Best Wishes for a New Year.

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 All hands on deck

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The Mekhanik Yartsev a Russian freighter got into difficulties off Portsmouth in the early hours of Boxing Day. The vessel is currently anchored off Hill Head and has developed a 20-degree list, it has power and is stable. There is a plan to move her to Southampton. Some of her cargo of wood has been lost overboard. Her crew of 13 have remained on board.

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At about 10:00hrs  this morning (28thDecember 2017) with a calm sea and the local RNLI lifeboat off her stern several tugs escorted the Mekhanik Yartsev out of the Solent into Southampton Water and into port.

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More shipping danger in the Solent. Visit by a click on my old post below

https://andyfinnegan.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/o-hear-us-when-we-cry-to-thee-for-those-in-peril-on-the-sea-support-the-life-boats/

 

 

Death Beach.

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Towards the end of 1943 about 3,000 people from a number of villages in the South Hams area of Devon were given 6 weeks to pack up and leave their homes with little explanation. In early 1944 American troops arrived in their thousands, invading the tiny Devon roads and lanes. These GIs who on D Day would assault the beaches of Normandy.

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Restored Sherman tank raised from the nearby seabed in 1984.

Prior to this their training would be intensified. This included a large rehearsal of a beach landing on Slapton Sands, codenamed “Exercise Tiger”. The plan was to amass landing craft in the Channel from Plymouth and Brixham, then stage landings on Slapton Beach which was similar to Utah Beach near Cherbourg. The Allied commander General Dwight D Eisenhower wanted the rehearsal to be as lifelike as possible.

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The week-long dummy “invasion” went well until April 27th when the last convoy set off for Slapton Sands. This flotilla of several landing craft contained troops, amphibious trucks, jeeps, heavy equipment and hundreds of men.

Under darkness, German E boats off the Devon coast picked up Allied radio traffic and spotted eight boats sailing in a line in Lyme Bay. The 9 German torpedo boats had stumbled on operation Tiger. Soon torpedoes without warning hit the landing craft. One burst into flames. Men on deck were engulfed in fire from blazing fuel from the exploding vehicles. Another lost its stern but  was able limp into port.  A 3rd landing craft rapidly sank in the pitch dark and with no time to launch life rafts of the 496 soldiers and sailors on her, 424 drowned.  Commanders ordered all the boats to scatter immediately, hoping to avoid any more losses. The men left in the sea,  many  soon sank, weighed down by sodden clothes and kit.

The GIs who made it to the shore were to suffer a further danger, an incident that to this day is not acknowledged by the Pentagon. As they staggered onto the beach they came under direct fire from a British Cruiser and “friendly fire” from beach gun emplacements. The truth of the friendly fire on the sands remains unproven though well attested to by those who were there. When morning came the official death toll was 749 men, far more than were killed on the storming of Utah beach on the real D-Day. What happened at Slapton Sands was not made public at the time.

 

anyone for a paddle.

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More Sanderlings have arrived for the winter among the flock of about 12 spotted today were also a couple of Ringed Plovers. Two can be seen on the  fly past picture above (short bills).

The sanderling’s remain predictable zipping along the waters edge.

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The Ringed Plover is small, and about the same size as the Sanderlings, It is a short-legged wading bird. It is brownish grey above and whitish below.  orange legs and a black-and-white pattern on its head and breast.

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How times change

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When I was a child in the 1960’s I considered the Song Thrush a common bird almost as common as a Blackbird. Today I am lucky to see 2 or 3 a year.

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The red list (details from RSPB website)

Red is the highest conservation priority, with species needing urgent action.

Red list criteria includes:

  • Species is globally threatened.
  • Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995.
  • Severe (at least 50%) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years, or longer-term period (the entire period used for assessments since the first BoCC review, starting in 1969).
  • Severe (at least 50%) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years, or the longer-term period.