Had a terrific view of a pair of ravens jostling with a pair of perigrine falcons in the brisk westerly wind along the cliff edge near the summit of Seaford Head.
I have been watching with interest across the past few weeks of this heatwave, the behaviour of the carrion crow population in a part of Seaford that I frequent.
The local crow population near the seafront area (who appear to be rather benign, urban relations of the rural hunting type that I’m more familiar with) and seem very social together. They number up to some 15 birds and here is the point of interest, spend much of the hotter part of the day on neighbouring roofs and ridges in an attempt to stay cooler in the slight breeze that these higher vantage points presumably provide.
Well, here we are in the far west of Wales in the Gwaun valley nestling below the Preseli Hills Mountains; the weather is wall to wall sunshine, not too hot at the moment but that might change…
On the drive down on Friday, 22nd taking the scenic route to the north of the Brecon Beacons, we saw many dying ash trees – ash dieback I wonder? Upon arrival at our little cottage, greeted by swallows, house martins and swifts! Indeed, upon driving around, there are quite a number of swifts over countryside and the local towns -so this is where all our swifts are?
Geologists list it as one of most important meltwater channels in Britain from the last Ice Age. The valley is pure rural idyll, thick with beech and hazel, ash and oak. Sightings of pied flycatcher, wood warbler, redstarts, marsh tit, nut hatch and tree creeper are recorded. We watch from the cottage, buzzards, kite and (our) four young swallows on the overhead cable opposite.
Up on the mountains, bog aspodel, sundew, cotton grass, heathers, western gorse(?) and a small pink flower I shall have to look up upon my return oh and ponies! Farming appears to be fairly benign , it mostly on the intermediate middle ground just above the valley. The road verges are quite floristically rich – the foxgloves are spectacular at the moment!
Tuesday, November 7. In the morning, one of the largest container ships in the world passed down Channel off the Sussex coast. She was enroute to Southampton on her outbound voyage from Europe after sailing from China via Sri Lanka while on her first round voyage. The Milan Maersk is one of the largest vessels of her type in the world with a capacity for 20,568 containers – that’s nearly 400 containers more than the previous largest. In 2016 the largest container vessel calling in Southampton had a capacity for 16,000 containers.
The megaship belongs to the second generation of Maersk Line’s Triple-E class (Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved) and is part of a series of eleven container ships, which will be delivered by the end of 2018. Milan Maersk’s propulsion and software system creates energy savings which aims to reduce carbon emissions per container vessel by 35 percent. This new generation of more efficient and environmentally friendly container ship joins LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and solar powered RoRo vessels already visiting the port of Southampton. For more technical information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maersk_Triple_E-class_container_ship ).
Thursday, November 9. With thick grey cloud overhead at daybreak, there was a clear, fabulously-coloured sky out at sea towards the south-east, creating brilliant blue skies with a golden sun surrounded by bright vermilion skies, casting bronze hues on the autumn-tinted trees near my house.
Saturday, Oct 7th. During a grey, damp morning, I saw two groups of brent geese numbering perhaps 150 birds passing Hastings, battling head-on into the the strong westerly wind and presumably on passage from perhaps Siberia to spend the winter at somewhere like Langstone Harbour further along the coast.
Sunday, Oct 15th. We went walking up on to Seaford Head and in the vicinity of ‘Puck’ Church’ were rewarded for in excess of 10 minutes by a peregrine jousting with a raven above the cliffs. A sheer speed that the peregrine came in at for some of its attacks!
Monday, Oct 16th. Very mild today! Late afternoon today, daylight became quite weak and semi-darkness descended to be followed at dusk by a strange light – a kind of dirty orange light in the SW sky. All due to the passing of tropical Storm Ophelia (producing near hurricane force winds) over Ireland, it also carrying north much dust from the Sahara and smoke particles from wild fires in northern Portugal.
Saturday, Oct 21st. A gale (Storm Briane) and a spring tide produced some huge waves along the beach at Seaford, with the strandline out in the road in places. Newhaven breakwater also took a pounding as can be seen in the following Facebook pic by Fergus Kennedy.
Tuesday, Oct 31. Two large (each some 1,200 gross tons) Dutch-based(?) but British flagged trawlers, have been working some 10 miles off the coast from Hastings all day. Not what the Hastings beach-based fleet wants to see?
Great news! I see the Rampion Field offshore from Brighton is progressing – from Brighton Clock Tower looking down West Street, a rig and towers visible on horizon and full extent surprised me recently as it came into view whilst driving along A259 from Eastbourne.
