A Spot Of Bird Watching

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In the previous post Chasing the light over Townsend Meadow  my header photo featured my ‘stand-on-bed-while-using-open-rooflight-as-tripod’ school of photography. I now confess to using the same method to spy on my local corvids. I think the pair flitting above the field fence may be carrion crows. It’s hard to tell at this distance, but we do have a couple who come daily to forage in Townsend Meadow. It is part of their territory that includes the Linden Field across the road. Also each year they come with an offspring. They call to each other across the field. I note a strain of lament in it.

But back to spying. If, with my stand-camera-on-open-window method,  I then turn the lens 45 degrees to the right I can then cover activities in the rookery in the wood beside Sytche Lane. The lane borders the field boundary, and the wood borders the lane and is an unkempt sort of place inaccessible to us ordinary Wenlock folk. Both rooks and jackdaws congregate here, and in large numbers. At dusk, and particularly in autumn, they put on breath-taking balletic performances, swooping and swirling for many minutes over the meadow. If you happen to be out there when they start (sometimes my return from the allotment coincides with the opening passes of the corvid air show) it can be exhilaratingly eerie, and especially when a cohort, several dozen strong, whisks by my shoulder. There’s a rush of air. Wheeeeesh. Then gone before you register quite what happened.

You can get a gist of this phenomenon from my short video at the end of the post.

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Related: Rooks Dancing in the New Moon

Life in Colour: black/grey

 

Chasing The Light Over Townsend Meadow

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Those who come here often know that our Shropshire cottage overlooks a field that once marked Much Wenlock’s northerly boundary. It’s all in the name of course – Townsend Meadow. In times past it was pasture for dairy cows. The farm, long gone, was in the corner of the field, and the dairy, where the milk was collected, was a few doors down from our house on Sheinton Street. But in the years since we’ve lived here the field has been used solely for growing arable crops; wheat mostly, but now-and-then oil seed rape, oats, field beans and barley.

Our further view, beyond the field, is of the woods along the summit of Wenlock Edge. You can just make them out in the middle distance of the first photo. This vista and this field and the sky above, are the places where I endlessly discover events and effects. In this sense you could call it a source of rich sustenance; the everyday world that is never commonplace.

When it comes to photography, I belong to the ranks of happy snappers. I have zero technical skills, though somewhat perversely I’m particularly drawn to taking photos in challenging light conditions – to see what will happen, I suppose. The first photo is a good example. It was taken by opening the rooflight window in my office to the horizontal position (which also involved standing on the spare bed) resting my Lumix point-and-shoot camera on the back of said window – that is, on the outside frame nearest me – engaging some zoom, and hoping things are as focused as can be. And there we are.  It is a strange photo. A bit quantum physics-ish. Lost realms and parallel universe kind of stuff.

Here are some rather more obvious low-light Townsend Meadow moments.

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Lens-Artists: Follow Your Bliss Lindy has set the challenge this week.

Changing Seasons: This Was October

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The turn of the year: light and shadow; one summer gone, another planned for:

In Townsend Meadow…

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Around the town: winter wheat sprouting, highland cattle lounging…

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At the allotment: October morning glories on the pea sticks and in the polytunnel, bucket planting of endive and chicory for winter salad, summer squash and the last sweetcorn eaten, a sudden blooming of nasturtiums…

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Final floral fling in the home garden:

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Over the garden fence (sunshine and lots of rain)…

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On the Linden Walk:

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The Changing Seasons: October 2021  Please join hosts Ju-Lyn at Touring My Back yard and Brian at Bushboys World for this monthly challenge

Past Perspectives ~ Up the Meadow And Over The Edge

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Those who come here often will know that our cottage in Much Wenlock sits at the foot of Townsend Meadow, a field that rises quite steeply to the west and towards the summit of nearby Wenlock Edge. At the Edge top (c 1,000 feet above sea level) the land plummets through hanging woodland of beech, ash and yew to the Shropshire plain below. From our perspective in the undulating Edge uplands above this drop we see the sky above a false horizon that turns this vista into a gallery. Every moment we are treated to ‘cinematic’ sky doings, either viewed over the garden fence, as in the header photo, or from the upstairs’ rooflights as in the next two photos.

