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Tag Archives: BBC weather watchers

Middleton Lakes RSPB

I always wonder how I miss local attractions when I have lived in the area for most of my life.  Kingsbury water park and Drayton Manor Park are near to each other and the family has enjoyed many days out in both places.  What I had overlooked over the years is Middleton lakes which is owned by the RSPB and is situated between the other two major venues.  The RSPB reserve is next to the Bodymoor Heath Aston Villa training grounds and adjacent to Middleton Hall.  The latter was closed when I visited but the RSPD car park was open and once there, I set off to explore the reserve. 

My first port of call was the bird feeders and as I placed myself behind the hide, several birds visited included blue tits and a woodpecker.  I had brought along my 400mm zoom lens and was able to get some good close ups.  My walk up the river path took me to the Birmingham and Fazerley canal. The path took me past some nooks and crannies near to the river. Here I was able to stand in the woods and get some great pictures of the birds who came along. 

I walked past the canal onto the flatlands and there were hundreds of seagulls flying around although there were a few other birds such as Canada geese present.  I did spot my first butterfly of the season, an orange tip.  The reserve is well set out and you can get good views of wildlife.  I spotted swans, herons and partridges although I was not quick enough with my camera for some of them. 

Middleton Lakes RSPB
The wetlands at Middleton Lakes

I did enjoy the visit but was left frustrated as I did not capture the flying birds as well as I had hoped.  As I walked back reflecting on how to get better images, there were two ducks on the canal bridge walls.  Getting my iPhone out I took a close-up picture of the birds before they moved on. 

My duck stare picture did get a positive set of viewing on my social media channels. The picture of the lakes was featured on the lunchtime BBC weather report. These features made for a satisfying end of my visit to Middleton Lakes.

Middleton Lakes RSPB
My picture feature on BBC Midlands weather report.

This is my first blog on wildlife pictures but here is a taste of some of my previous blogs that features a few of my feathered friends.
Coombe Abbey Country Park
Arrow Valley Country Park


Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire

My quest to discover new National Trust properties took me to Croome House and Gardens in the heart of Worcestershire countryside.  The day was glorious for March and just the weather to go exploring a new place.  Arriving right on opening time, I took my map and quickly planned my visit.  I had an hour before the house doors opened so I made my way along to the lake with an island feature at the end of the property.  The tag line for Croome is expect the unexpected.  There is certainly lots of unexpected views and points of interest along the path.  The photographs provide an insight into the different views that can be seen at Croome.  There are several outhouses and statues along the way. The lake had the final mist of the morning lingering on the edges with views of main house. Following on from the lake, I soon found myself approaching the house and the wooden bridge over the river made a good feature for framing the house in the background.  This picture is the main feature of my blog and also made the BBC Midlands weather bulletin for that day.

Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire
Starting out on the walk at Croome.
Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire
A view of the Lake from inside the Grotto
Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire
Coombe House in the morning mist.
Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire
A close up of the footbridge.

The house was interesting.  Whilst it initially looked bare there were several strategically placed objects including urns that I was reliably informed were rare and individual.  The house was slowly unpacking furniture and other items that were being loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The wooden boxes looked very surreal in several of the rooms. There was a range of boxes in various stages of unpacking.  One part that I really loved was where the bone china was being displayed.  It was a glass and mirrored display box that you could walk into.  The reflection of the plates was surreal.  I took the opportunity to take different photographs including lying on the floor looking upwards with my camera.  The results were quite incredible.

Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire
Another imaginative display.
Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire
Whilst much of the interior furnishings have long gone, this sofa remains.

Walking out of the house into the expanse of the grounds, I carried on the path discovering outbuildings that commanded great views of the surrounding countryside.  The final delight was the beautifully simple church with the afternoon sun shinning into it.  This made for some good picture opportunities.

Coombe National Trust, Worcestershire
Interior of St Mary Magdalene Church

The National Trust link to Croome provides further information on visiting the property.

