Friday, May 26, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

History of the New River

There are several New Rivers around the world but none perhaps as unique as that upon which the coots described here struggle for survival.

Our local New River is neither new nor a river as it is actually a man made water course on which work began way back in 1609 and was completed in 1613.

It was built by Sir Hugh Myddelton, a Welsh engineer, who set out to provide a source of fresh water to the citizens of London. This artificial channel starts near Ware in Hertfordshire, about 20 miles to the North of London, but it meanders around the contours over an actual distance of some 40 miles. The river was an engineering wonder of its time as it carried water down a gradient of between two and four inches in the mile. It used to end near Sadler's Wells theatre in Islington but now does so near a reservoir in Stoke Newington, North London. Its waters are pumped from there via a pipe to a water purification works in Walthamstow a few miles to the east.

It was opened on 29 September 1613 by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Myddelton, who was Hugh's brother. Most of it is still in use today under the ownership of Thames Water, and it still supplies the capital with drinking water 393 years later. Its current capacity is around 40 million gallons per day, some of which is pumped from the nearby River Lea.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Giant Elephant charms London

The Sultan's Elephant, a forty feet high mechanical Pachyderm weighing 42 tonnes, captivated all who viewed it in central London this weekend. Created by the French company, Royal de Luxe, it was commissioned to mark the centenary of Jules Verne.

Here are some photos I took today ( click them to enlarge):

the Elephant gets ready to leave Horse Guards Parade:

Heading towards The Mall:

A rear view:

A larger than life girl accompanied the Elephant:

The Lifeguards kept an eye on the proceedings:

And the flower beds in nearby St. James Park were in full bloom:

Read more about the event at:

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Springtime on the New River

The coots are busy building nests out of grass, twigs and other debris on the calm waters of the New River.

Mr Coot brings back some nesting material:

and passes it to Mrs Coot:

Mrs Coot moves her eggs around a little:

and settles down for a spot of incubation:

so that's what discarded supermarket trolleys are for! (click on photos to enlarge)

Coot: Fulica atra. AKA: Common coot, which is all-black and larger than its cousin, the moorhen, it has a distinctive white beak and 'shield' above the beak which earns it the title 'bald'. Coots prefer to live on areas of fairly shallow standing freshwater with a muddy bottom and plenty of vegetation at the sides. Found mainly in lowland areas they eat vegetation, snails and insect larvae.