Tag Archives: nature

Wailing Ibis

What you can hear is the sound of a pair of Hadada Ibis in the tree behind our house (along with some cockerels). They make a lot of noise. In fact they are noisier when in flight when the calls you hear  are continuous, it’s much more tricky to capture that sound as they appear from nowhere.

I have come to associate life in Mwanza with the sound of these glossy green black birds – they are everywhere here, though thankfully they don’t always make this noise.

It’s In The Trees!

We have Bats in our Mango tree – I say our, it’s just outside our garden but on the compound where  we live. I was taking photos for my previous post (Broken Branches) when I noticed them. I was able to snap some clear photos of them roosting and some fuzzier ones of them in flight. They are very fast and silent flyers so I will need to be patient and get some more focused ones in the future.

Incidentally, the phrase “It’s in the trees” comes from a Kate Bush song “Hounds of Love”.  It’s a bit of a catch-phrase in the family – it’s usually followed incorrectly by “When I was child”, The origin is over twenty years old from a time in Milton Keynes when a group of us (twenty somethings) gathered for a weekly Friday video night – it was probably coined by a guy called Richard, who knows why? Over time it was used by my brother (an occasional visitor to the video night) and I and later my kids. No rhyme or reason! I have wanted to use it in a blog post – so here it is. “It’s In The Trees!”


Mysterious Whooping

Outside of my classroom for several days now there has been a mysterious sound. Repetitive, loud, almost mechanical I originally thought it was far away but today it seemed much closer. Intrigued as I was I took a recording.

Here it is


So what was it – I wondered if it might be a monkey? A student suggested it might be an owl. It turned out to be something altogether smaller

IMG_1013It’s called a Speckled Pigeon and although I took this photo several weeks ago in the tree outside my classroom – it’s undoubtedly the same bird. I saw it in the eves above my room (chest inflated and whooping – sadly no picture). Mystery solved.

Postscript – a less mysterious sound!
Incidentally this sounds above are a jolly sight nicer than the Ranting Preacher we have had to endure this past week (think Tanzanian Ian Paisley on steroids). I say this as a fellow Christian but there is only so much Fire and Brimstone you can take and he sounds so angry.

Monkey Business


It’s not every day that you come out of the Staff Room and encounter a troup of monkeys bounding across the roof, or look out of your classroom door and see the same monkey troop sauntering through the grounds and opening up the rubbish bins for food. Such is life here at Isamilo School. In so many ways my daily job is as ever, bar the aging technology. However, you really feel you are in Africa when you see sights such as these.

An Ode to Milton Keynes : Of Concrete Cows and Roundabouts

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Of concrete cows and roundabouts
A life lived here or hereabouts

Do you know what life here means?
Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes

When I declare I’m from MK
I wonder what it is you say?

If I reveal I’m from this city
Do you look on me with pity?

Or do you look upon me down?
If I say I’m from this town.

A place of Tarmac, steel and glazing
Where cows stand still but never grazing

Where roads run straight, past new estates.
To  roundabouts that everyone hates.

These are popular misconceptions.
The myths of Britain’s general perceptions.

When I moved here in ’88
I thought it was a place I’d hate.

But over the years I have grown to enjoy
This city, despised when I was a boy.

What people afar will often mistake
Is a town full of greenery, park and lake.

Here in this city you’ll find if you look
Woodland and meadow and canal and brook.

A modern city, yes it’s true!
But places to rest and relax too.

Fast roads which get you from place to place.
With minimum traffic to slow down your pace.

Yet near to the streets, all hustle and bustle.
You can walk through the woods and hear the leaves rustle.

Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes
Do you know what life here means?

A life lived here or hereabouts
Of concrete cows and roundabouts.

© Graham Long May 2014

This came to me on the road home tonight and I wrote it down in half an hour. It comes from conversations with people who don’t know Milton Keynes.

All pictures below taken in Milton Keynes





Canal Long Walk (9)









Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring (5)

A fifth submission  to the Weekly Photo Challenge for Spring. If it isn’t Spring flowers then surely lambs are one of the signs of Spring (in the UK at least). These photos from April 2011 at a farm near Brigg in Lincolnshire.


Brigg Lamb Sculpt (9)

Brigg Lamb Sculpt (8)

Brigg Lamb Sculpt (5)

Spring – 1

Spring -2

Spring – 3

Spring – 4

Grand Union

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The Grand Union Canal flows through the heart of Milton Keynes. It’s a lovely waterway especially in the Spring and a real haven for wildlife.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring (4)

Spring from the bank….

Inspired by my run / walk along the Grand Union Canal this morning but taken in May 2013, these pictures capture Spring in more senses than one.

Canal Long Walk (7)

Canal Long Walk (8)

Canal Long Walk (9)


Close upCanal Long Walk (9)


A fourth submission  to the Weekly Photo Challenge for Spring.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring (3)

A third submission  to the Weekly Photo Challenge for Spring all photos taken from our garden.

Spring 017

Spring 002

Spring 003

Spring 004

Spring 007

Spring 011

Spring 1
Spring – 2

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring (2)

A Second submission  to the Weekly Photo Challenge for Spring featuring a Robin – usually seen as a winter bird – here photographed in Rye Meads Nature Reserve back in April 2009


Rye Meads RSPB 125 cropped2

Springtime Robin

Spring – 1

East Africa Bucket List

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In just 20 weeks we leave for Africa and whilst there is still a lot to do here I have started to look at what awaits. Today is the start of the Easter Holidays in the UK. The school days at Isamilo will be long but the holiday periods will be longer than in the UK. Whilst I know that  I will devote some of that time to the usual marking, planning and preparation that makes up the teaching life there will be time and hopefully money to travel.

Many years ago I said to Anita that for my 50th Birthday, I’d like to take a balloon flight over the Serengeti – the proximity of the wildlife park and the date of my birthday ( I will be 50 whilst in Tanzania) makes this a definite reality.

Here is a ‘bucket list’ of things I’d like to do.

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Spring Sprung

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One of the things I will miss about the UK will be it’s seasons. This morning I took an early walk around the local area – taking in the glorious sunshine of an English Spring morning.

I love the way that the Milton Keynes Boulevards change from the grey of winter as if a giant artist had dabbed white paint across the trees.


This morning is a real tonic after the dismal wet and rainy winter. It’s been exceptionally mild which might explain the butterflies. I manage to photo the one below ……

20140309-111510.jpg…… But the yellow butterflies never stopped dancing for long enough.

Milton Keynes is far from the concrete jungle everyone imagines. All the photos below were taken within a mile of where I live.