Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Centenary Tour of Tolkien's East Yorkshire

On Saturday, 13th May 2017, two Norwegian Tolkien scholars, two Tolkien Society members from Liverpool and Birmingham respectively, and 2 interlopers from East Yorkshire were guided around all the East Yorkshire Tolkien locations to see where Tolkien went and follow in his footsteps as far as is possible.  I believe that they were most impressed by the beauty of the Cow Parsley under the trees in Roos churchyard, and they could understand why it impressed Tolkien so much.  Unfortunately, this is not a universal view, as a new gardener had to be restrained from cutting back the Cow Parsley until after our visit, and it seems unlikely that it will look as pristine as we saw it, as very soon much of it will be trimmed back in the churchyard.  Many people who are not aware of the Tolkien connection, simply see the Cow Parsley as “untidy”, especially when a burial or wedding is pending.  If the Tolkien connection was more widely known in the local community then perhaps more of the beauty would be allowed to remain for a lengthier period every year.
Cow Parsley and fresh Beech leaves in Roos Churchyard
The tour started in Hull at the former Brooklands Officers' Hospital.  Tolkien spent nearly 22 weeks there in total during the two summers and Autumn on 1917 and 1918.  It was here that he was able to spend a long time developing his fictional languages, and writing the first versions of 'The Tale of Tinuviel' and 'The Tale of Turumbar'.  
Tolkien Plaque on former Brooklands Officers' Hospital (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
 Rear of former Brooklands Officers' Hospital
Tolkien would have been housed in the left room on the ground floor (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
Art Nouveau window design still present
We then went on to Hornsea, to see Edith's lodgings and the erroneous blue plaque.  
Hornsea Blue Plaque containing two errors (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
Then on to the highlight of the trip the area around Roos Church and Dents Garth, the place where Edith almost certainly danced and sang for her husband, which was the inspiration for Luthien Tinuviel.  For more information on Tolkien's connections with Roos please see here
All Saints' Church, Roos
 Three-trunked linden-tree behind "Thew" Gravestone
 Fresh Green Beech leaves & Cow Parsley in Roos churchyard
 Cow Parsley under three-trunked linden-tree
 Three-trunked Linden-tree
 "Candles" on Horse Chestnut in Roos Churchyard
 Cow Parsley leading to Roos Church and three-trunked-tree
 Cow Parsley leading to three-trunked tree
 Fresh Beech leaves surrounded by Cow Parsley
 Cow Parsley under Beech  
 Frothiest Cow Parsley similar to Tolkien's description
 Beech leaves and Cow Parsley
 Cow Parsley bordering new Roos Churchyard
 Cow Parsley along Churchyard perimeter path (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
 Cow Parsley flower head aka Queen Anne's Lace
 Beech Tree and Cow Parsley
 "Light as Leaves on Linden-tree"
 Cow Parsley around "Thew" gravestone 
 Wild Flowers at base of three-trunked Linden-tree
Watch Tower on Roos Church (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
 Sykes Family Crest leading down to crypt (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
 "Thew" Gravestone (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
We stopped off briefly at Halsham to look at evidence of Roman Catholicism, the Mausoleum and a former Word War 1 hut, now used as a village hall.
 Halsham Mausoleum (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
 Former WW1 Accommodation hut (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
 Side of former WW1 hut
We shared cars to Thirtle Bridge where the layout of  the former army camp was explained.
Former site of Thirtle Bridge Army Camp (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
We then made our way to Withernsea.  Approximately halfway there the former Black Mill was pointed out. A military checkpoint  was placed here when Tolkien was in the area.  In this photo the white tower of Withernsea lighthouse can also be seen on the right.
Withernsea Lighthouse
 76 Queen Street site of Edith's lodgings 1917 (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
 Pier "castles" near Withernsea Beach (c) 2017 Tim Bolton
The final journey was to Kilnseas via Easington where Tolkien spent the winter of 1917/18.  Here. he would have come across plenty of evidence of the destructive power of the sea, which was to become a major theme of his developing mythology.
Acoustic Mirror at Kilnsea
 Former Kilnsea beacon, present when Tolkien was there
 Former Kilnsea church before disappearing under the sea
 Evidence on wall of Blue bell of sea's destructive power
At around 5pm it was time to share cars back to Hull, and people's hotels.

