Here we go Again

For those of you outside the UK who don’t follow the news…. As of last night our Country has, again, been placed in full lockdown.  This new covid variant has caused cases to sky rocket, hospitals are almost full and sadly loss of life is increasing.  Our PM has said if all goes well with the vaccine roll out restrictions could be eased mid-Feb, 7 weeks.  A look through the window, cold, wet, windy, my mood is not getting better.

Let’s take a look back at the last twelve months and reflect on happier times in an awful year.

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Goosanders on Llandrindod lake

The new year started in grand style with a luxury hotel break in mid-Wales.  We were on an organised coach trip and got to see the sights of the Elan Valley and the Cambrian Mountains.  On the return home a stop in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon.  Little did we know what was in store.

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Peacock on Hawthorn blossom

Into early spring and as temperatures rose the first butterflies appeared in the garden, just in time for the first lockdown.  The (my) world became eerily quiet.  Roads were deserted and skies empty of planes.  At work and customers were panic buying, shelves emptied and supplies ran out.  Surreal.

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A Swallowtail (Papillo machon ssp britannicus) on campion, 2020

As spring progressed I spent my time in the garden or walking the country lanes around the village.  I was getting itchy feet.  Driving the few miles to a favourite Broad I felt like a criminal.  I craved to be out by the wetlands and the dragonflies and butterflies welcomed me with their beauty.

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Heath Fritillary in Hockley Wood

By June restrictions eased and I ventured the 120 miles down to Essex to photograph the Heath Fritillary, one of Britain’s rarest butterflies.  It was my first venture onto roads other than between home and work and it felt unreal, like I had never driven before.  Locally and the Silver-studded Blue’s emerged on the heath.  It was so peaceful just to sit among them.

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A delicate female Silver-studded Blue at East Ruston Common

July was a major upheaval as we sold our home of 30 years, moved into temporary accommodation with Angela and Simon and set about buying a new house.  We still had plenty of free time to explore the local countryside and found some superb wildlife.  I ‘treated’ Mrs H to a trip to Canvey Island in Essex to see the rare Southern Migrant Hawker dragonflies and got my best ever in-flight shot.

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Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis)

We moved to the new home in September.  Lots of decoration and garden clearance but we had a pond, somewhere I would spend hours watching the comings and goings.  Most of the year and sport was banned, then allowed with no spectators.  As you are aware I’m a drag racing addict and I was getting ‘cold turkey’!  Santa Pod Raceway announced a trial of three races with limited entry and lots of guidance, no matter, I was going!

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Flames from the headers and clutch dust from the rear. Steve Ashdown’s ‘Undertaker’ Nitro Funny Car blasts into the late afternoon sun

Restrictions started getting tighter again.  I had made the massive decision to take early retirement from the end of October.  Life’s too short to spend your days stacking shelves in a supermarket during a pandemic.  We were allowed out to exercise so I went to Suffolk to ‘exercise’ and just happened upon a very rare bird I had not seen before, as you do.

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Greater Yellowlegs in Suffolk

We also started going on long walks with our friends Rose and Mick.  These hikes are now not permitted.  We can walk locally around town but no more driving to beauty spots.

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Camera magic! No more scenes like this for awhile

The last year proved it can have its good times.  It must be said that my part of the Country was the area with the lowest infection rates.  This is no longer the case, now we are among the highest.  Spring will come again and if the vaccine is a success the future could be brighter.

Stay safe everyone.

33 thoughts on “Here we go Again

  1. Great photos and memories, Brian. I hope the lockdown doesn’t seem to ‘drag’ for too long. The situation here isn’t too bad (yet). Although restaurants are closed, the shops are still open and we are still allowed to go out, so I guess I should make the most of that while I can (just in case!) Take care.

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  2. Wonderful photos and chronology of your life over the past year. I am particularly in awe of your shot of the Southern Migrant Hawker. Wow! As someone who tried to capture in-flight shots of dragonflies, I recognize how much skill (and a little bit of luck) that it takes to get a shot like that.

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    1. Cheers Mike. More luck than skill! This is one of those species that hover for a second or two so you can manually focus, with luck. Also this is the only pin sharp shot out of dozens of attempts.

