BIRDS 111 – LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window. and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – giving me quite a fixed stare!  The medium to pale grey upperwings are typical of this bird, and the dark markings on the white head appear in winter.

This is one of the common, larger gulls in the UK, being found around coasts and lakes, and also as a scavenger in towns.  I grew up alongside gulls in a seaside town and have always liked them and viewed them as a normal part of the landscape, but many think otherwise, both because of the mess that these birds can make around human habitation, and for their sometimes aggressive behaviour.  Walking around south Bristol, taking photographs for this blog’s Outer Suburbs series, I sometimes have these gulls come down to have a look at me, but as I’m never carrying/eating any food there’s no problem – although I do always invite them to come down and try their luck – if they’d like a spot of bother, that is …

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C mode to give 450mm; 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 18 Oct 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 419 – THE OLD PIER (MONO)

 

 

1: Weston’s Old Pier, falling to pieces day by day;  In the background, on the far side of the Bristol Channel, is the coast of south Wales; and at upper left the island of Flat Holm, with its prominent lighthouse.  This picture is best viewed enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.  There is another recent picture of Flat Holm here.

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This is a sad story, and one that revolves surely around money, The Great God Cash.  In my youth, there were two working piers at Weston-super-Mare, the larger and more modern one – the Grand Pier – on the main part of the seafront that all visitors see, and a smaller and older one – the Old Pier (aka Birnbeck Pier) – further away to the north.  When I was a boy, Birnbeck was a fully working pier, with an amusement arcade and a RNLI lifeboat station (the slipway of which can be seen in the left forefront of the pier’s buildings), and Campbells pleasure steamers used to call in here, taking day trippers on voyages around the Bristol Channel and the coast of south Wales.  This pier was built in Victorian times and is apparently unique in linking a small island to the mainland, whereas most piers just reach out into the sea.

But the Old Pier suffered from competition with the larger and more modern Grand Pier, while also being affected by the decrease in popularity that has affected most of Britain seaside holiday towns – the heyday of the seaside family holiday has long gone, and the Old Pier is now in a totally ruinous state.

It has been on national At Risk architectural registers for sometime and regeneration plans have been made, but so far nothing has been done.  The Local Authority has now ordered the owners to repair the structure, but the case in contested – leaving the structure to continue decaying, to continue simply falling apart.

Technique (all images): Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; 1600 or 3200 ISO and high shutter speeds, to counteract buffeting by the wind;  in-camera processing of raw files using the Graphite profile, with further processing in Lightroom in some cases; the Old Pier, seen from Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 4 Oct 2019.
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2: The decaying decking on the main part of the pier – a death trap! – with a narrow corridor of maintained decking, for access by service personnel,  between the white railings on the left.

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3: The whole site now cordoned off behind safety barriers.

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4: The partially collapsed North Landing Pier, at which pleasure steamers used to call for day trippers.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 416 – LIGHTHOUSE (MONO)

 

 


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The lighthouse on Flat Holm island in the Bristol Channel, on a stormy day.  In the background, the coast of south Wales.

The Somerset Levels run out westwards into the sea – into the Bristol Channel in fact – and on this low coast are two rather cheap and cheerful seaside towns, Weston-super-Mare and Burnham-on-Sea.  The heyday of the family seaside holiday is long past, and both of these towns are rather feeling the economic pinch.  This coast is notable for having the second highest tidal range in the world – 43 feet (13 m) – and also for the fact that, since the Bristol Channel is in fact the estuary of the River Severn, in addition to some nice sandy beaches there are also vast amounts of glutinous estuarine mud – Weston-super-Mud being the rather unkind jibe.

But Weston is also notable to me for another reason: it is my home town, the place of my youth, some of it altered out of all recognition now of course, but still filled with a vast and undying store of memories.

