Wednesday 26 December 2012

Kick the Frenchman's Head 2012 (The Winchelsea Game)

Last year we were spectators, this year I joined in! For the history of the game click here. Here's this year's video, mixing footage from Tracy's camera at the side of the game and from my chest-mounted GoPro as well. Photos follow below...

The blue team (which I was on) planning our tactics - at the last minute, as we'd only just met!
IMG_3146 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

Waiting for the first round...
IMG_3150 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

Chase that head!
IMG_3153 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

Here's my chest-mounted GoPro:
IMG_3157 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

Good catch from the blue team!
IMG_3160 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

Assorted scrums:
IMG_3167 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

IMG_3155 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

IMG_3164 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

IMG_3166 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

IMG_3172 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

It's difficult to stay on your feet...
IMG_3173 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

Note the moving goal bin!
IMG_3168 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

Team photo, at the end of the game:
IMG_3181 Kick The Frenchman's Head (game)

You can also view the photos on Flickr, and if you'd like to embed the video on another website, you can get the sharing code from its page on YouTube.


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Sunday 23 December 2012

Wild boar in the woods!

Today we saw a group of 6-8 wild boar in the woods! We'd gone up to have a wander around and do a few jobs, such as making a new mallet from a single piece of birch:

IMG_3137 Making a mallet

As we were walking to the car, parked in the wayleave, we heard the sounds of an animal moving in the woodland on the other side, but thought nothing of it, as there are plenty of pheasants, squirrels, etc. which can make quite a bit of noise...

We got in the car and set off, when Tracy shouted to stop. Between 6 and 8 boar were only were only about 10m from the car! As we were inside the car, they weren't immediately scared of of us, but were clearly on the move, so we hurriedly got Tracy's camera out and then wound down the window and snapped some pictures. As soon as the window was down though, they started to move off, so we only had a few seconds. They were behind the trees, so the autofocus didn't do a great job, but I've cropped and enhanced the pictures a bit so you can make out the boar in them:
IMG_3141 Wild boar in woodland

IMG_3139 Wild boar in woodland

I jumped out of the car and ran along the wayleave with the SLR to try and get more pictures, but the pigs were too fast...

Anyway, the rest of our visit was uneventful, everything is just very wet!
DSC_5453 Wet woodland

DSC_5449 Wet woodland

DSC_5451 Wet woodland

Yes - that's water coming up out of a hole in the last one - this happens quite a bit in the woods, with water uphill taking an underground route for a short distance before resurfacing further down.


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Saturday 22 December 2012

Flooding in Rye - sewage water lifting the manhole covers!

This video is from a couple of hours ago in Rye, note the bits of toilet paper coming up from the manhole cover! Nasty!


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Friday 21 December 2012

Coppicing at the End of the World

As some people thought today  (21 Dec 2012) would be the end of the world, I thought I may as well go and coppice some trees. I guess it didn't end while I was in the woods?

Carrying on the the maintenance theme of this winter, I thought I'd coppice some of the wayleave, as it's grown a lot since we bought the woodland. It needs to be kept down for the wildlife - it's a really great spot for butterflies, etc. National Grid will cut it all eventually, but I got bored of waiting... There's also the advantages of getting some logs out of it and making it easier for people to drive along it without scratching their cars on overhanging trees.

Here's how it looked in 2008:

DSC_3507 Wayleave

and here's a shot from this week looking the other way at that curve in the track:
DSC_5432 coppicing

To make life easier, I parked the car and trailer just up from where I was felling, and took the ends off the trailer, so it was easy to load up logs for immediate transport:
DSC_5444 coppicing

Here's a couple of views of the area after spending a few hours working on it:
DSC_5445 coppicing

DSC_5446 coppicing

I've left all the brash piled up, as there's plenty of space and it'll make a nice wildlife habitat:
DSC_5438 coppicing

Having moved the logs to a storage place, I also took the opportunity to collect some logs for use at home, where we've got through half of our firewood store now. The store at the wood is now slowly emptying...
DSC_5440 logs in a store

I think we might burn a bit less this winter as I've done some draughtproofing - more on that later...


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Sunday 16 December 2012

Birds of prey at Eagle Heights

This weekend we went to visit Eagle Heights, where we saw some amazing birds!

DSC_5397 Bald Eagle

We had a look at some of them sat inside first, though they all do get to go out and fly every day. The birds have been rescued from places, hand reared for captive breeding programmes or come from other places where they could not be kept any longer. I'll just list them with their names, and then get to the photos of them flying outdoors...

A Vulture:
DSC_5356 Vulture

A Martial Eagle:
DSC_5359 Martial Eagle

An African Fish Eagle:
DSC_5362 African Fish Eagle

DSC_5363 African Fish Eagle

A Crowned Eagle:
DSC_5364 Crowned Eagle

A Bald Eagle (not because it's bald, but because it's black and white, or 'piebald'):
DSC_5367 Bald Eagle

A Hooded Vulture:
DSC_5369 Hooded Vulture

DSC_5372 Hooded Vulture

A Bateleur Eagle:
DSC_5370 Bateleur Eagle

A pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles (which can be found in the UK):
DSC_5374 White Tailed Sea Eagle

DSC_5375 White Tailed Sea Eagle

OK, so moving on to the outdoors display, where we were introduced to four birds and heard a bit about their history and how they live in the wild and in captivity.

First up was a Bald Eagle:
eagle 1

A large and powerful bird, and this one was completely tame.
DSC_5380 Bald Eagle

But as soon as she was let go, she still wanted to stretch her wings first:
DSC_5382 Bald Eagle

before watching from the distance for a minute:
DSC_5383 Bald Eagle

But it wasn't long before she came swooping back...
DSC_5387 Bald Eagle

...tempted by some food in a pond:
DSC_5390 Bald Eagle

She then showed how tame she was by progressing through the audience!
DSC_5393 Bald Eagle

Here's a short video...

DSC_5395 Bald Eagle

After her came a hybrid falcon, part Peregrine and part something else - apparently these hybrids are often bred for commercial pigeon control, but this one had decided it couldn't be bothered hunting pigeons, so had come to live at Eagle Heights instead:
DSC_5401 Hybrid Falcon

DSC_5402 Hybrid Falcon

The handler showed us the falcon's skills by whirling round a rope with some food on the end of it - the falcon shot back and forth at about 60mph to try and catch it, and cut between people in the audience, clipping them with its feathers!
DSC_5403 Hybrid Falcon

DSC_5405 Hybrid Falcon

DSC_5408 Hybrid Falcon

Eventually it got its target, and tucked into the food while sat on the handler's glove:
DSC_5412 Hybrid Falcon

After that we had a Barn Owl, which was able to fly around incredibly quietly and slowly - ideal for spotting the small prey they hunt in the wild:
DSC_5413 Barn Owl

DSC_5414 Barn Owl

DSC_5415 Barn Owl

Last of was a Vulture, the same one we'd seen sat indoors earlier:
DSC_5422 Vulture

A very impressive bird when soaring around over us:
DSC_5423 Vulture

DSC_5424 Vulture

Though he did disappear down the hill after that, and waited in a field to be collected, due to laziness. Apparently he used to live in Tenerife, and would repeatedly fly from the top of the mountain down to the bottom and wait to be picked up - one time a bus driver recognised him and gave him a lift back up!

Anyway, as you can see, Eagle Heights is well worth a visit, but make sure you are there to catch one or more of the displays.


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