Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Oh little blue

More from our travels through New Zealand 2019

Whilst I’d resigned myself to not being able to identify most of the wonderful birds we came across on our trip, and I’d no desire to go to see captive birds, we were agreed it was worthwhile putting some effort into seeing a couple of species we were unlikely to see anywhere else in the world.

Penguins were were in pole position.  We were extremely lucky, whilst on a trip to Doubtful Sound, to see Fiordland Crested  penguinn, look it’s here, in the centre of the photo, sat on a rock, can you see it?

Fiordland penguin NZ bird

I know, hardly a National Geographic image is it! But never mind, we got a better look with Mr Uphilldowndales binoculars, which were a gift from his employers for 30 years service, and are very useful for seeing into the future. */**

We tried again at Curio Bay. We waited, and waited as dusk fell, but they didn’t show.

NZ penguin only

We’d been told that the town of Oamaru  held the best chance to see the Little Blue penguins,

I can’t think about the  little blue penguins  without out this song running on a loop in my head.  Little blue, how do you do.

The town is very proud of its penguins, this ‘green box’ (utility box) made me smile.

NZ penguin Oamaru

The residents look out for their welfare,

Penguin sign NZ

(although I was a little alarmed by the speed of the tourist coaches leaving this area, after dusk, when they were still coming ashore)

You can pay to see them from a visitor centre, but we were told we didn’t need to do that.  I got very excited when I saw footprints in the sand.

NZ penguin footprint_

Down by the waterfront we found one of the penguin wardens, clad in hi-vis vest, they were more than happy to tells us all they knew about their special residents.  And tell us where to wait and how not to disturb them as they waddled back to their nests.

They come ashore in rafts, as in swimming together, not sitting on rafts! The thought of rafts coming ashore does kind of conjure up an image of something slow moving; wrong, they are more like little torpedoes!

NZ penguin landfall

It was too dark, to capture much in the way of images, as you can see. But I’m thrilled to say I saw them

NZ penguin shoreline_

And what’s more, a pair were nesting under some decking, very near where we were staying, and I drifted off to sleep that night, listening to their distinctive calls, (starts at 11 seconds)

Which was every bit as magical as the  NZ dawn chorus.

*we forgot to take them out with us 75% of the times we needed them, on the Doubtful Sound trip we remembered them, but forgot the packed lunch!

**At Mr Uphilldowndale’s long service awards dinner, every employee at our table was, like Mr Uphilldowndale, working their notice, having been made redundant. It has to be said though, he’s never looked back.

30 years of employment with the same employer is a thing of the past I guess. 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.penguins.co.nz/

 


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The scent of the sea.

More from our travels through New Zealand, November 2019

A stroll to Nugget Point,  Catlins Conservation Park,  South Island, the rocks were named by Captain Cook, because of their golden colour,

NZ Nugget point light house 2_

The the drop from the path was precipitous in places, not Mr Uphilldowndales favourite kind of terrain.

NZ Nugget point light house 4

We could look down on dive boats and fur seals wallowing in sun warmed rock pools.

NZ Nugget point divers_

The east coast of South Island, it’s not a sheltered spot.  The wind shorn shrubs, look like they’ve been applied with a palette knife, smeared on to the exposed cliff face.

NZ Nugget point lighthouse cliff

Each shrub finding its own crevice to anchor its roots.

NZ Nugget point shrub root

You’d think the predominant scent of a place like this, would be the tang  of brine and seaweed (but it seems there is more to the scent of the sea than that).

But  to my surprise and delight, the strongest scent was that of flowers, this one seemed to be the most perfumed, but I don’t know what it is.

NZ Nugget point scented flowers

But I’m pretty sure this is a daisy, clinging to the edge of the world. A Catlin costal daisy?

NZ Nuget point_

It is so nice to be looking through the photos of our trip, with their sunshine and colour, whilst storm Dennis rages at the window. 

