on my list of favourites, I’m afraid I don’t like their privacy demands, I’m not one who wants or likes personalised adverts. Yes, provide adverts, but not at the expense of sneaking a look at my purchases or websites visited, for the great majority of them are one off visits and that is it, and the way I want it to stay.

I said earlier YouTube has become too money oriented, and again, that isn’t for me, and the current videos I have in Peak Rambler’s YouTube channel will be transferred to my Peak Rambler on Flickr, where my photos and a selection of videos have been kept for public viewing for almost as long as my blogs.

Also, post writing editing has become too complex. It used to be straightforward, now it is a lot more involved, and for me, time consuming requiring me to ensure everything is perfect, which I know it isn’t, with the added complexity of accommodating all the many formats readers use, which dictates layout considerably.

For me, now I’m retired, and while I don’t have the same time constraints as to when I was working, my time is to be enjoyed, and not be a slave to tech any more than necessary.

As things stand, the existing blogs will remain, unless I see a reason to remove them, which I had to do back in 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdowns, with three blogs.

Those blogs where I walked in tranquil and sensitive areas, but respectfully and with the way some people attempted to walk in the country, up the hills and across moors, leaving litter and an untidy mess behind, they had to be removed to protect not just the environment, but the local communities as well.

It was sad to have to do that, but it was seen as necessary at the time and still today, I have no regrets, they still remain to me special places I have visited and left nothing more than footprints which will have disappeared within minutes, taken lots of photos and memories away, and those places will remain special memories for the rest of my life.

That I’m afraid is the future, and the clock will ever turn back, things will continue to progress and change, it’s just that change is not for me.

The money I would have spent on outdoor gear is now spent on my camera gear, and associated clothing, utilising the skills and knowledge of what clothing to wear gained from my hill walking days for my much tamer past times, that I intend to enjoy in my retirement.

I will continue to get out and about, I will continue to use my camera to take photos and some videos, and who knows, my trusty Digital Single lens Reflex  (DSLR) camera may be upgraded to one of these new, but expensive swanky Mirrorless cameras.

But that change requires a lot of outlay, not just the camera, but the lenses to accompany the camera.

However, my online photos via Peak Rambler on Flickr, are to continue. There are my old hill and moorland photos on view, along with my post accident wildlife and landscape photos.

Some of the more recent examples at the time of posting this finale, are a pre-storm sunrise at one of the many nature reserves I visit post accident. These sunrise photos herald the dawn of a new era for me.

It is here that I say for the final time, “Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,

Peak Rambler

Peak Rambler

The full list of blogs posted

Google Blogs

White Peak Walk from Monsal Head Sunday 18th December 2011

Lathkill Dale and Bradford Dale 28th December 2011

Castleton’s North Ridges Sunday 19th February 2012

Alport to Stanton Moor; Sunday 4th March 2012

Toughprint Waterproof Paper from Memory map

Tuff Maps, laminated Ordnance Survey maps with a detached cover

Bleaklow, The B29 Superfortress and I got Bleaklowed!

Bleaklow and the Bristol Blenheim Crash Site

Tissington Well Dressing, an ancient custom, today

Bleaklow and the Defiant, on a hot day in May!

Beinn Bhreac and a Trig Point on Carn an Fhreiceadain

Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones!

Mill Hill and the Liberator Sunday 29th July 2012

Moel Siabod and my old Navigation Training Ground

Peak Meet; Parkhouse Hill & Chrome Hill

Monsal Head Camping, Bleaklow and the B29 Superfortress return visit

A Heartbeat Walk from Aidensfield on to Howl Moor

What’s in my pack?

Win Hill and its winning views!

Kinder, Kinder Downfall and the Sabre…..

Stanton Moor on a snowy Sunday

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings one year on!

A Peak Winter Meet, a Bunkhouse and Kinder

Derwent Moor to Highshaw Clough from Cutthroat Bridge

Bleaklow, the B29 and the Lancaster KB993

Stanage Edge on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday

Froggatt Edge, Big Moor and some Stone Circles

Axe Edge Moor, the Cat and Fiddle pub and a Stag Do

A Limestone walk from Monyash

Crimpiau, a nostalgic walk from Capel Curig

An Autumn Walk on Bamford Moor and Stanage Edge

Bakewell, the Monsal Trail and a Tunnel

Eyam; a plague village and a walk on Eyam Moor

Derwent Edge and Ladybower late autumn walk

Bamford, Hope and Win Hill

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; 2 years old, Twitter CB and a Stag Do!

Mill Hill, Kinder and Kinder Downfall

Long Mynd, Pole Bank and a nice cuppa in Carding Mill

A windy wander on Mam Tor and along Castleton’s Great Ridge

Bells Palsy, The Flu and Lymes Disease

Walking Big Moor, White Edge Moor and Barbrook Reservoir

Creag Dhubh and a walk on the wild side

Trekking Poles, love ‘em or hate ‘em?

The Liebster Award

A wander from Monyash to Magpie Mine via Flagg and Taddington

Classic Kinder walk, and some Gritstone formations

Alport Castles Alport Dale and River Alport

Stanton Moor Night Hike, and a drink in the Druid Inn

Axe Edge Moor Winter Walk and I’m a BIG kid at heart

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; another year ends and time to reflect

Goyts Moss, a short walk across open moorland

Mam Tor and the Great Ridge, an old classic

Kinder Low and Kinder Downfall, a Winter Wonderland

Unplanned walking interlude

Modern technology vs. traditional methods!

Winter walking 2016/17 is only a dream!

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; when life brings its realities close to home!

Winter walking, its pleasures and dangers!

Spring time walking in a diverse season while still in the shadow of winter!

Early walking days, time to reflect before we judge

Summer walking, “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”

Autumn walking: walking in the shadow of summer….

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; where’s the light at the end of the tunnel?

They stuck parking meters outside our doors to greet us

Walking disabled: carrying a fold-up seat!

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings…. Where to next?

2018 A Poignant Centenary Year & Milestone Half Century!

Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill: A short wander, with WOW factor

Stanton Moor, my old favourite, I’ve missed you

Aber Falls, you don’t conquer by giving in!

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings, from one historic year to another

Sir William Hill & Froggatt Edge, along with a few personal thoughts

RSPB Conwy 19 Sept; a long overdue visit!

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; 2020 a testing year for all!

2021 and another year locked in!


Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill: A short wander, with WOW factor

Stanton Moor, my old favourite, I’ve missed you

Eyam; a plague village which went into self-isolation

Sir William Hill & Froggatt Edge, along with a few personal thoughts

RSPB Conwy 19 Sept; a long overdue visit!

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; 2020 a testing year for all!

RSPB Burton Mere 19th May 2021

Titchwell Marsh (and a trip to King’s Lynn)

RSPB Burton Mere the return

RSPB Conwy Thursday 26th August and a new lens

Brandon Marsh

2021 and another year locked in!


2021 and another year locked in!

This year has been yet another tough year, with ongoing Covid19 restrictions in various forms and no obvious signs of things improving fast.

Not just Covid19, the weather as well, but the almost incessant dull grey cloud that has been over us along with the damp and wet conditions that come with it, which in itself has induced a form of additional lockdown for me, has made for me 2021 a difficult year.

As many of you will know, after my accident back in February 2015, because walking the hills and moors is no longer a viable option, I have turned to wildlife and landscape photography which still gets me outdoors and also a very interesting and pleasant hobby to get in to.

In my last annual review: Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; 2020 a testing year for all! I opened with the following:

What a year 2020 has turned out to be.

For me, a daunting start to the year, which saw me relinquishing more of my independence, started off with surrendering my HGV, PSV, Motorcycle and full car licence categories, purely for automatic car licence only.”

I also stated that I didn’t see Covid19 settling down in 2021:

I don’t anticipate the travel restrictions ending anytime soon, and even with the vaccination availability slowly gaining momentum, I feel the Covid19 virus will hamper our ability to move around for the next year or so, but it will settle down, and we will regain the freedom we enjoyed before Covid19 in good time.

For me, this year seems to have been a continuation of more freedom being removed from me, something that has been gradually happening since my accident back in February 2015, though it did seem that things were starting to turn around for the better.

I’ve talked before about the Cold War years, and my thoughts, and the following I’ll never forget, when I started work back in the late 70’s as a trainee mechanic, my mentor was a superb guy, what he didn’t know about cars wasn’t even thought about at that time.

His life skills were probably second to none as well. But one thing he did say that came back to haunt me, and remember, this was during the Cold War years:

Son, now the Cuban Crisis is well and truly over, we are probably living in the safest times that mankind will ever live in. No one will ever intentionally press the button to activate a nuclear war. We’ve had chemical warfare, napalm, mustard gas, agent orange and others, but one thing that is yet to come, is biological warfare.

That one will be the killer, that’ll be our World War 3!”.

Toward the end of last year I deactivated my Twitter account, which I have since re-opened. There are some very good people I know through Twitter, and it was nice to be able to meet back up with them.

However, it still seems bent on forcing me to take up lists and follow accounts of which I have no interest in whatsoever.

