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. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Red Legged Partridges

I don't know what happened to the covey of Grey Partridges that appeared on the field a few weeks ago.  Apparently they tend to stay in one territory but these must have been disturbed from theirs for a short time as they turned up, stayed a couple of days then disappeared again.


Grey Partridges 
  Never mind ... they might have upset our Red Legged Partridges and I really like these.
 
 
One of the good things about blogging is being able to look back.  I know the first pair of Red Legs arrived in May 2012 because I wrote about them here.  That pair bred successfully so by the end of the year we had five birds.  They disperse each Spring and return around October time.
 
 
Last winter we had a covey of eight in the field.  Over the Spring and Summer only four birds remained ... two pairs who divided the field between themselves and stayed very much in their own halves. 
 


 
 
 
They disappeared altogether for a short time then I was thrilled to see one bird leading four chicks across the newly ploughed earth.  Unfortunately the Magpies saw them too.  I ran out to the rescue.  Poor Magpies!
 

The numbers have grown to eleven birds this year.  It is lovely to see them close to the house: unlike the Pheasants they don't tend to venture into the garden very often.
 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Kestrel

 
This female Kestrel was hovering at the side of the road looking for small mammals in the ditch. 



 
 Her head was held very still as she used her wings and tail to control the wind.
 

 




 
She went up and down the ditch for quite some time before flying off without any lunch .... the voles were safe for a while.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

New Day



The garden was white and the sky was stunning so I was out in my dressing gown and slippers first thing! The light was changing so quickly ... one minute the sky was orange ....
 
 
then pink ...
 
 
.... all within a few minutes.
 
It is very cold out there so I didn't stay long!
 
 
The Goldfinches were obviously hungry as they ignored me. 
Feeding frenzy going on now ... Woodpigeons, Collard Doves, Dunnocks and Chaffinches all over the lawn and Blue Tits, Great Tits, House Sparrows and Greenfinches all over the feeders.  We are going to purchase a bird table today to give the robins a bit of a chance.
 
We have had a Blackcap visiting the garden for the last few days so when we went to the BTO conference this weekend I was pleased to see one of the talks was about this little visitor.  The BTO scientists have discovered that our summer Blackcaps are not the same birds as our winter ones.  Our summer birds still migrate south; our winter Blackcaps are in fact coming here from Germany! Once Spring arrives they go back there to breed.
 

The conference was brilliant and full of food for thought.  By the morning coffee break (after hearing from people working on how wind farms are affecting wildlife; how climate affects birds and how birds are coping with urbanisation) I was not feeling as depressed as you might think ... these people were actually making a difference and I felt I wanted to be part of that process.

Since I have been home I have contacted the council about a small piece of land at the top of the lane.  It has been planted with shrubs that the council chops back every so often (then dumps the clippings in a huge pile in the middle ... I know the wildlife need a bit of shelter but this pile has been large enough for quite some time now!).  Bits of rubbish have been dumped there; brambles are taking over and the ground is covered in ivy.  It has the potential of being a nice green space for the neighbourhood ... a few English Bluebells and Snowdrops .... a couple of bird boxes and a feeding station ... I've already positioned the bench in my mind's eye!  Unfortunately the council do not own the land so they can't give me permission to do anything.  I am now in contact with the Highways Department as they arte in charge of road verges.  I await their reply before I go into Guerrilla Gardening mode.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time at the conference listening to interesting people of all ages, meeting friends and having dinner with Chris Packham!!  We were with the BTO media team so he sat at our table.  I didn't do any of the 'star struck fan' stuff ,,, no photos or "please sign this napkin"!
So a very memorable conference.

The BTO Garden Birdwatch Pack would make a good Christmas present if you want to encourage a young person to take an interest in nature,

 
She was up early too ....

Sunday, 30 November 2014

End of the Month View: November 2014

 

This is the sorry state of my garden today.  In amongst all that wreckage there are a surprising number of small flowers.  The two delphiniums are still blooming but looking very sorry for themselves; a few periwinkles have appeared and the japonica has decided it must be Spring.  This is the view from my greenhouse showing how it got this way through 2014:


Visit The Patient Gardener for more End of Month views.