Saturday, 29 March 2014

A WREN, A BUTTERFLY AND F1 RACE PREDICTIONS

I'm a bit baffled and for the first time in ages I'm struggling to give a good or even a half shabby prediction for the F1 race tomorrow. It's for the first time and not necessarily good, a bit of a lottery. The bad, well we have the threat of unreliability really hanging over every car, more bad whilst watching the three practises session and even during the qualifying sessions every drive had a moment..or two. Then there's the weather to consider, will it be hot/humid or wet/humid? I believe the weather will not only make a difference to who ends up on the podium but even who doesn't finnish.
But before I list my top three there is something else about the F1 that's got my goat since the last race.
WREN BATHING IN THE WARMTH OF SOME SUN
 NICO ROSEBERG: Seriously I'm not sure what he did during the winter to prepare for the new season, but where's the "shitty" attitude coming from? He gave short thrift to the Beeb pitlane reporter, then there is the actual BBC, forget Suzy Perry (not to hard) for a moment but for christ sake if during a bad weather moment you can't find someone more interesting then the F1 doctor to interview then you might as well give up showing F1, not only was it boring but unsurprisingly it seemed to have confused Suzy...or maybe she too fell asleep? Did anyone see the interview of BERNIE ECCLESTONE  during practise session 2 then you should, first he back tracked on his remarks he made after the Aussie GP about the sound of the new era F1 engines "awful and uninspiring" to "they have a charm", but his answers to the poor BBC pit guy during the session was monosyllabic, to the point and rude but he came across like he didn't want to speak to the BBC (maybe because they don't pay as much as other broadcaster, who knows?) in fact as another broadcaster came over he couldn't turn to the bloke quick enough, honestly if it's (practise 2) on the i-player then check it out and tell me what you think? Mind you I had to chuckle when Nico walked past in the rain with a SKY umbrella...subtle!
ONLY THING I CAPTURED IN FLIGHT THIS WEEK, AN ORANGE FLAPPY THINGY
 HOT/DRY RACE PREDICTIONS
1ST LEWIS HAMILTON
2ND NICO ROSEBERG
3RD  KEVIN MAGNUSSEN
THE FERRARI'S WILL HAVE TO SLOW DOWN TO SAVE FUEL, ANYTHING WITH A RENAULT ENGINE WILL GO POP

WET RACE PREDICTIONS
1ST SEB VETTEL
2ND FERNANDO ALONSO
3RD NICO ROSEBERG
LEWIS HAMILTON WILL BOG DOWN ON THE START THEN SPIN, JENSON BUTTON TO FINNISH FOURTH

Told you I was confused......
 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

WHEN FOX MET MUNTJACK

I haven't posted a proper record shot for ages now so thought I'd share three images that fall into the record category.
I was driving down to a friends house via a country lane with very tall vegetation, when I saw what I initially thought was two foxes grazing, thinking it would make a nice image I reversed the car back and did my best to shoot through the hedgerow, to my surprise it was actually a fox and muntjack grazing side by side in harmony, not knowing much about muntjack I thought it would be on the menu for a fox. Sadly the reversing car had spooked the fox as you can see from the first image, though it did give me a cheeky look back in the second image


Apart from the last image you can see how much "hedgerow" I was shooting through. I was surprised to see the pair together happily grazing and no it's not scar marks on the back of the muntjack, I think either mainge or it's moulting

Saturday, 15 March 2014

F1 predictions

I think the above image sums up how I feel about F1 at the moment, not very interesting, not very exciting and not quite focused once you've guessed the Latin/scientific name of said species you'll get the subtle hint of how I feel too.
The moment the pole sitter uses words such as "coasting/lifting/not pushing" for what is about to happen in the actual race, you really do have to worry, also anyone note that the commentators have to whisper to hear the engines, 1.6 litre V6 bin them and bin them now.
So my prediction are as follow
1st Nico Roseberg
2nd Lewis Hamilton
3rd Magnuson (if that's spelt right)
Look out for Seb spinning in the race too
With Caterham replacing 1 of there 5 engines after PRACTISE 2 will they even finish the season, I don't think so.
I know Bernie is getting old, bless him, but did he have to slow down the cars down so much just so he can still see them race (potter) past?
Oh and if you were looking for the tribute to Senna on the Williams car it's on the left section of the nose cone and is a verbal tribute in Portuguese "Senna Forever".