In fact, generally I’m finding tech in any form these days to be dictoral and that is not a good thing. We as humans have learned how to think for ourselves and something we need to continue doing, and yet today that is being taken away from us, I fear many have lost the ability to think laterally.

I’m being dictated to by big tech, telling me how I should lead my life, and that is something I don’t take kindly to.

But I’m not even a molecule size in this big world of hi-tech today and I certainly feel I’m very much alone in wanting to retain my independence.

I’ve fought and worked hard, and not with that much support to rebuild my life after that IQ Zero ran a red light while I was legitimately on a pelican crossing, which resulted in my lower right leg requiring major reconstruction, taking away my ability to sensibly get out in all weathers and all terrains, either moorland walking or mountain climbing, summer or through to winter (using ice axe and crampons) and the in-between seasons.

I don’t like losing my independence, and I certainly don’t want big (or small) tech dictating how I should lead my life, especially when something simple like predictive/autocorrect text tries to dictate and more often than not, wrongly dictate what it thinks you should be typing!

And that’s simplistic artificial intelligence (AI), how will more complex AI cope?

Currently it doesn’t, because it can’t cope with non-stereotype people where it tries to box me into categories that I’ve no connection or interest with….

Anyway, in other news, my employer offered early retirement to all over the age of 60 towards the end of 2020, which at the time, with the financial package offered, was a good deal, financially.


With Covid19 restrictions etc, I’m not so sure, I had a good employer and worked with a lot of good people, all of whom I am missing. I feel that if things were not so restrictive because of Covid19 and the incessant inclement weather, I would settle into retirement very easily, after all, it is something we all work hard for.

Recently I heard of yet more development taking yet more of our valuable and fast diminishing countryside being lost to construction, a solar farm of some 300+ acres moving the nearest countryside yet further from me.

Something I’ve said many times before, and possibly in an previous write-up is the questionable location of solar farms.

While I understand the need tailor our reliance on fossil fuels, it has to be at the right cost, and I don’t mean financial costs either. There are many suitable places in our towns and cities where solar panels can be placed high enough to capture the sun, and one such place could be multistorey car parks, where the vast majority of them don’t have a roof on the top level. What better, a roof that helps not only the car park users keep dry when it’s raining (or even snow or hail), but the dependency on fossil fuels.

Many shopping malls could also contribute by having roof mounted solar panels….

From my home, it used to be a 10 minute walk to the countryside, with HS2, now it’s a 30 minute drive at the least, and if this solar farm does go ahead, add another ten minutes to that!

It is only a matter of time before the West Midlands will be one big metropolis!

And the government keep crying about keeping green, by imposing taxes!

I really don’t feel the Government committed is to the environment, much seems to be pure lip service. Because in my view, if they were committed to the environment, then:-

  • why has Heathrow been granted a third runway?
  • and Gatwick a second runway?
  • why is the countryside always being used as the scapegoat for so-called green projects?

So, I have my doubts, and very grave doubts for the future of the countryside.

I’ve recently booked a holiday for 2022, taking advantage of the retirement days and avoiding the peak holiday periods. However, I’m feeling very sceptical about it.

So, what have I done this year?

Not a lot, in fact, I did more last year!

One thing I have decided, I’m not maintaining two blogging platforms. There’s been some big changes to the Google Blogger platform and in my personal view, it’s lost some of its nice flexibility to edit. So, for now, I’ll just be posting to the WordPress platform and post periodical links from the Google Blogger.

However, the existing Google based blogs will stay where they are, but no new blogs are to be posted for the time being.

RSPB Burton Mere 19th May 2021

As a post-accident new found activity to get outdoors and enjoy our fast-diminishing countryside and nature, combined with the fact I do enjoy photography, a first visit to Burton Mere Wetlands had been on the cards for a long time.

Covid19, along with the unsettled weather that 2021 has endured, had put that and many other reserve visits for us all on a back burner. For me getting out in the wet is not an option, if I slip, its not easy for me to get back on my feet again!

Then, weather window occurred, and it was a last-minute decision made as I had got up, as normal around 04:00 one rare sunny morning.

Titchwell Marsh (and a trip to King’s Lynn)

I’d heard about Titchwell Marsh, and felt it was worth a days jaunt out, but it needed to be a decent weather day, and yet another, but rare weather window occurred. is an interesting reserve, not just because its coastal with coastal marshes, but also being on the east coast, is home to WWII bunkers, in varying states of disrepair.

It was also interesting to see the many now derelict bunkers from WWI and WWII.

My wife fancied a day in Kings Lynn, not too far away, so I dropped her there and then carried on to Titchwell, before returning for a couple of hours in Kings Lynn with my wife before heading back home.

RSPB Burton Mere the return

I had said a return visit to Burton Mere was in the planning, and just waiting for a decent weather day amid the ongoing unsettled conditions that 2021 had been enduring.

It was good to be able to access all public areas of the reserve, and even better, was walking past the Bunker Hide, which was set in a mound alongside the path, and view across a different part of the reserve.

For me the highlight to the day was all those swallows, a brilliant day, and with the company of two people I’d only been talking to via a forum.

RSPB Conwy Thursday 26th August and a new lens

This was a long overdue visit to Conwy, and a good opportunity to try out a new lens. A few days beforehand I had purchased a Canon 100-400 USM-II lens after seeing the difference people were getting with the Canon lens over the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary.

The Sigma lens was, and still is, a very good lens, with the right camera, and for me when I bought the Sigma, I was using the Canon 750D camera, which I still like very much as far as budget cameras go and worked well with the Sigma lens. However, July 2019 I upgraded my camera to the Canon 5D MkIV.

With knowing Conwy Reserve so well, it was the ideal opportunity, plus good to see things I’ve haven’t seen much over the last couple of years, no thanks to Covid-19.

It was also a good opportunity to meet up with family who live nearby I’ve not seen since October 2019, again, no thanks to Covid-19.

Brandon Marsh

Brandon Marsh, a former gravel pit in Warwickshire not too far from Rugby, well, its actually nearer Coventry than Rugby but who’s going to argue over ten or so miles! I’ve not been to Brandon for a good few years, probably ten or more, and with a rare weather window, it was very much a … Continue reading

I had made a return to Brandon Marsh mainly out of curiosity to see how things were after some big changes many years ago, which took away the character of the reserve, and I was totally taken aback that it had more or less returned to the old reserve I knew and enjoyed.

OK, there were a few changes, like most of the hides had been renamed, but that didn’t detract from a very pleasant return visit, the reed bed that had once been a hive of wildlife activity, then changed to a pool, has been returned to a reedbed.

I have made a couple of very enjoyable return visits, and on two occasions, enjoyed watching and photographing a kingfisher, not an easy bird to photograph at the best of times.

I am seriously considering rejoining the Wildlife Trust that manages the reserve, along with a few other reserves, but that’ll wait until sometime early in 2022.

I’ve also made a couple of visits to another local reserve, Middleton Lakes, which has been very quiet generally and not a lot to report back or write about, though on one of my last visits, I did see a goldcrest, which is a winter migrant here, very small and very hard to photograph, particularly on a very dull day, something which for me, 2021 will always be remembered for.

What for 2022, well, as I’ve mentioned before and in last year’s review, the Covid19 isn’t leaving us anytime soon and with restrictions still ongoing, but hopefully the weather will be a little better and I’ll be able to get out more, and of course, the late summer holiday.

That is assuming things do start to ease and we don’t have another scenario like Covid19 to suppress the world.

I’ll close and wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas, hopefully without too many restrictions, and a Happy New Year.

Peak Rambler

Some links mentioned in the blog:

Brandon Marsh

Brandon Marsh, a former gravel pit in Warwickshire not too far from Rugby, well, its actually nearer Coventry than Rugby but who’s going to argue over ten or so miles!

I’ve not been to Brandon for a good few years, probably ten or more, and with a rare weather window, it was very much a last minute decision, dictated by HS2 road closures, I did have Middleton Lakes in mind which is just to the side of HS2 Phase 2.

Brandon Marsh is owned by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, which is part of the UK Wildlife Trusts.

I was first greeted with a very pleasant welcome by a helpful young lady who not only ensured I wasn’t paying too much and charged me a concession rate, also explained many of the recent changes on the reserve.

BTW, I have had similar welcomes from RSPB reserves, and all get 20/10 for the welcome, however, the past history of this one reserve in my feelings and a few others had become very introvert and unwelcoming, so a very pleasant change.

Anyway, less of the politics and more of what I had gone for, the wildlife and nature, and has there been a lot of changes, positive changes.

The grasslands had virtually disappeared and were overgrown with scrub and brambles, which before anyone thinks I’m criticising, far from it, for nature would do just that left to its own devices. How far a reserve is managed is dependent on what they want to achieve, and let’s not forget, 2020 was a lockdown year, so any clearing work would most certainly have been put on hold, so for my visit, it was all to be positive and supportive in whatever way I can.

