Posts Tagged ‘Sunset’

The Great Fen project and Fen Ague

Fenland sky 

The Great Fen Project is an attempt to restore and return some of our natural fen heritage to an earlier state. The objective is to facilitate the regeneration of an ecosystem encouraging the return of greater wildlife diversity and habitat.

Having the oppportunity to watch flocks of waterfowl as they return to roost in a panoramic Fenland sunset is something I look forward to. Even aged 67, after spending my life in the fens, the limitless skies, the beauty of spectacular sunsets and sunrises, on a grand scale continue to fill me with awe.

One aspect of the regeneration of the fens seemingly neglected concerns me. Fen Ague or The Ague was a form of malaria once prevalent in the fens. Those that survived the infection were often revisited with its symptoms. Samuel Pepys was a famous sufferer as was Oliver Cromwell. He died at the relatively young age of 59 from Tertian Ague.

Starting with the seventeenth century and since large scale drainage has removed the stagnant pools of water – the breeding grounds for the mosquito disease carriers. Records were kept during the nineteenth century by county of the incidence of Ague or Malaria. Records have been correlated together with rainfall and temperature variation  Rates of Malaria infection were found to have fluctuated with temperature and rainfall. Warmer and wetter summer weather coincided with increases in the number of recorded cases. (1.)

Since the referenced article’s publication in 2003, evidence for climate change has become even stronger.  The assumption is that as a consequence the UK will become wetter and warmer. As the Great Fen Project develops, pools of stagnant water will grow in size and number.

Greater numbers of people from the UK are visiting areas abroad where Malaria is prevalent. This increases the probability that some travellers may return infected with the disease. These factors: increasing climate temperature and more abundent mosquito breeding grounds could see a return of a disease that had left these shores. Another concern is that warm air flows could bring mosquitoes infected with the parasite into the fens. I have expressed concerns about Fen Ague to those setting up the Great Fen Project.

Rex Sly on his blog post “Malaria in the Fens” (October 2007) believes that the extinction in the fens of the disease has been comprehensive.  He states that the disease-carrying mosquito species responsible has become extinct and there would need to be a pool of infection existing within the local human population. These factors he feels sure should be sufficient to prevent re-emergence of Malaria. Hopefully, Rex is right but the areas of concern I have outlined may outweigh this optimism. Increased international travel, disease evolution, larger bodies of stagnant water and a warmer climate could in the none-too-distant future provide a means for Malaria to return to these shores.

Hopefully, Malaria or Fen Ague is gone for good. However, at the very least, contingency plans to deal with the problem, should it arise, ought to be in place. The guardians of our welfare should, in my view, give this matter serious consideration.  Often in the past, the unthinkable and unexpected, have found us as a nation unprepared, even though, many timely warnings were given.

 

(1) 2003 article. (Malaria in Britain: Past, Present and Future, 2003. Katrin Gaardbo Kuhn, Diarmid  Campbell-Lendrum, Ben Armstrong and Clive R Davies).

 

More Sunsets

Probably the two most obvious features of the Fens leaving aside their flatness are the skies and water. Although everywhere has sky, like the seas and oceans the Fens have an abundance of sky. When as we so often are, blessed with a spectacular sunset, it is as if some one has painted an ever-changing vast canvass for us to view. These sunsets were photographed between August and October this year.

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Sunset over Whittlesey

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Orton Mere

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Orton Mere

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Kings Dyke

 

The following shots were from North Bank all taken the same evening the hot air balloon was descending as it came into land intending to land in what light remained. The photos were taken over a distance of approximately one and a half miles and a time peiod of about fifteen minutes.

 

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Sunrises and sunsets

I have lived and worked in Cambridgeshire just about all of my life I did work for a while on the outskirts of Peterborough, a matter of just a few months but that is all. I like the fens because of their openess and the skies, the skies are an everchanging picture, each second unique and different unemcumbered by the clutter of buildings they allow the really big picture of the sky to be seen.These are just a few of the photos I have, not every day brings skies as spectacular as these but we get plenty of them and there are plenty of days of sunshine.DSCN0238

Sunrise

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Sunrise same day

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Sunrise behind the wind turbines

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A bit further along the road

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Sunset looking towards Ramsey from the bridge at Bodsey

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From Bodsey again

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Near Bodsey

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Remains of an old wind pump at Ramsey St Marys.

I have wanted to photograph this old wind pump at sunset for some time but never had the opportunity, I intend to return for some more pictures in the future. It has a certain beauty for me mingled with a sadness that it is no longer needed and just left to rot. So much of that which is built on the fens has about it a feeling impermanence, of borrowing its’ existence from the waters that have been drained away and one day may return. Many buildings built on drained land have foundations that move with the shifting fen beneath them very few walls remain plumb even only after a few years. The most immediate effected by the shifting ground under our feet are the roads. Many fen roads move on a seemingly daily basis until after a short time dips and ridges form that can throw unwary vehicles in any direction.

 

 

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