Thursday, 13 March 2014

ROLL UP, ROLL UP THE F1 CIRCUS IS ABOUT TO START

I've been waiting for this weekend more then my first Little Ringed Plover or Reed Warbler, the whole joke (my early prediction) of the F1 season is upon us.
Normally by now I'm wearing away the carpet in excitement, reading and re-reading my latest copy of AUTOSPORT drooling with anticipation so much my neighbour begin to worry I might have rabbies...but this year the rumours and facts leaking out have left me fearing F1 has tried to take one huge leap forward and is about to fall flat on it's face, let me explain.
There has been good noises coming from the Mercedes garage, the reported pace of their cars so far has been the most consistent. I like the fact today in the paper Nico is talking how the very fact Lewis and himself could be challenging each other for the title and may have an impact on their long time friendship...that is positive, sadly as with all 2014 V6 engines it still sounds limp wristed and frankly shit, my neighbours VW Beetle sounds better!
Mclaren with Big Ron in charge sounds like they could be competive however the the new Aussie at Red Bull he reckons they'll be pleased with a 9th or 10th on Sunday! though to counter balance that Seb reckons he could challenge for the title, hmmm not sure about that.
Meanwhile the Ferrari team reckon they'll struggle to finnish the race (!!!) thanks to the reducded fuel tanks, but then again the words Ferrari and fuel effiecnt never have been used in a sentence before. Also most teams have really struggled the only interesting team and dark horse is the Williams also one small positive another female driver is joining the circus...in a testing role but that now makes two woman.
 But sadly in toady's Daily Mirror, Robert Dara who works for Magneti Marrelli and supplies electrics to F1 was quoted as saying "I wouldn't be surprised if ANY of the cars finnish on Sunday" that's either breaking down or running out of fuel, so F1 could resemble the 1970's again for reliability, however being an Italian firm I'll take it with a pinch of salt but the brief interview he (Robert) is in favour of all the new callenges, but feels given the radical changes to fuel load, hybrid engines, size of car, engine size etc the teams should have been for one season only have been given a bit more testing sessions during the winter...a valid point I think.
I hope some cars do finnish the race on Sunday and I hope at least one of them will be silver! Though I'm secretly excited by the Williams though have some doubts about the driver.
Once I've seen some test times I'll make my regular predictions but IF no cars finnish on Sunday I'll predict one badly damaged TV!