It was good to see the reed beds removed on my previous visit, all restored and as I understand to remain in place for the foreseeable future and most areas and hides had been renamed, so there has been a good attempt at rebranding if that is the right term to use.

I followed the route I always took, which unlike most, I head for the wooded via the ‘New Hare Covert‘, a route I used to take my son when we went there, and was always full of rabbits which would delight any youngster. This was once a small grassland patch with patches of scrub and brambles, but now is full of brambles, and full of birds, hiding!

The sightings

  • Black Headed Gull
  • Blackbird
  • Canada Geese
  • Common Crow
  • Common Darter
  • Coot
  • Cormorant
  • Gadwall
  • Grey Heron
  • Greylag
  • Jackdaw
  • Lapwing
  • Little Egret
  • Magpie
  • Mallard
  • Moorhen
  • Mute Swan
  • Pintail
  • Pochard
  • Robin
  • Shovelor Duck
  • Snipe
  • Teal
  • Tufted Duck
  • Water Rail
  • Wigeon

I could hear blackbirds, robins, and various others calling: “there’s a stranger on our patch!

From there, following the path round to the pools and hides, past the now closed golf course, which in days gone by, was a battleground between geese and golfers, and the geese always seemed to win!

My son and myself used to quietly chuckle as golfers tried to move the geese so they could pot their golf balls on the green into the holes, and the geese weren’t going to be moved.

As I walked this path, I was delighted to see the reed bed had been allowed to re-establish again. Many was the time blue tits were on the bull rush seed heads along with other small birds, so perhaps that will happen again.

Anyway, that was quiet today, so it was around to the first hide, Wright Hide and as yet, not renamed, but a good morning viewpoint looking west and on a sunny day the morning sun was behind you (today was cloudy). As was in the past, a good selection of waterfowl on the pool, called East Marsh Pool, little egret, PB’s old acquaintances, cormorants a plenty, mute swans, gadwall, tufted ducks, lapwings, pochard, wigeon and plenty of black headed gulls, though this time, the lapwings I think more than outnumbered them.

My one and only sighting of a little egret, my first for Brandon Marsh but not my first ever. The very first little egret I saw was back in 2002 when they were just starting to become residents in the UK, predominantly on the southern shores, gradually over the years making their way northwards and that was at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Since then, I’ve seen hundred, at many other reserves around the UK. The little egret has become very commonplace across the UK along with a later arrival to our shores, the Great White Egret and more recently, the Cattle Egret, both of which I have seen on the UK.

As yet, no Canada or greylag geese were to be seen on any pools!

It was time to move on, though I could have stayed there all day, and head for the other hides. This requires walking partly back toward the visitor centre where at a cross roads of paths I could access the other hides. The next two hides Steetley (I think named after the aggregate company that used to own the gravel pits and did support the reserve in many ways) and Riverpool, because it was a lagoon just off the passing by River Avon, had very quiet viewings, and to be fair, the weather wasn’t that brilliant and any sane living thing would be stopping in.

After visiting the Steetley and Riverpool hides, walking along the newly cleared path I bumped into a former colleague working as a volunteer clearing the scrub back. It was good to catch up on the gossip.

Then on to the Teal Hide, which overlooks a normally quiet pool, but always worth a look, before nipping across the path into the John Walton Hide, what was called the East Marsh Hide as it overlooks the East Marsh Pool. The John Walton Hide is often a very productive hide and today, was no different.

It was also the hide which back in I think 2006 I saw my first and only bittern from!

The bittern is a very secretive bird, and usually only the male is heard calling during the mating season, springtime, for a female to mate with. So for many bird watchers, it is a prized sighting.

Today, it came up trumps again, not a first viewing, but a rare viewing for me. So here goes, the not so exciting stuff first, but still worthy of a mention and piccies.

There was a ream of black headed gulls in winter/juvenile plumage.

Black headed gulls are often quite raucous, noisy and often extremely active and particularly so during the mating and breeding season. Today was no different, even though the next photo seems to be calm. The following photos will show different….

I did say the black headed gulls weren’t to be quiet for long….

And more black headed gulls dives!

Believe it or not, there was other waterfowl visible on the East Marsh Pool from the John Walton Hide. There was teal, and eventually greylag and Canada geese flew in, cormorants, jackdaws, crows, grey heron and many more.

Now for the prize of the day, yes, a snipe. Well, I’d seen at least half a dozen and others had reported far greater numbers.

Snipes are very well camouflaged and lurk among the reeds, and with the long bill (a jack snipe has a shorter bill) are poking amongst the mud for food.

Well, there were at least half a dozen among the reeds, but not many came out for a photoshoot….

I did get a little carried away, but I’ll spare you the endless snipe photos with this last one

And the last but definitely not least scoop of the day, a water rail that just suddenly came out from the reeds…

The water rail, also a wader, a bird that forages and feeds from the mudflats is a very secretive bird and tries to stay very much out of sight. This is also a Brandon Marsh first for me, but not my first ever, I’ve seen a few at other reserves.

The next two images are maps of Brandon Marsh, neither maps are to scale.

The map above is an Ordnance Survey map (not to scale) showing the area I covered including the hides. The map below is the official and current map at the time of writing. There is a full official map for Brandon Marsh available on the website using the link at the end of the write-up.

All in all, as always, it was a good day visiting Brandon Marsh, and it was good to see so many such positive changes to the reserve. It will most definitely be on my list for a return visit.

Peak Rambler

Photostream:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/peak-rambler/

Photo Albums: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peak-rambler/albums

Some links used in this blog

Brandon Marsh: https://www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/BrandonMarsh

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust: https://www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/

The Wildlife Trust: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/

St Michael’s Mount: https://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk/

RSPB Conwy Thursday 26th August and a new lens

This has been a long, long, long, overdue return to the reserve just outside Conwy, RSPB Conwy, alongside the Afon Conwy, a tidal estuary, and it has finally taken place. What with Covid-19, the inclement weather and other commitments, it just hasn’t been possible. But that has changed and for now, Covid-19 is still prevalent, and as we move into September, the weather should start to settle more.

I’ve recently bought a new lens, the Canon 100-400mm USM MkII and the camera which I’ve had for a couple of years, is the Canon 5D MkIV which I put through it paces and all photos here (and on my Flickr page) are through this lens.

The day was forecast to be sunny, dry and hot with high tide around 14:00 local time.

It was generally cloudy, hot, with a a good burst of sun during the afternoon, which for me was ideal, that meant I had a good mix of scenarios to use the lens with.  You may want to grab a cuppa first, there’s lots of photos……

Well, I tell a bit of a porky, the first pic I thought was a great idea, and taken with a smart phone, Bee Rescue, a cup with a stiff piece of card to capture and release a bee with, plus a small bottle of sugar solution for any bees struggling due to lack of nutrition, located by a window in the café.

Bee Rescue

From here on, all the photos are through the new lens, the vast majority are heavily cropped. though one isn’t cropped and I’ll try and remember to say where a photo hasn’t been cropped.

It was a bit of a dull, cloudy and very mild start to the day, nice and dry and ideal low light conditions to test the new lens’ capabilities. I was a bit early to have a late breakie in the café, so it was off to the first screen and see what was on the Shallow Lagoon.

RSPB Conwy have two pools called Lagoons, a Shallow Lagoon and a Deep Lagoon, and both do get very populated with wildfowl from around the area. However, the Shallow Lagoon was a bit empty, and mainly mud flats due to the dry weather they had been having resulting in very a low water level, though during the morning. The reserve staff did top the water level up.

First off, a pair of black tailed godwits on the Shallow Lagoon viewed through the viewing screen, plucking away at the worms and other creatures below the mud. Very soon afterwards, a ruff flew in to join them.

A pair of black tailed godwits feeding on the Shallow Lagoon
A ruff flew in on the Shallow Lagoon

The Shallow Lagoon was very quiet, not even the usual plethora of ducks, typically mallard, moorhen and coot were around, but there’s never a quiet moment, there’s always something there to see, you just have to sometimes look a a little harder, particularly if its small.

Sometimes a water rail can be seen among the reeds at the edge of the pool, but that was not to be today,

However, a rather bedraggled grey heron was looking little sorry for itself. The heron will have been busy as one of two parents busy feeding the young during the breeding season, and if you’re a parent, you will know the scenario, the children just keep demanding more and more as the get older and bigger and you have less and less time to keep yourself pristine. The same happens with birds, the plumage loses its sheen and eventually they will go through a moult, to replace the bedraggled plumage with fine winter plumage.

Also often seen on the Shallow Lagoon are pied wagtails, easily identifiable by their constantly wagging tails as they forage for food. These little birds are not perturbed by low water levels,

A rather bedraggled grey heron
A pied wagtail on the waters edge
A pied wagtail foraging for food

After a good viewing session on a rather water depleted Shallow Lagoon it was time to move on to the Tal-y-fan hide (named after a nearby hill that grabs the view as you look across the estuary), which gives views across both the Shallow and Deep Lagoons depending which side you go into.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the hide had been sectioned inside to accommodate small groups and try to slow down the spread of Coronavirus. However, the Shallow Lagoon side was just mud, and not much was happening there, but its always worth a look, you just never know something out of the ordinary may be there.

