Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photo Friday- Religion

I thought this series of photos suited the topic. This is the Anglican Parish Church at St Marychurch , South Devon.

It looks like the quintessential English Country church with a couple of yew trees and a carpet of wildflowers between the higgledy piggledy gravestones.

The blossom from a flowering cherry floated in the breeze and drifted across the grass like fine snow or confetti.

A cheeky squirrel hopped up on one of the gravestones and watched me while I was taking photos .

Another view through the graveyard to the church. A church has been on the site since the 12th century [there is a Saxon font inside the church ] and local legend says that the site was initially consecrated by St Boniface in the 8th century.

Parish registers date back to the 1500s so there is definitely a long history of religious worship here.

The building itself has been rebuilt repeatedly; most recently after being largely destroyed in 1943 by aerial bombing.

Sadly, around 26 people died in the bombing raid on the church -at least 21 sunday school children and a couple of sunday school teachers.
The churchyard has a very peaceful atmosphere despite its tragic history.

This is the church's lychgate -originally a lychgate was a roofed gate which protected the pallbearers and coffin from the elements while waiting to be formally received into consecrated ground by the parish priest.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Golden Hind

This is Brixham harbour in South Devon, England. Brixham is a pretty fishing village that in Victorian times was a busy deep sea fishing port. the old fisherman's cottages are painted pastel colours and surround the harbour.

The harbour is still filled with fishing boats, and a very beautiful replica of Sir Francis Drake's galleon, the Golden Hind. [There is another full size replica of the Golden Hind berthed in St Mary Overie Dock, London]

A view from the other side of the ship shows the gun ports for cannon and some of the different deck areas, the coat of arms and Tudor style decoration.

The original Golden Hind was part of a flotilla of 5 ships which sailed off partly in exploration and partly in semi-legal piracy against Spanish ships, possessions and allies.

She was the only ship of the five to return three years later, after circumnavigating the world.

When the galleon set sail from Plymouth in 1577, she was named the Pelican - its not clear why the name was changed to the Golden Hind during the voyage.

The crow's nest is the lookout post on the top of the main mast. Its a kind of platform surrounded by a railing - and look-out was not the best job for someone with vertigo.

The Golden Hind figurehead [a hind is a female deer]. I wonder what the original Pelican figurehead looked like.
The ships tender which would have been used to row from the ship to shore when the ship at anchor and not safely moored in a harbour.
Queen Elizabeth the First was delighted with her share of the booty collected by Francis Drake's privateering . She dined on board the Golden Hind and knighted him Sir Francis Drake -though the actual knighthood ceremony was conducted by the French Ambassador for diplomatic reasons.

Queen Elizabeth might have given the original privateering charter to Drake to allow him to attack and rob Spanish ships but it would have been poor form to be seen as completely condoning and honouring in the culprit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Photo Friday - movement

I decided that these photos of a Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres [in breeding/summer plumage] would be good for the photo friday entry 'movement'.

The birds were not easy to photograph as they spent so much time bobbing their heads up and down in the water and turning stones over to find small creatures to eat. This movement is how they acquired the name 'turnstone'.

I had never seen them before until a couple of months back at Brixham harbour in Devon, England.
I managed to grab a shot of this one in a rare moment of stillness - I took quite a few photos but most were awful as the bird moved so fast and unpredictably.

This one was splashing and shaking off the water -I was quite pleased with how the water droplets came out given that it was raining heavily when i took the photos.

It seems that these birds can be long-lived- the average is about 9years and the longest living ruddy turnstone was over 19 when it died.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Gourdon and waterfall

Gourdon is a mediaeval perched village [vilage perché] - built on a 760 metre high spur of rock as a defensive measure. The is nicknamed the Eagle's Nest, Le nid d'Aigle .

Gourdon is considered one of the 149 prettiest villages in France - unfortunately I visited on a stormy day so the photos of the village look more like Frankenstein's castle ...

or maybe Dracula's lair.

Normally, the pale honey stone is lit up by the sun and the buildings seem to glow -but on Wednesday the sun only appeared in brief spells before it hid again.

