Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.

Leamington Spa has streets of white tall elegant buildings. All are fine examples of Regency architecture. Away from the Regency style avenues, buildings in the old town have become canvases for stunning street art several courtesy of the Brink Leamington Mural festival. The train station is a good starting point for exploring the streets of Leamington being close to the old town and the Grand Union canal. On the corner of Crown Terrace and the High Street, a mural advertising the Brink contemporary arts community is displayed. The cartoon character, Gru supervillain turned secret agent, greets you as your first introduction to the artwork that follows. Street art is always fun to photograph but ensuring the artist is always credited can be a challenge. Therefore if I have missed anyone out, I apologise and refer you onto the Brink Contemporary Arts links including a map of the art work and their Instagram page.

Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Future Synth by Void One
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Royal Leamington Spa by MIG 29
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Phone Home

The street mural next to the rail arches on Clement street is an attention grabber and at the other end near the canal is the Leamington Spa mural. We identified the Micro Pug, a small pub next to the canal, as a good place to visit and started a circular walk back to the pub. Part of our route would take in the Lady of Shrubland Street. This mural reflects the Victorian architecture of nearby Shrubland Street Primary School and was created by Tim Robottam. I have used filters for the colours and a Flickr friend to pose for the picture. The old part of Leamington has streets with character and this mural enhances the look of the area . Near to the mural stands the Green Man pub where the Lenny Henry TV series “Three Little Birds” was filmed.

The circular route back to pub took in the murals around the disused factory area which may be approached via Eagle Recreational Park. The murals line up alongside the Grand Union Canal and the path leads to steps and a footbridge taking you over the canal. As you go up the steps a glance to left reveals the stunning art by the artist N4t4. The canal was busy and a narrowboat passing by the graffiti strewn factory was an added bonus. We headed back to the Micro Pug for a drink and to plan the later part of the day.

Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Canal Boat passing by.
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Figure and face.

We took a general walk through the Regency half of the town. Jephson gardens was looking good in the sun with people enjoying the fine weather. The usual “honey spot” pictures of Jephson Gardens, the Parade and Clarendon Square were taken before finally it was time to go home.

Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Enjoying the water fountains
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Mind your Head
https://damienwalmsley.com/leamington-street-art/
Bridge over the River Leam
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
The architecture of the Royal Priors
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Busy roads in Leamington Spa
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
Phone boxes
Silicon Spa Street sights, Leamington Spa, May 2024.
The beauty of Clarendon Square

I have completed another chapter in my photographic blogs which feature Leamington Spa. My last blog picks up many of the other murals that are present in the town. Finally why the moniker Silicon Spa? The town has exploded in the digital world and is a hub for computer game developers and other computer software programs. The streets maybe lined with code but the artistic community is keeping up by painting the walls with colours.

Finally the “we” and “my Flickr Friend” is JohnBrum69 who kindly guided me around the streets of Leamington.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024

Woodland photography is one of my interests as there are several woods near to me that I love wandering around taking photographs with my camera.  The skills that are involved with taking such pictures, I have learnt by trial and error.  However, my technique is rather low key and much of what I do is point the camera and take pictures that look appealing.  The opportunity to learn woodland photography skills arose after a chance meeting at the Photography Show with Miffyohara.  Miffy is a classically trained photographer who has a great love of woodland photography.  We talked about a photography walk and the place Miffy chose to start my woodland photography journey was Hagley Park next to the Clent Hills.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The outlines of these branches make a pleasing geometric shape.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A window created by the tree branches.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Two walkers passing through the woods.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
I included the path which is partially covered with blossom so as to lead to the light.