The other side of the Tal-y-fan hide was busy with people looking out on to the Deep Lagoon which was busy with waterfowl. Here there were ducks, gulls and many other species, too numerous to mention here.

Cormorants resting and airing their wings on one of the islands

With the hide being a busy, and the Deep Lagoon looking nicely populated, I felt it wise to move on to the Carneddau Hide, named after a large range of mountains, many of which I’ve climbed in my pre-accident days, that are clearly visible from this hide, and in my opinion, probably the best hide to view the Deep Lagoon from.

Before getting to the hide, you walk across a wooden bridge over a pool which is often teeming with damselflies and dragonflies on a sunny day. But today, very cloudy and not warm enough for these insects to get the heat they need to fly, nul point (or nul Odonata)…..

A robin in a nearby tree, became curious of me, hoping down on to the bridge side. I guess it had become accustomed to people passing by and feeding it, and other birds in that area, so a shake of the small tub with suet pellets and some seed in soon drew its attention to get closer, but not close or brave enough to feed from my hand….

Being further away from the café and play area (the staff at Conwy reserve work hard at engaging with the local community), meant it would be quieter. This hide likewise was also sectioned off to facilitate small groups and slow down the spread of Coronavirus.

Unsurprisingly from this hide, the first sighting was a little grebe. Little grebe’s are quite commonplace on the reserve, and predominantly on the Deep Lagoon, often viewable from the Carneddau Hide or the Vadre Screen a little further on.

Little Grebe’s are fascinating to watch, they dive under the water for prolonged periods and when they catch a fish to eat, they will often appear to parade with their catch in the beak for a good few seconds. Sadly the light level was too low and the distance they were away from me meant it wasn’t possible to share such a photo graph.

A little grebe
A little grebe seeking out food

It was time to move on again, and continue my circumnavigation of the Deep Lagoon, which takes you through a lot of scrub land and an area frequented by Carneddau Ponies.

The Carneddau Ponies are used to help control the scrub, and they do a very good job of doing just that. They’re semi wild and left to roam a large sectioned of area of the reserve and for me, always a pleasure to see.

Carneddau Ponies (uncropped)

Close by, a pair of Carneddau Ponies, mare and foal (most likely a mare), are very likely to be this years foal. The Carneddau Ponies do breed quite comfortably here, which is a good sign, because that means they are comfortable and it is considered their home.

There are usually around 12-18 Carneddau Ponies on the reserve, and to help prevent inbreeding, the reserve liaises with local farmers, many who have access to Carneddau Ponies, where they will periodically change the ponies around which helps to keep blood stocks healthy. Those that are removed from the reserve are often back on the nearby hills, which is their homeland and natural habitat.

Carneddau Pony mare
Carneddau Pony foal

Continuing my walk to circumnavigate the Deep Lagoon I eventually reach the Vadre Viewing Screen, which being a viewing screen and outdoor, has no sectioned off areas. Here common-sense applies from a Covid perspective, if there are a lot of people around, then it is advisable to be courteous and respect the social distancing requirements at the current time in force. However, this part of the reserve is often nice and very quiet, only dedicated folk venture this far out.

The Vadre Screen is named after a homestead on a nearby hill, located on the nearby Deganwy Mountain, which really is only a hill at around 100 mtrs ASL (ASL = above mean sea level).

Right in front was a cormorant. However, once I’d taken this photo, it didn’t like the sound of the camera, which isn’t noisy, as I have it set on a silent shutter release, and flew away, just a few metres. But I still managed to get a decent photo before it departed

A cormorant
The cormorant about to land just a few metres further way
The cormorant landing just a few metres further way

Now the cormorant had moved, this area of the Deep Lagoon was quiet, too quiet with no obvious sign of anything moving in soon, and looking along to my left, there were signs of activity close to where the next viewing screen, called the Ynys Screen, would be, so it was time to move on, back to the scrub, which is always active, just sometimes you need to be patient and look around you.

From what little Welsh I know, Ynys means Island, it could be that there are some islands on Deep Lagoon, which are visible at an angle from this screen.

However, here there is always a plethora of fruits, like blackberries and other berries, also many insects, bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths are quite prevalent here and many birds. on this occasion a juvenile blackbird (a male looking at the less mottled and darker plumage) watching my every move….

A juvenile blackbird, still in mottled baby plumage

Here we start to see some of the many berries that are to be found in this area, and across a lot of the scrub land generally. These berries will provide winter food for the birds, so whilst it is tempting to help oneself, spare a thought for the birds and other animals that depend on the berries.

Vadre Screen also often has lots of berries, but this time it seemed not to have any, but that may be because its still late summer, and once autumn gets going, that should be a different story.

A rosehip berry
Ripening blackberries
Ripe blackberries
Ripe blackberries
A hoverfly

Now for the excitement, as viewed from Ynys Screen, again like Vadre, being outdoors there were no dividing screens and also a nice quiet part of the reserve, just perusing across the Deep Lagoon, the sun came out, and swoosh!

Incidentally, as I understand it, Ynys is Welsh for island, and the olny reason I can see for this screen having the name Ynys Screen is the view you have of the islands on the Deep Lagoon.

The martins (most likely house martins) were swooping over the water….

It was a case of

  • The sun is out
  • The insects are out
  • The martins were out
A house martin flying away
A house martin fresh out he water after chasing an insect for lunch
A house martin with lunch, an insect in its mandible

After a short time at Ynys Screen, which is quite a small area, lunchtime for me was fast approaching so it was time to move on, after taking heaven knows how many photos of house martins, sand martins, swifts and swallows all going crazy now the sun was out and the insects were abound, on the water.

Foel Fras Screen, named after another nearby hill, and again being outdoors there were no dividing screens it was also lunchtime for me. Here there is plenty of room for me and others to view, enabling social distancing and me to enjoy my lunch, plus, watching the house martins, swifts and swallows in a feeding frenzy.

It seemed also I may have seen a spotted flycatcher, but the photo was too out-of-focus to be certain. However, the reserve staff did confirm that spotted flycatchers are prevalent in that area, so there was a good chance that I did see one.

What a teasing and fantastic lunchtime view.

It was hard to eat my sarnies, with all this teasing activity going on in front of me!

The next three (out-of-focus) photos show a house martin chasing after an insect (circled), and missing it!

You can see the house martin’s head facing the insect initially, but I guess the speed of the house martin in flight and direction of travel of the insect meant it lost sight of it at the crucial moment.

It was time to walk back towards the reserve car park and main entrance, and as I was walking along the hardened path, which was getting warm from the sun shining on it, and often damselflies will use that to warm up their bodies to continue their flight. Here is looks like a chaser, sunning itself

A chaser damselfly

Back on to the reserve and round to the Carneddau Hide, with the tide well and truly in, the Deep Lagoon was busy, though I didn’t see an whimbrels or curlew, along with redshanks and many more, which surprised me, but there were lots of gulls and oyster catchers to be viewed from the hide.

Often there are whimbrels and curlews on this lagoon once the tide is in. They must have found somewhere else for the time being, or on their merry way in….

An oyster catcher

I mentioned about the Carneddau Ponies helping the reserve keep the scrub under control, they at times also tread the waters edge and help to reeds under control…

Carneddau Ponies helping to reeds under control

And finally, backtracking the path back to the car park and exit, on the walk back to the car, the bridge which spans a small pool that often has dragons and damsels on it, was alive with the dragonflies

They were out in the sun, and this dazzling emperor was catching the sun perfectly as it hovered over the water!

Without thinking about it, I had set the shutter to 1/8000 sec, which I normally used for photographing damselflies and dragonflies in flight. However, it seems this was probably too fast for the low light level even though the sun was catching the dragonfly perfectly, so the background is a little too grainy for my liking.

But it was good to see how the new lens handled the scenario.

The end of a very enjoyable day with lots of photos that needed to be sorted. I often take way too many photos, but there’s nothing worse than getting home and thinking, “damn, I should have taken that photo…

It was a good day out and nature as always, was happy to oblige in whatever way it feels fit, and I can’t wait for the next visit, whenever that may be, weather and Covid-19 permitting.

Peak Rambler

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Some links used in this blog

RSPB Burton Mere the return

Some of you may recall my first visit to Burton Mere Wetlands, which was a snap decision on an unexpected decent weather window, and the visit was purely a reccie to see what was there, and a brilliant day I had. You can read about that visit here in: RSPB Burton Mere 19th May 2021.

I had said from my previous but short visit to Burton Mere, I would return with more time in the day to chill out and enjoy the reserve, though my first visit wasn’t a waste. For a reccie, it was very rewarding, and frustrating in that I had to be home before teatime.

The return visit had been in the planning almost straight after that visit my first visit, but, with various diary engagements, and the weather, yes, that rain we all kept having and probably forgotten about!

After an unbelievably good drive up, no speeding (yes I’m a good boy these days, plus the dash cam would give me away if I twisted the truth), I arrived much earlier than anticipated.