Ice Cream barge Stratford upon Avon

As an avid Weather Watcher I am always checking the forecast. When the BBC weather presenter mentioned that it would be a foggy start to the day then I decided to be up early the next day. My destination was Stratford upon Avon.  The town is relatively quiet out of season and there are always good photographic opportunities. I arrived not long after sunrise with some remnants of mist over the river Avon.  The thermometer was struggling to get above zero. It was very cold and the canal basin was frozen in many parts. 

Early light at Stratford upon Avon
The sun shines over the canal basin
Seagulls on the Boat Hire Hut, River Avon, Stratford upon Avon.
Seagulls on the Boat Hire Hut, River Avon, Stratford upon Avon.

My walk took me over the footbridge past the tourist boat hut where boats can be hired in season. Seagulls were clustered together sitting on the wooden roof for warmth. The sun was playing on the water and shining on the hardy souls who were out training on their rowing boats. The bank opposite to the town was quiet except for geese and swans eating grass. There were soon disturbed by a dog off a lead. All the birds made a quick dash for the river making a log of noise in the process.

Foot bridge over the River Avon, Stratford upon Avon.
Dog walkers strolling into the mist.
A view from the footbridge, Stratford upon Avon
A view from the footbridge, Stratford upon Avon
Bandstand, Stratford upon Avon.
The bandstand in the park next to the river bank with low sunlight.

Walking along the riverbank, the world was very peaceful and I then headed back over the river into town.

River walk, Stratford upon Avon.
River walk, Stratford upon Avon.
Bridges over the River Avon, Stratford upon Avon.
Road bridge to the left, footbridge to the right, here I am!

On my way back, I passed by John Hall’s house who was a physician and married Susannah daughter of William Shakespeare. Regrettably, all except Shakespeare’s birthplace are shut due to Covid19. However I enjoyed the sun and shadows on the front of the house. This will be beautiful in the spring when the magnolia flowers.

John Nash's House, Stratford upon Avon
John Nash’s House, Stratford upon Avon.

There were several other places I visited and I have only selected my favourite pictures. All the pictures so far were taken with my Canon 5D mk IV with the 24-105mm lens. However, I did have my iPhone with me and I could not resist taking a picture of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and posting it up on the Weather Watchers page. Luckily the picture was selected by Shefali for the BBC Midlands news weather forecast. A satisfying conclusion to a rewarding photographic walk.

BBC Weather Watchers, Stratford upon Avon
BBC Weather Watchers, Midlands Today, Stratford upon Avon

If you enjoyed this page then please take a look at my other photographic journeys in Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford Greenway – if you are looking for something a little different from your visit to the town.
Mist in the Park – pictures from Charlecote Park near to Stratford upon Avon

Visiting Stratford is always fun and you can find out more from the official website.


Digbeth

Lockdown 3 is easing and in early April, I found myself back in Digbeth to take a look at what was happening.  One reason was to look for the new Street art project by @Fokawolf but more of that later.  I parked the car in Coventry street car park and made my way to Digbeth.  I love the Suki10cc artwork by street artist Gent 48 It features the up and coming black stars in Birmingham.  The house is so colourful and is great to photograph.  It was one of my pictures that was featured in my recent Amateur Photography magazine feature. This visit, I decided to do some unconventional pictures by getting close to the mural. 

Digbeth street art
Best in Birmingham
Digbeth Street Art
Meriden Street

Walking down Bordesly Street, I experimented with some street photography. It is my first venture out with my Fujifilm x100v and I was a little self conscious trying to use it.  However when I reached the Custard Factory, the camera comes into its own.  A few pictures on the bridge over the River Rea,  and then into Gibb street where there were a few people moving around. I took a few pictures of the colourful artwork (as you do when in Digbeth).  I was pleased with the one I took by the street artist 0707 as it was very colourful especially with the bicycle on the colourful bike rack.

