Sunday, 21 February 2010

Skeleton in the Woods...

It was way too cold to go kayaking, so I opted for a walk instead, choosing to visit some of my old haunts. The windchill under the leadened skies persuaded me to leave the high open ground and seek the comfort of the woods.

Amongst the trees I stumbled across an old friend. The skeletal remains of a once loved shelter. Although now bare, the framework had survived well, still able to support my full weight.

It was over three and a half years ago that I built this bivi as a bolt hole from bad weather. It had been a great place to stop for a nap or to cook a snack, but I abandoned it after it became apparent that a local Muntjac deer was using it as a rest up. There are no tracks, or signs of use, so maybe come spring I might re-thatch it and move back in.

The wind dropped and the sun emerged with a surprising warmth, luring me out onto a sunny snow covered bank.

Settled in the sunshine I felt it was definitely time for something to eat.

You can't beat Camp coffee and some of my favourite Clam Chowder soup when it's cold out.

Feeling full, I was content to stretch out and absorb as much sunshine as I could while watching the snow slowly melt off the Gorse flowers.

The blue skies departed as the lowering sun heralded the end of the day. I followed the meandering stream along the valley, homeward bound...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Burly Bird gets the Worm...

The weather this week has been somewhat confused. You'll set off in sunshine, only to be caught out in a blizzard, shortly followed by sunshine as if nothing had happened.

The sunny weather lured me out onto the water, but after only a mile kayaking it greyed over leaving me to paddle the last 4 miles in freezing rain.

The fox hates it too, you can tell. When there is a clear starry night , he's a happy chappy, but he really isn't keen on the wet weather. His little paws get soggy and he's quick to grab his food and take it somewhere dry to hold up.

Even the Buzzards are finding it difficult. Their main prey around here are rabbits and they don't tend to come out during the day when the weather is bad.

They're having to resort to low level ambush hunting of hedgerow birds and eating worms from the newly ploughed fields. I didn't realise Buzzards ate worms, and for a long while wondered why they were sitting out in the muddy furrows. They must have to eat a lot of worms to feed a bird with a wingspan of over a metre!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Orwellian Nightmare Unit...

The traffic snarled up and eventually came to a halt. I parked my car, grabbed my cameras and went to see what was happening. The road was blocked by police and fire engines.

More sirens rang out as a police car pulled across to block the road, while yet another fire engine arrived. I couldn't see smoke, so I assumed it must be an accident of some kind.

The air ambulance circled overhead obviously searching for a suitable landing spot.

It swung low over the rooftops, skimmed the rear gardens, and positioned itself to land at the junction of two roads.

It sunk below the outline of the suburban skyline and out of sight.
This is when the trouble started...
A policeman approached me. He asked if I was affiliated with the press, and what was I taking photographs of. I politely explained that I was just a local caught up in the traffic taking some shots of the air ambulance overhead. He then began ranting on about seizing my cameras as evidence! He was rude, aggressive and intimidating. I was shocked. I was told that I wasn't allowed to take photos. Although I was incandescent with rage, I didn't want to be arrested, or have my cameras taken, so I retreated into a side road.
With the cameras tucked under my coat I returned and attempted to blend in with the crowd. Just in time to witness another photographer suffer similar treatment. This time the police were trying to use anti-terror laws to stop him taking photos. He knew his rights, stood his ground, and informed them that they had no right to seize his camera, or prevent him from taking pictures. He was threatened with arrest for a public order offence and manhandled to a car by the policeman! Credit to the guy, he stated his case clearly, he had committed no offence and was well within his rights to take photographs on a public road. They reluctantly let him go.

Out of sight, the turbines of the helicopter whined into life. The thudding of the rotors grew louder as it emerged above the roof tiles. The police were distracted so I took the opportunity to snap a few shots...

After the helicopter left, I made conversation with the other photographer. I could tell he was very annoyed by the police. He was amazed at their ignorance of the law and of the public rights. We'd both encountered this abuse before, and I'm sure I will again.
It turned out that the incident was just a traffic accident. There was no reason to evoke anti-terror laws. I didn't hinder or obstruct anyone in any way. I didn't intrude on the casualties privacy. There was simply no reason to stop anyone from taking pictures. What was particularly hypocritical was the professional video camera crew (full size on the shoulder TV camera, plus sound man) that were shadowing the emergency services at close quarters filming the casualties from barely 6 foot away!
The police are misusing, and abusing these anti-terror laws as I suspected they would when I wrote a blog post about them when they first came into existence last year. (Read it HERE)
I will continue to take photos and strive to prevent the spread of this new branch of the police... 'The Orwellian Nightmare Unit'.