The weather was hot, but nicely hot with a perfect breeze to take the edge off the heat and that remained the weather for the day.

The day started with a couple of guys who seemed to be interested in dragonflies, which was good and helpful when it came to identifying them, plus pointing them out. They were regulars, so they knew what to see, where and when

The pools were a little quiet, but that is to be expected at this time of year, breeding season is almost over and the busy parents will be enjoying the respite after a feeding frenzy with starving youngsters, most of whom will now be fending for them selves.

But as always, there’s something to see. it is a case of keep those eyes and ears open, nature is always busy, not matter what, and the various species will be out and about while others are resting.

I will apologise upfront, I get a little carried away, no, make that a lot, carried away, with photos….

The first sighting of the day, was a comma butterfly, sunning itself on the hardcore path.

The first sighting of the day, a comma butterfly sunning itself
A black tailed skimmer

Soon after, I’d caught up with the two guys dragonfly spotting, and a couple of black tailed skimmers were on the fence leading up to Marsh Covert Hide.

I went into the Marsh Covert Hide to have a view across the pools either side, the Reedbed Pool was awash with reeds on one side. while the Bridge Pool on the other side was clear. I would bet the Reed Bed Pool was full of life, it just wasn’t visible….

I mentioned earlier the pools were a little quiet, but there’s always something to see, just sometimes you need to look a little harder, and that sometimes, I actually enjoy, because the opportunity to see things you wouldn’t have seen because a pool (or area) had been busy with larger and more common sightings.

Across the Bridge pool there was a little egret, a great white egret, some lapwings and other waders to view.

From the Marsh Covert Hide, I then moved onto the Bridge Screen, where as you’d expect, had a clearer view of the Bridge Pool ight by the Bridge Screen were some poppies, nicely in flower,

Also on the Bridge Pool, a great white egret.

PHOTO Little & Large, on the Bridge Pool….

Then around to the new hide, Inner Marsh Hide, overlooking the Centenary Pool, lapwings


A juvenile black headed gull

If the flies didn’t get  us, this swallow seemed to be aiming for us!

Swallow in flight over Centenary Pool
Lie a phoenix rising…..

Ok, not a brilliant pair of photos, but it does show a story, a swallow swallowing some poor insect

and then like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a swallow rising from the water!

A juvenile great white egret coming in to Centenary Pool

Mummy Mallard and youngsters….

From Inner Marsh Hide, we took a wander up to the seed rich fields according to the official reserve map, and there were goldfinches. TBH, along the path to and from the Inner Marsh Hide, there were lots of goldfinches fliting around…

Heading back to the visitor centre for lunch, two lots of greylag geese flew overhead.

A male goldfinch posing nicely
Juvenile Moorhen

A juvenile moorhen on the Woodland Pool

After lunch, we took a wander over to the Bunker Hide, it was nice and cool in there, before moving on the the end of the trail, where there was a mixed flocks, of swallows,

Preparing the plumage for that long flight darn sarf….

There were quite a few birds on the power lines, to accompany the swallows, sand martins, greenfinches, and a female linnet.

A collection of swallows, sand martins and some other species
A swallow and sand martin
A linnet (F)
A greenfinch
A swallow coming in to land

Probably for me the highlight to the day was all those swallows. It was a brilliant day, even though the reserve seemed quiet, it wasn’t, sometimes you just need to look in a different place and for different things.

Many thanks to Hazel and Mike, the company was more than a pleasure, and it was nice to put faces to names.

Those who are older enough to remember, Shaw Taylor and Police 5, the closing phrase: “Keep them peeled….

Police 5 – YouTube

Titchwell Marsh (and a trip to King’s Lynn)

This retirement malarkey is busy stuff, trying to fit everything into a sensible and non-working routine!

Another blog post that’s taken almost three weeks to compile!

RSPB Titchwell has been on the list, and still is, for a return visit, and preferably without the Norfolk detour that the Satnav sent me on, though the lanes were quite nice and rural to view, plus the number of birds in the road, taking forever to move, they obviously weren’t used to traffic!

Titchwell is an interesting reserve, not just because its coastal with coastal marshes, but also being on the east coast, is home to WWII bunkers, in varying states of disrepair.

Though the day was quiet, and hot, there was quite a lot of haze around, making interesting photographic challenges.

It was generally quiet on the reserve, but that would most likely be down to the heat, nesting season and a few other factors, the wildlife doesn’t live like Noel Cowards description of Mad Dogs and Englishmen. For those too young like me, to remember, here’s a link to the YouTube soundtrack…

To get my release from the house, Mrs PR wanted to take a trip to an old seaside haunt of hers as a youngster, Cromer!

We settled on King’s Lynn, the detour would be a little too unrealistic with getting back home at a reasonable time as well, and she had a good day sightseeing around there.

Back to Titchwell.

Though it was quiet, it was still an interesting visit, and an enjoyable, but short one, because I had to divert back to Kings Lynn to collect Mrs PR!

There are two tracks, the coastal one and the marsh one, I opted for the coastal one, which gave good views of the fresh and salty water marshes, plus the marsh land to the west and the Great Ouse, and at the far end, a mere 1km from the entrance, a beach.

Just as with my first visit to Burton Mere (see the link for that post; RSPB Burton Mere 19th May 2021, this also was more of a reccie, top get a feel for what is there, and it didn’t disappoint.

Being quiet, it made the first visit easier, because I could view from the hides, all three on that path, and get a good idea of what can be viewed.

As I was walking towards the first of the hides on the coastal path, I spotted a WWII bunker, being on the east coast, unsurprisingly here were quite a few around.

The first hide is Island Hide, which looks over a fresh water pool, and from the photo below, you can see all the way up to the Parrinda Hides, the nearest is also a fresh water viewing point, and the coastal side is salt water pool.

The Parrinda Hides almost resemble WWII bunkers, in the way they are laid out, and the viewing is also good. Sadly, no wildlife photos taken due to the quietness of the pools.

However, after leaving the Parrinda Hides, and heading towards the beach, I did spot a sandpiper on the edge of the 600mm lens range

After leaving the Parinder Hides, and walking towards towards the beach, at the far end of the salt pool, another WWII bunker becomes obvious, and partially submerged!

About 20 mtrs from the salt pool is the beach, and my first sighting is yet another bunker, but this one eroded by the sea!

Leaving the salt pool, it is only a very short walk to the beach, and a quiet beach it was also. Not much wildlife to be observed, and likewise, not many people around either.

Though further to the east, and clearly in view, is Brancaster, and what is probably a lifeguarded beach, and certainly looking a popular place to be.

It was get the tripod out time, set the camera up, complete with remote shutter release, and try some long exposure photos. They didn’t workout quite as I’d wanted, but lessons learned, I needed a darker Neutral Density filter.

Also on the beach was another derelict WWII Bunker, known as Purple Sandpiper Perch, looking very blackened from the erosion and attack of the sea, as a naturaal thing rather than military.

After a short while on the beach, I felt it was time to start a slow return to the car, which would also facilitate time to look over the salt and fresh water pools on my way back, was the best move. And it was, though nature did catch me a little off guard with the camera

Low and behold, as I got to the salt water pool, a kestrel appears, it was a quick grab the camera, change lenses and hope for the best!

Moving on along and not long afterwards, also on the salt water pool, a first for me, a turnstone. It initially looked like a ringed plover, but the markings didn’t look right, so I thought possibly a juvenile ringed plover. However, subsequent research, and it was a turnstone.

Continuing my walk back to the visitor centre and car park, I spotted yet another semi-submerged WWII bunker, at the inland side of the salt water pool. This one you wouldn’t see on the outbound walk, because there was a ridge that obscured.

It makes me wonder how many more bunkers there are on the reserve with those two so close together.

Continuing my walk back, and carefully watching for any reed or water activity, still looking out for a bittern, I spotted a pair of bearded tits, male and female.

Once again, the camera wasn’t ready and once I started to raise the camera to aim and take the photo, the pair of bearded tits flew off!

If time allowed, I would have set the camera up on the tripod and waited for the pair, or even one of the bearded tits to return, for one lesson I learned earlier in the year while photographing redwings, its the raising of the camera, not the switching on or taking the photo that spooks them.

Next time, and there will be a next time.

The final photo was of a female gadwall and her young on the water before I arrived back at the visitor centre.

Now, a lesson to be learned from this day, keep the camera ready and poised, not off and hanging down, for a pair of bearded tits, another first for me, presented themselves on the reeds alongside the path!

By the time the camera was on and as soon as I raised it, they flew off….

Oh well, I managed to get this mallard and family having a swim….

I will be back, and armed with what’s were, should make for more wildlife to be observed, and photographed…

Once back at the car, it was time to meet up with my wife, Ang, and have a quick wander around King’s Lynn.

Close to kings Lynn is “The Wash” a notorious stretch of water, with history attached to it.

During the 13th Century, King John is purportedly supposed to have lost the crown jewels in The Wash!