This is the postoffice - probably one of the most attractive post offices I've ever seen.

This is an old sweetshop with lots of lollies and traditional candied fruits on sale. There is a faded painted sign on the side wall advertising local honey.

One of the busy cafes. I liked the blue stripey parasols which echoed the pale blue sky and blue shutters.

The fountain dates to 1852. The building with the arches is the communal wash house [lavoir] , where people used to wash clothes in the days before washing machines and indoor plumbing.

This is a famous restaurant on the edge of the cliff named the Eagle's Nest, Le nid d'Aigle after the village's nickname. The terrace must have an amazing view down the valley on a good day.

Gourdon from the other side looked less imposing without the black clouds but the sky soon darkened again.
The angry sky above Gourdon village - we were having a picnic and managed to finish before the thunder, lightning and torrential rain started.

The Gorges du Loup is a massive canyon that starts beneath the village of Gourdon -the Loup [Wolf] River cuts through the 700 metre high cliffs and the road follows a little bit higher up the side of the canyon.

There are several spectacular waterfalls though most aren't easily visible from the road. You can visit the procession of waterfalls at the Saut du Loup [the Wolf Leap] between July and the end of October.

The Cascade de Courmes is one of the waterfalls in the Gorges du Loup that can be easily spotted -though its in an awkward place as far as photography is concerned.

It seems to appear at the side of the road just after going through a road tunnel cut through the rock.

The Cascade de Courmes waterfall has a 130ft/40metre drop from the top of the cliff -apparently its hard to get a photo of the falls falling straight as there is normally a wind blowing the water around.

The first photo was taken from the car window but I thought I'd get a better one by walking back from the nearest lay-by.
Unfortunately, almost as soon as I left the car, the heavens opened. Within seconds I was soaked to the skin - but I thought I might as well try and take the photo anyway. The rain was so heavy, I might as well have been in the waterfall -the camera lens was running with rainwater and the photo didn't show much more of the falls.

The rain got too heavy to see properly and I was concerned about being run over by passing cars so I didn't cross over the road to take shots of the pools and smaller drops to the gorge below.

Ah well, at least I tried.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Photo Friday - minimalism

Minimalism can mean a lot of different things -in this case its related to how I took the photo rather than the photo subjects.

I have been interested in digiscoping for a while after reading about it on a few nature type blogs.
Digiscoping is using a spotting scope of some kind [including binoculars ] instead of a long camera lens.

The idea behind digiscoping was originally to save weight by reducing the amount of gear people needed to carry with them and also to reduce expense because long lenses suitable for bird photos can be prohibitively expensive.

Anyway, this is a digiscoped photo of some yellow legged gulls - using a 10x50 monocular and my Canon A720is camera -camera and monocular are both handheld -no tripods or adapters.

The chick has grown immensely on a diet of fish provided by both parents. Initially, it was a tiny bundle of fluff with long legs sticking out the bottom. Since this photo was taken the other day, the chick has had another growth spurt and its adolescent wing feathers are starting to grow.

As far as digiscoping is concerned, I'm quite pleased with the results so far -it certainly extends the range of my camera well beyond the add-on 2x teleconverter lens and with reasonable results.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Collared dove chick

A couple of weeks ago a collared dove chick landed on a bar at our window. He was big enough to flutter his small wings but not fully confident in flight -so he was quite lucky to have landed on the ledge rather than the street 5 stories below.

Our cat ,Gandalf , has a love/hate relationship with the nearby birds - he loves to watch them from the windowsill but he finds their swooping and fluttery wings quite scary.

Gandalf soon spotted the chick - he could hear the faint cries of distress and I think he felt the chick was within his league.

He tried to reach up as high as he could but was not quite long enough -the chick seemed oblivious to the intrepid hunter behind the glass.

After a while, Gandalf got bored, and the chick's parents came and encouraged it to land on the ledge that runs around our apartment block. It survived, and seems to have almost reached adult size now.
This is what it will look like eventually -quite a change from a small bundle of grey feathers.