 

 

 

 


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Away with the fairies

Onwards into south Wales, Joe is living and working in Cardiff , on his placement year, part of his university course. We brought a van load of ‘essentials’ and helped settle him into his new abode.  We took the opportunity to head on to our favourite spot on the Gower peninsular, Nicholaston camp site, as well as  the joys of underfloor heating in the shower block, it has easy access down on to the beach. The path takes you through ancient woodland, with many autumn delights

Fungi -1.jpg

Once through the woods, the path laces through the dunes,

Oxwich Bay.jpg

that have abundant flowers

Seaholly.jpg

so much for snails not liking sand and prickly things

snail and seaholly.jpg

I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t brought Spud the dog down to the beach with me, but the plan had been for a medative kind of meander, that was led by the eye, not the tennis ball; walking three Springer Spaniels must be a whole different ball game

Three Springers.jpg

There was much  beauty hiding in plain sight

plain sight.jpg

A reminder of the lunacy of British politics flashed up every now and then.

Brexit wrecks it_.jpg

The tide sorts the shells by size, the waters draining from Oxwich marsh,

sand and river.jpg

sweep them out to sea again.

Oxwich Bay_.jpg


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Best of Both Worlds

Here we are tipping into Autumn, and I’m not through with photos and adventure from May yet.

I’m going to wrap up our tour of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, with my favourite photos of my favourite moments. That I was there, and saw such beauty, and had such a privileged glimpse into another world is almost dream like.

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.

Dolphin UHDD 4

A whale watching trip, with Whale Watch West Cork

If I’d seen little more than a few fins I think I’d have been happy,

Dolphin UHDD 5

But we got so much more than that, we got

Dolphin UHDD 3

these views and the knowledge and experience of Nic Solcum  

Dolphin UHDD 6

The pod of dolphins short-beaked common dolphins  turned and tumbled in the wave from the bow, after a little while* Nic cut the engines and let them swim off, about their business. There was a little German girl on the boat, aged about five, she stood at the bow, and waved them goodbye. I’m pretty sure she will always remember the experience, I know I will.

*No idea how long, it was one of those experiences where time takes on a pace of its own.

 


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Mizen Head

Ireland’s most southwesterly point, and home to the Mizen Head Signal station, as you can see, it’s an isolated spot that is enhanced by modern paths and an essential bridge (to my mind)

Mizen head view

We didn’t need telling more than once

Dangerous cliff

We were keeping to the paths.

Dangerous cliff Mizen_

Which had their own attractions

Mizen Head orchid rock

 

Mizen Heasd chain

We are duty bound to photograph such feats of engineering, as Joe is studying civil engineering, and like to see a nice bridge.

Mizen Head bridge side.jpg

The signal station is now a museum, much of its original equipment remains,

Distress_

Mizen_

Along with documents,

Mizen Head Telegram

which kind of looked a bit haphazard, but one hopes they’ve been catalogued

Mizen Head cupboard.jpg

This was my favourite, an inventory of  tubes and fuses, who need an Excel spreadsheet eh? I like the faux alligator skin print of the cover

Tubes fuses Mizen_

Working here must have been an isolated life, you weren’t going to see a lot from the window, and certainly not the next landfall of America, it does feel like the edge of the world.

last view_

and before the bridge was built, there were only a few ways of leaving.

Mizen Head Rescue

We had the luxury of walking off, although Mr Uphilldowndale, was keeping to the centre of the bridge, and not looking down.

 

Mizen Head Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Voyage of Discovery

Orchid Stromness_

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts that started in June and are still limping along! I’ll get there in the end…  something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

 

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_22

You may have noticed it has been taking me a while to get these posts out, there are many reasons,  good and bad,  but one of them is how long it takes me to read around the links I want to add to my post. With every click of a search engine, I’m finding more and more that grabs my attention and imagination. There is the occasional disappointment of course, something I wish I’d know about before we set off on this journey, something we’ve missed as a result. I suppose it is the eternal dilemma of travelling, how much do you prepare, or  how much of the fun of travel is the  unexpected discovery.

