Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas interlude

My father and I went to inspect the park on a particuarly cold day, but the sun was shining and we were lucky enough to see the kingfishers at the Downtown Pond, although they were moving far too quickly for me to capture them on film. We also saw a rather lovely heron at Globe Pond. A banging sound from a bird box revealed a great-tit, who had apparently been inspecting the interior for potential accomodation. The views from Stave Hill were good, as usual.

Later on, feeding a friend's cat in Tavistock Tower, I stood and watched the aquatic birds on Greenland Dock - more seagulls than I can remember being here in previous years, great crested grebes and the usual plethora of mallards and coots.










Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter is here

My father and I went to stretch our legs at 2.45ish in the afternoon, yesterday and the overcast sky was already getting dark. It was less of an enjoyable walk than an interesting one. There was nothing much to see apart from squirrels at any of usual haunts, and only Globe Pond rewarded us with some coots and ducks. Even the reliable ivy was completely devoid of insect life.

Quadron and TRUE had both clearly been at work. The Woodland was immaculately tidy, with leaves swept up and dead shrubbery cut back, and there was new clearance and fencing work in the ecological park. Nice to see it being cared for.

My first impression was that the leaves had well and truly fallen, with squirrel drays, bird nests and buildings visible from areas where leaves would have blocked the view only a month or so ago. But seeing the woodland from Stave Hill showed that there were still some patches of brown and orange in the woodland. Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, the Gherkin and the London Eye were all clearly visible, even against the cold grey sky.

All in all, it looked chilly, damp and desolate. Winter has well and truly set its mark on the place. It was almost dark by the time we arrived home at 3.30.

Today it has rained unmercifully all day.





Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kingfishers at Downtown Pond

Wonderful news from Steve Cornish. He has been watching a pair of kingfishers at the Downtown Pond. The photograph is one that he took very recently.

Steve says that the kingfishers have been fishing the pond for over two weeks now after a short summer break. This is now a regular pattern aand Steve believes that the pair feed along the woodlands waterways from early spring until summer then spread their territorial wings further afield when their food source is in abundance.

He has two theories for this pattern. The first is that they come back to Russia Dock Woodland around October or November because the water temperature is slightly higher due to the underground heating pipework feeding the houses around globe pond. this is why we get duck weed problems all year round particularly close to mahogany pond.

His second theory is that the shallower waters in the woodlands are much better suited to kingfishers visual hunting skills during the winter months where smaller fish such has sticklebacks will go into deeper water around the docks.


Brunel's Thames Tunnel slideshow

A lovely set of images have been posted on the BBC website depicting Sir Marc Brunel's Thames Tunnel, an engineering marvel in its day and the first tunnel to run beneath a navigable river. It ran between Rotherhithe and Wapping

The image on the left here is the first of the slides but go to the BBC website for all seven.

One of my earlier Rotherhithe Heritage posts focuses on the Thames Tunnel, if of interest. It also shows one or two rather nice images.

Lost Rothehithe Street

http://www.infed.org/socialaction/rotherhithe_street.htm

"The western end of Rotherhithe Street and the adjoining streets was, in many respects, the heart of Rotherhithe. Today only Rotherhithe Street (west end) c.1930. Southwark archives.one property remains - No. 41, a house which for many years was offices for Braithwaite and Dean, Lightermen. The buildings to the west of No. 41 up to the Angel Public House were either destroyed by a fire just before the Second World War or by bombing at the start, the buildings to the east by London County Council in the early 1960s.

The riverfront properties had largely been occupied by by barge builders and repairers and before that sail-makers and mast-makers. The historic 'Jolly Waterman' public house also stood here and was in use up until the 1030s."

See the above page for the full story.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Resuming the blog shortly

I suspended the blog whilst I was in Wales with my family, on November 8th, but I will be back in Surrey Quays soon.

I have started updating the blog again, with information from other sources, and hope to be back in the parks in the not too distant future, camera in hand.


Reading Les Butler's blog I don't think that my month-long absence has caused me to miss much, which is something.

The leaf-fall here in Wales is nearly complete, and I would imagine that the case is much the same in London.