Thursday, 23 February 2017

ELEPHANT, FROG, HERON AND OTHER BIRDS


Let me start with the elephant in the - rock. A fossil shores with sand ripples turned vertical near Brighouse bay. This was just before I ended up on my backside in wet mud sliding down the coastal path - and 30 minutes back to the car. Actually, as it is a fossil perhaps mammoth or mastodon would be a better title?


Here is the hunting heron performing for its audience of mallard.


And here a close-up of its intent.


In the second half of this video you are spared more torment as the heron takes the frog it has caught off screen to swallow whole. 

video

Mr Pheas is regularly wandering around under the feeders outside my window totally unflustered by whirling blue tits, grey tits, coal tits and long-tailed tits and strutting pigeons.
And the marigolds are still flowering as they have all winter. Thought I ought to mention flowers as this is supposed to be a garden blog.



Time for supplies - have just been to the local garden centre (just been sold) and stocked up with potting compost, pelleted hen manure and Growmore. Spring must be springing a bit. They say that it will be warmer in North-east Scotland than on the Med. this week. 
Trump, Brexit, weather - the whole world is nuts!

And whilst all this is going on we have a chaffinch with the Fringilla papillomavirus of a foot. Not a pretty sight. We have had a few cases over the years, all chaffinches so it must be infectious. The will have difficulties perching and I have only seen them ground feeding.
And suddenly the garden is filled with chatter - the trees at the far end are crowded with starlings.


Yesterday we walked the garden and were surprised at how the snowdrops had spread - this is not just  dividing and replanting, though that helps, they have self seeded abundantly. As we go around the pond the wild duck amble away up the other side - here on the right.
I have finally emptied the big sack of chippings and raked out on the path by the shed, R has weeded the strawberry bed and I have scattered some pelleted hen manure. whilst I was doing this I noticed a great tit with a damaged wing scurrying about looking for cover. There is not much I can do, something will catch it sooner or later.

It was so wet last night the golf course was closed and R grabbed me for a walk up the disused railway line at Broughton-in-Furness. I find it strange that once I went to school on the train that ran here, from Foxfield to Coniston. )I only travelled from Torver to Coniston and back and only for a while until I got a small biker and rode the 2 1/2 miles there and back - no traffic then!) Of course it got Beechinged - it would have made a wonderful tourist line but . . perhaps it is better this way and the Woodland Valley is quiet and away from the visitors.

We are waiting for a storm to arrive the weather people have named Doris!
(Doris was a sea nymph, a child of Oceanus and Tethys - hence all the rain?)   

Thursday and she seems to have missed us to the south - lots of rain but, unless we are in the eye of the storm, calm now. Time to publish this blog.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

IT'S BEEN TEN YEARS!


As another dark day emerges from winter's gloom


and the garden is shrouded in clinging mist


 and sodden from overnight rain
I think back and realise that on Thursday 16th we will have been in this house for 10 years!
And so - do I plod on with the blog, detailing the changes to the garden (let alone the world)?

Today I took the bulbs stored through the winter and forgotten, sprouting in their cardboard box, and planted them in small patches around the garden.
As I trundle about the cock pheasant grunts to himself and avoids me. I am not surprised that he rarely flies, being so chunky. We don't see much of his other half at this time of year - she is presumably exhibiting a low profile - not something one could say about him.


We are back from Scotland where on can see the most odd things in gardens, up trees. This is a small sample of the curiosities beside the lower road in Kippford - logs with eyes and even false teeth halfway up a tree.

Back here the witch hazel, hamamelis, is in flower (and scent). We have this orange one rather than the usual yellow.

Got this video from by the pond - note the plastic deterrent in the distance failing miserably. Glad I'm not a frog.

video

And there are snowdrops everywhere due to our replanting in the green after flowering each year.
The price of snowdrop bulbs from retailers is ridiculous but then we have a lot so . . . with a bit of work every year we have more.










So - 10 years here - time to stop the blog and take up something else? Like dieting?
Which I have.

R weeded today (Monday) and I had a big bonfire, cut down a large branch of elder clad in ivy and brought with it a lot of our giant rose. I am well punctured now despite gloves. The cold wind has eased and there is warmth in the sun.

And on Tuesday morning, apart from it being St. Valentine's Day, we had a visitor to the pond - a little egret.



One day the egret, next day the grey heron, today the pair of mallard are back. I went to get the video camera and it had blackbirds and collared doves drinking, a grey wagtail, but had been set too low and missed the above!
Better luck next time.

Friday, 10 February 2017

BOGGED DOWN AND BIRDLIFE


The thing about February is the feeling that winter is nearly over - but it isn't. Snowdrops are out, the odd shrub is flowering out of season, we have frost (or as at present loads of rain).
In fact the garden is a quagmire so I stay off then lawns. It was a good thing I cleared out the streams - though we have new springs and consequently patches of sodden grass.
It is all not helped by a bad back so no barrowing about of compost and such. (Anyway the wheelbarrow had a puncture. Put the inner tube under water - nothing, no little stream of bubbles. Pumped it up - next day flat. In the end took it to  a tyre place and they stuck a new tube in for a tenner.)

Up this morning to an avian world - heron by the pond, pheasant in the field and the mallard are back, bottoms up feeding in the pond. We thought they had abandoned us but not to be. They will, no doubt, eat the frog spawn from the frogs not eaten by the heron - but that's the way the world goes. Choices, choices - frogs or herons, tadpoles or ducks!



Sorry for no blog but been away in Bonnie Scotland. Cold and frosty at the moment but then the sun comes out and a sense of spring arrives with a little warmth.


Whilst away we saw lots of interesting birds - peregrine falcon, skylark, kite, nuthatch and on way home went to Caerlaverock WWT and saw lots of duck, 3 types swan and waders plus water rail.
Back home the tree sparrows are at the feeders. 

The cold weather gets into me bones and muscles - gives me a sinking feeling -