An unreliable memoir

Archive for February, 2015

The Thief

Silently the thief steals out from the base of the hedge and raids the seed spilt beneath the feeders. But little does he know that his crime is leading him to his doom. That trail of rum soaked raisins will lead him straight into a casserole.

I know they’re not native birds strictly speaking, but they don’t do much harm (when not intensively reared), and well – just look at him!

Nikon D5200 Tamron 500mm f8 1/250 ISO 400

DerelictThursday – Demolition Leicester

Demolition Leicester

iPhone 5S f2.2 4.2mm 1/873 ISO 40

On Sunday we had the big bang. I had planned to go and photograph it, but in the event I couldn’t face it so I went in the opposite direction. I still heard it though, five miles away. And now we have piles of rubble. And dust. Much dust. But this is the old indoor market. Going, going… It feels like the whole city is being demolished. I wouldn’t mind, except that there has been little thought as to what will occupy the space and it’s clear that there will be loss of public amenity. Someone’s making a profit.

New Walk Centre

Hyacinth Blue Pearl


Nikon D5200 Tamron 70-300mm f32.0 70mm +68mm 1/250 ISO 400

Did you know that the petals of the Hyacinth are stained with the tears of Apollo?
First macro shots with the new flash gun. I’m reasonably pleased with these shots but I think I can make further improvements.


40 years on

Flash Guns
I bought the Vivitar flashgun on the left (used) 40 years ago*. I’m not pretending it’s had continuous use but it’s still going strong and I’ve used it for all my recent macro shots. Today I bought another flashgun, the Yongnuo YN560 II on the right. It’s twice as heavy and twice as powerful as the Vivitar, and five times more sophisticated (although very flexible and actually pretty simple to use with a little practice). I can’t remember what I paid for the Vivitar, but at 27 pounds on eBay (brand new), the Yongnuo is cheaper after allowing for 40 years inflation. I constantly fight G.A.S. but the flexibility of the Yongnuo is what I need to improve my macro photography, and I think I can justify it at this price. I hope it lasts me another 40 years. If it does, it will be good value.

iPhone 5S 4.15mm f2.2 4.2mm 1/33 ISO 50

*LOL, now being advertised on eBay as “Vintage”!


Moss sporangia
I’m quite pleased with this. High magnification, but the lighting is a little harsh – I’m working on that! To give you an indication of scale, the capsules of the sporangia are about 3mm long. I don’t know what species this is – mosses are hard!

Nikon D5200 Tamron 70-300mm f22 70mm +68mm 1/60 ISO 400

Update: Now I know.

The Magnificent Seven

Long Tailed Tits
Yul is the one in the back. Advice for aspiring wildlife photographers – always focus on the eyes 😉

Of approximately 2000 photographs I have taken this year so far (90% deleted), this is my favourite. The narrative is baked in (feeding frenzy). Thirty seconds before I took this shot there were no birds on the feeder, and there were none thirty seconds later. That’s how longtailed tits are. I took several dozen shots of birds on this feeder but all the rest have been deleted – technical problems, but mostly just boring. Technically this is definitely not the best shot but it makes me laugh. With this photo, I just pressed the button. But as Ansel Adams said:

Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.

Nikon D5200 Tamron 500mm f8 1/250 ISO 400

Xanthoria parietina, the golden shield

Xanthoria parietina
I often struggle with identifying fungi, so when it comes to lichens, I normally don’t bother beyond the basic fruiticose/foliose/crustose distinction. However, when I found this striking specimen recently I thought I’d try looking it up. In this case, it’s an easy one, the relatively unmistakable Xanthoria parietina, the gold shield lichen.

Nikon D5200 Tamron 70-300mm f32 95mm +68mm 1/20 ISO 3200

Feathers ruffled

It’s “only” a robin, but I like the pose – robinesque. A bird with attitude. If it was human sized, it would be terrifying.

Nikon D5200 Tamron 500mm f8 1/500 ISO 400

Slug Wars

Irish Yellow Slug

Nikon D5200 Tamron 70-300mm f32 130mm +68mm 1/60 ISO 1000

I had this down as a Yellow Slug – Limacus flavus, but David Nicholls of NatureSpot helped me identify it as Limacus maculatus. Both species are quite variable but the Yellow Slug is more lemon yellow and has a clear pale line along the keel, from the tail to at least half way along the body. This species has been expanding its range across Britain and seemingly replacing Limacus flavus along the way. It may be under-recorded due to confusion with Limacus flavus but it is expanding its range. These changes are one reason why citizen science nature recording sites such as NatureSpot (for Leicestershire and Rutland only) and iRecord (all the UK) are so important.

Eggs, likely from the same specimen:

Slug eggs