The park has 350 acres of Worcestershire countryside to explore with an abundance of woodland.  When I arrived, I realised that a tripod was essential.  Never go anywhere without your tripod. This was my first lesson of the day.  Fortunately the light was good and the sun was breaking through the clouds.  During our visit, the sun was diffused by cloud cover although occasionally there were long periods of sunshine. Therefore we waited for these patches of light to illuminate the woodland. Similar to wildlife photography, a calm, non-hurried approach is required.  This is so difficult for me as I do tend to rush around.  For the first 30 minutes, we observed and photographed one tree.  We slowly walked around the tree, looking at how the sun fell on the branches and leaves.  I learnt about “windows” created by tree branches that open your photographs in a similar way to framing.  This aspect of woodland photography is appealing to me as I enjoy taking a picture within a picture.   I found the opportunity to place people into the scene although I acknowledge this is not what woodland photography is about!   The bluebells were in full bloom and offered splashes of blue throughout the day.  Another learning point was the avoidance of man-made structures in the photograph and therefore paths which allow a leading line were not considered but I did occasionally break the rules.  Therefore I used the branches and arrangement of the trees to lead the eye.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A tree of interest that tells a story.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A view of Hagley castle framed by a tree.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The imposing Hagley castle.

Hagley Park has a circular route that takes in several follies that were placed by previous owners to add a pleasing spectacle to the eye.  The structures follow classical architectural designs as may be seen in my photographs. The current ideas of the park keepers are to reduce the prominence of these follies and allow the woodland views to take centre stage.  The first folly we came across was Hagley castle which is designed to resemble a small ruined medieval castle.  The castle is an imposing structure over this part of the park and whilst it was fenced off, it was still possible to view the architecture.  Leaving the castle, the path dipped steeply down towards the stream that passed through the south of the park.  On our way there were several interesting trees worthy of photographing.  We climbed back up and then came upon Milton’s seat which gave beautiful views of Hagley Hall and the surrounding Worcestershire countryside.  This was a place where one could linger and let time pass you by.  The light was good and it was possible to view the hills in the distance.  

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A tree with personality.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Fungi patterns on a dead tree.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
More patterns created by the fungi.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Milton’s seat with a view that takes in Hagley Hall and the mountains in the distance.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The woman in the red jacket had to be photographed.

Our next point of interest was the Palladian bridge which is very photogenic.  You are spoilt with the different compositions that arise from the bridge and the surrounding woodland. The bridge is at the head of the lake and set in a valley of trees.  There are reflections in the lake and the lay of the land offers both high and lower-level interpretations of the scene.  I settled for an eye level view taking in the reflection and the setting of the bridge along the lake.  Processing the picture in black and white provides balance and allows blending between the man-made structure and the woods.  The bridge is at the start of three lakes which lead upwards to the classically styled Rotunda.  On the way past the lakes, there is a memorial to the English poet William Shenstone in the form of an urn.  Again I was drawn into photographing the urn and the Rotunda amidst the woodland trees. There were also other interesting trees to take in and photograph.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The Palladian Bridge in Black and White
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The view over the lake.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Shenstone’s Urn
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
A window onto the Rotunda.
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
The Rotunda blending into the surroundings.

On returning to the café, we discussed our photographs and then discussed how to process the pictures. Whilst proficient at Lightroom, I do need to revisit Photoshop and use the layers function to bring out features in my photographs.  Once again this is all part of the learning process.  

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Details from a fallen tree.

Woodland photography is a genre to visit.  I learnt how to look at woodland scenes, and carefully pick out areas of interest.  The need to slow down and take in your surroundings allows you to seek out new photographic scenes that you would miss if you just walked through the park.  By slowing down, you are also able to look at how the light falls on the woodland.  Looking for windows and diagonals in the branches of the trees helps your woodland photography stand out.  This walk was during the day and the woodland would naturally light up during the golden hours. I will look for future opportunities to pursue this genre of photography especially at the start and end of the day. 

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Tree textures
Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Rushes

At the start, we talked to Alex one of the Park Rangers who gave us insight into the care of the park. Alex also agreed to be part of my 100 strangers project that is nearing completion. Here is a picture of Alex leaning against one of the Park Ranger trucks.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
Alex a park ranger at Hagley Park.

A final thank you to Miffyohara who was an excellent teacher and guided me through the skills required for woodland photography. In our discussions, subjects ranged from composition of woodland scene to a debate on giving titles to our pictures. The sharpening of my observational skills was one outcome of the day. The final word goes to Hagley Park which is a must visit location and will appeal to everyone not just photographers.

Woodland Photography, Hagley Park, Worcestershire, 2024
An iPhone picture of an interesting tree and thank you to Miffyohara for showing me the beauty of trees.

If you wish to see more of my previous woodland photography then I have added a link below. I will revisit Hay Wood with a different eye to my compositions.