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There can also be curious effects – strange prisms of light that may be due to cold air rising from below the Edge, a bit like a fire rainbow. I’m sure a weather person can tell me. This next was spotted in early summer on a sunny evening:

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I’m also often treated to some good cloud installations when I’m on the field path, to-ing or fro-ing the allotment. A good storm brewing up is always exciting:

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Or a quieter top-of-the-meadow sunset:

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The wood at the top field corner behind the allotment also goes in for its own cloud formations:

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Past Squares #23

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Past Encounters Of The Butterfly Kind

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A male Common Blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus ), spotted one summer’s evening on my way home from the allotment. And despite the name, these butterflies are not at all common in our corner of Shropshire. Not only that, if you do happen to see one they don’t usually stay to have their photo taken. A very lucky shot then. And even in this next more distant view, still a magical sight:

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You can find out more about them on the Butterfly Conservation website HERE

Past Squares #8

Day’s End Over The Garden Fence

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Summer came back this week, a few days of full-on sun before tomorrow’s promised thunder storm. As you can see, the helianthus in the guerrilla garden are all of a glow, caught here yesterday evening – sun dipping over Wenlock Edge. Even Townsend Meadow, recently doused with herbicide, looked quite good in sundowner light. The story here is that after the barley was harvested in July, much of the fallen grain germinated, turning the field into a grassy sward. This has now been dealt with. Next comes the ploughing and drilling. It is also the season of muck spreading, though thankfully not in the field behind the house. Even so, the odour is wafting about the town, especially pungent when combined with a heat wave. All of which is to say,  beauty presently comes with a bit of a whiff.

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Meanwhile back in the Farrell jungle, all is gold…

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Life in Colour: GOLD

As Seen In Fresh Light ~ Over The Garden Fence

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Of itself the field behind our house (Townsend Meadow) is not very interesting. It is simply a farm field, much subjected to agrochemicals in order to produce year on year wheat, or rape, or oats, or field beans or barley. On days when the light is flat it is plain dull. Most of the time it is the activity above it that catches my eye – cloud movements, and the odd effects created by a false horizon which obscures the further horizon of Wenlock Edge where the ground drops off a few hundred feet to the Shropshire Plain below. But there are moments when the quality of light bestows a certain glamour. Somewhat astonishingly the header photo was taken at first light one February morning – a piece of magic all its own since February in England is rarely a scenic month unless one is thinking about carpets of snowdrops.

Here are some more ‘best’ moments – over the garden fence, or from the office skylight.

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Lens-Artists: It’s all about light Many thanks to Tina for this week’s theme. Please go and see her very inspirational gallery of light works.

Over The Garden Fence ~ The Monochrome Series

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I am much in love with black and white photography and often use the monochrome setting on my camera. My small Lumix Panasonic ‘point and shoot’ camera used to produce the best results, the current small Canon not so good. The photos here are a mix of original monochrome and converted colour shots featuring various views of Townsend Meadow in different seasons.

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Excavating the flood attenuation pond at the top of Townsend Meadow 2017

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Bringing in the wheat harvest

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Teasels

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Clouds over the Edge

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Lens-Artists: black and white   Anne at Slow Shutter Speed  wants to see black and white this week.

Barley Summer ~ Field Art Over The Fence

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What’s with the barley? Some may say I need to get out more.  Others may be quite mystified by my fascination with this summer’s crop in Townsend Meadow behind the house. In my defence I have to say that this particular grain is so very lovely on the stem. Also this is the first year it’s been grown in the field while we have lived here. And then there’s the fact that barley-growing has great heritage: around 10,000 years ago its evolution played a key role in the development of hunter-humans to farmer-humans; the wild grasses (including wheat) of the Middle Eastern plains transforming themselves into useful food crops. This happened (most probably) by some accidental selection wherein some plants for some reason failed to shed their grains as their wild forebears did, and so could be harvested. Then it was discovered (again perhaps by accident) that any of a stored crop not eaten could be saved and sown and produce similarly cooperative plants. It was the beginning of settled living – the creation and management of fields.

These days in the UK, barley is still a common food staple. But most important of all, when malted, it is an essential ingredient in the making of British ale. And until fairly modern times ale was the drink of necessity, even for children, in the absence of clean water supplies. So: now you’ve had the barley-praise. Here are the pictures.

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Copyright 2021 Tish Farrell