Offshore wind power cheaper than new nuclear. [ABRIDGED]
By Roger Harrabin,BBC environment analyst. September 11 2017.
Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm, Liverpool. copyright GETTY IMAGES
Energy from offshore wind in the UK will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time. The development, revealed in figures from the government, has been seen as a milestone in the advance of renewable energy.
The plummeting cost of offshore wind energy has caught even its most optimistic supporters by surprise. Nuclear firms said the UK still needed a mix of low-carbon energy, especially for when wind power was not possible. The figures, from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for offshore wind were revealed as the result of an auction for subsidies, in which the lowest bidder wins.
Two firms said they were willing to build offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50 per megawatt hour. That compares with new nuclear plants at a subsidy of £92.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23.
Emma Pinchbeck from the wind energy trade body Renewable UK told the BBC: “These figures are truly astonishing. “We still think nuclear can be part of the mix – but our industry has shown how to drive costs down, and now they need to do the same.”
Onshore wind power and solar energy are already both cost-competitive with gas in some places in the UK. And the price of energy from offshore wind has now halved in less than five years.
Energy analysts said UK government policy helped to lower the costs by nurturing the fledgling industry, then incentivising it to expand – and then demanding firms should bid in auction for their subsidies.
Michael Grubb, professor of energy policy at University College London, called the cost reduction “a huge step forward in the energy revolution”. “It shows that Britain’s biggest renewable resource – and least politically problematic – is available at reasonable cost. It’ll be like the North Sea oil and gas industry: it started off expensive, then as the industry expanded, costs fell. We can expect offshore wind costs to fall more, too,” he said.
The subsidies, paid from a levy on consumer bills, will run for 15 years – unlike nuclear subsidies which run for 35 years. This adds to the cost advantage offshore wind has now established over new nuclear. Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “This massive price drop for offshore wind is a huge boost for the renewables industry and should be the nail in the coffin for new nuclear. “The government’s undying commitment to new nuclear risks locking us into sky high prices for years to come. Put simply, this news should be the death knell for Hinkley C nuclear station.”
Nuclear ‘still needed.’
However, the nuclear industry said that because wind power is intermittent, nuclear energy would still be needed. Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “It doesn’t matter how low the price of offshore wind is. On last year’s figures it only produced electricity for 36% of the time.”
EDF, which is building the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, said the UK still needed a “diverse, well-balanced” mix of low-carbon energy. “New nuclear remains competitive for consumers who face extra costs in providing back-up power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine,” the French firm said. “There are also costs of dealing with excess electricity when there is too much wind or sun.”
Construction of the Hinkley Point plant is under way after gaining government approval last year. EDF added that energy from new nuclear plants would become cheaper as the market matures, as has happened with offshore wind. Eyes will be raised at this suggestion, as nuclear power has already received subsidies since the 1950s but storage of surplus energy from offshore wind is still a challenge.
Prof Grubb estimated the new offshore wind farms would supply about 2% of UK electricity demand, with a net cost to consumers of under £5 per year.
Experts warn that in order to meet the UK’s long term climate goals, additional sources of low-carbon energy will still be needed.
Thursday, Aug 3. Rather un-seasonal weather during the past 24 hours with substantial rainfall through yesterday afternoon and through much of the night. That has been followed today with quite windy conditions – Force 7- Near Gale, being recorded out in the Channel and the average wave height reaching 6.5 feet, producing plenty of white-crested waves.
Sunday, Aug 13. Slow boat to Turkey – a new twist on that old saying! A dutch tug, the Fairmount Glacier, 3,239 gross tonnes, is on passage towing a large drilling rig to Aliaga in Turkey. It is shadowed by the Belgium-registered offshore support vessel, Smit Nicobar of 2,606 gross tonnes. The towering rig was a feature on the horizon for much of the day off Hastings for it is travelling only between 2 – 6 knots, walking pace! Monday morning and they were south of the Isle of Wight. ETA in Turkey is September 10th!
Friday, Aug 18. There has been much talk just recently about the amount of rain this month. One of the BBC weathermen was asked for an explanation about it. He stated that of ‘the last 13 consecutive Augusts, 9 had been wetter than the average, perhaps indicating a new trend.’
Wed, Aug 30. Quite a number of house martins hawking above the town this evening, probably because of their migration being put on hold by the wet, cloudy weather and less than perfect visibility?