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024

The bluebell season is here and is earlier than normal.  Usually the flowers are in full bloom around the May Bank holiday weekend.  This year their arrival appears to be 1 to 2 weeks early.  A blue carpet of bluebells is always stunning especially when set against the backdrop of the woodland.  This year I went to Hay Wood as a fellow photographer had taken a picture of the blue carpets of flowers and the scene looked stunning.  

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
The blue carpet of bluebells.

Hay Wood is part of Forestry England and is a small wood which is near to Baddesley Clinton. The latter is an outstanding National Trust property which is always lovely to visit. We are fortunate to have Hay Wood nearby.  The bluebells appear on specific patches to the east and west parts of the woodland.  The easterly display was at its peak and even though I was there around midday, the light was wonderful.  The new shoots of green leaves glistened in the sun and the bluebells contrasted against the trees rising upwards.  

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Light and shadows highlighting the scene.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Bluebells around the trees.

The bluebells to the west of the wood looked beautiful and they were still flowering.  More photographs of the blue carpet were taken.  The western part of the wood has a public footpath that links with St Michael’s church that is adjacent to the Baddesley Clinton estate.  I visited the church as there is the opportunity to take a picture of the bluebells in the foreground and the church providing the background interest.

Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
A solitary bluebell plant with a backdrop of green and blue.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Old tree trunks add interest to the scene.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
Muddy paths led to the bluebells.
Bluebells, Hay Wood, Near Baddesley Clinton, April 2024
St Michael’s Church, Baddesley Clinton with bluebells.

All these pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100vi and  I bracketed the exposure of the pictures.  The 3 photographs were merged with the HDR function in Lightroom.  Some adjustments of the shadows and highlights plus dodging and burning were made.

If you enjoyed these pictures of the bluebells then please follow the links below to see previous entries in my blog.

IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024

Birmingham has a long and rich history and the names of George and Richard Cadbury are linked with the story of the City  Their success in creating Cadbury’s Chocolate led to the building of their factory in Bournville.  The brothers created a Garden Village around the factory to cater for their employees.  Sadly Richard died before seeing the project completed although this spurred on George Cadbury to complete the project.  Bournville village is now run by a Trust and is a legacy which is enjoyed by both residents and visitors to the area.

IgersbirminghamUK, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
The Rest House which is at the centre of Bournville Village.

IgersbirminghamUK organised their first photographic Instameet of 2024 at Selly Manor which is part of Bournville Village Trust. Selly Manor also has a long story. The original building “Smythes Tenement” dated back to 1476. Over time, the building deteriorated and was split into separate dwellings called the “Rookery”. The house was saved from demolition by George Cadbury who brought the property in 1907 and relocated Selly Manor from Selly Oak to Bournville Garden Village. The House was rebuilt next to the Chocolate Factory in 1916 and opened as a museum. 

IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Daniel addressing the IgersbirminghamUK photographers.

Nearly 30 photographers arrived at the Museum on a bright sunny Saturday morning.  We received a welcome from staff member, Daniel, who gave us an overview of the house and then encouraged us to visit the rest of the area.  We were given a leaflet of the heritage trail that takes in all the notable buildings in the Bournville village.  We have some excellent photographers in the IgersbirminghamUK ranks as evidenced by the pictures that emerged on Instagram.  You can follow the pictures and reels from the day with the following tags and I have provided links to the relevant pages.  Please take some time to visit the pages and see the wonderful pictures. Thanks to the other members of the IgersbirminghamUK team for their organisation and help with the meeting Nicky Warwickshire, LenaMac77 and James_never_Jim.

The following is a selection of my pictures from the Selly Manor and Bournville Village Visit.

IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Guide books at the ready.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
A view of the Minworth Greaves building from a window in the Manor.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Beautiful detail of this head dress.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Civil war helmets.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
A priest hole in the attic.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Easter decorations.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Beth and Adam dress up for the day.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Easter egg hunt in the gardens (sadly not the chocolate variety).
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
The stocks are waiting for you.

Further reading on Selly Manor and the Bournville Village Trust.

