Watlington Wildlife

My write up of yesterday’s tour round Watatunga Wildlife Reserve near Watlington in Norfolk.

Watlington, just down the A10 from King’s Lynn, might seem like an unlikely place to see interesting wildlife, but it harbours a secret, accessed by means of an prepossessing looking gravel track that leads to a carpark and reception centre both of which are within eye- and earshot of the A10…

THE WATATUNGA
WILDLIFE RESERVE

This establishment, whose website has the strapline “Conservation Today for Wildlife Tomorrow” is explored by motorized buggy, which means that you need at least one person in your group to have a full driving license (also the walk from Watlington station would take some time and a lot of it is along a busy road with no footpath) and is home to a range of interesting species (birds and herbivorous mammals only).

Yesterday a number of us from NAS West Norfolk got to experience this. We used five four seater buggies and one six seater for our groups, with me sharing a buggy with our branch chair and her son. We had a guide who told us what could be seen. After a stretch along a sand track and then through a tunnel which was ankle deep in water we got to the reserve proper and we were not disappointed – lots of wonderful creatures were indeed on show.

After our arrival back at the reception area I got a lift back to the train station, arriving just in time to catch the 18:23 to King’s Lynn, meaning I was home just before seven.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Even with the difficulties imposed by being in a moving vehicle (with occasional stops, but strictly no getting out of the vehicle at any point) I got some splendid pictures:

I hope you enjoy these pictures of the wonderful wildlife of Watatunga, just as I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the creatures yesterday, even in less than ideal weather.

A Mixed Bag

A giant mixed bag of a post covering the European Elections, other recent developments in my life, cricket and liberally equipped with photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A lot has happened since I last put up a blog post I will try to cover all the interesting bits, and I have a large number of photographs to share. First of all…

THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

Today is polling day in the European Elections. Here in Britain the polling stations are open until 10PM. The decision for me was between two parties. In a general election, knowing the support base of the respective parties in my constituency and constrained by the outdated, unfit for purpose FPTP system used in such elections, I would vote Labour as the only way to have even a chance of unseating the Tories. In a European election, run under the D’Hondt system, it was a question of maximising the number of progressive MEPs from my region, and that dictated a vote for the Green Party who were just short of having someone elected last time round. Therefore, I made my way to the Discovery Centre, which I expected would be the local polling station (fortunately I was right – for some reason I never received a polling card for this election, so I was relying on the same polling station being used for this one as had been used in the local elections a few weeks earlier – when I was unable to vote, being in a hospital bed at the time), equipped with ID to make up for the absence of a polling card (neither should be required but Tories are up – or down – to all sorts of tricks these days and it is better to be safe) and duly cast my vote for the Green Party.

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STAMPS

I have finally got all my stamps mounted (I was given a large quantity while in Addnebrookes being treated for cancer, to go with some that I already had). Here are the photographs I took while finishing the job:

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The main division of the non-themed stamps was between Polish and not Polish, and as you will see later I did not quite manage to get all the Polish ones in the same place, but did pretty well.

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I particularly like the Occitane stamp – it is always nice to see trees being honoured.

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SUNDAY LUNCH

With my Aunt not being around my parents and I had Sunday lunch at Goldings, which is a very fine restaurant. Although my alcohol consumption is restricted at the moment a pint of Adnam’s Ghost Ship (not hugely strong at 4.5%) combined well with steak and chips. I am not yet quite fit enough to get from my bungalow to the town centre on foot, so this meant a car journey.

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A pint of Ghost Ship

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Anything in a glass bearing this label will be drinkable!

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TAPPING HOUSE

On Tuesday, as usual, I had my physio session at Tapping House. It went very well, even including one set of exercises that involved balance and co-ordination (neither of them strong points even before I became ill). This has become a valued part of my life.

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NAS WEST NORFOLK COFFEE MORNING

This took place yesterday morning at the Pretty Little Tea Shop on Norfolk Street (thanks for stepping in at the last minute to give me a lift, Rachel). There was a reasonable turnout, a good time appeared to be had by all, and, mirabile dictu, the filter coffee was drinkable (though somewhat under strength by my standards), although £2.15 for about half the amount I make for myself at home in the morning seems a trifle steep.