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      1. It take both luck and skill to be sure, plus a lot of patience and persistence. I have fond memories of Migrant Hawkers from several business trips that I took to Brussels, Belgium several years ago. I managed to get a decent in-flight shot of one at the botanical garden in Brussels, but it was not as sharp as yours. The colors of that species are absolutely stunning and exciting to see. (https://michaelqpowell.com/2018/09/07/migrant-hawker-in-flight/)

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  3. Oh, I am so happy you posted those beautify butterflies! It made my day! We are with you on this side of the canal. We think 15 Jan the restrictions will be lifted but… now that you guys have locked down for longer and that darn variant it on this side as well, who knows? We hope and pray that we can all be back to some sort of normal before we all go crazy from boredom within our own houses! Best wishes from NL to you and Mrs H.

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    1. Hi CJ. It was good to look back on some highlights as we’ve had too many lowlights. Boredom could be a problem now we live in town plus I hate winter but there are signs of spring, some bulbs are starting to poke through the wet soil.

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  4. Pictorially you had a stellar year! The birds, butterflies, dragonfly in flight, and the flames of the racing car are all terrific. I’m glad you got out to make them and get some air and out of the house.

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Brian!

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  5. Dear Brian, despite the pandemic restrictions, you brightened my days with excellent captures. Your butterflies are beautiful captures. And the most stunning image was and still is your flying dragonfly. Keep on photographing, whenever you can!

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  6. Beautiful photos! The butterflies and dragonfly have me dreaming about Spring and getting to be out playing in the dirt (one day it will be a garden) and spending time capturing photos of butterflies that venture nearby. I hope your restrictions and the vaccines can get the pandemic under control for you. Take care of yourself – I’m looking forward to seeing more photos!

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    1. Spring can’t come soon enough Kim. Hopefully by then things will be under control and I can venture further afield to photograph things. In the garden and the bulbs we planted are starting to show, it’s on it’s way!

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    1. In a way this whole pandemic thing seems like one of those 80’s disaster movies, except it’s very real and happening all around us. All I want out of retirement is to enjoy myself with Mrs H and see new places, That’s all on hold but maybe there’s light at the end. Take care Donna.

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      1. We retired early (late 50s), and our dream was to crisscross the U.S. in a motorhome for a few years. Our first year (last year) hasn’t been what we dreamed, of course. Yes, we could find campgrounds to stay in, but not getting to visit well-known places, unique stores, heck, not getting to go out to eat at all the cool restaurants we’ve seen has been a bummer. There’s a waterfront restaurant in walking distance of our campsite now that we loved last winter, but we’ve yet to go there this year. It is slam-full of tourists every day. We’re not taking any chances. We’re still looking for that light at the end of the tunnel too. Take care too, Brian. Better days have to be ahead!!!

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  7. My coffee went down much better while reviewing your fabulous photographs!

    Life will improve for us all. Making it through each day with a smile may be a bit challenging, but just think how wonderful that fresh air will feel on the next outing!

    As I look back over the past year, one of the things I count as a blessing is discovering your website! Thank you for sharing the beauty of your natural world, Brian!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kind words my friend,
      Always good to look back on the good times. As for the future there’s hope with the vaccines. I have volunteered to help out, Tina (Mrs H) works admin in a doctors surgery so from next we are both taking part in getting the vulnerable injected.

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  8. Sorry to hear B! Looks like you will be limping into the new year. Not sure what is coming stateside yet. We are getting a few cases of the new strain, but so far under control as far as I can tell – I have not trust in our media these days so no telling what the truth is anymore. Thanks for taking us through the year’s brighter moments. If nothing else, on the bright side you amassed some mighty fine shots this year. Hoping things improve – ’til then stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are relying on vaccines to get on top of this very serious situation, our figures come from the National Health Service.
      Tina (Mrs H) works admin in a doctors surgery and next week the vaccination programme begins locally. I have volunteered to help which has been accepted, not injecting or anything like that, just making sure everyone’s ok afterwards and getting people through the doors.

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