Following on from Selly Manor some photographers moved onto the Bournville Quaker meeting House where one of the Quakers, Anne, was most kind and showed us around inside.  The outside of the church does have a fairy castle feeling.  Inside the large hall was impressive with light streaming through the windows.  There is a raised platform with chairs and table from the Selly Manor museum.  This, as Anne pointed out, is not used for worship as Quakers sit around in circles in the centre of the hall usually with a table.  Anne then took us up to the balcony to see the organ and from here we were able to take pictures down into the hall.  I was even fortunate that Anne agreed to be in my 100 Strangers project. 

IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Bournville Quaker Meeting House.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
The hall inside the meeting house.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
The light streaming into the Hall.
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Organ Pipes
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
The command centre 🙂
IgersbirminghamUK, Selly Manor, Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Village Trust. March 2024
Thank you to Anne who kindly showed us around the Meeting House.

There is much more to see in and around the Bournville Village Trust and those photographs will have to wait till another day. I spend much of my time talking to other Instagrammers during an Instameet and do not get the opportunity to take that many photographs.  Catching up with others and seeing what they have photographed is a bonus with such Instameets.  After the meeting we headed off to the Glass House brewery by the canal in Stirchley.  We had a good catch up including talking about that elusive picture that got away!

If you are interested in the @IgersbirminghamUK Instameets then I have other accounts on my blog with the one below as a starting point.

Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024

A big, revolving, mirrored heart has appeared in Snow Hill square accompanied by lights and seventies disco music.  Quite a combination when you think about it.  Such retro art installations catch my imagination.  “Our beating Heart” is a pop-up show sponsored by Colmore Business District and is free to view.  

I hurried along after a meeting at the MAC to see the latest art installation that Birmingham has on show.  Snow Hill was quiet, sparsely populated with commuters heading home.  In the middle of the square was the heart slowly revolving and lit up by lights.  The 11,000 mirrors reflected the light around the darkened buildings of the square.  The effect was pleasing and mesmerising as shards of coloured light gave a snowfall effect on the buildings.  The music was very much retro.  Whilst I was there taking pictures, songs from my youth were blasted out into the night.   Heart of Glass by Blondie and Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees are two examples of the disco style music.  This an open-air disco and luckily there was no rain.   

Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
View from the Station end of the square.
Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
No bikes allowed!
Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
Colour popping

Just to emphasise the fun of the evening two people were dressed up in multicoloured swap-shop jackets and were ready to engage in conversation with passers-by.  The installation was Instagram friendly and I was not alone in taking photographs.  Some serious picture taking was happening and a look at the socials shows how everyone wanted to have a piece of the action.  The heart was not the easiest object to photograph, very bright lights against the dark is tricky at the best of times.  My humble offering of photographs may not be the best but they give a flavour of the atmosphere.  There is much more information on the Colmore Business District web site and the pity is that the heart is only around for a few nights.  There was a board, where you could post supplied stickers saying how the heart made you feel.   I enjoyed seeing the heart but left bemused that a disco light shaped as a heart with retro hits has captured everyone’s imagination.  But that is what good art does by making you give an opinion.  My advice go and visit as the heart is worth seeing just for the picture taking.

Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
Multi-coloured swapshop jacket.

More information on the Beating heart designed by Studio Vertigo and the Colmore Business District.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024

Initially the weather forecast for St Patrick’s Day was rain but someone must have had a word with heaven. The rain stopped and the sun started to show itself from behind the clouds. Bradford Street in Birmingham is as straight as a die and runs parallel to Digbeth High street. At the top of the hill by Trinity Church, the floats, dignitaries and people were congregating.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The Lord Mayor by one of the Irish banners.
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Getting ready to parade
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Ready to sing Dirty Ole Town by the Pogues
.

The entry code was you had to wear something green and St Patrick was there overseeing the proceedings. The Peaky Blinders were behaving themselves and they had brought their own police force. Irish dancers and marching bands were adding to the entertainment. There were a group of dancers who had flown in from Bolivia. Their costumes contributed to the colourful noise around them. The scooters were polished so well that you got blinded by the reflections from the chrome work and mirrors. The floats were being loaded up and the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress were greeting everyone and having their picture taken. With so many photographers around it was not long before the West Midland Mayor, Andy Street made an appearance. Everyone was so friendly and the atmosphere was one of excitement and merriment.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The parade on Bradford Street
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The BRMB bus loaded with dignitaries
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The Guinness hats were everywhere
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Having fun was the aim of the day.
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
Which will it be?