A little more history for you. The text with the blue background is what I’ve gleaned from the web.

The name Wash may have been derived from Old English wāse ‘mud, slime, ooze’.

The word Wasche is mentioned in the popular dictionary Promptorium parvulorum (about 1440) as a water or a ford (vadum).

A chronicle tells us that King Edward VI passed the Wasshes as he visited the town of King’s Lynn in 1548. By then, documents began to refer to the Waashe or Wysche, but only for the tidal sands and shoals of the rivers Welland and Nene.

16th-century scholars identified the Wash as the Æstuarium Metuonis (“The Reaping/Mowing/Cutting-Off Estuary”) mentioned by Ptolemy in Roman times. They claimed this word was still in occasional use.

William Camden characterized The Washes as “a very large arme” of the “German Ocean” (the North Sea), “at every tide and high sea covered all with water, but when the sea ebbeth, and the tide is past, a man may pass over it as on dry land, but yet not without danger”, as King John learned not without his loss (see below). Inspired by Camden’s account, William Shakespeare mentioned the Lincolne-Washes in his stage play King John (1616). During the 17th and 18th centuries the name Wash came to be used for the estuary itself.

The Wash

John’s march involved crossing the Wash, a tidal estuary which contained quicksands and tidal whirlpools. Precisely what happened is unknown, but John was said to have lost at least part of his baggage train to the Wash, as well as several horses.king john

British school portrait of King John. Image credit: National Trust / CC.

The Crown Jewels

Our knowledge of the Crown Jewels prior to the 13th century is relatively hazy: there is little documentation or description, so precisely what was lost in somewhat unclear. It is known, however, that when Henry III was crowned in 1220, he used St Edward’s Crown, which was reportedly worn by Edward the Confessor over one hundred years earlier, so this piece of regalia at least was saved from a watery fate.

The modern day crown jewels primarily date back to the Restoration in 1661, with additional jewels and pieces that are older. The Black Prince’s Ruby, for example, was given to Edward (the Black Prince) by a Spanish prince in the 14th century, and has been worn into battle on helmets by various kings.

The so-called ‘Sword of Tristram’ was also lost – a ceremonial sword supposedly kept as regalia according to Angevin records. The last mention of it is in 1207.

John’s disastrous final days

The disaster which then unfolded must have seemed like the final straw to John, with every piece of news further dampening his spirits. A string of notable desertions amongst his followers around this time was prompted by John’s increasing clashing with the barons who had remained loyal to him.

The final nail in the coffin for the King was contracting dysentery in King’s Lynn, and as he headed north he grew steadily more ill, before finally dying at Newark castle on 18 October. He was 49 years old. Rumours of poison swirled on his death, with some saying he’d died from a ‘surfeit of peaches’, but the truth was far more mundane.

No trace of what was lost in the Wash was ever found, but the legend persists nonetheless.

John’s death was perhaps the best thing for his troubled kingdom. He was succeeded by his son, the future Henry III, who was just nine years old. As a result, the real power lay in the hands of the Lord Protector William Marshal, and immensely capable baron who won the civil war in 1217 with victories at Lincoln and Dover, and forced the invading French to renounce their claim to the English throne.

History lesson over, and more of the time spent in the modern day King’s Lynn.

As planned, I met up with Ang and we had a short wander along the Great Ouse, that flows alongside King’s Lynn docks and out to the sea via The Wash.

Once we’d met up, it was pass through the shopping area, and to the banks of the Great Ouse, and King’s Lynn Docks.

The next sequence of photos names the mariners of King’s Lynn along with what their trade was, be it food, wears or what ever.

And now for some of the docks, which was very quiet, and picturesque.

Peak Rambler

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RSPB Burton Mere 19th May 2021

A first visit to Burton Mere Wetlands has been on the cards for a long time, and no thanks to Covid, which has put that and many other reserve visits for us all on a back burner, then, this wonderful weather we’re all enduring now we can meet indoors putting yet more locks on life, the weather finally gave a brief bit of respite on Wednesday 19th May 2021!

Whilst working, I was always an early riser, up around 04:00 and now in retirement, I’m still waking the same time, its engrained into my body clock, not that I mind, I like the mornings, and as in this case, the early morning get-up often facilitates an early start.

The morning sky had that air to it, a nice day kinda air, so I was getting ready to make an early dash to Middleton Lakes, but before I did that, I just had to double check the forecast, which showed much of the country was to enjoy a day of respite.

No time to prepare lunch Burton Mere had been shouting about their lovely sarnies, so all I had to do was take a drink, or two, and my debit card….

Not the best of weekdays to make for a last minute planned day out, it is leg care day, so I needed to be home by teatime, or I’d be in trouble, and a three hour drive each way, meant I had to leave around 14:00!

But, it had to be done, it was an open weather window and worth it.

A decent drive up, and not too bad a drive back, but then I know the roads to and from Chester well to avoid motorway driving, being two thirds of my regular route to and from N Wales.

I’ve heard lots of good reports about Burton Mere, and like many reserves can be, it was very much off the beaten track, and certainly not on the cars Satnav, but a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time.

Upon arrival, I checked in, bought one of their nice locally made sarnies (I didn’t have time to make lunch, it was a rush job to get on the road, plus it helps the local economy), and headed off to explore the reserve, and was taken aback by this almighty beast looming overhead!

For those who don’t know the area, Burton Mere Wetlands are quite close to Broughton, where Airbus and BAE Systems make the wings for Airbus planes, which are than transported by plane back to the main Airbus assembly factory, in Toulouse, France. When you look at the plane, it does resemble an airborne beluga whale….

This one was flying into Broughton, to collect the assembled wings.

Anyway, back to the reserve, the first pool, Willow Pool, was very much alive with activity, predominantly black headed gulls, but other species were available if you looked.

Following the path round, you pass other smaller pools to your right, and if time permitted, I would liked to have spent time observing them. However, that’ll be for another day, hopefully when time permits, or, and the weather….

Following the path, a nice hardcore and suitable for wheelchair users, I continued to the first viewing screen, called ‘Reed Bed Screen‘, because it looked out on the reed beds, which again, was very active. In fact, all pools were active, there was no shortage of species to view, including black headed gulls….

However, among all the activity, there was a reed warbler, possibly a pair, busy among the reeds.

I’ll say at this point, my warbler experiences are very limited, so if I’m wrong, and that goes for any other species, please feel free to correct me, I’ve still a lot to learn, and I’m very happy to learn.

While at the screen, and watching wildlife go about its business, a solitary mallard drake, seemed very calm and relaxed, have a gentle paddle on the pool. I guess his mate would be somewhere not too far away busy looking after the brood.

From there, continuing along the path to the Marsh Covert Hide, a lovely looking hide, nice and spacious and very well set out to enable social distancing comfortably, with fabulous views across the Reed Bed and Bridge Pools.

Again, lots of activity, and this coot particularly caught my eye, and the camera, as it was paddling away with nesting material.

The next photo was clear enough to enable cropping for clearer viewing of what the coot was carrying.

I find it fascinating what birds can carry in their beaks, the size and weight of some items carried is incredible, I’ve seen large branches or twigs larger than the bird itself, carried in the beaks!

This visit was one of short stops at the various viewpoints and hides, and I didn’t really have the time to give those viewing points the justice they deserved, so it was quickly time to move on again, and this time to the next screen, called Bridge Screen. it may seem a weird name, but actually behind you is a small bridge which takes you yet further around the pools.

There is no mistaking this next bird, an avocet, of which there were plenty to be seen.

More waders were observed from the Bridge Pool, the photo below I initially thought was a red shank, but once the legs became visible, they were too dark, a bar tailed godwit,

Having a good feed…

and a tasty morsel within its beak…

I mentioned a beluga whale earlier, this next one looked almost like a killer whale, only in miniature!

It was actually a male tufted duck, that decided to dive just as I pressed the shutter.

The reserve seemed to have a lot of orange tip butterflies, and predominantly female, and yet I never saw a male!

I’m sure there must be some around, they were either elsewhere, or in hiding….

From the Bridge Screen, it was cross the bridge behind and head round to the new hide, called Inner Marsh Farm Hide, right by a railway line. From here, lots of activity was observed, avocets, Canada Geese, red shank, avocets, and more, and even black headed gulls would you believe!

There was lots of avocet activity, plus there were supposed to be lots of avocets chicks, though I never saw any.

It was time to move on again, and round to the new hide, Inner Marsh Farm Hide, which is quite a large hide, and with all the others, wheelchair access is good.

Inner Marsh Farm Hide has quite a wide view, covering the Centenary Pool, which today, was very active with a good variety of waders avocets, red shanks, oyster catchers, godwits plus the usual mallard, shoveler ducks, cormorants, coots, moorhen and lots more, and of course, black headed gulls. On the day I went, it was probably the second busiest pool, the busiest appeared to be Willow Pool, which you see once you’ve checked in at the visitor centre.

Also quite active and quite a few around the hide, were red shanks, another wader and so called because their legs are red. Red = the colour. Shank = leg(s)

Around midday, a flock of bar tailed godwits flew in. My guess is the tide as coming in on the nearby Dee Estuary, high tide was around 15:00.

