Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Haring About


I was up early today because I had so much to do ..... finish painting the kitchen; plant my seeds; tidy the garden; the washing and some sewing ..... I went for a walk instead!  Oh the joys of retirement!!

We had seen twelve species of bird before leaving the lane - the usual garden birds. Once we were in the next field different ones showed up.  Yellow Hammers sat on top of hedges glowing like canaries in the morning sunshine.  They are declining in numbers apparently .... there seems to be a healthy population near here. 

We located  a couple of Gold Crests and a Green Woodpecker because they were calling so loudly. This time of year they are shouting, "Look at me!" to attract a mate so birding is that bit easier.



The Yellow Hammer call is really easy to remember - it sounds like ' A-little-bit-of-bread-with-no-cheeeeese'.   The Skylark call is easy to recognise too as it floats high above the field singing its head off. 

On the ground below it was a Grey Partridge.  Later in the afternoon two more Grey Partridges wandered into our field, upsetting the five resident Red-legged Partridges.

Red legged Partridge
 
On the way back home a Peregrine flew passed us and landed high on a pylon.  In towns they use high ledges as lookout posts: in the countryside it's worth checking out pylons.
 
Excellent photograph I know!! It was a long way off before the camera was used!

 
We walked for two and a half hours and saw 30 species. It was a lovely day so I decided to get the seeds planted ... first of all though I had to tidy up the greenhouse, didn't I?  It was beginning to get dark by the time I finished so today's job list will have to be tackled tomorrow .... AGAIN! 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Through my Window

The first one up every morning gives a 'nature report' of what they can see on the field outside.  Every day there are House Sparrows and Dunnocks in the hedge; most days there are Wood Pigeons or Magpies in the field but some days are special .....


Three Brown Hares turned up on Sunday apparently.  I was away in Yorkshire celebrating my mother's 93rd birthday so I only discovered them today.  There is no difference between the sexes so we have no idea if they are Jacks or Jills and capable of producing leverets but we will be watching.

 The party of three were quite settled until another one turned up.  The new comer stayed some distance away but kept getting chased off by the others.





 
 
Five male Pheasants decided to spend the day in the gardens but the Partridges were braver and stayed in the field.  That could have been a mistake as two buzzards looked down and thought, "Food!"  Luckily they were more interested in Hare for lunch but after a few minutes of circling they floated off in search of something slightly smaller.
 
 
 
 
These made me laugh .... "You can't see me, right?"
 
 
 
Then there were the Robins ... Love's Young Dream!
 
 
I have spent most of the day going back and forwards to see the hares so I noticed the Wren, the Kestrel, the Sparrow hawk and the Pied Wagtails through my bedroom window.  
Who needs Spring Watch?


Mum at 93 & her 3 year old great-grand son

 
I am fully aware I should be in the garden now ...LOADS to do! Hundreds of seeds to plant, tons of clearing up to do ...... I had aimed to fill the seed trays on 15th February but for some reason I started to paint the kitchen that day! I am now 10 days later than I planned but there's always tomorrow .... until there isn't!!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Make Over

It was another one of those "Andy!" moments when I start a job and realise I've got stuck! The old pine dresser was upstairs .... the bottom of the staircase was very narrow .... thankfully he never moans!!


We bought the dresser twenty years ago.  It has been used in the dining room, the utility room, the greenhouse for a short time and then my sewing room.  It is now moving into the porch but it needed a bit of a face lift.  I used chalk furniture paint and wax.  It took three days but I'm very pleased with the end result.
 
 

Monday, 2 February 2015

New Orleans

 
We have recently returned from visiting our son and daughter-in-law in the USA.  They are in Meridian, Mississippi, for a few months which is only a couple of hours away from New Orleans so it gave us the chance to see the place .... or I should say experience the place!
 
Mention New Orleans and music is one of the first things brought to mind.  There were street bands everywhere ... some pulling in big crowds all willing to stop the traffic and party in the road. Here's St Cinder (pictured above).  It's never quiet in the French Quarter!

A visit has to include a walk down Bourbon Street to visit the Jazz Bars.  Be careful what you order to drink though .... as the younger members of our party discovered after only two Hurricanes. They will be talking about that night for years to come - even though they can't remember a single thing about it!!


Royal Street was my favourite ... you can spend a week just on that one road.  Antique shops; galleries; bars; restaurants; garden cafes; musicians and street acts ... and it ends at Frenchman Street .... more of the same ... brilliant!

The people are friendly and talkative.  Complete strangers start conversations with you in the street.  There were some very interesting characters there: from cool looking guys ....
 
 
to beautiful drag queens....

A short drive out of town and you are in the swamps.  Alligators, snakes, frogs and racoons and people living in houses like these!