Then the parade was due to start so we rushed down the street to St Anne’s church. People were lining the barriers as you went down the hill towards the city centre. Even the dogs were dressed up in the Irish tricolour flag. The parade was long and varied, stopping every so often to let the marching bands and the Irish dancers demonstrate their skills. People waved towards the floats and people in the floats waved back. Everyone was so happy.

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Some of the big names in construction were there including Murphy’s and Mahoney’s. The Irish came over to Birmingham and contributed to making the city an industrial powerhouse. The parade reflected this contribution and everyone reacted to celebrating the rich history of Birmingham. These pictures are my own interpretation. At an event such as the St Patrick’s Day parade every type of photographer is out and about. BBC teams and local newspapers, amateur photography organisations and the casual mobile phone snapper were in their element. Everyone wants their photograph taken.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The line up in a float
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
The builders’ merchant (even I have used them)
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
I am getting tired now.
St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
It was not just people who were having fun.

The BBC coverage is the best starting point for a record of the day’s events although a quick search of St Patrick’s Day Parade, Birmingham will open up many more.

St Patrick's Day Parade, Digbeth, Birmingham, March 17th, 2024
BBC account of the parade

The next parade in Birmingham will be Pride 2024 and here is my account from last year.

Joy and happiness at Birmingham Pride 2023

Fog in Birmingham, March 2024

Pulling the curtains back, I saw the fog which lifts any photographers spirits.  Fortunately, I had to be in Birmingham early and I knew that I would be able to get some good pictures of Dorridge station in the fog before it lifted.  I was even more pleased that the fog had not lifted by the time I got to Birmingham city centre. The fog was still around the Bull Ring and Moor Street turning normal street scenes into atmospheric and mysterious places.  The silhouettes of commuters provided the focus to many of the pictures. The majority of the photographs were taken with my iPhone15 which were then converted to black and white to take advantage of the contrasts available. I used Silver Efex Pro and I like the fine art processing or occasionally the overexposed settings that are provided. I also include pictures from the start of my journey in Dorridge where the fog was even thicker.

Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Commuters outside Moor Street station and Selfridges.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Riding a bike through the fog.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Waiting for the train at Moor Street.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
St Martin’s walk with buildings obscured by the fog.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Looking foggy at the Rotunda
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Reduced visibility
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
Enjoying the morning commute.
Fog in Birmingham, March 2024
A lone figure crosses the Bullring

Dorridge station in the fog.

Fog at Dorridge, March 2024
The platforms shrouded in fog.
Fog at Dorridge, March 2024
Driving in the fog

I do like foggy mornings as these blog posts show.

RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024

Situated in the Staffordshire countryside, RSPB Middleton Lakes are next door to the Aston Villa Bodymoor training ground.  The area around the lakes offer differing recreation activities with Kingsbury Water Park, Middleton Hall and Drayton Manor funfair nearby. Water is an overarching theme of this part of Staffordshire with both the river Tame and the Birmingham and Fazeley canal passing through the area. However, the wildlife in the reserve are unperturbed by what is happening around them and just enjoy being given the peace and quiet away from the built-up areas of the city.  

RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
The lookout towards the heronry

The RSPB look after the lakes and have designated different viewing areas for bird spotters and photographers.  The first place that you encounter not far from the car park is a viewing platform that looks out towards the heronry and here I met Lynn who works for the RSPB.  I had been meaning to join the charity for a while and after chatting to Lynn, I decided to become a member of the RSPB.  Lynn pointed out the heron’s nesting in the trees over the pond from the viewing platform.  I spent a lot of time observing the heron activity in the trees.  I was fortunate to have my 400mm lens with me and therefore I viewed the herons as they went back and forth taking materials to the nest.  There must have been around a dozen nests that I counted.  

RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
Lynn who works for the RSPB with her information stand.
RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
Herons’ nests in the trees with a few occupants.
RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
Nest building in the Heronry.

