What the Commuter Saw : 28th April 2016

Another busy day, starting with a big surprise (as usual, click on blog images for full view – and on a computer it is worth looking at the larger views, use browser back arrow to leave image).  Walking down to Colchester Station from Myland I pass a set of large bushes and small trees which are always bursting with the sound of sparrows, though the bushes are so dense that only the occasional sparrow is visible.  Today it was silent.  Very strange.

Then as I walked past, this bird that definitely wasn’t a wood pigeon burst from the bushes over the nearby rooftops.  By the time I’d grabbed the camera it was soaring above me, rapidly gaining height – a sparrow hawk:

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No wonder the sparrows were silent. One of them had probably been providing breakfast, so to speak.
Having put the camera away because I was nearing the busy station, I suddenly found myself surrounded by another blizzard of goldfinches (see previous post 26 April). They were scrambling all over a horse chestnut tree:
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…digging into the large knot-holes – for insect grubs, I suppose (unless they were seeking tree sap):
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The grassy bank on the approach to the station was covered with the tiny purple flowers of common storks bill (Erodium cicutarium):
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Finally on the train, the sky was fair-weather cumulus all the way into Stratford:
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St Andrew’s Church, Marks Tey, looking particularly fine with all the willows, poplar and ornamental plum bursting into leaf.

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The fields of two poplars to the west of Marks Tey.

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The oil-seed rape field between Marks Tey and Kelvedon.

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The conifer copse just to the west of Witham.

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The fields between the railway line and the Hanson Aggregates tower (just hidden) to the east of Chelmsford.

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Fresh ploughing over fields near Ingatestone.

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Oil-seed rape fields looking towards Billericay.

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The Lone Oak to the east of Shenfield (actually opposite Mountnessing) coming into leaf.
Finally arriving at Galleon’s Reach DLR Station from Stratford, I thought these next two were each worth a picture:
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Not waves on the sea, but very high, very fine cirrus, rolling on waves in the upper atmosphere.
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…and a delightful set of dragon’s teeth drawn out from an aeroplane contrail.
Meanwhile London City Airport was as busy as ever, with planes taking off towards the O2 Dome and Canary Wharf:
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In the evening, heading home, I was waiting on Galleon’s Reach (elevated) DLR Station platform when a kestrel started hunting over the waste ground near the station:
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The light was pretty dim by now, but there was just enough to catch the key colours- a male kestrel, with chestnut back and grey head and tail. Then the DLR arrived and chased it off:
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Just one final picture, of the O2 Dome at dusk, from Canning Town DLR/Jubilee Line Station:
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Author: Richard Lindsay

Having worked for 20 years in the UK statutory nature conservation agencies as Peatland Specialist in the Chief Scientist Team, I then moved to the University of East London where I ran the nature conservation degrees for several years. Now I mainly undertake research and support peatland conservation activities, including the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, within UEL's Sustainability Research Institute. I also paint.

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