Sunday, January 29, 2023

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

 As expected not many birds around this weekend. I think they'd flown to different gardens for a holiday.

I was ready with notebook and pencil to get on with my 'five bar gate' way of counting but not many five bar gates were reached this year.

 We eventually saw both Robins together after seeing just one at a time during the count and therefore only being able to record one they suddenly appeared at the same time in different parts of the garden.  Thank you Robins.

 
 Here is my list
6 Blackbirds, 1 Wood pigeon, 2 Robins, 7 Goldfinches, 1 Collard Dove, 2 Coal Tits and 2 Blue Tits.

Below is a record of my submitted count.


I was concerned to see only one Collard Dove as there are always two and always together.  I hope the second one is still around somewhere.

Did you take part in the count?  If so what did you spot in your garden?

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Thursday's Walk

Thursday morning was quite beautiful.  Very cold and yet bright and sunny.  We walked around Westport Lake not once but twice.  We stopped for a warming mug of coffee in the Visitor Centre between the two.  Second time around we walked along the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal and then back around the smaller ponds which lie between the large lake and the Fowlea Brook which is a tributary of the River Trent.

Westport Lake is the largest area of water in the city. The Canal and River Trust own the lake but it is managed jointly by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the City Council.  It is an important site for wintering and  migrating birds.

We didn't see many unsusal birds.

Cormorants flying overhead and the usual Canada Geese, Coots and Mallards.
 



There were a few photographers out and about and a group of people with binoculars who looked as if they were on some sort of bird spotting course as they had an instructor with them.


Around the smaller ponds we saw mostly Robins, Dunnocks and Blue Tits.

Many of the water birds were walking on the still icy lake.


As we walked we felt as if we were being watched.

Some of the trees appeared to have acquired eyes.

I wonder if they had ears too?  If only they could tell us.

All for now.  Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Yesterday

There was a beautiful sunrise yesterday morning.  The sky changed from pink to apricot and then gold in just half an hour.  It was still very cold outside with traces of snow and ice still across the garden and on the road.

I took these photos from the bedroom window.  You can just see the school building through the trees. 

I wasn't sure if I could capture the intensity of colour and light in the sky on my little camera.

It didn't do too badly.

Mr Fox visited later in the morning.  He was looking for a break in the ice on the pond so he could have a drink.  Paul had his camera handy and snapped a few photos of him.  He's still limping slightly as if he has a leg injury of some kind.  He still looks very healthy though.

A little later I saw the Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Tulip Tree and on the fat ball feeder, this time I was the one whose camera was to hand.  I just managed a couple of photos before he flew away.

We've seen him in the trees over the hedge in the school grounds.  It would be nice if he visited over the weekend at the time of the bird count, but it's extremely unlikely.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

This and That

The weather hasn't been great for taking walks lately first it was too wet and now we have snow.  This means that most of the photos below have been taken around home although we did venture to a garden centre last week just for a change of scene.

Muscari in snow.

Long-tailed Tits
 
 
Magpies - two for joy.
 
A shy Dunnock.

The garden has been busy with birds both yesterday and today.  The usual Blackbirds, Collard Doves and Goldfinches as well as three Robins and two Dunnocks.  The Greater Spotted Woodpecker visited again very briefly as did the Long-tailed Tits.  I've registered for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch so I'm hoping the birds keep visiting.  More often than not they disappear over the weekend of the watch.  

There was a friendly Robin at the Garden Centre.

He or she appeared as I was trying to take photos of the Hellebore flowers.

We don't have any in the garden so I always look out for them at this time of year.

There were some lovely trees and plants but most of the colour was to be found in the primroses.


All for now.  Take care.

Update and Recent Reading

 Blogging has taken a back seat so far this year as I've not been well again.  I have another blood clot in my lungs so I'm back on anti-coagulants this time indefinitely. Thankfully  not the injections I had for six months last year but a new oral drug.  I have a medical emergency card to carry and a bracelet for my wrist which I make sure to wear if we leave the house.  

I've been reading quite a bit especially in the afternoons.

Above and below two books from the e-library.  The Pricilla Masters book has been read.  I love her Joanna Piercy books set in nearby Leek and also her Martha Gunn books which are set in Shrewsbury. This is a one off novel set in another nearby town - Stone.  I've still to read the Janice Hallet book.  I enjoyed her first two novels  The Appeal andThe Twyford Code so I'm looking forward to this one.