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FINAL THOUGHTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Much has happened in the cricket world over the last few days. England did defend their total of 350 in the final ODI. David Willey and Joe Denly not very surprisingly missed out on places if the final world cup squad, although I was a little surprised to see Liam Dawson given a place (the other selections were all pretty automatic given Alex Hales’ recent indiscretion which ruled him out). Somerset have consolidated their place at the head of the County Championship table by beating Warwickshire in seven sessions (out of a possible 12) while Surrey and Kent are involved in a fine scrap, likely to end in a draw, though a victory for Surrey remains possible. Now it is time for my usual sign off:

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Witness Statement Re Fire At Bawsey Drain

An eyewitness statement regarding a fire that I regard as highly likely to have been the result of arson, although accident is a possibility.

INTRODUCTION

I am putting this post up as a witness statement regarding an incident that happened somewhere in the region of one hour ago. 

THE STORY

I went out for a walk, to take some photos and do some thinking. I set out across the upper Purfleet, on to King Street and thence via the Tuesday Market Place and St Nicholas Chapel to the start of the footpath that runs alongside Bawsey Drain as far as Lynnsport. My initial plan was to cross a bridge that leads into a field, head via Kettlewell Lane to the train station, then through the parkland to Seven Sisters, down past the South Gate and across the Nar to hit the Great Ouse by way of Harding’s Pits and thence back into town along the river. However, I was approaching this bridge when I saw white smoke rising from the field on the other side of the river. A cyclist approaching the bridge from that side was there before me and phoned the fire brigade, who sent people out to deal with it. When the fire engines arrived a few moments later I waited on the bridge while the cyclist went to meet them and guide them to the spot. 

The fire was only a small one, though very close to the bridge and to the footpath leading away from the bridge, and fortunately had not yet spread, although the smoke had noticeably thickened by the time the fire brigade got there. They were able to deal with it quickly and easily, and apart from a small blackened patch of burned vegetation there was no lasting damage. 

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF THIS FIRE

Sadly Bawsey Drain is treated as an all-purpose dumping ground by those who live alongside it, so there are two possible causes, both human in origin, given in order of where my personal suspicions based on observation lie:

1)Arson – a fire started deliberately by some person or persons who neither thought nor cared about the possible consequences of their actions.

2)Accidental but very stupid and selfish human action (e.g someone tossing a cigarette that they imagined to be out but was not onto the vegetation, thereby starting the fire).

SOME PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE FIRE

As well as this written account I have some pictures:

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The first two images sbhow how close to the bridge and footpath the fire was, the third and fourth, courtesy of a telescopic zoom lens focus more closely on the fire.

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FOOTNOTE: SPECIES IN THIS AREA

Although I only edited those photos between the first and last fire shot, I captured two of the butterfly species that along with various birds live in this area regularly. I have also seen rabbits, hares and small deer in that location on previous occasions. This fire potentially endangered all these as well as the plants it had already started to burn. Here are some Butterfly pics from that area, taken today, to end with:

flying butterflywhite butterfly

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These last two pictures were taken while waiting for the fire brigade to arrive, while I was on the bridge.

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Banknotes Press Release

Before I get into the main meat of this blog, here is an important and interesting piece from Tom Pride, political blogger and satirist.

Given that banknotes played a starring role in James and Sons last auction on March 26th, and that those notes were part of a very large collection, the second and third parts of which will be sold on April 29th and May 27th, it was inevitable that a press release focussing on banknotes would be required, and yesterday was the day I sent it out. The official post on the James and Sons website can be viewed by clicking here and has already been widely shared on twitter. Meantime, here is the press release itself in both word and jpg form…

Banknotes Reach High Prices at Norwich Auction

This is the press release in jpg form.
This is the press release in jpg form.

Also yesterday I had to produce some images of a new donation for the Great Charity Centenary Auction, some of which I now share…

These five shots are of the same item, in two different settings and with various degrees of editing.
These five shots are of the same item, in two different settings and with various degrees of editing.

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Also yesterday I dealt with some of the very few items for the April auction that have yet to be imaged. A full catalogue for this auction is available for viewing by clicking here. Here are the highlights from the lots I imaged yesterday…

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