Thursday, 17 March 2011

Trains, Planes, but no Automobiles...

It was a relief to see some blue sky at last. It seemed that the interminable grey gloom of overcast skies had hung over us for weeks. Today the sun shone, the moon was just a stretch away, and the scent of spring was in the air.

The day could not to be wasted. I took a stroll around some favourite haunts at Chasewater.
The reservoir has been drained to carry out some work on the dam, but the springs that feed the waters ensured that there were still ponds sufficient for the wildlife to do what wildlife does.

I accidentally spooked a Stag out of a belt of trees. While it was out in the open I took the opportunity to grab a few snaps. Typical... I get it all lined up, in focus, and he goes and closes his eyes!

The two Stags held an uneasy truce, occasionally sparring, but also cooperating, taking it in turns to keep an eye out while the other grazed.

It amazes me how such large animals generally manage to keep themselves undiscovered in such a populated area. They'll stand motionless in a clump of trees while walkers pass by totally unaware of their presence.

The lady driver of the passing steam train did spot them from her elevated position and signalled excitedly to me. A blast of the whistle had them running for the horizon, and I headed for home too...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Stunt Budgie gets a Bath Buddy...

Budgie was happy enough, glad to be rescued from the dangerous outside world in which she was found, but sometimes the humans were out for a good part of the day and life could get a bit dull...

She would try and occupy herself as best she could, practising stunts on the top of her cage, but she really needed a partner in crime.

So budgie has got a new friend to keep her company, and get up to all sorts of mischief while the humans aren't watching!

Of course the new budgie hasn't had the freedom to fly around until now, and so needs to build up her fitness and strength. Blue budgie was quick to show her some 'warm up' exercises.

Soon enough they were ready to try out a few synchronized manoeuvres.

Green budgie has got the hang of this new fangled flying malarkey, and can out run a guy with a camera without much problem.

In fact they've become such good friends that they are happy sharing a bath together...

Friday, 11 February 2011

Air Ambulance...

Resting up with a sniffly cold, my afternoon snooze was abruptly interrupted with some loud drilling noises from the workmen next door. I turned over and pressed my ear deep into the pillow trying to block out the infernal racket. The irritating buzzing continued, if anything it was getting louder. What on earth were they doing?!
I glared out the window only to see the normally busy road deserted...

I rushed outside as I realised that what I thought was drilling was a helicopter circling very low. It was the air ambulance looking for a spot to land.

After a perilous hover, slotting itself between telephone lines, it must have been a relief to the pilot to be safely on the ground, as the gas turbine engines whined to a halt.

With the rotors at a standstill, the crew sprung into a calm, but efficient routine.

The casualty was being treated in a waiting ambulance, as the helicopter was prepared.

A spine board was used to safely carry out the transfer from stretcher to air ambulance.

As far as I could ascertain, a car had been in collision with a female pedestrian. There was damage to the bonnet and windscreen, as well as an ominous dent high up on the A-pillar.

Ironically, dangling from the rear view mirror was a tag in support of the Midlands Air Ambulance.

The co-pilot checked the take off area, while the police ushered onlookers to a safe distance.

The gas turbines wound into life, while the sound of the blades rose to a deafening roar. Hesitantly the impressive machine hauled itself into the air, before gaining its grace and soaring off into the sky.

There was a small fleet of unmarked police cars (including these two regular BMWs) that had needlessly turned up. There were more than enough patrol cars to carry out all duties, and sitting there for nearly an hour was a poor use of resources.

The forensic collision investigation unit were very thorough, the scene measured, searched and photographed.
Thank goodness for the air ambulance. I will be putting some money in their donation box again this week...

Friday, 4 February 2011

Railway Journeys... Destination, Nowhere!

It was nice to be out walking in Cannock Chase. The wind was blowing a gale, but it was mild. High up on the hill, surrounded by forest, you could see for miles around.

In a large clearing I came to a railway level crossing. It seemed odd finding it up on the crest of a steep sided hill. Not where you would expect to find a railway at all.

Confident that there wasn't a train due, I stood on the tracks to take a photo.

There was something fishy about this. The lines didn't go anywhere.

There wasn't even a road to warrant the need for a crossing on the imaginary railway. To top it, there were overhead power lines that also went nowhere.... and a junction box... emergency telephones... signage. There is no road, railway, station, or anything on the top of this deserted hill, there never has been, and there are no plans to build any. What the hell is going on?!... Maybe I imagined it all...

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Tiny Tots Teatime Toytime Time...

You know what it's like when the chair feels oh so comfy, but you really need a cup of tea? You'd do anything to get someone to go and make you a nice cuppa. Problem is, everyone else feels the same way, and that's when the arguments start...Who's making the tea?

Now, thanks to the wonderment of modern technology and the clever wizardry of a good friends programming skills, worry no more. Simply click on your free to download application... "Who's Making the Tea?"

Just enter the names of the disputing tea buddies, and then select one of two entertaining ways to decide who's putting that kettle on.

The 'Pointer of Misfortune' will keep you on the edge of your seat, making you feel all the more comfy when you realise it's someone elses turn to serve the beverages.

Occasionally the needle of doom will fall on 'Respin'. The rising anticipation will make your mouth turn drier, but the tea taste all the sweeter!

Trust your luck to the turn of a card. Will you be 'safe' or will the kettle whistle call you to tea service?

