Sunday, January 21, 2007


A very nice, prolonged view of a large female Peregrine Falcon, with a beautiful white underside, angrily chasing crows around the large pylon on the main pit at Theale Gravel Pits, Berkshire.
NB. Photo is of the ACTUAL falcon sitting on the ACTUAL pylon....!

[photo (c)Tim Ball, courtesy of 'Birds of Berkshire' website.]

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Last Thursday evening Anna and I were out in the garden looking at the moon through our new 'spotting scope', bought at a bargain price of £65. (It should be more like £150). We have also bought an 'astronomical telescope' for the same price - again, a real bargain - Argos are selling the same telescope for £180, and Argos are not reknowned for being expensive!
I have a basic idea of the layout of constellations in the night sky, and knew Saturn was visible close to the two "Twins of Gemini", "Castor" and "Pollux".
We found Saturn and trained the telescope on it.
The result was staggering. I have seen lots of wonderful things in the night sky, and have looked at Saturn before, (with a pair of binoculars), but this was truely amazing.
The glorious sight of this 'night-sky showpiece' was revealed to us through our little nature-spotting scope, (we can't wait to erect the astronomical telescope which is 7x more powerful!), Saturn and her rings - clearly visible and bright.
In 30+ years of looking at the stars, I have never seen anything like it - truely OUT OF THIS WORLD!

It got me thinking.
I am very fortunate indeed to possess a wonderful set of eyes. (I keep them on the mantlepiece in the spare bedroom). Seriously, I've never taken my eyes or eyesight for granted, and I happen to think I have always made very good use of them.
I really use my eyes well when outdoors, (I get this skill from my father I think), Anna is the same. We really look for and at things rather than just glance. I have witnessed lots of wonderful sights in my time, and take massive pleasure from sights that most people wouldn't even see, let alone enjoy. It never fails to amaze me that when I am (rarely) shopping in a town centre, and I see a sparrowhawk circling high above the crowd, making use of the thermals, nobody seems to see it, let alone care! This is a wonderful, beautiful bird of prey, in full view, and nobody bears witness to it...!

I have seen many, many beautiful sights in my time so far. A selection of some of these is listed below-

A young Peregrine Falcon eating its first 'kill' on St.David's Head, (Welsh coast).
A Sparrowhawk 'taking' a Blue Tit in scrubland near Hazlemere, Bucks.
A flock of Eleanora's Falcons off the coast of Cyprus.
Seven Ospreys catching fish in Findhorn Bay, Scotland.
Many meteor showers and countless meteorites.
A family of badgers at very close range, in a wood in Buckinghamshire.
A Hobby chasing swifts around reservoirs between Tottenham and Walthamstow!
A Great Crested Grebe catching a large Roach underwater!
The most richly orange/yellow autumn foliage of one Horse Chestnut Tree.
A 3 week long sight of a Kestrel family being born, raised and fledging.
A 'caravan' of weasels bounding across a golf fairway.
An otter fishing in a Morayshire loch.
A pair of Barn Owls, the most northerly in the world!
A sycamore caterpillar.
And many, many more.

Now, I am well aware that all these are zoological sights, my main passion I guess, but I have been blown away by many man-made sights also, Sacre Coeur in Paris at dusk ticked my box, as did Singapore harbour lit up at night, viewed from an ascending Jumbo Jet, certainly filled me with awe!

Each time I see something amazing, or beautiful, or indeed grotesque, or interesting, or rare, or anything of note, I'll post a sentence on it on "BLUE-GREY". I won't post more than a paragraph, I may add a related photo sometimes, but you get the idea - each post will be short. Some of these will seem paricularly mundane to many people, I'm sure; a nice moth for example, a beautifully irridescent beetle, a 'field' of woodland bluebells, the first Swift of the year etc... some will be more obviously stunning to people - The Eiffel Tower lit up at night, a fantastic firework display etc... and some I won't be able to fully identify. A HUGE moth (half the size of my hand) 'visited' me one evening, sitting on our balcony in Tottenham once, I assume it was some sort of 'Hawk Moth', but it was too dark to identify and it buggered off very quickly. Some posts may be 'people-based' - a grotesque (yet interesting) person or facial feature for example.
Anything that I've seen (in real life - NOT on the television!), noted and taken pleasure from or been amused by.

NB. I will post when I can, I have no idea of the frequency that my posts will take, but each post will be changed so that the DATE and TIME of post will represent the actual date and time when I saw the subject of the post. I am actually writing this in February, but have changed the date to January to make chronological sense, as I wanted my first two posts proper,to be PEREGRINE and SATURN.

Forgive me if a lot of my posts are bird-related. I do like my birds, and see them everywhere!
Anyway, BLUE-GREY will be, in effect, a personal list for me to look back on and smile, but do comment if you want to.