Digbeth
Bridge over the River Rea
Digbeth
The Custard Factory
Digbeth
Street art by 0707
Digbeth
Colours of Gibb Street (so many street artists here, Philth, Gent 48, n4t4 etc)

My next stop was to see the artwork by @fokawolf.  It is a larger than life blown up picture of Pat Butcher from Eastenders and it is underneath the railway arch on Heath Mill Lane.  It is such a random bizarre mural.  The character is not associated with Birmingham and why it is placed here is not known.  What it does do is provoke comment and debate. That makes it all worthwhile.  My picture shows how tall the mural is with the couple next to it.  I also took a picture of the balconies on the Custard Factory and posted it on the BBC weather pages. The architecture always looks good especially when the sun is shining on it.  Fortunately for me, it was featured on the local BBC weather news.

Digbeth
Pat Butcher by Fokawolf
Digbeth
The Custard Factory as featured on the BBC local weather

Still in a wandering mood my next destination was Lower Trinity street taking pictures along the way of some of the more interesting street art. By the time I had reached Bordesley station, I thought it would be good idea to see the canals.  It is very quiet around there and I worry about my personal safety.  However it seemed ok so I carried on taking pictures.  I like the colour of the graffiti and in fact one of my favourite artists, Lucy McLaughlan‘s art work is under the Deritend road bridges.  My first attempt at a long exposure for 3 seconds with the Fujifilm x100v gave a pleasing result.  As I moved back into Digbeth along the canals it became much quieter.  I did meet a friend Mullerbiker from my Slack British Tech Network who happened (as he was) passing through the canal network.  After chatting for a few minutes, he left but then my courage failed me and I retraced my steps out of the system and walked along the road back into Digbeth again. 

Digbeth
Purple umbrellas
Digbeth
No Parking
Digbeth
The Night Owl
Digbeth
Thinking I should be somewhere else
Digbeth
Life and Death
Bordesley
Bordesley station in the light
Bordesley
Lucy McLauchlan Monochrome in long expsoure
Digbeth
Grafitti on the canals
Digbeth
In Digbeth
Digbeth
Custard Factory

Do you want to read more about Digbeth
Digbeth Lights
Digbeth Art
Lockdown in Digbeth


Working Canal Boat

There are places to go that always reveal new view and interesting pictures.  I just love walking along the canal from Lapworth near to Packwood House onto Kingswood junction. There has been so much rain that care has to be taken on the towpaths in case you either land in the mud or even fall in the canal.  Luck would have it that the sun was out and the sky was blue.  The puddles made for great reflections and there were even a few boats passing through the locks.  I had my Fujifilm camera with me and once again it provided some good photographic points of views.

Whilst I was on the locks someone stopped me and asked if my camera was a Leica.  No I replied just a Fujifilm masquerading as one.  However, I felt good after that as my camera was looking cool.  A word of caution is that I also need to be careful that no one attempts to steal it from me either, as it looks attractive.

Reflections of canal lock
Reflections of canal lock
Canal boats together
Canal boats together

There is a bridge on this stretch of the canal called the “Bird in Hand”, if a canal boat is moored in the right position and the light is just right then there is the chance of reasonable picture.  I stood on the locks and took care not to lose my footing.  The water was very still and the framing needed to get the semi-circle of the bridge extended into a circle.

Bird in hand canal bridge
Bird in hand canal bridge
Canal basin at Kingswood junction.
Canal basin at Kingswood junction.

The area around the lockmaster’s cottage was difficult to negotiate due to all the rain that had fallen.  One of my pictures taken with my iPhone made the BBC Midlands weather bulletin at 7pm as shown in the blog.  Another plus for the day. 

Always fun to get your picture on the Weather bulletin

As I retraced my steps to the car I caught up with a boat going through the locks.  It was a working boat with a cargo of wood fuel sacks.  So that was my third and final plus to the day!

