Continuing my account of my recent holiday in the channel islands with a special post dedicated to the birds of Alderney.
I continue my account of my recent visit to the channel islands with a special post dedicated to the birds of Alderney (the island is justly famed for its bird life).
It was too early in the year for boat trips to be running to the island of Burhou, just off the coast of Alderney to the north, and home to puffins (it has no human residents at all), and Wednesday took so much out of me that on the Thursday I was unable to face to fairly steep and fairly rough path that would have started the walk towards a point from which I could view the gannet colony. Here a few maps…
THE BIRDS I DID SEE
Although I missed two great ornithological sites for different reasons, I still saw a fine range of birds during my few days on Alderney…
I end this little post with a view of Fort Clonque:
Thoughts on two important election developments and England’s T20 series victory. Also plenty of photographs.
The main body of this post is inspired by two developments that have occurred today. There is also some other stuff later.
TWO MAJOR ELECTION DEVELOPMENTS
It has been announced today that the Brexit Party will not be standing in any Tory held seats, a development that leads to me to suspect that if the election goes as planned for Johnson and cronies there will soon be a Lord Farage of Dot-on-the-Map (he does not plan to stand as a candidate for his party, being 0 for 7 in that area, and he does nothing without having his price).
The other big development is that The Greens have stood aside in Chingford & Wood Green to give Faiza Shaheen a clear run at Iain Duncan Smith. I am firmly of the opinion that a degree of reciprocation is called for. My immediate suggestions in that regard are:
1)Stand aside in Brighton Pavilion so that Caroline Lucas has a clearer run at retaining her seat.
2)Stand aside on the Isle of Wight, so that Vix Lowthion is in a straight fight with the Tories there.
Also, the grubby Farage/ Johnson stitch up really does make this The Rest vs The Hard Right, so everyone who does not want Johnson running riot in the commons backed by Farage in the Lords must be prepared to vote for whoever can give them a non-Tory. In my own constituency I have a very obvious and appealing choice – Jo Rust and Labour. Elsewhere in the mainland I would vote Labour, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru or Liberal Democrat according who could defeat the Tories in that area. In NI things are different, but there is even one seat there where my vote might be dictated by necessity – unappealing as voting for Unionist of any stamp would be to me I would were I in her constituency vote for Lady Hermon to reduce the chances of those Tory stooges the DUP taking it.
Following on from that last paragraph, this necessity of tailoring one’s vote to fit the circumstances in one’s area is why I devoutly hope that GE2019 will be the last to be held using the outmoded FPTP method. Proponents of this thoroughly discredited method for running elections say that it delivers stable majority governments. Well, in appropriate language for the season: Oh No It Doesn’t – since Labour’s last majority in 2005 only Cameron in 2015 has had an outright majority, and that was very slender – and if GE2019 produces an outright majority for anyone I will be very surprised. Also, after the five years of the coalition we are now looking at a third GE in less than five years – some stability! For another interesting take on this election visit Miles King’s latest post on A New Nature Blog by clicking here.
Finally, before moving on to other matters, it will surprise no one to read that I consider a head to head debate between Johnson and Corbyn unrepresentative of the current state of British politics – I would also include the Lib Dems (presumably Swinson), Plaid, SNP (Sturgeon or if it must a Westminster figure either Joanna Cherry or Mhairi Black), The Greens (I would reckon that Sian Berry would be their best spokesperson) and possibly even representatives from Northern Ireland.
ENGLAND WIN T20 LEG OF NZ TOUR
For the second time this year England and New Zealand could only be split by a Super Over, and for the second time this year England emerged with the spoils, although this time they won the Super Over outright, rather than further tie-splitting being needed. Rain delayed the start of the fifth and final match of the T20 series, and reduced to an 11 overs per side contest. With three balls left England needing 147 to win had 134 and it looked like New Zealand were snatching it at the death, but Chris Jordan, who has had a fine series, hit those last three balls for 12 to level the match and bring about the Super Over. England batted first in the Super Over and Bairstow and Morgancombined to rack up 17 of Trent Boult’s over. Jordan, who would have been England’s third batter had they lost a wicket (one is allowed to lose one wicket, but two ends one’s batting effort) then prepared to bowl the deciding over, while New Zealand sent Guptill and Seifert in to bat (De Grandhomme waiting in the wings). Jordan’s second delivery was called wide, somewhat harshly, but thereafter a combination of good bowling from him and a little too much cleverness on the part of Seifert worked in England’s favour. Seifert’s dismissal left 10 needed off two balls, with Guptill on strike (the batters having crossed before the catch to dismiss Seifert was taken). Guptill was held to a single, and Jordan just had to bowl a legal delivery to win it for England. He did so, and De Grandhomme was unable to score off it, meaning that England had won the Super Over by a comparatively enormous margin of nine runs. The red ball stuff starts tonight GB time with day 1 of a two day practice match, and then there is one proper first class match before the two test matches end the tour.
Some thoughts on the second Ashes test at Lord’s and a lot of photographs.
