I was out on a Bramley Bimble a couple of days ago and came across a sad little find. Just by the public footpath in the Frith woods is a bridge under which the kids love to play trolls, but as they were playing I spotted some feathers and called them over – not much stops my kids from playing trolls but the mention of a dead bird got them moving.
I was unsure at first what it was (I thought it was a bird of prey) so just took a couple of pictures and left it there. I put a picture (the one above) up on Facebook and Pablo from Woodlife Trails identified it as a Tawny Owl.
I went back to the site tonight and carefully collected up as many of the bones and feathers as I could find. The owl had pretty much decomposed but I did find the majority of the bones. They were in two piles so something had been along and had a nibble but had not totally destroyed the skeleton.
There were not many feathers left but I did manage to salvage some good ones. These ones will end up on an atlatl shaft one day.
The pads and talons were still attached to the leg bones so were easy to find but when I looked at the skull more closely I noticed damage. The beak was twisted to one side so whatever animal tried to eat it must have chewed the head a bit before giving up.
Below are some close ups of the talons, still looking razor sharp, and the small picture at the top right is all that was left of the spine and the hips.
I have no idea how the bird died but it was great to find it and in such good condition.
I have been experimenting with my Nikon D3200 DSLR for a month now and I am very impressed with the results so far.
Also I have got Adobe Lightroom which really helps me get the best out of the pictures I take while in my learning state. I am shooting more and more in the RAW format as if I take a bad shot I have a chance of making something out of it in Lightroom.
Also I took the plunge and got the Nikon D3200 for Dummies ebook and am plowing my way through it in the hope of it all making sense one day.
Here are a selection of some of my close up work over the last month. I am enjoying this type of photography and so have been looking into lens tubes to help in this macro photography.
I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed shooting them and playing with them in Lightroom.
A year ago I first advertised my Bushcraft Days blog on Facebook with a view to recording my adventurous activities and sharing them online. I did this primarily to let everyone know what we get up to in the London Area Sea Cadet Adventure Training Team.
We are a small team of instructors dedicated to getting cadets and staff outdoors and exploring as many different environments as possible. When I joined the Corps back in 1998 I came across this slightly eccentric but vastly knowledgable and experienced Adventure Training (AT) instructor Lt (SCC) Graham Brockwell. Graham has been in the Corps since he was a lad and I would say is the Corps’s most experienced AT instructor.
For quite a few years now he has run the London Area Chosin Cup competition but he decided this year’s would be the last with him in charge.
This post is therefore dedicated to my friend Graham – our slightly eccentric, vastly knowledgeable but very friendly Boss.
As usual the AT team turned up early on the Friday (26th of September) to set everything up and the rest of the staff and cadets turned up over the course of the Friday evening. The cadets had to do a night nav into the campsite after being dropped off by their minibuses. Most teams found the camp but four teams took a wrong turning and headed off into the Forest. Dave Lewis and myself found them all huddled together conflabbing about where to go but they were in high spirits and were soon back at camp.
It was an early start the next morning where the teams were given separate routes and headed off to their stances. After finishing each stance they would head off on a new bearing to find the next one, repeating this throughout the day. My job was to keep moving around the course to make sure everyone was OK and not getting lost, which allowed me to take lots of pictures.
First I found the raft building stance where Enfield made a valiant effort to float their raft but sadly things were a bit loose and they soon ran into trouble (they managed to keep smiling throughout though). Next I came upon the plank race. This was a tough little race in the woods but the cadets were continually egged on by Tommo and his microphone and speakers.
One of my favourites has always been the archery stance. Charlie ran that one again this year with Robin up on Hill 170. It seems that one of my bows may need to be retired as it is now developing latteral cracks but it managed to last the day thankfully.
One of the stances I visited was the flag raising one with Paul and Eli but as no teams turned up while I was there could not take any pictures. Paul did film some of the stance though and I put this short video together from his footage.
Next I found Dave and Paul in the woods where they were running the river crossing stance. As it is training there was not a river in sight but the cadets had a great time setting up their rigs and ferrying their kit and themselves across.
There were quite a few other stances I did not photograph including an AT quiz and identifying knots.
After all the stances were completed the cadets went back to the campsite to cook dinner, but as soon as it got dark they were given a new route to a different campsite. They had to navigate in the dark and cross one of the lakes in canoes. A bit of a logistical nightmare but great fun. Thanks to Jo, John and Kev for organising all this.
After all the cadets were set up in their new camp the instructors all relaxed for an hour or so around the campfire. It was great to get the night nav finished so early and for once I got a decent sleep on a Saturday night over Chosin Cup.
I made this video of the Saturday showing as many of the stances I could and it is set to my favourite classical track – The Ride of the Valkyries.
Sunday morning was one of these special ones. I got up at 6am and grabbed my camera straight away and got some beautiful shots.
While I was prepping for the day I had a chuckle as I watched the Deputy Area Officer (London) Lt Cdr (SCC) Cliff Lewis giving the London Area Staff Officer Adventure Training CPO (SCC) Perry Symes a field shower. Not often you get to see that or even say all that 🙂
The Sunday stances were all concentrated in and around a small woodland so the cadets could get around as many as possible. My first set of pictures were of the stalking stance run by Cliff. The cadets competed against each other to remain undetected, retrieve as much water as possible without spilling it, and identify the various man-made objects strewn about the course.
Dean and Tommo ran the tree climbing stance. They had rigged some ropes up to an Oak tree and the cadets used a prusik system to ascend to the top.
The cadets had to test out their seamanship skills by trying to get a heaving line into a container and Paul had them rigging a pulley system to move a very heavy water carrier.
Another of my favourites is the Atlatl. Dave ran this stance and had it set up against a massive pile of hay in the meadow to catch any stray darts. I was relieved to hear that my unit (City of London) came top in this stance 🙂
As Graham had wanted quite a bushcraft feel to the Sunday there was also a shelter stance and a fire making one. Paul had them setting up tarps to help treat an injured casualty and Charlie was doing timed firelighting – both fundamental bushcraft skills and great fun.
Ian was running Kim’s game where the cadets have a minute to study a range of items and then when they are covered up have to describe each one in great detail – not as easy as you may think. Alan was running the Gyn stance – the cadets had to use all there seamanship and team working skills to build the Gyn so as to raise a log up to a set height.
As I had taken a lot of video I made a separate video of the day.
Also running throughout the morning was the Endurance Race. The race was right down in the valley so the cadets would have to cross the river.
There was a great Postman’s Walk (rope brige), muddy slopes, ditches and netting to get through in a fast a time as possible.
The teams had to help each other as much as possible as the clock did not stop until the last cadet had finished. I had a great time running around the course trying to get the best position to film and taking pictures.
My last video of the weekend was of the Endurance Race.
I had to leave before the placings were announced so I have used Joanna Russell’s pictures here. The visiting team trophy went to Poole unit and third place went to City of London unit.
Second place went to Finchley unit and First place (for the second year in a row) went to Enfield unit.
Also for the second year in a row the Team Leader trophy went to LCdt Jess Edwards of Enfield unit.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Chosin Cup this year as the weather was kind to us and the bushcraft stances worked well but most importantly it’s great to see so many teams entered in what I think is the hardest competition the Sea Cadet Corps runs.
Well done to all the teams who took part.
There are a lot of people that make Chosin Cup happen (including staff and cadets) but without the drive and dedication of Graham Brockwell it would not be the success it is today.
So thank you Graham for organising another great Chosin Cup.