The Nesting Tree

When I first started walking Ollie ten years ago, I spotted this tree across the river, on Hoe Rough. I could see many nests in the branches, of varying sizes.

(You can enlarge the photos on Flickr. Click on them to be taken there.)

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In all this time, I have never seen a bird on any of the nests, and despite some storms and gales, few if any have fallen off the tree.

**Update** Thanks to Henry, (see his comment below) I have discovered that these are not nests at all, but a fungal plant parasite that causes what is known as ‘Witches Broom’. I found a photo of this online.

Similar to my own close-up photo today.

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It felt suitably Spring-like today. Blossom was out.

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Daffodils standing proud on the riverbank.

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I may have to change my plans this week. The weather forcast for Wednesday has changed to the chance of heavy rain. So tomorrow afternoon might be the best day to go to the Bird Park and Nature Reserve at Pensthorpe.

My Latest Camera: First Impressions And Some Photos

As some readers may recall, I recently bought another camera, a secondhand Panasonic LX100 Compact.

It took me some time to actually remember to take the camera out on a walk, so with the benefit of a bright and windy afternoon yesterday, I put the camera into the pocket of my fleece jacket, and set off on the usual walk with Ollie. I took 50 photos, and these are the seven I have chosen to show you.

They have all been uploaded to Flickr, so clicking on them will take you to the photo on that site. Using the magnifier icon, you can enlarge them greatly on there, and move around them too. They are all standard j-pegs from the camera, with no post-processing applied.

An impressively large lone mushroom, spotted on Beetley Meadows.
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The cap of the same mushroom.
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A black and white version.
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The river bend at Beetley Meadows.
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Ollie on the riverbank.
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Ollie standing in the river.
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A fallen Silver Birch, in the woodland area.
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My impressions of using the camera? Well, let’s say it has pros and cons, like anything.

Pros.
*It is very light. Despite metal parts, it sat easily in my jacket pocket, was unobtrusive, and the weight was hardly noticeable.
*All the main controls are set using dials and buttons, so no need to explore the electronic menu whilst taking photos.
*The electronic shutter is completely silent, very useful in some situations.
*Zoom action from the 24mm-75mm lens is smooth, especially using the lever around the shutter button.
*Buffering to load the image onto the Pro-spec memory card was almost immediate.
*The electronic viewfinder shows all the information I need, and gives a completely accurate representation of the final photo.
*The Leica lens renders true images as seen in the viewfinder.

Cons.
*Focusing is not perfect. I had 3 completely out of focus images from the 50 taken, and changing the setting around the lens to Macro focusing made very little difference to the close-ups of the mushroom.
*The small size of the camera can make it fiddly to hold and use. My hands are comparatively small, and I was still able to inadvertantly move dials or press buttons. This size also makes it potentially easy to drop, so I had bought a Paracord wrist strap and attached it before taking the camera out.
*The Panasonic 1-inch processor chip seems to favour browns and greens, with little colour ‘pop’ on brighter colours.

So, all in all, I am very happy. If you can find one of these old-model cameras for less than £250, I recommend you consider buying it.

Feeling Festive In Beetley

As you know, I am something of a ‘Bah Humbug’ when it comes to Christmas. However, my wife loves the season.
So this is now in the far corner of our living room, in front of the side window.

It is an artificial tree. We wouldn’t have a real one, as the pine needles would get into Ollie’s paws. It is pre-lit, so just plugs in. There are various coloured lights available, including flashing options. But we choose to have the white lights, and no flashing.

Julie has collected the baubles for the past eight years, and many have special meaning for her. Some are also ‘personalised’.

So despite my seasonal ‘Grinch’ impersonation, we are finally festive in Beetley.

The Seasonal Rollercoaster

All the presents were bought and wrapped long before the end of November. Though we send few cards now, they are written, ready for posting.

The restaurant is booked for the 25th, and the relaxation of the restrictions means we will actually be able to go.

Ollie’s gifts are also bought and wrapped. Three new soft toys.

Because the 25th is a Friday this year, the following Monday will be a holiday. That extends the ‘celebrations’ by an extra day.

Next Wednesday, I have to get the tree and decorations down from the loft. So by the 12th, it will be sitting decorated in its usual place at the back corner of the living room.

Despite obvious differences because of the Coronavirus, that sense of seasonal deja-vu is well and truly consuming me.

The rollercoaster has started, and I am already on board. So far, it has only started its climb to the first big drop.

Roll on the 27th!

The Mighty Oak

There are lots of oak trees in this area. We even have two on our property, one in the front, and a larger one dominating the back garden. This is one of the biggest I have seen around here though, and it greets you as you enter through the gate onto Hoe Rough. It has been dated at around 350 years old.
The photo can be enlarged by clicking on it.

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It started growing in 1666.

As it grew, London was devastated by The Great Fire. Charles II was on the throne of England, and Samuel Pepys was writing his famous diary. When this oak was 110 years old, the far-off colonies in America declared independence, and started a war with England to achieve it.

In 1916, the tree had reached the grand old age of 250. That summer, Britain suffered terrible casualties at the Battle of The Somme, and the First World War would drag on for two more years after that. Fifty years later, and England won the 1966 football World Cup. The Beatles were said to be ‘more popular than Jesus’, and the war in Vietnam was escalated. I was just 14 years old. The tree was 300.

This tree slumbered through the Moon landings, the first heart transplant, industrial unrest, and various changes of government. It shed its leaves and acorns, and its massive trunk increased in girth. It paid no heed to the three day week, power cuts, immigration, or the EU. The pettiness of mankind was beneath it, and the branches continued to spread. It survived storms, lightning, parasites, and drought. It paid no heed to snow, ice, flood, or hurricane.

When I am not only dead and gone, but my presence on earth is no longer even a memory, it will still stand. People will pass under the huge canopy, and wonder at a tree that is over 400 years old. That is just how it should be, and the thought of it makes me feel strangely happy, deep inside.