And so to a visit there on a wet and windy day – its only 20 miles or so from Bristol.  And standing high above the sea, bracing myself against the gale, I looked out over the seascape of my youth.  There in the murk was Flat Holm island, not a part of Somerset (or even of England) at all, but rather the most southerly point of Wales.  A sudden break in the overcast, a fleeting moment of sunlight, and I managed several frames.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Graphite profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Neutral preset; looking west from Upper Kewstoke Road, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 4 Oct 2019.

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ARCHIVE 423 – EARLY MORNING 21

 

 


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Dawn mists rise above Lake Nakuru, central Kenya; January 1978.  The large, white birds with huge bills in the foreground are White Pelicans.  In the lake behind them are the trunks of trees that, flooded by the lake, have been killed by the high concentration of sodium bicarbonate in its waters. Cormorants (the same species as in the UK) perch on these dead trunks, and a nest of sticks is also visible.

This lake is over a mile above sea level and so, particularly after a clear night, the whole place can be pretty chilly by first light – standing around taking pictures, waiting for the sunrise, we were well wrapped up!  At altitudes a little above this – and right on the equator – frosts can occur.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Vivitar 400mm telephoto on Olympus SLR, mounted on a tripod; colour slide film.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 414 – SPIDER ON A BRIDGE

 

 


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A life spent hanging from the girders of Eastern Moor Bridge, a narrow structure crossing Cripps River on Liberty Moor.

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Click onto each image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Techniques: upper image – Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile;  lower image – X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens; 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia Soft profile; Eastern Moor Bridge on Liberty Moor, on the Somerset Levels east of East Huntspill; 2 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 403 – THE RIVER SHEPPEY, BESIDE ASH MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Another early morning down on the Somerset Levels: I stopped the car along Hurn Drove and got out beside a little footbridge over the River Sheppey.  Fine tall trees on the river’s bank were reflected in its still waters, cows (as inquisitive as ever) came over to see what I was about, and beyond them the flatness of Ash Moor receded off onto the distance.

There are earlier pictures of the River Sheppey here: 1 2 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Velvia/Vivid profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Sepia Landscape preset and adding a light Coffee tone; beside Ash Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 30 Aug 2019.
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OUTER SUBURBS 129 – PARKED CAR 6

 

 


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Walking towards the early morning sun, head down against the glare.  Walking past cars parked along a roaring main road, and glorying in the fierce light glinting and sparking off surfaces that, at once sleek, engineered and immaculate, are nevertheless now alive, organic and streaming in the heavy dew.

There are earlier images in this Parked Car series here: 1 2 3 4 5 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: TG-5 at 100mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Natural profile; south Bristol; 29 August 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 397 – THE RIVER SHEPPEY AT SWANSHARD BRIDGE

 

 


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Standing on the little bridge over the River Sheppey in Swanshard Lane, looking downstream.  Apart from the soft sounds of the river and the light breeze, there is silence on this early morning.

On the right, a Willow that has been pollarded some years ago, since when many thin “trunks” have radiated upwards from the main trunk.  There is more about the ancient practice of pollarding here .

Get inside this quiet scene – click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

There is another view of the River Sheppey here .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 110mm; 6400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 23 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 389 – ASH MOOR, THE RIVER SHEPPEY

 

 


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The River Sheppey meanders slowly across Ash Moor between high, densely vegetated banks.  In the background is Hurn Farm.

Its worth enlarging this picture to get further into it – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it >>> and absorb more of the peaceful atmosphere of this little, out of the way place.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia/Soft profile;  Ash Moor, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 9 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 382 – WATERWAY (MONO)

 

 

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The lush growth of summer borders a water-filled ditch – known locally as a rhyne, and covered in waterweed – that fulfils the purpose of a liquid fence between a field of pasture out of view on the left, and a very uneven, single track lane known as Westhay Moor Drove that is out of view behind the great bank of vegetation on the right.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Velvia/Vivid profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 3 preset and adding a split tone; beside Westhay Moor Drove, on the Somerset Levels northwest of Glastonbury; 12 July 2019.
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