There are several bird feeders around the viewing area and  blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and bullfinches were flying in and out.  The track takes you along the side of a small river and there are several viewing areas.  I stopped off at one and immediately there were several inquisitive small birds landing on the branches and checking to see what I was doing.

RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
Activity at the bird feeders.
RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
A tough stare from a bullfinch.

The path leads onto the Fisher’s Mill canal bridge where people leave nuts and other bird seed for the many inhabitants of the area. The path then opens up to the wetlands and having been there on a previous occasion, I headed south and explored the meadow area. This is a favoured place to see owls hunting both in the early morning or late evening evening.  

RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
A great tit enjoying the nuts on the canal bridge.
RSPB Middleton Lakes, Staffordshire, March 2024
A canal boat heading northwards.
https://www.justcolor.net/kids/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/nggallery/pokemon/Coloring-for-kids-pokemon-55760.jpg
A view of the wetlands at RSPB Middleton Lakes
https://www.justcolor.net/kids/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/nggallery/pokemon/Coloring-for-kids-pokemon-55760.jpg
Not everyone is happy about sharing.

On the way back, I brough some enamel badges for the grandchildren and set off home.  Middleton Lakes reserve has so much nature on view and now as a member of RSPB  I will take even more of an active interest in the area. The RSPB do such important work to maintain the natural habitats of our bird community. I joined to take an active interest in their work, I would encourage my blog readers to get involved too!

My visit in 2022
Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024

Oozells Square has featured on my blog over the years.  The appearance of the pink blossom on the trees heralds the start of spring in Birmingham. The square becomes a riot of pink colour and is a magnet for photographers.  This year, the blossom has arrived very early by about 2 weeks.  The warm wet winter has enabled the blossom to flower at the beginning of March.  Whenever the blossom appears then people flock to the area especially at the weekends.  On a bright sunny Monday morning, I had the square to myself bar a few people passing through. The sun was low enough to catch some of the blossom with its rays producing lovely colours. As luck would have it a few people passed by dressed in pink which matched the blossom. Taking photographs in the square is very competitive as many people will arrive over the next few weeks to get a picture. People dress up specially and families bring picnics to sit out and admire the blossom. The IKON gallery is an ideal backdrop to the blossom.  Please feel free to visit my other posts on the blossom.

Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
The Sun catches people walking through the square.
Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
Standing under the blossom.
Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
Time to move on.
Oozells Square, Birmingham, March, 2024
The blossom will be around for the next few weeks.

The blossom story from over the last few years.

2023 – Birmingham Blossom Watch

2022 – Birmingham Blossom

2020 – Blossom in Oozells Square

2018 – Cherry blossom experiments

University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024

This set of pictures features the University of Birmingham at night.  I was fortunate to be staying at the Edgbaston Park Hotel which is on campus.  After the conference dinner ended, I headed out with my iPhone and Fujifilm camera.  I used my travel tripod for some of the long exposure pictures of the Aston Webb building.  The iPhone was ideal for the pictures of the newer buildings around campus.  The sensors on the iPhone give a very good rendition of night colours.   

University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
Leading lines in the night.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
The Entrance to Chemical Engineering.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
The Medical School open all hours.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
The expanse of the Green Heart.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
The Walkway to University Centre.

The University has so many different venues that lend themselves for photography.   I did a brisk walk around several of the main buildings and paths.  Even though it was late, there were several people moving around.  Unsurprisingly the busiest area was the University Library.  The advantage to using the iPhone is that it is less conspicuous to using my camera.  Even with my long exposure pictures on a tripod, I did not attract that much attention and was very much left to myself as I moved around.  I hope you enjoy the pictures. Old Joe was telling the time at just before 8pm but that is not correct! Hopefully he will be sorted soon. The clock face is illuminated in purple colours for World Rare Diseases Day.

University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
Table Tenis table outside the School of Sport Sciences.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
Steps to Univeristy Station
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
The new entrance to University Station.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
More of the Aston Webb
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
Old Joe has a purple clock face.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
The ornate gates of the University main entrance.
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
IRC Net Shape Laboratory always looks mysterious
University of Birmingham at Night, Edgbaston, March 2024
(UN)intentional camera movement – can you guess where I am?

If you enjoyed this blog then have a look at the University Campus in the Summer and the Autumn.