This fun application with its wacky music is absolutely free to download. There are no hidden nasties to haunt your computer, just good honest fun. Simply CLICK HERE to visit "Proper Bostin Games" and get your copy now!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

'Baby' Range Rover out playing in the snow!...

It was snowing heavily, and I was running late for an appointment when this car caught my eye.

I hastily swung into a car park to take some snaps. It was some way off and the falling snow didn't help getting a clear image.

Heavily disguised, this is a prototype of the new 'baby' Range Rover, the Evoque due to go on sale in summer 2011. It's a handsome looking vehicle despite the camouflage. I'll certainly be looking in the usual places to see if I can get some better photos...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Dippy Digit Diaries...

Mr Finger had been acting a little strange of late. Hanging around with other digits to 'flick the Vs', poking things that he shouldn't, but we never expected this. Luckily he's made a full recovery, and with the help of his close friend, Tom Thumb he's getting to grips with things...

Friday, 22 October 2010

Unlucky Buck...

With the Fallow rut intensifying, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my attempts to get some good shots of the larger bucks. By the time they moved from the less accessible woodland onto the heath, the sun was beginning to set and the light fail.

In the night under pale moonlight, it was relatively easy to get close, but there really wasn't enough light for a clear photo. I'd have to come back the next day.

By the time I arrived at Cannock Chase it was already early afternoon. The weather wasn't playing ball, any brief moments of sun were quickly followed by bouts of grey cloud laden gloom and spitty rain. This didn't seem to bother the rutting deer who were being very vocal, bellowing loudly in the trees.You'll have to turn the volume up on these videos as the soundtrack is a little quiet but, crucial.

The larger buck were in the dense coniferous forests at the usual rutting grounds, which they use year after year. Most were difficult to get a good view of. I neither wanted to unnecessarily disturb them, or be mauled by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

After a few uninspiring shots through the undergrowth, I decided to take a break, put my hammock up in the trees and have lunch. Fully rested, I stood to pack the hammock into my rucksack. As I turned there was a herd of deer right behind me. I froze, they froze... slowly I reached for my camera, they scattered, melting into the forest!

High up on a hill, the sound of clashing antlers echoed across from the next valley. Torn between hurrying and moving stealthily I made my way down the steep slippery track. Two large bucks were fighting in the bracken. A smaller buck decided to take advantage of the vacant plot strutting his stuff and bellowing, but was off in a flash as soon as another much larger buck arrived to investigate the fuss.

Trying to capture the action with my camera was difficult. The power of these two creatures as they pushed and shoved was amazing. Just trying to keep your footing or walk through the tough dry bracken is hard enough, but they were ripping their way through it as if it wasn't there. The noise of antler upon antler was surprisingly loud. After a good 5 minutes or more of battling the bucks broke apart. The bracken parted as a huge buck came crashing and thundering down the slope, straight towards me... Aaargh!
Fiddling with the zoom on my camera while checking my potential escape route resulted in a clumsy shot. Luckily the deer spotted me at the last moment and turned off to one side. He looked exhausted, dejected, panting, with the remnants of foliage ripped from the ground hanging from his antlers. I felt sorry for him, he wasn't having a good day.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Chasing Fire at Chasewater...

It was meant to be a peaceful trip to Chasewater, a local nature reserve. On the way I heard sirens. Behind me a fire engine was speeding along, blue lights flashing. It turned off down a side road and I thought nothing more of it until I noticed the plume of smoke.

There was a good view up on the high bridge above the toll motorway, from there I found a footpath so that I could get a closer look.

The flames were fierce, crackling loudly. I glanced into the nearby stables, but thankfully they were empty.

The fire crew still hadn't arrived and the flames were starting to spread. There wasn't much I could do to help.

The first of three fire tenders pulled into the paddock.

I was impressed out how quickly they were out with the hose and tackling the blaze, just seconds.

The initial flames were extinguished rapidly but kept on reigniting.

It took quite a bit to douse it completely. Clouds of steam and smoke engulfed the fire fighters.

They were very thorough, taking time to cool everything down as they didn't know whether there were gas canisters involved.

With the fire quelled, the crew took a brief breather. It looked from the debris to be a caravan that had been destroyed, setting fire to other equipment around it.

I never found out whether it was a deliberate fire, but locals told me there had been other fires in the area recently, so who knows...

Friday, 15 October 2010

Stag Does...

Following my previous experiences of the Fallow deer rut, I decided that I'd like to try and find some Red deer. They're not nearly as common as the Fallow deer, but I'd heard that there were some small herds to be found just a few miles from where I live.

I discovered plenty of tracks new and old, so I knew they were about. The rain lashed down and after walking miles a cold wind picked up causing a soul destroying chill. I'd just about given up on finding them when, on the far side of some railway lines they trotted out in front of me.

At first they were nervous, ushering the younger ones back into the cover of the scrub. Faining disinterest, while enthusing over some grass, I convinced them that I too was a harmless grazing animal.

For a moment I thought that there was a Stag in the group, until I realised that one of the Does was standing in front of a couple of conveniently positioned branches!

The mothers and their offspring were very affectionate to one another, constantly nuzzling and showing attention.

The clouds lifted, the rain stopped. More deer emerged from the trees.

They seemed remarkably relaxed as I took their pictures.

Some were even curious.

Eventually they began to move off.

A couple of last glances...

... at the strange new herbivore on the other side of the tracks.

An inquisitive gallery of faces peer back at me before wandering off. Please ignore what the one on the left is doing!

Astounding how such a large animal simply disappears in the tall grass...