They look like shacks but this is the main street of a real town.  They keep goats, pigs and chickens on the porches and make a living from shrimp fishing.  Parts of the movie Beasts of the Southern Wilds were filmed there.

There's total poverty and hardship there, mixed in with real riches: but that has always been the case.
Here's the Oak Alley Plantation house:


with the slave huts behind it ...


The stuff hanging from the tree is Spanish Moss .... it isn't Spanish and it isn't moss ... it is a form of bromeliad.

Later we rode the streetcars ...


... to get to the Audubon Zoo .... white alligators, elephants, some very depressed looking apes and beautiful big cats. The Audubon Insectarium proved to be expensive and disappointing though.


The NOMA (new Orleans Museum of Art) was well worth a trip.  The extensive collection takes hours to view and includes all the famous masters and a large number of modern artists. I loved this self portrait made of blobs.


The Photo Realism exhibition was fascinating as well as inspirational. Here's an example - this is a painting!


'Citarella Fish Company,' 1991 by Richard Estes
 
Outside was a Sculpture Garden containing the likes of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and all this is situated in the middle of a beautiful park filled with birds and trees and lakes.

Fancy something a bit cheaper?  Try the street art.


The New Orleans cemeteries are also part of the tourist routes.  These young people drowned after going on a picnic in 1931.  Strange to spend your holiday time in a graveyard but it was oddly interesting!

 
 
 
 


From art to music and street theatre; sights, sounds, smells and tastes; fortune tellers and voodoo museums New Orleans has something for everyone.

We had a fabulous time .... saw over 100 different species of birds ...... tasted Po Boys, Jambalaya and Gumbo ... crossed the Mississippi in a boat .... and we got to enjoy some lovely time with the son!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Earlies


We have been out enjoying the winter sunshine at Rufford and Clumber Parks.  There have been reports of Hawfinches but we didn't catch up with them ... lots of beautiful Gold-crests; Jays; Tree-creepers and Nuthatches though so I'm not complaining!

In the garden the Snowdrops have arrived and the Primulas and Cyclamens continue to add some colour but I was delighted to find a pink Helebore Ellen (purchased from Hayloft Plants) this morning.  On closer inspection I found quite a few buds and blooms out enjoying the winter sunshine with us .... and a couple of aphids!



 
 
 

 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Lazing


Today should have been busy.  My sister had planned to visit, with my mother and my niece and her two children.  My morning would have been full of hoovering (!) floors and bleaching bathrooms before dashing to the shops to replenish the biscuits.  I can be SUCH a great housewife when guests are due!

Unfortunately the wintery weather changed the plans.  My mum is 92 and hasn't been well so a trip out this week wasn't a great idea. We have postponed not cancelled.

I lit the fire and settled in to browse the internet, read, knit and watch the birds.

 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Winter Walk

The snow arrived on Boxing Day.  Luckily we had been out and got home safely.  Friends were not as fortunate but they have dinner table tales of long journeys and abandoned vehicles for the future.


Today we set off across the snowy fields at lunchtime.  Starting from the Murco Petrol Station on the A52 to the East of Bingham we crossed the busy main road and followed a bridle path up the hill towards a small reservoir.  Unfortunately the reservoir is on private land so we couldn't walk round that but we had good views of a hare as he ran away from us and a couple of kestrels watched us from the air.  Blackbirds, wrens and robins flittered about in the hedges .... always ahead of us.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining and we were well wrapped up against the cold.


 

There was a small party of partridges scratching about searching for a cold lunch.  They quickly vanished when they saw us.  It is magic the way they do that! One minute they are there then they sit down and disappear!  The buzzard couldn't perform the same trick ... it sat on a pylon enjoying the sunshine in full view.


We turned left and followed the path across a few more fields before joining the Linear Walk .... the route of the old railway line.  This is a popular Bingham nature trail which is wonderful for butterflies in warmer weather!  The railway closed in the 1960s: the tracks have long gone and volunteers manage the site.
 

 
Large flocks of skylarks took to the air and meadow pipits wandered about the fields as a sparrowhawk swooped low looking for dinner.   We spotted rooks and jackdaws, golden plovers and woodpigeons, fieldfares and redwings and grey herons. I searched for a kingfisher when we reached the River Smite but dipped out on that one.


There was a Goldcrest in the tree next to us so we got great views of it but no photos as it didn't sit still for long enough!  The reed buntings did pose but I just selfishly enjoyed the sight and didn't bother with the camera!

I spent some time quietly waiting to see if an otter would put in an appearance but no such luck ... they are frequenting this river apparently, just not today.

 
We walked for a couple of hours before retracing our path to get home before dusk.