Happy New Year

At this time of year, plants and flowers are a bit thin on the ground. So, I have abandoned my trusty macro lens and have been experimenting with my zoom lens.

From the trees and hedgerows, I have notice little rustlings and tweets. As the trees are bare, some wildlife has been a lot easier to spot. Here are a few birds I have spied recently. I hope you enjoy them.

The ever faithful Robin.
A grey wagtail.
A Sparrowhawk
A curious blackbird.
A Mistle thrush

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Miscellaneous

Several fields are growing this crop of beautiful blue and purple flowers.
Hoverflies feeding on the pollen of blackberry flowers. Blackberries are already beginning to form, a sign that Autumn is not far away.
Pink flower with cow parsley.
The curious peacock.
The last of the pink peonies.
A small meadow with cow parsley.
Barley.

Seal study – Part 2

Seals are intriguing creatures. Looking at the way they look back at us, they probably find us quite interesting too. They are playful and expressive.

Seals are regarded as highly intelligent marine mammals. They are certainly fun to watch from a distance – guidelines suggest 150 feet. Not only can they bite, but they can pass on some infectious diseases to humans. They can suffer stress, or even abandon their young.

There are many stories written about seals. Selkie stories from Scottish and Irish folklore, are about creatures which are seal-like in appearance in the ocean, yet take on the human form on land.

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Seal study – Part I

I was fortunate to get quite close to an Atlantic grey seal and Common seal colony with my telephoto lens. Bulls live for 25 years, but cows live up to 35 years. It is important to keep your distance because they can move fast and bite. 

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This seal had beautiful fur. Leopard-like.

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Seals feed on a variety of fish and shellfish. The smell hangs in the air.

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It is thought that seals bask in the sun to remove parasites from their skin.

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A seal breeding area is called a rookery. 

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Egyptian geese

Egyptian geese were introduced to the UK in the late 17th Century as an ornamental bird to adorn the lakes of country estates. They originate from sub-tropical Africa and the Ancient Egyptians considered them sacred. However, in their native homeland, they are regarded as a nuisance because they eat crops.

Until recently in the UK, these birds were quite rare and were mainly confined to a small area of Norfolk. The birds tend to breed in January, traditionally too cold for chicks to survive, but as temperatures have increased over the last 20 years, so too has the population of these birds and they are now found in different parts of the UK.

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Geysir Geothermal Field, Haukadalur, Iceland

Aside from the famous Geysir and Strokkur, there are a series of smaller geothermal springs. The hot springs of Haukadalur have been active for almost 10,000 years. The azure blue colour of the water is from dissolved silica.

Strokkur, Geysir Geothermal Field, Iceland

Strokkur is a smaller, but more active spouting spring, than its famous resident, Geysir. It generally reaches a height of 10 – 20 metres, but can reach up to 40 metres. Quite often, geyser activity subsides (they become ‘quiescent’), but they can be set off again by strong earthquake activity.

There are between 150 to 400 earthquakes a week in Iceland, though these are generally too small to be felt and only register on a Seismometer.

(Information obtained from the website, ‘Extreme Iceland.’)

Gullfoss Waterfall, Bláskógabyggð, Iceland.

Gullfoss means ‘golden falls,’ because on a sunny day the water appears golden-brown due to the sediment carried from its source, the glacial water of Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjökull. On bright days, you can see lots of rainbows.

It is an extraordinary sight, volumes of water thundering down rock. Its average flow is 1400 cubic metres of water per second. It can partially freeze over in the winter, reducing the flow to 80 cubic metres per second.

The water plummets down 32 metres, over two tiers. It gives an illusion of there being two waterfalls flowing and disappearing into an abyss.

In 1907, Sigriður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson, who owned the land, sought to void a contract between her father and an Englishman who wanted to harness the waterfall’s energy to produce electricity. She even threatened to throw herself off the top of the waterfall. She is thought of as Iceland’s first environmentalist. In 1979 the area was designated a nature reserve by the Icelandic government.

Iceland – þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park

þingvellir National Park is sited in a rift valley and lies on the tectonic boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic ridge. Iceland is where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. Earthquakes occur along the plate boundaries in Iceland. At þingvellir, the tectonic plates are pulling apart. Also in þingvellir, is Lake Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, with a diverse ecosystem.

It is an important location for the country’s history. In 930 AD, the Alþing (Althing) general assembly –  Europe’s oldest (outdoor) Parliament began in this area.

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