Friday, 7 March 2014

CRUFTS PART 2 and WHATS THE NATURE RESERVE QUIZ

Ok, ok I lied my next post isn't about wildlife but there is a  birdy type question coming up soon so bear with me.
My mum and I decided to travel to Crufts today by train rather then car. I would love to say something heroic like "to reduce my carbon footprint" but seeing as I've already lied to you lot I'll be honest, one of the biggest drawbacks of Crufts is us exhibitors aren't allowed to leave before 5pm, this enables the paying public a chance to walk around the benches viewing all the dogs, fair enough, the downside is when that clocks turns to 5pm it's like a scene from the start of a Le Mans race circa 1950's everyone rushing to their cars, jumping in and roaring off into rush hour traffic, ever tried driving with a lunatic greyhound in rush hour? Not good, plus it was cheaper to go by train....and I did my bit for the environment too.
The train journey didn't go without a hitch mind, we sat with the two greyhounds in the disabled area, as this is large area where the dogs wouldn't be a nuisance to other travellers..or so we thought. There was this black lady who thought "public" transport was actually "personal" transport and had her laptop on one chair, bike helmet on the other not good in rush hour, tutting every tie the dog moved and was a right grumpy cow, I really had to bite my tongue and karma struck, Whimmsy let one heck of a silent but violent burst from her bum and boy did it stink watching the grumpy ol'cow screw her face in disgust was worth the train fare alone. Mack as we pulled into a station decided to push the "Emergency" lever/button, which in the disabled area is a greyhound tempting head height, he flipped the lid open that covered the button and with his nose pushed the button the conductor and driver walked up (oh ooh) looked at the button and reset it, good old Mack or as his Scottish breeder called him "naughty laddy"...ready for the birdy question?
On the way the Birmingham, it was either before or after Tile Hill station was a brilliant looking nature reserve, a couple of large pools and a smaller one, loads of painted green hides, a couple on stilts, anyone know the name of this reserve? It looks a good spot, I know it's not Brandon Marsh, maybe Upton Warren?
Sadly I had to use my very old Nikon D50 for today, small lens and flash being a must. The photos sadly were pants.
First up Whimmsy she was in two classes and her first class, for a greyhound class was quite big she only got a Third, which does mean she qualifies for next years Crufts and fourth in her last, she wasn't her usual self I thought so fair result.
WHIMMSY ON THE RIGHT WITH MY MUM, NUMBER 9417 IS NOT MY MUMS AGE,CLOSE THOUGH.. 
CAN LET A REALLY SMELLY ONE GO FROM TIME TO TIME.
 She earned her rest on the bench.
Mack, well what can I say about my Mack, 18 months old a complete lunatic and daft as a brush. He dragged my mum around the ring in his one class yet somehow managed a Fourth which was a real surprise, the results are to me irrelevant one great thing was a fellow greyhound owner showed me and my mum a different lead, we gave it a quick go, perfect just wish we had it when he was in his class, to me this what dog shows are about, enjoying the dog and sharing tips and tales.
MACK AND PART OF MY MUM
The other good thing is meeting up with the breeders and sometimes meeting your dogs fellow litter puppies. Not only did I get to meet up with Mack's breeder but I also got to see Mack's brother and sister too.
 MACK'S BROTHER AND PART OF HIS BREEDER...SORRY
His brother has a lot of the same character of Mack and their heads are so similar too, I think.
One of the other great things about Crufts, well if you're thinking of either getting a pedigree dog or even a rescue dog it's a good place to see everything and anything, the Discover Dog's section has every breed, there are loads of trade stands selling and some (alot actually) giving away freebies, always good, but also stands for rescue centres, stands offering advice and tips. I spent most of my time talking to people from not only all over the UK but from around the world, a few Americans, Italian, Russians, Chinese complete with "smog masks" cheeky sods Birmingham has clearer air then China!, a woman who fell in love with Mack from Tasmania!! and took thousands of photo's of him and talked to me for ages about him....and I didn't care, if you're not an exhibitor you'll find all exhibitors will not mind you coming up stroking, patting, photographing their dogs and talking or asking about the dog, we do like it....STILL I DIDN'T GET PATTED MYSELF, BUGGER!
I think I lost count at 60 people who took Mack's photo today, everyone "loved his eyes"
SOME SAY THIS IS A HINT OF HIS TRUE NATURE
THIS IS MACK'S "PUBLIC"/BUTTER WOULDN'T MELT IN MY MOUTH PERSONA
The other thing they loved about him and the thing I too love about him his the brown on his coat, they call it "ghost brown", my photo's do him no justice as in normal light etc his brown has a ghostly silver/grey hue which looks, well ghostly, you'll have to meet him in person to understand what I mean also he is a cheeky chap and loves saying hello to people some even kissed him! One kid who wasn't looking almost lost his toy as Mack sneaked up and gently took it much to the amusement of the kid who also kissed him.
Me, I went and said hello to the Rhodesian Ridgebacks after Adrian's comment on my previous blog post, I came so close to owning a rescue Ridgeback but saw this ragged old racer of a greyhound and took the greyhound and never looked back, to be fair I could easily have walked away from Crufts with one today, gorgeous breed of dog, loyal/protective but good temperament.
The highlight on the way home was talking to a disabled chap who told me how his dog looks after him, from helping to dress/undress him like pulling his socks off for him (he was paralysed), opening ovens/washing machine, answering the telephone etc, simply put awe inspiring and a good reminder why dogs are important and valuable, three years it took to train the dog for him.
A good day and if you're reading this and thinking of a dog Crufts and later in the year Discover Dogs are a great place to start looking and meeting different breeds.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

WOT NO BIRDS? CRUFTS

I really should get round to some birding, I do have four days off starting Friday, hopefully some time soon the water levels up at Summer Leys should be dropped, if it hasn't been done already and personally I can't wait to see how the reprofiled scrape fairs, fingers crossed for both passage waders and breeding waders, however Friday is Crufts day for me.
We're taking two greyhounds, my sisters Whimmsy and my Mack which means I have to bath him which will mean I get a soaking..lovely. I was going to enter Jim my ol'faithful hound in the ex-racer section but thought better of it mostly down to costs.
I WILL NOT be doing the showing side of things, I'll leave that to my mum, I'll have to endure hundreds of people coming up and saying "hello" to my hounds patting and stroking them, sadly it's very rare I get "patted and stroked" by strangers so shall be very jealous.
My sisters Australian Shepherd "Boo" was there today, how did he get on, not sure still waiting to hear but giving his strong/boisterous nature probably not to well.
WHIMMSY 
How will we get on with our two hounds? Not sure about Mack, but Whimmsy she's a beauty so fingers crossed with her. Though it's going to be a long old day with an early start (5:30am) and a late end (hopefully)
I promise a more bird/nature related post next time.....probably. Now I'm not expecting many if any of my blog readers to be at Crufts but if you're reading this and are at Crufts come and say hello.

