We are now on the wrong side of the Summer Solstice but hold the despair – we still have a good few months of light evenings and (hopefully) agreeable weather ahead.
But enough about that – this is actually a blog that got in on time!
June was jam-packed and finished with a flourish at Lakenheath – despite an unusually poor start. The initial outlook of possible showers morphed into a bit of a deluge that kept us pinned in the coach for half an hour before we could venture out onto the reserve.
A former carrot field, Lakenheath is one of those reserves where seeing stuff is secondary to enjoying the vast skies and landscapes of the Suffolk countryside.
We had already enjoyed a brief stop at Weeting Heath where the Stone Curlews were upstaged by dancing stoats but Lakenheath is the superior site by far (and also not quite as needy for cash as Weeting’s Norfolk Wildlife Trust!)
Lakenheath spoiled us with Common Cranes, Bearded Tits, good views of Kingfishers, wads of Marsh Harriers and hunting Hobbies.
There was also this interesting insect on view. Obviously an Agapanthia villosoviridescens – the Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle no less.
Pete managed this snap of it.
OK, its a fair cop – we hadn’t a clue what it was really! However, Dr Joe Botting from www.britishbugs.org.uk helped us out with a swift identification!
Previous to this, we had started the month with a trip up to Bempton Cliffs, the soaring, seabird-stacked buttresses between Bridlington and Scarborough. A long coach journey was rewarded with a sunny day and splendid views across the sea. Just about every seabird imaginable was criss-crossing the sky and sea, or pinned to the cliffs. Even the clownish Puffins were showing better than in previous visits.
Pete managed to get some impressive photos by digi-scoping
After the cliffs, we ventured back south for the tidal reedbeds of Blacktoft Sands.
We watched a marauding Marsh Harrier snatch a gull chick from one of the scrapes, the raptor nonchalantly predating the colony with pretty ineffectual resistance coming from the screaming gulls.
There were also welcome entomological interludes with an Eyed Hawkmoth sunning itself, and an Ichneumon Wasp trailing the mother of all stingers across a window pane of the viewing hut.
I visited the BIAD Graduate Show, which was apparently bursting with creativity and fresh ideas but, in truth, I was more interested in having a look around this fine, old building.
Home of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (in case you were wondering what BIAD stood for…) Margaret Street is a listed Venetian Gothic building with light airy studios and retains the original wood interiors, stained glass windows and mosaic floors. The splendid stairwells have since been updated with floating mezzanine levels, glass lifts and spiral staircases.
The work of the students doesn’t seem to have advanced much (is it relevant? Get me!) since I was a student at the Bourneville campus nearly 20 years ago.
However, there seems little doubt that they all enjoyed putting their final projects together – paint was Pollocked around like there was no tomorrow, and all manner of materials were cast in moulds, back-lit and stacked up in various arrangements. Some decent photography was evident, including one of a dead rook (this blog is getting way too ornithology-reliant…)
Tennis at Edgbaston was once again on the agenda but with only two rain breaks, both semi-finals were completed this year, and we had to make do with fewer visits to the bar.
Ana Ivanovic beat Shuai Zhang 6-2 6-2 and the tongue-trippingly Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Casey Dellacqua 7-6 6-1.
Culture Alert 2…
There was an interesting photographic and film exhibition – Birmingham’s Hidden Spaces, which celebrated the city’s architecture. It was being held at Curzon Street Station and, similarly to Margaret Street, I was drawn more to the venue than to the event it was hosting.
Although it’s been a long time since anything remotely locomotive trundled through these premises, Curzon Street Station is the world’s oldest surviving piece of monumental railway architecture, and worth a gander.
After so many years out of commission, I think it may be eventually incorporated in some way into the HS2 railway network.