The town of Stromness, Orkney for example, it  was full of surprises,  from the orchids (photo above) growing on a little waste ground near the campsite,  to the town itself, it appears perfectly preserved, look at the main street.

Stromness 3

(We missed a sign taking us an easier route to the campsite, I did wonder what rabbit hole I was disappearing down as I drove the camper van through the ever narrowing street).

So little street furniture, signs, road markings, sale boards  and general stuff. I wondered how it had managed to remain so intact, has it been restored to this, or has it just sidestepped change? Then (wandering around the Internet again) I found photos of this street from the 70’s and 80’s it looked  pretty much just the same (a gorgeous little collection of photo journalism).  I also discovered that the Townscape Heritage Initiative is the mover and shaker of this exemplary street, and for support the beautiful shops and galleries 

Stromness 8

It is a town stuffed with sea faring history, with a heritage of whaling, exploration and was the recruitment centre for The Hudson Bay Company, the knowledge and skills of the seamen of this town being highly sought after.

Stromness 10

 

I found this enchanting little film, made by the primary school children in Stromness, I’m sure I recognise the cat that makes an appearance, the film will tell you all about the history. I wanted to show you the crow-step gables, a feature of Scottish architecture

Stromness crowstep 

At every corner, a route down to the quayside, back in time there would have been wooden piers built to cope with the influx of mackerel boats and so many boats moored here, you could walk across them.

Stromness 11

The museum is full of quirky artefacts, and slightly scary mannequins (which did seem to be a feature of the museums we visited)

Stromness 9

But maybe the biggest surprise though was The Pier Arts Centre, a vibrant gallery, of contemporary art, including over 20 works by Barbara Hepworth, what a gem of a place. 


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Puffin, nothin’

I’ve been away from the the blog for a wee while. Nothin’ has been posted.

I’d had high hopes of posting a  wildlife post  each day of June  like I did last year as part of  ‘Thirty Days Wild’  but I didn’t get off to a very good start!

However we’ve been lucky enough to spend a few days in Northumberland and visit the Inner Farne Island, it was fabulous, so much wildlife it felt like 30 days wild, condensed into a few hours . I’ve blog fodder for the rest of the month.

Let’s start with the puffins. I’ve always wanted to see Puffin’s, who wouldn’t?

Puffin proud_

You just can’t but smile at the sight of them. I’ve wanted to get a close look at them for a long time,

Puffin_

I visited Iceland back in the 1980’s (at the time everyone thought I was a little mad) and I only saw one puffin, so this was a puffin fest! I have to admit I was a bit excited.

Puffin excited_

So many Puffins

Three Puffins_

Their swimming style is not dissimilar to mine, not a very effective stroke (on the water at least)

Puffin swim splash 2

it’s a miracle they get airborne, when they do, their flying is distinctive.

Puffin flying_

They feed on sand eels, the supply of sand eels is crucial to a successful breeding season, however like all good fishermen’s tales, the ones that get away are the biggest…

Puffin 'this big'


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Time and Tide Part II

I was giving you a tour of Rhosilli Bay on the Gower Peninsular,  but I got distracted. It happens.

I thought you might like to see the remains of   the Helvetia, wrecked  in 1887

Wreck

It is amazing that the tides and pounding storms of the last 129 years haven’t swept away every trace of this ship, especially as it was extensively salvaged.

And given that these are timbers, wood, a natural, bio-degradable material, and they are still with on this beach,  just think  of plastic and of its non bio-degradable qualities, and hold that thought, for a post or two.

Its old  timber bones have simply slumped into the sands

Wreck 3 

Explorer Edgar Evans, was born in Rhosilli in in 1876, its said* that as a young boy seeing the drama of the wrecking of the Helvetia was in part, instrumental in him joining the navy, where he became a member of the “Polar Party” in Robert Falcon Scott‘s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole in 1911–1912 from which he never returned.

Worms head_

* I did read that bit in the pub in Rhosilli, I think I’ve got the detail right. I’m sure someone will correct me if needs be.