Monday, 22 May 2017

First Moth Trap Haul

On Saturday morning my nephew and I came across about a dozen Yellow Wagtails in the Sunk Island area, so everything looks healthy there.  Only one stayed long enough to be photographed.  It is one of my favourite colourful summer migrants, possibly just behind Redstarts, which I've yet to find this year.  
Male Yellow Wagtail [MJF]
 With a Male Linnet, bottom left
 My sister informed me that it would be warm enough to use the moth trap for the first time last night,  After checking it wasn't due to rain we thought we'd give it a go.  It was switched on around 9.45pm, and switched off at 4.10am, and checked about 7.30am.  Only 3 specimens were found inside.  One was a micro-moth on the perspex of the cover which I released immediately.  The most visible was a drab individual, which could be seen as I walked towards the trap.  I searched my book without success, but Pete Mella was able to let me know that it was almost certainly a Dark Sword Grass.  On checking the description of the moth in my reference guide, it gave a better idea of what to look for than the illustration.  
Poplar Hawkmoth
 I nearly missed the real beauty, but just out of the corner of my eye I spotted it, as I listen one of the egg boxes.  I was able to remove it quite easily to a more photogenic log, before placing carefully in a bush, where predatory birds hopefully wouldn't be able to find it.
 Dark Sword Green [ID by Pete Mella]
 So, only 3 specimens captured, but of sufficient interest to give it another try soon!  Watch this space...

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Week 4

On Tuesday we risked Welton Waters despite rain threatening most of the day.  One of the highlights was a very confiding pair of Yellow Wagtails, which allowed us to walk directly underneath it.  A Yellowhammer was singing nearby.  Other birds either seen or heard included: Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, Cetti's Warbler, Linnet, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Swift, Swallow, House Martin etc. Not bad considering the threat of rain, but cameras remained in cars.
Reed Warbler [MJF]
 Reed Warbler Close-up (c) 2017 Dick Watson
 Reed Warbler [MJF]
No photos were taken on Wednesday, for some reason.  The following day was a lot brighter and we trekked out following the zigzag route to Wheldrake Ings.  Other birds we saw included:  Garden Warbler, Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, Heron, Little Egret, Gadwall, Skylark, Lapwing, Sedge & Reed Warblers, Blackcap, Cormorant, lots of Banded Demoiselles, Mayflies, and a spectacular-looking female Broad Bodied Chaser.
Pheasant Chick [MJF]
 Reed Warbler [MJF]
 Garden Warbler [MJF]
 Garden Warbler (c) 2017 Dick Watson
 Singing Garden Warbler (c) 2017 Dick Watson
 Broad-Bodied Chaser (c) 2017 Dick Watson
 Broad-Bodied Chaser [MJF]
 Female Banded Demoiselle [MJF}
 Male Banded Demoiselle [MJF]
 Female Banded Demoiselle [MJF]
 Male Banded Demoiselle
 Nymph of Mayfly sp.?
 Mayfly Sp. [MJF]
 Female Green-veined White Rejecting Advances of Male
 Scorpion-fly [MJF]
 Green Dock Beetle [ID - Barry Warrington]
 Willow Warbler (c) 2017 Dick Watson
 Carmelite Nunnery
On Friday the forecast wasn't nice enough for Skerne, so we decamped to Tophill Low.  We saw plenty of species, 51 in fact, but the cameras remained in the vehicles.  However, on our return to the car park I managed to spot a female Tawny Owl high in a conifer.  She stayed up there the whole time, allowing everyone to obtain a decent view.     
Female Tawny Owl [MJF]

After the class concluded Jeny and Carolyn visited the north part of the site to watch the Kingfishers feeding their young.  Little did they know that they would fledge at 5.45 the following morning.
All Kingfisher photos (c) 2017 Jeny Clarkson
Female Kingfisher
 Kingfisher Entering the Tunnel
 Kingfisher Exiting the Tunnel!
Last week I forgot to include my photos from Skerne, so I'm adding them now
Canada Goose Family
 Willow Warbler
 Tufted Ducks
 Tawny Owl
 Marsh Frog
 Brown Trout