Monday, 3 March 2014

LITTER/LITTLE UPDATE

Well birding with my camera for me over the last few days has been a bit sparse it's either been work,work, chasing up emails from my complaint over the fly-tipping I'd last posted about or helping my good friend Stuart erect a few nest boxes on the farm two boxes was a necessity and one was more in hope then anything but more on that in a bit.
Firstly the fly tipping, I am quite sad to say a fine for the company involved looks like a no "go-er" a warning was issued BUT as explained in the last post this would/was a long shot, the main aim was the removal of the rubbish, I wasn't hapy as it seems the only way for companies to learn not to do something is  to hurt them were it hurts the most..their wallets, the company involved had the vast majority of the rubbish removed. Basically the company had been dumping/letting the plastic shrink wrap "fall" over it's fence. These strips of plastic shrink wrap were on average 6 foot in length and about a 1 foot in width and there was loads of the stuff some of it blowing in the tops of the trees. By Friday it looked a lot better with just small bits and bobs laying around I wouldn't say it was 100% better more like 90% better, however a trip to the site on Monday was MUCH better, trust me I shall be keeping an eye on the site very closely.
 So the next semi-interesting part of my time off from work was over at Stu's farm I fancied some Kestrel shots, little had I known I was going to be putting up nest boxes (no-one informed me!)
RULE 1: NEVER GIVE ME A HAMMER AND NAILS
Sadly it seems Stu has in my opinion (and it is just my opinion) has been given some daft advice. He was given a nest box for the Kestrel, I was hoping to see a box not too different to a Little Owl box perhaps just a little bigger, nope he had been given a big rectangle box on a tall post, I don't like these boxes 1)It screams "look at me" and draws attention from unscrupulous types (human kind) and 2) every time I see these boxes they always either a home to Jackdaws or if they have an owl/kestrel in it Corvids are just queueing up on the top for a free dinner...however taking the mantra of "something is better than nothing" it took about an hour to erect and a fair bit of cursing, mostly by me to be fair as we left the field and headed in the "golf-buggy" towards our next erection site (make your own jokes), I closed the gate and swore again, "bloody jackdaw already on it Stuart". I really believe it was a corvid that had caused damage to the kestrel's bill on this site. The second nest box was urgent, a Little Owl tree had fallen over and even though the Little Owl has found a new Ash tree we thought we'd put a box up just in case it fancied a safe shelter, Stu's farm has a big Jackdaw and Crow roost in one his copses and home to a pair of Buzzards.
It was now Stu's turn to scream expletives as I whacked his thumb full force with the hammer (remember rule 1) I tried not to laugh as Stu's a bit tasty with his fists, still I did have a hammer in my hands...fair fight I suppose, luckily Stu had chilled and the box was up in no time and we had a ciggy break, I could hear the Little Owl calling a faint "che" or perhaps "chi" like call it's favourite place was it's old fallen tree using it's old hole as place to launch "worming" attacks so I grabbed my camera yet I couldn't see it, using my camera as a pair of binoculars I was struggling to see it we gave it half an hour but we had one more box to go, the one that is more in hope then anything else, a Barn Owl box going into an old cattle shed currently there isn't a Barn Owl on site but as with all things "nature" you never know what can happen. We have a few more smaller nest boxes to go up, some House Martin "cups" and Swallow "cups" and boxes for Tits, funny thing Stu has an interest in the wildlife on his farm and he always moans his big flock of Yellowhammers are all but gone but some of the advice he's been given is I think is, well sorry but SHIT, I hope I'm wrong but results speak for themselves and despite Stu's best efforts some of the wildlife on his farm has just declined and shown no signs of bouncing back, take his beloved yellowhammers.
It made me wonder if a farmer who hasn't got such an interest in wildlife, if they were to use some of their spare time to erect boxes, try and farm more in a nature friendly way if they don't see improvements or just more wildlife how determined they'd be to carry on trying, especially given some people (including myself) bash farmers and farming for not doing enough...luckily Stu likes his birds and tolerates an idiot like me with a hammer so I know he'll carry on......as for that pesky Little Owl after much time searching the trees I found it, at the entrance of an old rabbit burrow, never knew they'd do that and I'm going to try for an image on my next visit I won't say how long it took me to locate the owl neither.