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Badgers

June 5th, 2011 No comments

A you're Adorable. B you're a Badger.

I admit to not always joining every Cause on Facebook I get invited to if for no other reason than I’m overwhelmed with email, tweets, etc. and it’s one way to help keep the in-tray under control.

Nevertheless, I, of course, have my favourites.

And one is the cause of Badgers, who are animals I have come to love greatly since moving to Hastings Old Town to live. They are literally our neighbours. It’s a great privilege that we live so close together. In fact, even though Old Townians are, by large, lovely people, I much prefer my badger neighbours over some of the human ones. Badgers are adorable, grumpy, handsome animals who come out at dusk and cause mischief as they forage for food. No, I don’t identify with them.

Of course, with any animal, there’s some loser who wants them killed for [fill-in-the-blank] reason. With Britain’s badgers its dairy farmers who make money from exploiting cows. So, I’m making an exception to my rule on Causes and asking all my friends to support Badgers because, like all other animals, they need all the friends they can get. And if we can’t be friends with animals, well, who can we be friends with?

So, if you’re on Facebook please sign up for the Back off Badgers Cause today! And while you’re at it, please support all other pro-badger initiatives you see anywhere else on your travels.

Thanks!

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Hastings beach, this February afternoon

February 1st, 2011 No comments

Taken in the afternoon on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, looking east toward Kent.

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Hastings Bonfire Parade

October 17th, 2010 No comments

This shot was taken last night as various local bonfire societies paraded through the Old Town to the beach for a massive firework display.

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Hastings beach late Friday afternoon

August 23rd, 2010 No comments

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Life in the Old Town in August

August 12th, 2010 Comments off

Not quite Jack Sparrow but more like the drunken fool in Captain Pugwash.

Life in the Old Town is nothing if not interesting. For example, I chronicled over the last few months the growth of a group of five baby Herring gull chicks who I watched from the back of my house. We know one didn’t survive and as the other four have gone I presume they all made it. But we’ll never know for sure. From time to time, a fledged gull will sit on the same roof and an adult gull will be with her. It’s difficult to tell but I assume that’s one of the four with one of their parents. Most of the gulls are fledged now but there’s still the occasional one or two on rooftops around and about. Their unmistakable cry like a squeaky wheel is omnipresent. The babies will be recognisable through to next year because their plumage doesn’t become fully white until after their first birthday. The gulls still kick up a racket all day and night. They’re at their noisiest now but as we approach the autumn their numbers begin to decrease and all the hyper-activity of rearing a family diminishes. So, they quieten down but their cries are part of the audio soundtrack of living in the Old Town. Frankly, I love hearing them and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else now without their banter and chit chat to catch up on daily goings-on.

The Old Town comes into its own three times a year when it’s Jack in the Green in May, the Carnival in August and Bonfire Night in October. These phenomenal events are community driven and organised as well as fundraising events for local charities. Talk about the Big Society! David Cameron would learn a lesson or two from the big-hearted folks who live in the Old Town and its environs.

Anyway, we’ve just had Carnival Week, which is basically a traditional English seaside summer celebration with a busy programme of various activities. One of the highlights this year was the attempt to break the world record of the greatest number of people dressed as pirates in one place. Apparently the record was held by somewhere with an unpronounceable name on the European mainland with some 1,500 people. The good people of Hastings couldn’t have that and smashed the world record with more than 6,000 people dressed as pirates in one place.

Jamie is in the blue shirt. I felt sorry for the young actress who had to pick up and look at with interest a Sainsbury's pork pie at least nine times.

If that wasn’t enough excitement in one lifetime this week telly chef Jamie Oliver was in the Old Town filming an ad for Sainsbury’s, the supermarket company, which recently won an award from Compassion In World Farming for its policy in support of higher welfare systems for broiler (meat) chickens. I believe in acknowledging people like Jamie and company’s like Sainsbury’s when they take steps away from animal cruelty. Sure, I wish Jamie and Sainsbury’s would go vegan; however, they are no indications that this is going to happen in the foreseeable future. So, I believe, we thank them for the steps they’ve taken and encourage them to do more.

Anyway, Jamie and what seemed like a crew and extras (local residents) combined of more than one hundred plus loads of equipment packed into the small garden outside my home to film some of the ad. While trying to work from my home office I periodically went to the front of the house to take photos. My interest in such things is not necessarily the “glamour of show business” which, frankly, leaves me cold, but more to do with observing the organisation and effort that goes into producing a film albeit an ad for the telly. It was equally astonishing and frightening. All that expense for a telly ad?! There’s no telly in our house.  They’re evil machines that keep people stupid. I doubt whether I will ever see the ad, which is fine by me. Nonetheless, the experience was interesting if for no other reason than seeing a film production company behave like a monolith invading and then disappearing as quickly.