Being waders, these birds feed on the freshly exposed tidal mudflats of estuaries and tidal rivers. once the tide starts to come in, these mudflats are slowly covered up and these birds need to feed, so they fly off to the nearest low water or mudflats they know of and can find.

Did I mention there were some black headed gulls on the reserve!

Like a lot of reserves, particularly where water is plentiful, many reserves around this time of year have an abundance of black headed gulls. Just as with any other species, particularly when they have young, they are very territorial and protective to their young, which often results in disputes.

These disputes end without any bloodshed, where usually the invader moves on to fight another day, without mark.

There was a lot of territorial stuff going on, as the next three photos will show, and neither black headed gull was injured, both managing to continue their daily business, but apart from each other.

As noisy as black headed gulls are, there was some peaceful activity from the black headed gulls, including one which seemed to nose dive into the water, and nothing chasing it either!

While another black headed gull was getting stuff for some DiY

Shoveler ducks were not that plentiful on the pools, but they were there, and the female of this pair was shoveling her beak under the water for food.

You very often see shoveler ducks with their beaks below the water level, hence the name, shoveler duck.

and decided to give it a rest for the time being and dry out….

It was time to start heading back to the car, and stopping off at the various screens enroute, hoping for a glimpse of the bittern, which had been quite visible the previous couple of days, but alas, not for me…

On my way back to the visitor centre, and eventually the car park, I was treated to yet another sighting of the Beluga as it departed Broughton, heading for the Airbus main assembly in Toulouse, France.

As you’d expect, there were plenty of Canada Geese, and many with goslings on the reserve. This particular family had taken their youngsters on a family outing around the Bridge Pool.

The house martins were quite active, but as ever, it was hard to get even a half decent piccie!

And finally, a male pintail duck, so called because the tail is actually very slim and pin like.

The bittern had been quite visible the previous two days, but not today, not even the call of a bittern to be heard. Incidentally, it is very rare to hear a female, but the males booming call is always clearly heard, particularly during the mating season.

I’ve only ever seen a bittern once, it was distant, and the binoculars I had at the time were not of brilliant quality, so I live in hope of seeing another one, and being able to photograph it.

It was a good day, well, half day, and well worth the shortened trip, and I will definitely be back, hopefully for a longer visit, and next time, to explore the hides and screens I didn’t have time for this time.

Peak Rambler

Photostream:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/peak-rambler/

Photo Albums: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peak-rambler/albums

Mountaineering/Hill Walking Trousers to sell

As some of you will be aware, February 2015 I was involved in as traffic accident, which resulted in major lower leg reconstruction.

The long term result of the accident and surgery has meant that I am no longer able to safely walk the hill and moor, nor climb mountains again, and that means I’ve a lot of gear that needs a new home.

Its been very hard to sort the gear and clothing, and even harder to try and part with it, there are a lot of happy memories and many good challenges over the years I was able to get out and enjoy outdoors, getting high and staying low.

Post-accident, so I’ve been having a long overdue sort out of outdoor clothing and gear. As time will progress, more gear will become available, once I’ve managed to relinquish my ownership of said items. So here is a start, and more will follow.

Not having my own eBay account, the following items are for sale via my wife’s eBay account.

Salomon Mens Removable Bib Salopettes/Trousers UK Size 38. Ski/Hiking/Snowsports

£80.00+ £4.20 postage

A short walk in a small wooded area

What a strange Christmas, and while we’re enduring the restrictions of Covid-19, like a good many, I needed to get out and get some fresh air. So, that’s just what I did, to a nearby wooded area, away from people, peace and quiet and an opportunity to enjoy nature, before HS2 takes a lot of it away from me.

It was a nice and quiet day, and nature as ever, was full of activity.

The weather, though cold (but not freezing) was nice, dry and sunny, facilitating a country lane photo before I left the lane for the wooded area.

From there, it was just me and nature, no one else, just perfect. Usually, the nearby fields are a hive of agricultural activity, and I’m not one to get in the way of those working the land, that is their livelihood and our food, and in recent months, HS2 activity, which is an abomination, and in my personal opinion, definitely of no friend to nature or the environment. 

Less of my opinions, and more of the photos from the mornings wander.

As someone who loves the countryside, a former hill and moorland walker, post-accident, I’ve had to learn to adapt, and it’s been very tough. However, I’ve always enjoyed photography as a second hobby, and when I used to frequent the hills and moors, I was a devil for continually stopping to take photos, of wildlife and landscapes, so I’ve invested in more dedicated photographic equipment to further this hobby.

Photography, like any other hobby, can be as expensive or not as you desire, because the real art of photography isn’t bright shiny expensive camera gear and lenses, its the person behind the camera that composes the picture, not the camera.

The following photo of a shy robin, shows just how light, and shade, can impact a photo.

While photography it is what the person sees, it is an art form, and it can tell a story. However, you do need to have some appreciation of how the light flows over a subject to get the subject appealing.

The first field I passed before entering the woods, had the usual crows feeding followed by the next field, which had sheep, and then once on the woods, it was seeing the birds as you’d expect to see them, foraging and flying around. 

The field with sheep may seem uninteresting, but you need to stop, and look around, because a field of sheep isn’t just a field of sheep, there is plenty of wildlife busily at work, feeding, and in a couple of months or so, many birds will be nest building.

This next photo may seem like it is of sheep feeding, but look to the left of the left sheep, there’s a magpie. That magpie was following the sheep as they were feeding. As the sheep bite at the grass, they disturb the ground, and that magpie knew that, and was managing to forage and find food from that disturbed ground.

Walking through the wooded area, there were the usual blackbirds, robins, blue and great tits, among many other species, including the grey squirrel, all foraging for food. Timing can make a lot of difference, but so can nature when it catches you out, as you will see on the following photos, and the first on of a robin. Just as I pressed the shutter, the wind picked up and raised some of the robin’s plumage.

This is where not being in a rush, stopping and taking in the view immediately around you pays off, you just never know what you might see. Also, stopping walking, and allowing all the senses to take in what is around you, sight is one, and listening is another. Take the time to listen to the sounds and then using your eyes, look around.

A not so common sight for many, are long tailed tits, a little bit smaller than the normal garden birds we see, but nonetheless, a valuable part of nature. However, the long tailed tits didn’t stop around to be photographed for long.

It may be winter, but nature never sleeps, even though it may seem to. In the wooded area, there were some snowdrops in bloom, and daffodils starting to grow!

Snowdrops usually come into full bloom around early to mid February, while daffodils usually flower around late March.

Look around you, look up, and look down, as well as right to left, even behind you, where you have trodden, just like the magpie mentioned earlier, many birds will look and forage on the ground you have just walked on.

This great tit was doing just that, once I’d stopped and it felt I was no threat, the great tit came down from a tree above where I had been walking, and started to forage for food among the leaves on the ground.

If you look at many deciduous trees, that is trees that lose their leaves at the end of autumn, you will see many have small buds, which are next years leaves! 

So next time you’re out for a walk in the countryside, or through the woods, don’t be in a rush, take time to stop and look, you will be surprised at what is going on.

Happy rambling and thank you for taking the time to read,

Peak Rambler

Photostream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peak-rambler/

Photo Albums: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peak-rambler/albums

Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; 2020 a testing year for all!

What a year 2020 has turned out to be.

For me, a daunting start to the year, which saw me relinquishing more of my independence, started off with surrendering my HGV, PSV, Motorcycle and full car licence categories, purely for automatic car licence only.

Why, well, I can only drive a car today with adaptations, my right leg no longer able to safely operate the right-hand pedals of a manual or standard automatic vehicle, nor will it operate the foot controls of a motorcycle or reliably sustain holding the weight of a motorcycle while stationary.

So, it is a safe move, but one, that has seen my hard work to attain those categories, only to relinquish them, my independence, my pride and self-esteem.

To be fair to the DVLA, they did say that should I become able to safely handle vehicles in those categories again, then I could have them reinstated.

If that wasn’t enough, Covid19 came along, and lockdown in March, making visiting anywhere questionable without risk of spreading this potentially fatal virus to anyone and everyone.

We need to remember with this silent and invisible killer, it might not be us directly affected, it could be someone close and dear to us who we infect and seriously so, or even fatal.

So, it was three months off work as the UK was in lockdown to slow, and hopefully, stop the spread of Covid19, and it seemed things might be working.

I returned to work in June, to help complete work that had to be stopped back in March, to a very surreal scenario, one-way systems, social distancing, alcohol gel stations on virtually every corner and by every doorway, no shaking of hands to welcome colleagues, and of course, the compulsory wearing of face masks or face shields, all of which is still current practice.

My employer, like many other employers globally, have taken a big financial hit, and have used the UK’s Furlough Scheme to try and save jobs for when things improve, though as it seems, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, anywhere.


I’ve dumped my Twitter account.


I’ve become tired of the endless regime of dictations who I should follow and what topics, to the point I was seeing more from Twitter than the people and organisations who I wanted to follow.

