Monday, January 28, 2019

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

We decided to do our bird count at lunch time on Saturday and thank goodness we did as Sunday was so cold and very windy. The trees were swaying at an alarming angle and branches were whipping around in a frenzy.  The birds were sitting deep inside the hedges with just a few hardy souls - goldfinches - bouncing around on the swirling branches whilst making their minds up whether or not to fly down to the feeders.

We started the count on Saturday from about 1.45p.m and saw only little birds.   The usual wood pigeons and collard doves didn't appear neither did any starlings and we only saw one blackbird. I was hoping that the pair of greenfinches we'd seen on the feeders earlier in the week would return but they didn't.  Mostly we saw finches and tits flitting backwards and forwards between the bushes and the feeders. We did have a visit from a pair of long tailed tits which was lovely as they are one of my favourites.

Below is a list of what we spotted in the hour.

Goldfinch - 11

Long Tailed tit - 2

Chaffinch -4

Blue tit - 2

Sparrows - 8

Great tit - 2

Blackbird - 1

Dunnock - 1

Robin - 1

Did you take part in the Birdwatch and if so did you have lots of visitors or see anything unusual?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Scavenger Photo Hunt - January

The word prompts for this month's Scavenger Photo Hunt which is organised by Kate at 'I Live I Love I Craft' blog are as follows
  Metallic, Plate, Made, Aged, Modern, My Own Choice

Metallic - I struggled a bit with this one but I thought that the ceramic pear in our kitchen window had a metallic sheen to it.

Plate  - a plate camera.  I took this photo in September 2017 when we visited The Bromley House Library in the centre of Nottingham on a Heritage Open Days Weekend.  Here is a - link - to the post I wrote at the time

Made - we had quite a bit of vegetable casserole left so we topped it with mashed sweet potato and made a sort of vegetable Shepherd's Pie.

Aged - our aged cat Max decided he wanted to go out in the snow.  He made his way very gingerly, with his rickety back legs, towards the pond but wouldn't go any further into the wet snowy grass beyond so I picked him up and carried him back inside.  In April, if he gets there, he will reach the venerable age of twenty three. 

Modern - A modern replica of an ancient helmet in our local museum - The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. It is one of two made to enhance the understanding of the pieces found in the Staffordshire Hoard; it is a helmet which was thought to be 'fit for a King' but was found 'exploded' into well over 1,000 fragments, many of which were missing, so reconstruction was guided by the designs of other contemporary helmets.  The other replica helmet is in Birmingham City Museum. 

My Own Choice - I'm looking forward to taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this coming weekend but I don't expect to see one of these in the garden. This was a young emu in a field close to where we walked a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't on its own there were three others in the field and all of them came close to the fence to say hello, appearing rather eerily out of the mist.

Click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining in this month.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday Miscellany

Just a short post as I haven't written a 'Monday miscellany' one so far this year.

We had such grey and damp weather over the weekend. Friday night's snowfall seemed like just a dream.

 When we called at the supermarket on Friday morning I bought a couple of bunches of daffodils to bring some colour into the house.

The daffodil bulbs we planted in the Autumn are doing well in the garden.  Usually when we plant bulbs the squirrels dig them up, they seem to be partial to crocus and dwarf iris but they aren't interested in daffodil bulbs.

Perhaps they are as poisonous to them as they are to us.

The bulbs in the little planters we received as a Christmas gift have started to grow.  Narcissi to the left muscari to the right.
I took the first photo on Sunday morning and the one above this morning - the muscari have advanced in size over night.

Today is less grey and damp, there has even been a little sunshine.  It was too grey and overcast to see the beautiful moon early this morning so the daffodils will have to compensate with their vibrant colour.

I'll hopefully be back later this week with my photos for the Scavenger Photo Hunt - I still have some to find - and also our results for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Trees in Sunlight

Today's walk around the lake was all about winter trees in sun light.  After the damp and gloom of the last few days it was wonderful to see some sunshine even if it meant that on half the walk I struggled to see in the low rays of the winter sun.  It also meant that most of the photos I took of the water birds were poor and fuzzy.  The one below was okay.

We saw herons, tufted ducks, mallards, canada geese, cormorants, great crested grebes, coots, swans (black and white) and moorhens both on the lake and on the water's edge and many crows and magpies up in the trees.

 The trees themselves were magical

 Their branches dark against the blue sky

 It's somehow easier to see the full shape and stature of a tree in winter.

 They also looked quite beautiful against the stone of the buildings.

 Gosh it was cold!  

 My finger tips were tingling by the end of our walk.

 The River was quite high but we had seen it higher later last year.

We also spotted signs of Spring


 Hazel Catkins

The little Robin followed us along the path reminding us that even though we'd seen signs of Spring it really was still winter.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Change of Colour

Recently we visited one of my favourite places, the little town of Ironbridge in Shropshire.  I've been looking back at photographs to see when we last visited and it seems to have been in February 2017 when I took the photo below,  although we did pass through after our visit to Coalbrookdale in March last year because I remember that the bridge was covered over.

Designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard the iron bridge at Ironbridge, an iconic monument of Britain's industrial heritage, was completed in 1779 and opened in 1781. After a detailed survey it was found that the bridge, which  is cared for by English Heritage, was under threat of cracking and needed urgent repairs to safeguard its future. Project Iron Bridge began in Autumn 2017 and for most of last year the bridge was covered over as restoration work was done

Both the cast iron and masonry elements of the bridge have been repaired.  The entire structure has been cleaned and repainted and it is now restored to its original red-brown colour just as it was shown in a painting of 1780 by William Williams. I'm not sure of copyright so here is a link to the painting.

After walking over the bridge and taking a few more photos we had a wander around a few of the shops.

It was a lovely sunny morning but quite chilly.

There was still a smell of the paint used on the bridge in the air.

There weren't many people about around the bridge although cars were parked all over and the coffee shops were bustling.

We bought a newspaper, had a nose in a charity shop and the wonderful bookshop.

Looking again at the bridge

Do you like the return to the original colour or the grey? I must admit that I quite like the rusty brown colour now I've seen it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Pottery from the 'Josephine Willis'

The Josephine Willis was a first-class ship owned by Messrs Fletcher of Limehouse and chartered by Messers Willis & Co who ran monthly sailings to New Zealand.  The ship left St Katherine's Dock on February 3rd 1856 and was towed down the River Thames from Gravesend to Deal where the pilot left her to make her way out to sea.  She was laden with valuable and miscellaneous cargo, ten first class passengers, sixty steerage passengers and thirty five crew members.  

 Three hours later the Josephine Willis collided with the iron clad steamer Mangerton its iron hull sliced through the wooden sailing ship below the water line causing extensive damage.  The steamer then reversed causing the water to enter the sailing ship which sank an hour later. Sadly seventy lives were lost.

In 2012 the wreck of the Josephine Willis was discovered by the Folkestone Sub Aqua Club. During explorations a large number of pieces of Staffordshire Pottery, bound for sale in New Zealand, were found and several pieces have been donated to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

The pieces are on display in the ceramics gallery, some showing signs of damage from their many years under the sea.

 Other pieces looking as they must have done when first loaded onto the ship.  Above pieces by Davenport of Longport.

 Above and below are cups saucers and plates some of them decorated with  the Gem pattern by Charles Meigh & Son of Hanley.

Here is a link to an interesting article about the ship, how it sank and the ensuing court cases and also how it was finally located.