A telly series based in Hastings and filmed quite a bit here is Foyle’s War. (Carnival Week includes Foyle’s War Walks.) This is one of those British costume dramas which marry nostalgia and a not-too-challenging plot line. It is based around the character of Christopher Foyle, a Detective Chief Superintendent, and set during and after World War Two. It’s in stark contrast to where I used to live and the detective series filmed there! I’m speaking of Baltimore and Homicide: Life on the Streets. As interesting as it was to watch Jamie et al filming, it was nice to see them leave so that the Old Town and its residents, including the gulls, can have the place back to ourselves.

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Blackbird with red berry from the Amelanchier Tree

July 22nd, 2010 No comments
A black bird makes off with a red berry from a nearby Amelanchier tree.

A black bird makes off with a red berry from a nearby Amelanchier tree.

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One Small Step for Herring Gull …

July 21st, 2010 No comments

IMG_1607Earlier this week another maturing baby Herring gull took her first steps on grass near my home in Old Town Hastings. She’s taking her first flight away from the nearby roof where she was raised over the last two months or so. I haven’t seen her since. I have to resist the urge to interfere by making an attempt to catch these fledgelings and get them to safe ground at, say, the boating lake, Swan Lake, on the seafront, which essentially functions as a creche for baby gulls. Any involvement in a gulls’ life should only take place if they’re sick, injured or too young to look after themselves. This one looks very healthy. So, I leave her to her fate. As I must do with mine.

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Baby Gulls–Eighth “Bonus” Photo!

July 20th, 2010 No comments
One of the baby Herring gulls exercising their wings and learning how to fly. Much like how a human baby learns how to walk only more interesting.

One of the baby Herring gulls exercising their wings and learning how to fly. Much like how a human baby learns how to walk only more interesting.

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Baby Gulls-Seventh Photo!

July 20th, 2010 No comments
Flying baby gull!

Flying baby gull!

We’re now down to two baby Herring Gulls having started out with three, then, plus two, making a group of five. Of the three no longer present I can see that one of them died and the baby gulls have been feasting on the carcass. I don’t know what happened to the other two.

The baby gulls have reached the stage where many of them are learning to fly and leaving their nesting area. For example, the remaining two baby gulls we’ve been watching race around the flat area of the roof, spread their wings, flap madly, make a lot of noise and, particularly when it’s windy, raise themselves some 4-6 inches off the ground, well, the roof. The Old Town is busy with baby gulls who have left their nests walking around the streets, making short flights and learning how to survive. Quite often I see parent gulls looking after their offspring. Many of them congregate at Swan Lake, a boating lake on the seafront, which functions, essentially, as a creche for baby Herring gulls. If they can make it there, well, I think they’re going to be alright.

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Baby Gulls–Sixth Photo!

July 11th, 2010 No comments
Here it's possible to see the difference in size and feather colour between an older and younger baby Herring gull.

Here it's possible to see the difference in size and feather colour between an older and younger baby Herring gull.

Apologies for not keeping everyone up to date with the progress of the baby Herring gulls I watch from my home office window, which requires me at times to squeeze myself into a small space and contort myself out of the window to take photos.

First, the sad news. The five baby gulls I’ve been chronicling here I watch on a nearby roof are now four. The body of the fifth is still on the same roof. I can only speculate as to how and why she died. I really don’t know what happened.

There were originally three baby gulls; however, suddenly, one morning, there were five. So, we speculate the two additions, who are smaller, slid over from an adjoining roof. It’s not always possible to see all the baby gulls on the roof tops. Often, you only know they are there because you can hear their high-pitched squeaking.

The two additions are younger than the original three because they are noticeably smaller and their feathers haven’t started to turn grey. The older three periodically race around and flap their wings with great enthusiasm. Now, they’re able to lift off and raise above the roof by anything up to six inches or so. I’ve been trying to get a photograph of this but by the time I’m ready with the camera the little devils have stopped. I will persevere because it’s quite an enjoyable and remarkable spectacle!

Here's the baby Herring gull who suddenly found herself on another nearby roof. After I took this photo I saw what must presumably be one of her parents with her.

Here's the baby Herring gull who suddenly found herself on another nearby roof. After I took this photo I saw what must presumably be one of her parents with her.

As they grow older and start to learn how to fly and have the capacity to do so, it increases the chances of the baby gulls leaving the roofs where they were born and raise. This morning, for example, I saw for the first time on another nearby roof a baby Herring gull where there had not been any activity. I think she must have flown over — perhaps with the help of a gust of wind off the sea — to an adjoining roof where it has been possible to watch another group of baby gulls.

The holiday season in the Old Town is upon us. The activity significantly increases with the number of visitors. It three weeks time we have Carnival Week which, as things are typically done here, last 10 days. Anyway, July into August is the time of peak activity in the Old Town. Not least of which includes helping out boisterous adolescent Herring gulls learning to fly. I often wonder what the feeling must be like to discover that you have such super-natural powers as to fly and be carried along with the wind currents and with the occasional flap get them to take you where you want to go.

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