I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday bird blogging

A robin, or more accurately, a European robin, in the backyard in Croydon. They don't at all resemble American robins except for the red breasts, and this is the first good picture I've ever managed to get of one.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday geometries

The play of light and shadow on the fabric draping the ceiling of an iron and glass structure in Worthing.

Below, a view from outside.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Urban poetry

The  evening lights of Greater London streaking past the train from East Croydon to Victoria, on my way back to Heathrow last night.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Speaking of invasive species

Gray squirrels (from North America) have greatly outnumbered the native red squirrels in recent years. One theory is that because they eat acorns and red squirrels don't, they have an advantage in areas with lots of oak trees.

My cousin had left bread on the lawn, which made the magpies very happy, but this squirrel was hesitant about joining the feast. (Perhaps he heard my accent and thought I was here to deport him back to America.)

Fortunately, he was able to overcome his shyness.

Definitely not ex-parrots

The last thing I expected in London was feral tropical birds, but apparently rose-ringed parakeets now outnumber nightingales in the city.

Despite rumors, they were probably not descended from a pair released by Jimi Hendrix -- sadly, “there seems to be no evidence for any celebrity involvement in the parrotisation of London."

They were way up in the treetops so I couldn't get a better picture, but I can verify that they were quite active and very loud -- no material for dead parrot sketches here.

Dew drops

Dew on the grass early this morning, glinting like fairy lights in the sun.

Sitting in an English garden

That summarizes my day very nicely.

I didn't have to wait for the sun; it was another perfect spring day, and I actually got a little sunburn, the first time that's ever happened in London.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday bird blogging

Almost missed the birds today. Here's a blue tit back in Croydon.

And jetsam


A few more things that caught my eye in Worthing. The picture above of the little girl picking her way down the rocky slope to the beach is a new favorite.

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones

Worthing is full of these stone walls, mostly flint, but probably interspersed with any other likely rocks the tide brought in.

Southeast England is built primarily on chalk, so there isn't a lot of stone for building, and flint has been used since prehistoric times. It became very fashionable during the Victorian era, and unlike the British Empire, the Crystal Palace, and the novels of Bulwer-Lytton, the walls are still around. Click to enlarge.

What lies beneath

At the far end of the pier, there's a place where you can look down at the posts and pilings underneath, a dark quiet world very different from the holiday-making on top.

Here is a very atmospheric video my cousin Michael Guihen made of the world under the pier.

Gifts of the sea

Or, "Look Mummy, what the tide brought in!" I love the bits of purple and the blue sheen on the rocks.

Worth clicking to enlarge.

Worthing Pier

Who even knew there was a Pier of the Year award? Well done, Worthing!

Delicious with


Worthing is on the south coast, a few miles from Brighton. Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest there, and although nothing has sparkled quite so much since, it's a pretty little town, scuffed and shabby in places, spiffed and polished up in others, with a long stretch of rocky beach, tearooms, arcades, and flocks of gulls floating on the thermals overhead.

The motorway out of London looks like any other highway until you're well out of the city. Then it winds through the Sussex downs, past flocks of sheep and occasional horses cropping the endless green, old stone churches frowning down from hilltops, and a large pub called, quite implausibly, The Joyful Whippet. (I don't think I've ever seen a whippet that even approached cheerful, never mind joyful.)

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Tea time in the koi pond. I love that eye.

Oh to be in England now that April's there

As my pal Robert Browning was fond of saying.

Here's my cousin's garden in Croydon, on a perfect English spring day.

Saturday geometries

You have to admire the optimism of those jaunty blue and white squares decorating this grotty smoking shed outside Terminal 4 at Heathrow.

No matter how wretched I feel after an overnight flight, I can always count on finding something even less attractive than I am at the arrivals gate.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Urban poetry

Glass balconies stepping up the side of a most mundane brick building in the light of early morning.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday in the park with Kathleen

So, apparently, it's spring.

Ha ha -- what I meant to say is, it's  SPRING!

Today was one of those sublime days that only come along a few times a year, sun, breeze, mild temperatures, flowers seeming to burst from the ground by the minute. And after three days of non-stop headache and extensive sleep, plus packing for yet another office move, it was a tonic.

And birds, of course.

Some pine warblers and a Carolina wren were irritatingly camera shy, but there were flocks of Chipping sparrows and the first hermit thrushes I've seen.

Of course, there are always a few wiseasses who have to harsh my mellow.

Sunday bird blogging

The breast may be reddish rather than the more common white, but there's no mistaking that nuthatch pose.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


The shapes and angles of the XYZ buildings in Rockefeller Center, in New York.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Urban poetry

Early morning, empty cafe tables at Worldwide Plaza in Manhattan.

After I took the picture, a security guard scurried over to inform me that no photography was allowed in the plaza. I smiled and left but I was thinking, Seriously?

It wasn't just that there's no reason that this innocuous outdoor space would need to be protected from photographers -- it's not exactly a national security risk. But there's also no way you could enforce a ban. On a nice day, hundreds of people eat lunch there, with hundreds more passing through, and probably close to 100% of them are carrying phones with cameras. People take pictures of anything, anywhere now. There's no realistic way to stop them.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mr and Mrs Cardinal

Bonus bird blogging.

Apart from the egret, I haven't had much luck recently getting pictures of birds other than the ones I always take photos of. At least yesterday there was nice light and I was able to capture some fairly clear closeups, including these two cardinals, who look as though they were having glamorous head shots taken in a studio.

Sunday bird blogging

This goldfinch may look slightly disheveled from the April breezes, but there's no denying that he's golden, and growing more so every day.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saturday reflections

I haven't posted an ordinary window reflection in a while, so here's a closeup of windows in what I still call the RCA building, aka the other side of 30 Rock.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Urban poetry

A fire escape draped for renovations.

I love the way the net darkens the blue of the sky and the abstract of the black shapes against the blues.

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