I’m all for tech that supports and makes things palatable, but I’m seeing more and more, algorithms and artificial intelligence software trying to goad down a specific route, rather than supporting.

Even email clients are introducing so-called Smart features, which again, do not reflect what I want to type, just like Autocorrect has that annoying habit of changing text before you send your message.

I guess my problem is, I’m too old skool, I was taught to think for myself, and that’s what I’m happy to do. When I get to the point of not being able to think for myself, that’s the time to shoot me, place me in that wooden box and seal the lid.

I did check to see whether the account had been removed, or if it was still there after a few weeks, and to my surprise, it was, but minus my profile, profile photo, followers and those who I followed, but surprisingly, tweets and retweets are still showing. So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve gone and why, that is the reason.

Whether I’ll return or not, I don’t know, currently have no plans, it’ll remain a dormant account for the time being.

So what of 2020; the year of Covid19?

Pre-Covid19: Middleton Lakes, Snowdonia & RSPB Conwy

I did however manage some outings this year, starting with normal visits to Middleton Lakes and Baddesley Clinton, then a trip to Snowdonia to capture some snow scenes on Snowdon from alongside Llyn Mymbyr, then to the Glyderau for more snow scenes from Ogwen Cottage and a visit to RSPB Conwy for some wildlife and the surrounding hills.

Blue Tit at Middleton Lakes enjoying the seeds of a bull rush reed
Baddesley Clinton
Snow Drops at Baddesley Clinton
Grey Heron with nesting material, RSPB Middleton Lakes

That particular day in Snowdonia and at RSPB Conwy was as ever, a pleasant visit, where I managed to capture Snowdon, and using the big lens, a solitary person reaching the summit trig point!

The key Snowdonia mountains (apart from Snowdon which is just out of view to the left) identified from Rhydlydan.

The short visit to Ogwen Cottage was a bit of a tease, for I have walked those mountains in all weathers, and the photo opportunities are still as enjoyable as ever. Afon Idwal provides great views upstream towards Y Garn, while looking east, there is Tryfan, and west, Elidir Fawr and the Menai Straits.

Being a dullish day, there was a good opportunity to set a tripod up and remote shutter release, facilitating a long exposure setting (photos where the shutter would be open for longer than 1/30 sec, often 5-10 seconds), to take some photos of Afon Idwal with the water appearing to have a smooth silky effect.

Afon Idwal (Long Exposure) with Y Garn in the background

From Ogwen Cottage, I then went to RSPB Conwy, and though a bit blustery, it was a very pleasant day not just watching the wildlife from the hides, but also wandering around the reserve.

Red Breasted Merganser swallowing lunch at RSPB Conwy

Literally hours before the full lockdown, I did manage a visit to Baddesley to capture the daffodils by St Michael’s Church in all their springtime glory.

Daffodils by St Michael’s Church, Baddesley Clinton

In the interim during full lockdown, I spent a lot of time in the garden with the camera, capturing photos of urban wildlife in the garden. Some of the photos below are examples of what I managed to achieve.

Great Tit
Adult crow
air of robins, the male feeds the female as part of courtship
A robin with lunch
A male blackbird having a bath on the fountain in our pond
A male blackbird with lunch
White Tailed Bumble Bee
A house martin in flight. Not an easy bird to photograph in flight, so this was one lucky photo
A male blackbird taking flight
Grey Squirrel action!
Grey Squirrel: “A leap of faith grey squirrel”
Long Tailed Tits: Typically a woodland bird, but we had dozens of them, taking over the feeders

Sir William Hill, Froggatt Edge, and the Bearded Vulture

During the spring, the UK, or more precisely, the Peak District, had a new and rare visitor, the Bearded Vulture.

So, I took drive to the Upper Derwent Valley, where the sightings had been reported, though I could only go where it was sensibly accessible due to my disabilities, which in this instance, was a car park alongside Ladybower Reservoir looking towards Derwent Edge, which is where the bearded vulture was reported to be inhabiting.

Apart from a pair of buzzards and a few other species, there was no bearded vulture to be seen. It was a good day out, and nice to see somewhere I’d not been to for a good while.

A pair of common buzzards at Ladybower
Looking over toward Lost Lad, and where the bearded vulture was supposed to be.

The photos for that day can be seen in the first part of the July 2020 Album.

Derwent Edge is a place I’ve walked along many times in the past, and documented two wanders in pre-accident blogs:

The full photo albums are:

Later in July, determined to try and get a photo or two of the bearded vulture I made another trip to the Peak District, though sightings had become very quiet with some dubious reports in areas where it wasn’t natural habitat for the bearded vulture to live. Knowing how tight parking and access is at Ladybower and the Upper Derwent Valley can be, I decided to make alternative plans, which would encompass the bearded vulture if there were any reliable sights, and took a trip to Eyam Moor, where I could perch at the top by the trig point on Sir William Hill, which wasn’t far from the nearby road.

It was a glorious day, the views were superb, even across to Derwent Edge, and bearing in mind the bearded vulture had a wingspan of some 3 metres, catching a glimpse if she should appear would be more the feasible.

Looking over to Derwent Edge
A swallow on Eyam Moor
Kestrel flying over the moor

It wasn’t to be, but it was still a good day out, though I was in some discomfort with my leg for a few days afterwards. You can read about that day here in: Sir William Hill & Froggatt Edge, along with a few personal thoughts, and the photos are in second part of the July 2020 Album.

During lockdown, I had purchased a new camcorder, a Canon Legria HF G60, and I took that with me to Eyam Moor, and had a play around. An early result, using a tripod, was to capture a kestrel swooping down on a small rodent on the moor. Alas, the kestrel came away empty, but it was a first attempt at following nature in action.

Earlier in the year, I compiled a writeup about the village of Eyam (pronounced Eeeem) in the Peak District, which during the Great Plague of 1665/6, under the leadership of the Rev William Mompesson, the villagers of Eyam self-isolated themselves, a period that took well over a year and with a very high death toll on the village, from the rest of the world to try and contain the plague.

You may find it interesting reading, for I feel it has a lot of similarities to what we have been through, and  still are, with Covid19, in: Eyam; a plague village which went into self-isolation.

I have always enjoyed photography, particularly landscape and wildlife, after my hill and moorland walking, so it was easy to find another hobby to keep me active, and I’m always keen to try new and different aspects to photography, and sometime, stellar opportunities come along, in the form of the comet Neowise, where I managed to get a couple of half decent photos of the comet in the north western sky at night, using the big lens on a tripod, I managed to get a clear photo.

Comet Neowise
Cropped image of Comet Neowise

Warwickshire, Tu Hwnt i’r Bont and RSPB Conwy

Desperate for some photos away from the garden, which during the two periods I was on Furlough, continued to yield many photo opportunities, I managed to make some trips into nearby Warwickshire during September, and later in September, with restrictions nicely eased, I managed a trip back up to North Wales to capture the red foliage on Tu Hwnt i’r Bont, a tearoom on the south side of Llanwryst, before making a long overdue trip to RSPB Conwy.

Tu Hwnt i’r Bont, a tearoom on the south side of Llanwryst
One of the many Carneddau Foal born during 2020 at RSPB Conwy
Red Shanks taking flight at RSPB Conwy

While it was good to get back to the reserve at Conwy, it was very surreal, but the staff and volunteers as they always do, did a fabulous job of maintaining the reserve and making visitors feel welcome. You can read about that day in: RSPB Conwy 19 Sept; a long overdue visit! and the photos are in the September 2020 Album, along with the Warwickshire photos.

Soon after this, Wales then went through a national lockdown, followed by England and many other parts of the UK, so visits anywhere were curtailed again, and as I write, still under curfew!

While travel restrictions are sill imposed, I’ve continued to take urban wildlife photos in the garden and here are a few more.

Warwickshire countryside
Barn, Old Milverton
Long Itchington Village Pond
Long Itchington Village Green
Autumn Colours in the garden
Autumn Colours in the garden
A nearby home firework display
A nearby home firework display
On a very wet day, a robin enjoying a bath in a puddle on the patio

I don’t anticipate the travel restrictions ending anytime soon, and even with the vaccination availability slowly gaining momentum, I feel the Covid19 virus will hamper our ability to move around for the next year or so, but it will settle down, and we will regain the freedom we enjoyed before Covid19 in good time.

For those wondering what my injuries and leg condition is, below is a photo showing my swollen and misshapen leg.

You can comment on any of the blogs, however, ALL comments are moderated before publication, so please accept my apologies in advance for any slight delay to publishing publishable comments.

In the interim, thank you for reading, stay safe, take care and we’ll meet again, and finally,

Wishing Everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, lets hope 2021 is a better year.

NOTE: During the lockdown periods, I have been playing around with two formats for compiling blogs, the current and old format is via Google Blogger, and the new one, which I have a slight preference for, is WordPress, so you will see what appears a duplicate set of links, for the same text and photos but in two different formats.

In no particular order, some of the links mentioned in this blog: