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Eagle Owl spotted in Wallsend

Eagle Owl spotted in Wallsend garden

A rare Eagle Owl was spotted perching on a roof in Wallsend, North East England.

Garry Smith saw the bird in his garden on Monday lunchtime.

The eagle owl is one of the largest species of the bird and can have a wingspan of up to 74 inches.

It is regarded as one of the most ferocious birds , known to be intolerant of sharing their territory with other birds of prey and owls.

They are known to hunt rabbits and pheasants, but little is known about what else they eat in Britain.

It is not considered a British species as it is a danger to some of the country’s own birds of prey, such as Hen Harriers. Despite that, it remains a protected wild bird.

Garry warned his neighbour not to let his cats out while the bird was in the garden, but said it flew away after someone nearby began made a loud noise.

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  23 Sept 2014

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Almanac – December 25



A happy Midwinter festival (Midsummer in the southern hemisphere) of your choice to all our readers.

The Robin in the picture is the one that’s hanging around my garden this winter.  They’re generally pretty inquisitive birds, but this one is positively fearless.


This  Christmas song is made up of bits of all the other Christmas songs – truly the soundtrack for Xmas In Hell !




1066 – William the Conqueror  crowned king of England, at Westminster Abbey, London.



1137 – Saladin born. Salāh ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb,  Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen, and parts of North Africa.



1924 – Rod Serling born.  American screenwriter, novelist, television producer, and narrator best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen and helped form television industry standards. He was known as the “angry young man” of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war.



1925 – Carlos Castaneda born. Peruvian author and student of anthropology. Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his alleged training in shamanism.

The books, narrated in the first person, relate his supposed experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness.



1950 – The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, was taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. ( It later turned up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.)



2008 – Eartha Kitt died. American singer, actress, and cabaret star.  Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world.”





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Today is the Summer Solstice… well, not exactly – a solstice is a point in time rather than a day, and in 2012 that point in time was 23:09 UT  last night. And only in the northern hemisphere – if you’re reading this south of the equator, your Summer Solstice is of course 6 months distant, at 11.12 UT, December 21. Something to look forward to anyway…

So, the Summer Solstice – pay attention now, there may be questions asked later :

The summer solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet’s semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits. Earth’s maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26′. This happens twice each year, at which times the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole respectively.

The summer solstice is the solstice that occurs in a hemisphere’s summer. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, in the Southern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 each year in the Southern Hemisphere  and between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere  in reference to UTC.

Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. Except in the polar regions (where daylight is continuous for many months), the day on which the summer solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight.

Thank you Wikipedia.

As is usual for the British Summer Solstice, an estimated 14,500 people descended on Stonehenge to see the Sun rise – or not, as the usual British Midsummer weather was, well, the usual British Midsummer weather. Or as one report put it:   “The sunrise at 4.52am was welcomed by rain-sodden crowds with a loud cheer and applause despite the sun being blanketed by dark clouds.”  Just so.

I’ve never really understood why crowds wishing to celebrate the Solstices always seem to think it’s de rigueur to descend on Stonehenge and  similar places. I have to admit that I’ve never visted Stonehenge myself, but various acounts from sources that have – including members of my own family – suggest that it’s actually rather sterile spiritually.

Of course, there’s also the fact that I dont like crowds much either, so the thought of spending the darkest hour before the dawn in the rain-soaked company of 14,500 strangers doesn’t, if I’m honest, really appeal. I guess I lean more towards the hermit-mentality, spiritually speaking, and dont really see the need for an extra layer of bureacracy between me and whatever gods  I might choose to believe in…whether its  a Church of England vicar or a  neo-Druid Priest at Stonehenge.

And of course there’s the fact that many – most ? – of those at Stonehenge probably travelled long distances to be there. Fair enough, if that’s what they want to do, but don’t they have any sacred sites nearer to home ? 

And sacred doesn’t have to mean there’s an ancient stone circle there. Myself ?  Early this morning I was up and out to my allotment garden, walking 3 miles across town to get there. Just a rectangle of land, one-sixteenth of an acre surrounded by other one-sixteenth of an acre plots by a railway line on the edge of town

But I’ve worked it for two decades, and it’s become a very personal sacred space to me. Being here alone on the Summer Solstice is far more meaningful to me than mingling with the crowds far away in Wiltshire could ever be.  But each to their own, I guess.

Here’s the song I sing as I work –


For the record – it was overcast here too. By 08:00 BST the rain had started. By 09:30 I’d given up and gone home. Then a fog came in from the sea. Oh to be in Britain, now that Midsummer’s here…


Mr. Frankenstein


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