Below two books and an audio book from the library.  I've read the two books and have got to disc five of the nine discs that make up the book.  I tend to listen later in the day near bedtime.

Below a is lovely present from dear friends who wanted to cheer me up.

 
What a thoughtful gift and what a lovely book this is.  To read through, to dip into and to just sit and look at the illustrations.  You know who you are - I've already said thank you but I'll say it again.

All for now.


Saturday, December 31, 2022

On the Last Day of the Year

This year we'd hoped to travel further afield again after two years of keeping close to home. It wasn't to be as I've had a bad year health wise and am still struggling with various things.  But we are lucky to have our garden and some lovely and interesting places locally or not too far away.  Over the last three years nature and being out in it has been a constant to cling to when things have seemed out of kilter.

 Anyway,  I've selected a photo from each month of the past year as a reminder of just what we have been able to achieve this year.

January

A Chaffinch flies towards the bird feeders during the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch which I enjoy taking part in each year.
 
February

Symbols of hope for Spring.  Snowdrops at Hopton Hall, near Carsington in Derbyshire.

March

The first Comma butterfly of the year resting on the heather in the garden.  Not so many butterflies spotted this year as last year.  There seemed to be lots around on our walks last year, was it the summer heat wave that changed things?

April

 The Wood Anemones we planted last year appeared.  I'd wanted them in the garden for ages, so I was thrilled to see them.  I hope they come back next year.  Looking out today the garden looks quite forlorn.  I can't wait to see those first green shoots of Spring.

May

Bluebells in our local wood.  Always a wonderful sight every year.

June

A very short visit to Lincolnshire. Sand, sea and glowering skies at Sutton-on-Sea.  This was our first sight of the sea since September 2019 when we had a holiday on Anglesey.

July

Orchids at RSPB Consall Nature Reserve. 

August

First spotting of a Painted Lady butterfly at a garden centre in Uttoxeter.


September

Mum by Mr and Mrs Ferguson.  One of the exhibits in the   Radical Horizons exhibition at Chatsworth, Derbyshire.
 
October


Gaia by Luke Jerram on display in Derby Cathedral. 

November
 
It was a great year for fungi we saw so many different varieties on our walks. I seem to have taken more photos of them than anything else.

December
 
The weekend before Christmas we went to Little Moreton Hall to listen the early music musicians Piva.  Last seen in December 2019.  It was so cold both inside and out, but the music warmed us for a while.
I'll be back next year.  I hope you all have a peaceful and healthy new year.  Take care.
 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Season's Greetings

 

 Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Just a little Walk

We took a short walk at Trentham on Monday morning.  It was a gloomy day and damp in the air.  After coffee at the lakeside cafe we strolled along enjoying the quiet and the views across the still icy lake.  

There were some wonderful reflections.

I do wonder why people have to throw logs and bricks on to the ice.  We saw it again at Westport Lake today.  There the council had a boat out to scoop things from the water and the ice.

 We watched a Coot struggling to skate on the ice, it eventually sorted itself out, thank goodness, and returned to the water.  I did take a photo but unfortunately it was quite blurred.   I did manage to capture a photo of this pair of Mallards close by.

As we walked the wind picked up and it became quite breezy.  We made a circuit and turned to go back to the cafe as we'd parked our car at the South entrance near the Monkey Forest.  As we approached a couple ahead were chatting to a member of staff at the cafe.  We noticed the chairs being put on the tables and wondered what was happening.  Apparently the gardens and lakeside were being closed as high wind had been forecast, people were being asked to leave.  We were near to our car but the other couple had to walk all the way back to the North entrance.

I did mange to take a few photos of birds on the way round.

Crow on a bench.  There are lots of them about at the moment.  They always seem more noticeable at this time of year and their call is evocative of cold, wintry days.

There were even more Robins, they were everywhere.  We saw lots of them today, posing in leafless bushes and flitting across the path as we walked.  We have a pair in the garden at home too.

Not sure what this duck is. There were two or three of them amongst the Mallards.  This one just wanted to snooze for a while in the warmer air.

My favourite goose the Greylag.  There is just something special about them.

There was a huge gaggle of them on the pathway up above the lakeside.

All for now.  Take care.