Signposting
Signposting

Phototip
All the pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v.  The weather bulletin picture was made with my iPhone as I was able to get low into a water puddle on the tow path.  A quick edit with Google snapspeed included lowering the highlights and upping the shadows.  A bit of saturation and then uploaded to the BBC weather watchers’ site.

Further information
Canal and River Trust – the North Stratford Canal
Kingswood Junction
Previously on my Blog
Days out on the canal
Peaceful pictures


Compton Verney

The last day of 2020 was a day of sunshine and I visited Compton Verney with my good friend John Bray. The grounds were open for visiting and the weather was perfect for photography. It was also perfect for having a good chat in the process of taking the pictures. The parkland has a circular route that takes in the North Park and through a small wood up to the Old Town Meadow. We also explored further beyond the Meadow up to Lighthorne Rd at the northern boundary of the park. It was muddy and heavy going in places but the rewards was some spectacular views of the House and the beautiful parkland designed by Capability Brown.

Sphinx Compton Verney
Sphinx on the ornamental bridge approaching the main house
The Parkland around Compton Verney
The Parkland around Compton Verney
Beautiful light and splendid colours in the landscape
Beautiful light and splendid colours in the landscape

The Old Town Meadow had artwork by Krijin de Koning. Green Dwelling is an intriguing collection of various boxes which is used to highlight the history of the land. The collections of multicoloured boxes (mainly green) offer many different interpretations but most of all they are fun to photograph.

Sculpture in the Old Town Meadow with Wreath
Sculpture in the Old Town Meadow with Wreath
Window to the Meadow
Window to the Meadow

The land around the house also houses artwork and the present sculpture on view is by Ariel Schlesinger and is named “Ways to say Goodbye”. It is a tree where the branches are carrying shards of broken glass. The tree is cast in aluminium and the shattered glass is in the branches reaching for the sky. It offers different interpretations to the viewer and the photographer.

Aluminium Tree with Shards of glass in the branches
Aluminium Tree with Shards of glass in the branches

This part of the grounds I love as I could go on and on taking photographs with the trees providing the framing of both the house and the lake. There was also a carpet of yellow flowers around the base of the trees that added a welcome splash of alternative colour to the area. The house had paintings in the windows which were following a Christmas theme. More importantly there was a shed offering coffee and a pastry which was much needed after all the walking.

Yellow path to the House
Yellow path to the House
Picture in the window
Picture in the window
Christmas themed picture in the window
Christmas themed picture in the window

Finally we explored the Ice House Coppice area. We bypassed the Ice House and went to the edge of the lake where there was a splendid Christmas tree. I did notice a whicker replica of a heron catching a fish and this had to be taken, It was my last day as a registered dentist and during lockdown I became involved with a Twitter group with the hashtag #dentistswithheron. If you read the article and follow the hashtag, then you may understand what I am talking about.

Christmas tree with house in the background
Christmas tree with house in the background
Heron catching a fish!

John and I ventured onto the main road so we could take a picture from the bridge looking onto the lake and the house. We captured some excellent views of the property and the lakes beyond Compton Verney.

View from the bridge on the main Road
View from the bridge and ferry on the main Road
View of the house over the Compton pool
View of the house over the Compton pool
Lovely reflections over the pool
Lovely reflections over the pool

To end a successful visit one of the pictures that I took was featured by Shefali Oza on BBC Midlands Today weather picture.

My picture featured on the BBC midlands weather bulletin
My picture featured on the BBC Midlands Today weather bulletin

The visit to the house and gardens made for ad fantastic end to a stressful and difficult 2020, here is hoping that 2021 will be a great year.

Tie a red ribbon around a tree (as you normally do!)
Tie a red ribbon around a tree (as you normally do!)