The weather-hit second Ashes test at Lord’s ended yesterday evening, with Australia undoubtedly the happier of two sides to come away with a draw. This post contains my thoughts on the match and today’s announcement of an unchanged England squad for the third test, which gets underway on Thursday.
A GREAT TEST MATCH
A third of this match was lost to the weather and yet it was not far away from providing a definite result even so. England scored 258 in the first innings, Burns and Bairstow making fifites, and Denly producing a classic “Vince” – a well compiled 30. England bowled well to claim a slender first innings lead. Jofra Archer struck Smith a blow to the head, from which he briefly resumed, before getting out for 92 (progress for England after he had scored twin tons in the first test match). Smith did not take the field for England’s second innings and his place in the batting order was taken under the concussion rule by Manus Labuschagne. England did not start well – Roy and Root (who does not look to be relishing the no3 slot) both fell cheaply, Denly had a second “Vince” of the match, 26 this time round, and Burns fell for a gritty 29. However, Stokes in the company of first Buttler and then Bairstow dug England out of a hole and then propelled them to a declaration, being on 116 not out when England declared to set Australia 267 off 48 overs (a little overcautious – surely the declaration should have coincided with Stokes reaching the hundred). Archer was electrifying with the ball on this final afternoon and evening and Leach confirmed the rightness of selecting him as first spinner by taking three cheap wickets and comfortably outbowling Lyon, an absolute reversal of what happened with Moeen Ali in the first test match. Australia finished on 154-6 when Aleem Dar called time with three balls left in the match and four Aussie wickets standing (evidently he felt there was no chance of someone being stumped off a wide, then followed by a hat trick to finish it – and I can’t argue with that). A combination of overcaution on England’s part and the fact that, good is he is, Leach is no Underwood saw to it that the impossible did not quite come to pass, but this was still the second best match to take place at Lord’s this season.
England’s huge improvement in this match should not mask the fact that several problems remain in their line up. I am going to run down the list player by player with my thoughts (click on the player name to view their cricinfo details:
Rory Burns – his fighting efforts in both innings here, following his Edgbaston ton confirm that he has arrived at the highest level, meaning that there is now only one problem in the opening slots.
Jason Roy – I believe that it is right for England to persevere with him, but I do not see him as a test match opener – no3 or 4 is more like it. Both his dismissals in this match were down to bad batting and not good bowling.
Joe Root – it was right for England to move him up to no3, and such moves should be given a fair trial, but I for one will not surprised to see him back at no4 before too long.
Joe Denly – batted decently for a time in both innings but then got out (again his wickets were given rather than being taken, in both innings). If he has a longish term future at test level (bear in mind that he is already 32, ) I think it more likely to be as opener than no 4, however he would not be part of my long term plans.
Ben Stokes – his second innings century was a quite magnificent knock, starting cautiously, with England in trouble and then opening out as prospects of defeat faded. If England can accept that at test level he is not a front-line bowler, but rather someone who may bowl a few overs here or there I could see him batting higher up the order – he is technically excellent and has a full range of scoring shots at his disposal. Only Root in the current squad is definitely ahead of him on batting ability.
Jos Buttler– he played well in the second innings, when England badly needed it.
Jonny Bairstow – He had his best test match with the bat in some time, and there were no huge howlers behind the stumps. I still rate Foakesahead of him in both departments, but his return to form is welcome.
Chris Woakes – bowled well, and made a solid effort with the bat in the first innings.
Jofra Archer – a magnificent test debut, he was electrifying with the ball in his hand. He has taken to test cricket the way ducks took to 1990s England scorecards!
Stuart Broad – In the absence of Anderson (likely to be out for the series) he is leading the bowling attack, and his performance in this match was one of which he can be proud.
Jack Leach – He bowled well in this match, with his three second innings wickets being less than his bowling merited. As mentioned earlier he outbowled Lyon in this game, confirming along the way his status as England’s no 1 spinner.
England still have to find a second opener alongside Burns (Dominic Sibley has to be considered, there is still time to try my ultra-radical solution and as another outside bet, young George Bartlettof Somerset has had a fine season, plays fast bowling well and is better suited to long form cricket than limited overs stuff), unless Root starts delivering from there soon no 3 also remains a problem. There is also the question (and in the not distant future England will be playing somewhere where such a bowling attack is mandatory) of who will be second spinner (depending on how radical you are prepared to be I suggest either Matthew Parkinson, or for an attempt at a ‘mystery bowler’ option Helen Fenby). I would like to see Sam Curran and Lewis Gregory accommodated somehow as well. However, unquestionably after this performance England are looking in better shape than they were a few days ago.
A brief account of Musical Keys and some bird pictures.
Saturday was a music day, and I have plenty of pictures to share from recent days.
