Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Limestone country

The view west from Arnside Knott, Cumbria

As I left the house this morning, almost the first thing I saw was a sparrowhawk flying above the house towards Redhills Wood on Arnside Knott. So that advanced the year list of birds to 92.

The photo was taken in the early morning from the top of Arnside Knott looking across a series of low wooded ridges that are divided by shallow valleys with pastures. This area is underlain by Carboniferous Limestone, deposited in tropical seas 350 million years ago. The landscape has been fashioned by glaciers in the last Ice Age, that stripped back the beds of limestone and exposed bare rock that has subsequently weathered into limestone pavements. The shallow valleys between the ridges once supported small peat bogs, but these have long since been drained and the peat cut for fuel. Leighton Moss with its reedbeds and open water lies in one of these valleys, and this would once have been estuarine saltmarsh before the peat "Moss" became established. In the distance, the limestone mountain of Ingleborough looms. The wooded ridges in strong daylight blend into the landscape, when the sun is low, and the view is contre jour, the ridges are much more apparent.

In the afternoon Wifie and I went to see the gathering starlings at Leighton Moss as they coalesced into a huge, wheeling murmuration before finally settling to roost for the night. Longshanks requested that I blip the murmuration, and I will do when I get a better photograph than I managed today. If he or anyone else is interested I have posted a few photographs here.

Note this is not in black and white, it's a trick of the morning light.



Catharsis

There is something I need to get off my chest, and it concerns the star rating system on Blip. This is catharsis for me, and I don't expect anyone else to read on necessarily. In the last week I have had 4 photographs that made it on to the Rated pages, thanks to those people who have kindly rated them with 5 stars. In each case, within a day or two, someone or some persons have given them 1 star. The effect of this is to consign these blips to the distant backwaters of the Rated pages where no-one is ever likely to find them. I don't take this personally, because the same thing has been done to many other photographs at the same time on the Rated pages, many of them far better than I have ever taken.

A week ago there was a systematic purging of a large number of photos on the front pages of Rated by the 1 star method, 3 of mine disappeared at the same time. The existence of the anonymous 1 star blipper has been officially denied, but here is surely evidence of someone acting with conscious and mean spirited intent.

I labour this because Blip is a wonderful place populated by friendly, courteous and supportive people. It saddens me that there appears to be someone or some people out there who are not like this. I must say I have found it quite upsetting to have my blips treated in this way, whoever does this hides behind a cloak of anonymity wielding disproportionate and undemocratic power. They never leave a comment that might explain why they have 1 starred a blip.

Many of the best photographers on Blip have their stars turned off. Is this the reason? Do other people feel as hurt and upset by this practice as I do? I know I should be less sensitive, and more thick-skinned about it. But I don't like unfairness. Unfortunately the star system is grounded in a good idea but is poorly conceived in its implementation. It allows us to express our appreciation for good photographs and narratives, and the Rated pages give a longer life to a blip that allows blippers a better chance of discovering the work of others that is otherwise only transiently displayed as it is posted. That's the good part. The bad part is that it is prey to rogue operatives who through 1 starring images they don't approve of can consign them to the dustbin - and with the protection of anonymity. The irony is that the system sort of depends on this happening, otherwise new photographs would not find their way onto the Rated front pages.

I wonder therefore if a better system would be one that enabled people to vote for blips they really like - to provide the Rated pages. They would check a box to vote, and ignore it if they didn't want to. The life of pictures on the Rated page could be limited to say 1 month, and after that if they have enough votes, they could be added to an archive of the most rated photos on Blip.

It's an idea. In the meantime, having only a week ago encouraged someone whose blips I love and admire greatly to allow us to rate her photos (she politely declined), I now find myself debating whether to remove the stars from my own blips.

I feel better for that - for now at least.

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