Sunday, 30 January 2011

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch




We left it late and only just managed to fit in an hour before the light went.
In our tennis court-sized, rural garden with no proper pond but a stream (that can't be called a pond) and within 300 metres of the nearest farmland, we counted:


13 Blackbirds
2 Blue Tits
2 Chaffinches
1 Coal Tit
1 Collared Dove  (these normally never fail to visit as a pair)
1 Great Tit
5 House Sparrows  (we have a large number but they are difficult to count as they hide in the hedge)
3 Long-tailed Tits  (they usually come in flocks of at least half a dozen)
2 Robins  (we thought they weren't going to turn up at all)
3 Wood Pigeons  (thankfully, because often, there are loads, scoffing all the food)
1 Wren


Of the scarcer species, we had:
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
1 Marsh Tit  (after much study and debate, we are 99.5% certain it isn't a Willow Tit)


The Peacock didn't turn up but he wouldn't have been included in the figures anyway; and there were a couple of Starlings around earlier in the day, but they didn't come for the count. We also, sometimes, have Greenfinches and Goldfinches, but not today.



Saturday, 29 January 2011

Ringing Barn Owl Chicks


Wow!  Two posts in one day!  What's happening?

I have a friend with a barn owl box and I was lucky enough to be animal-sitting  for her when the Suffolk Wildlife Trust came to ring the chicks.  I took some video with my Ixus 50 and here it is, hardly edited at all.  This was September 2008, so it's not recent, but I didn't have a blog back then!

Barn owl numbers are worryingly low and we are fortunate that we have them locally.  In winter months, or if the ground is flooded, their food supply is severely diminished and they risk starvation.

I saw another barn owl box today, down by the river; I'd like to know if it's being used.







One of life's little pleasures


On a cold, grey evening, and recently returned from a not too inspiring walk, I am handed

 
 a cake on a pretty plate


 
and a mug of coffee -


 as I sit dipping into yet another interesting and appealing blog. 

Lucky me!



Monday, 17 January 2011

Something to do in the rain

Waking up to yet another grey, wet day, I was reminded of an occasion at the end of last summer. We were at Blakeney Quay, in the car, in the rain.  The view was lovely, but it was too wet to get outside and take photographs; so I took some through the windscreen.  I was playing - I didn't know how they would turn out - but I like the effects I captured.  I tweaked them a little in Picasa.











I was recently browsing on Flickr, revisiting the Photostreams containing some of my Favorites, when I discovered a picture with a similar origin to mine, but taken in a very different location. 


Impressionist style


It's the work of  Monica Arellano-Ongpin, a painter, and I love the result.  She has many other lovely photographs in her collection.



Saturday, 15 January 2011

Look what the postman brought!


My beautiful Mangle Print has arrived, via Folksy!  I shall be off to the framer's forthwith.
  
Chives and thistle

This lovely acquisition has come about through my interest in blogs and blogging, and the excellent networks that artists can build for themselves using the Internet.



Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Woodcutter's Song

To continue the 'Logs' theme...


There are various versions of this rhyme but my favourite has to be this one, by Robin Williamson:


Now, oak logs’ll warm you well
That are old and dry
Logs of pine will sweetly smell
But the sparks will fly
Birch logs’ll burn too fast
And chestnut scarce at all, sir
And hawthorn logs are good to last
That are cut well in the fall, sir


Why, surely you will find
There’s no compare with the hardwood logs
That's cut in winter time


Holly logs’ll burn like wax
You could burn them green
Elm logs burn like smouldering flax
With no flames to be seen
Beech logs for winter time
Yew logs as well, sir
Green elder logs, it is a crime
For any man to sell, sir


Why, surely you will find
There's no compare with the hardwood logs
That's cut in winter time


Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room
And cherry logs across the dogs
They smell like flowers of broom
But ash logs smooth and grey
Buy them green or old, sir
And buy up all that comes your way
For they’re worth their weight in gold, sir

Robin Williamson: The Woodcutter's Song - Lyrics



Monday, 10 January 2011

Logs


Our cottage is heated by two wood burning stoves, which means there is quite an element of associated hard work.  For various reasons, the latest delivery of logs has not been put away in the woodshed and remains encased in tarpaulins in the back garden, where it is not getting any drier.  So, extra hard work is inevitable! 

The current scheme is to venture out and collect two full barrowloads at a time, to bring indoors; this should be done each day so that we accumulate a reassuringly large stack of adequately dry fuel - plenty to burn and plenty in reserve.  The logs are brought indoors, arranged round one of the stoves to dry out for some hours, turned and dried some more, then added to the stack, or burned as required.

Yesterday, I could procrastinate no longer: the stack was almost down to nothing and we were dangerously close to having nothing suitably dry to put in the stoves.  Each time this happens I vow to be better organised and get that stack good and high.  Often, I actually succeed in this endeavour and feel pleased with my efforts and content with the result, a fully replenished fuel supply.  Content, that is, until I observe the rate at which it - all too soon - starts to diminish...


There's a log pile under that blue sheet...


 ...seasoned, but a bit damp on the outside...


 ...not helped by condensation on the underside of the tarpaulin...


 ...a double load, in fact...


 ...and here's a barrowload of oddments, ready to go.


 Indoors, it had got this bad...


 ...but I had to put it here, first - to dry...


 ...wet bark as well.


 That looks better!  Needs more, though...


 Dry wood burns good and hot! 







Sunday, 9 January 2011

Garden Visitors


Posted by Picasa

I like to watch the birds that come to feed in the garden and I always get quite excited about the less frequent visitors.  (Yesterday we had a sparrowhawk.)  They're difficult to photograph with a little old 'point and shoot', and I haven't got much patience for hanging around in the cold, trying to be invisible.  So, not many shots that I'm pleased with.

However, when 'Mr P' comes along, my motivation increases as he is such a beautiful and amusing chap. We have a fair collection of both stills and video, dating back a bit, but this picture was taken today, in the winter sunshine.  I'm not quite sure how many 'Mr P's there are, as some have been removed (not everyone in the village is as fond as me) but we always assume that our 'Mr P' is the same one returning again and again.  I fancy that he is slowly becoming a little less timid and I have noticed that he likes to shelter in my neighbour's woodshed in inclement weather.




Saturday, 8 January 2011

Snowdrops


Posted by Picasa

Today I noticed the snowdrop shoots pushing through, just by the front doorstep.  The resulting photos weren't good enough to post but this one, from almost 2 years ago, reminds me of what I can look forward to. It also prompts me to keep watch for more signs of spring; and to start work on my long list of garden jobs so that I don't spend the rest of the year trying to catch up.  I enjoy working in the garden and it should get a higher priority.



Hello


Welcome to my blog!

This is a new experience for me.  I intend it to be somewhere to serve as a journal and also a bit of a storehouse for things that I like and want to keep handy.

I'm currently enjoying the process of playing with my new blog, in order to learn how to make it work.  Bear with me - there's a lot of twiddling and tweaking going on but I'm getting there!

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