MUSICAL KEYS – THE KORG
These sessions are organised for the benefit of autistic people, so before I get into the meat of this section here is stimtheline’s magnificent Autistic Bill of Rights:
The Korg is a very sophisticated machine (for classical music enthusiasts it looks a 21st century version of a clavichord, but it does so much more). I will let the photographs tell the story (I got most of these by playing with my left hand while using the camera with my right FYI):
BIRDS OF ALL SIZES
We start with the largest bird to be a regular feature of life in Britain – the mute swan:
Next we come to a much smaller species, which I have not previously captured on camera, a little wader called a turnstone (I seem to recall that a few years back The Lynn News had a columnist who used Turnstone as a nom de plume):
Further along the Great Ouse and on the side of the river were a few specimens of a larger bird that is not a regular sight in these parts – the greylag goose:
Inspired by Jennifer Lisi on twitter, who created the graphic at the heart of it, this post sets out aspi.blog’s stall, taking autism acceptance is starting point and looking ahead to autism appreciation.
This is a post about something magnificent I have just seen on twitter and wish to share with all of you. The text of this post is #RedInstead because it is specifically about autism.
AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTHS
To start with, below is a screenshot of the tweet, by Jennifer Lisi, that prompted this post:
Now we move on to some extra thoughts of my own:
Although I will on occasions, when I believe people are doing it for the right reasons share stuff about “autism awareness” I will not use the phrase on my account because…
We have been banging on about awareness for ages, and I do not believe there is a problem any more with people not knowing of the existence of autism and autistic spectrum conditions, though there are a raft of problems when it comes to understanding of such conditions.
For me Autism Acceptance as shown in the graphic above is what we should be considering as our basic start point, with the hope that acceptance of us for who and what we are will lead to…
Appreciation of our strengths and good qualities.
Thus the journey we look to trace out runs not awareness-understanding-acceptance but awareness-understanding-acceptance-appreciation.
I end this post with some photographs, in this case with a cormorant in the starring role:
Two birds of different species exhibiting similar behaviour (which I have previously only ever observed in cormorants).
This is whimsical little post inspired by an odd coincidence I observed while out walking yesterday.
DIFFERENT BIRDS, SIMILAR POSES
While I was out walking yesterday afternoon I saw a Muscovy duck in the stretch of the Gaywood River that is currently serving as home to a small colony of these unusual visitors to our shores posing in the fashion that cormorants sometimes so (for an amusing take on this see Anna’s recent cormorant drawing). Here is a composite picture featuring both posing birds:
Happy new year everyone. This post will give you a few hints as to what you can look forward to in 2018 on aspi.blog.
ASPI.BLOG STYLE GUIDE
Headings will generally be in a cycle that runs red/green’purple, although this is subject to variation in certain circumstances.
Body text will always be in black unless I am writing about autism, in which case I will use #RedInstead.
When sharing content from another site I will always link to the host site and the specific post and where possible will mention the author by name – such links will be a different colour from regular body text and will be both bold and underlined.
It will be a very rare post that does not congtain photographs.
LIKELY SUBJECTS FOR 2018
I will also probably find other things to blog about in 2018.
A COUPLE OF CLOSING QUESTIONS
Please feel free to use the comments to answer the questions below?
This little problem generated a surprising amount of controversy on brilliant – though it is not particularly difficult, and there were no real grounds for controversy:
I will reveal the solution tomorrow.
BIRD PICTURES FROM KINGS LYNN
We had a bit of sun in King’s Lynn today, but in consequence of it being December it was already virtually level with the horizon by 3PM. However, it being as pleasant as a December day in Blighty can be I did get out a couple of times, and augmented my stock of bird pictures along the way:
A bird post provoked in part by the Angling Trust seeking permission to double the rate at which they cull cormorants.
This post has two elements: first, I saw on twitter something about the Angling Trust calling for cormorants to be shot “to protect stocks of coarse and game fish”, and following the link located the details which you can see here, and second while out looking for cormorants to photograph for this post I saw something else that I had not previously captured.
I would take a lot persuading that increasing the number of cormorants licensed to be shot copuld be justified in any case, but the grounds given, which amount to a statement that “our sport counts for more than cormorants” fail to come even remotely close. There is a cormorant colony within walking distance of central King’s Lynn, and although they were not about in big numbers when I went looking, there were four of them in evidence. Here are the pictures:
AN ASPI.BLOG FIRST
While observing the cormorants I also a got a couple of pictures of this:
Going through my bird book I could find only two birds with black wings and a white bar across their tail. The first, the Storm Petrel was an unlikely option given how far King’s Lynn is from the nearest ocean (it is an ocean going bird). That left me with the second, the Lapwing, a medium sized wader that likes marshy or muddy conditions (not a problem in the vicinity of the Great Ouse!). Here to conclude this post is what my bird book has to say about Lapwings:
I have just finished editing the pictures I took while out and about today. I have a collection of tree pics ready for the next post in my “Trees in Transistion” series, but for the moment it is the other pictures I am sharing. I will put them up in three segments…
These are pictures featuring my aunt’s plants, which I have been watering while she is on holiday. Barring a freak return to summer weather tomorrow I anticipate one more visit on Wednesday being sufficient.
NATIONAL LIBRARIES WEEK
This week is National Libraries Week. I have visited King’s Lynn Library today, will definitely visit Fakenham Library at least once this week after a working day, hope to call in at Norwich Millennium Library when I am in that fine city on Wednesday (an autism event) and on Saturday en route to Musical Keys should find time for a visit to Gaywood Library. Here are some pictures of King’s Lynn Library…