If you want to learn more about Compton Verney then please visit their web site that gives you all the information about visiting this beautiful property in the Warwickshire country side
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park

In contrast to the previous week in Glasgow, the weather in Edinburgh was glorious. It was hot and sunny and the light was glorious. Was in Edinburgh for a research grant meeting and whilst there was lots to do during the day, there was also some downtime that allowed me to photograph this beautiful city. There is a mixture of night time views and sunny views from Calton Hill over the Forth. It was challanging to get some good photographs done as the city was brimming with tourists but the sights of the city won in the end.

Street Scene
The Waverley Commute
Early in Market Street
Colours of the Night
Greyfriars Bobby
Calton Hill
View of the Forth (featured by BBC Scotland)
Old and the new being built
Cranes over the city
The Scott Monument

Warwick is a favourite place of mine as it has many hidden delights.  The tourists flock to thee castle and will generally give the town a miss.  Don’t get me wrong the castle is well worth a visit and if you are going there you need to give up the whole day for the experience.  The town has a number of germs and one is the hospital. 

View down the High Street

The hospital was founded in 1571 by the Earl of Leicester but the Chapel had been standing on the site since 1126.  It had a long and varied history before coming under the patronage of the Earl of Leicester in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1.  It was a place for old or injured solders to rest and recuperate. They were called the Brethren who were under the charge of a Master.  

The Guildhall and the topsy turvy walls

Today Lord Leycester’s Hospital is a place to visit and has an imposing presence on the main High Street into Warwick.  I have visited there before and this time took Sandy with me.  We visited the Chapel, the Guildhall and the Great Hall.  In the Great Hall there is a seat where King James 1st during a three day Banquet in 1617.  I took several overall pictures and the one of the outside of the Hospital made the BBC weather watchers.

The Great Hall with the King James Chair to the left
Details in the Chapel
The entrance to the Hospital
The Courtyard

I took along my Canon Camera 5D with a 24-105mm lens and it dealt well with low light conditions and the wide angles needed in the main hall. Well worth a visit and there is a lot of detail that I did not record as I went mainly for the overall pictures.

My Picture featured on Midlands Today

The hashtag #hellobrum is used by the University of Birmingham to promote the Institution on their social media channels.  My University role has changed over the last year and I find myself more and more on our beautiful campus.  This provides me with wonderful opportunities to take time during the day to photograph our everchanging campus.

The Aston Webb building

The following pictures are posted on Flickr, Instagram or even the BBC Weather Watchers site.  My social media feed often gets noticed by the @unibirmingham team or the Birmingham Post and Mail. It is always exciting to receive a mention from them.  I also love to hear people’s comments about my photographs as well.

Sunrise on Campus (featured on BBC Weather Watchers)

Rain on Campus (featured on BBC Weather Watchers)

Autumn provides a wonderful opportunity to photograph the campus as the colours and light produce interesting views.  I also follow other photographers and some of their pictures around the University of Birmingham are fantastic.  Often I get my own ideas for pictures by looking to see how others have interpreted the view of the campus.  All the pictures featured in the Blog were taken in the months of October and November and there will be more posted in the coming months.  Just look out on my social media feed and follow the #hellobrum tag.  Meanwhile I hope you enjoy this selection of pictures.

Old Joe reflected in an Autumnal Window

Window Detail (Aston Webb)

Old Joe in Autumn

The Great Hall

Sunrise over the University (published in the Birmingham Post and Mail)

Moonrise

Bramall trails

20160930_sainsburys-car-park

The changing nature of the weather is so fascinating. The colours at dawn and dusk can be amazing. During the day there may be storms, rainbows and even sunny weather that just has to be captured. I regularly post to the BBC Weather Watchers page as it is always fun to get your picture on the Television. The Weather watchers page will tag your photos with “Editors Picks” and then you will know thet the picture has been featured on the television. I was one of the first weather watchers to be selected as a feature of the pages and able to share my experiences of taking pictures of the weather. I also contribute to the Yahoo Weather Project for the mobile phone where your photographs are selected from the Flickr Group.

Dammo’s Weather Watchers Profile

insta_damien_22