Category Archives: Bird Watching

Scone Chronicles XXI

It’s a bit late, but if we go back a while I can pull in a very nice afternoon snack and re-use some Puffin pictures.

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Puffin at Bempton – Sad-Faced Clown Contemplating a Life Devoid of Eccles Cakes

At the end of our second trip of the year to Bempton Cliffs we decided to see if there was room at the cafe. It had been quite crowded on the first visit but was slightly better this time, despite the presence of two coaches in the Car Park.

I just suggested a cup of tea, and asked a lady if we could share her table. As a result, my conscience is clear. It was Julia’s idea to buy the Eccles Cakes, and all the damage done to my weight control plan is a direct result of her dietary delinquency.

 

I like Eccles Cakes. They are available in supermarkets all over the country and they are crammed with dried fruit, sugar and fat. As they have dried fruit they must be full of fibre and vitamins too. What’s not to like?

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Puffins at Bempton – eyeing Up my Eccles Cakes

My all time favourite is the Sad Cake. My grandmothers made Sad Cakes. They are like Chorley cakes but more pastry and less fruit. The Chorley cake link includes information on Sad Cakes. I used to make them when we visited. I also used to make Rock Buns. I was quite handy in those days. I really must start baking again.

Eccles cakes are probably more palatable but sometimes it’s the association rather than the actual food that makes things a favourite.

There are many variations on the fruit, flour and fat theme. These include Welsh Cakes, Shrewsbury Cakes and Blackburn Cakes. To be honest, despite having lived in Blackburn I’d not heard of that one until this evening. It was a footnote on one of the links and is, it seems, stewed apple in a pastry case. Sounds like a pasty to me.

Anyway, the tea was good, the Eccles cakes were good, the company was good, the clifftop sea breeze was good and the Tree Sparrows and Jackdaws were fun to watch. A Jackdaw can fit a lot of bread in its beak. Five big pieces torn of the edges of sandwiches by the kids on the neighbouring table.

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Jackdaw at Bempton Cliffs

 

Has It Really Been So Long?

We’ve been back to Bempton Cliffs. It was busy, it was full of people with dogs and there were quite a lot of Puffins about.

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Puffins at Bempton Cliffs

I like Puffins.

I’m not so keen on crowds.

And I think that dog owners should have to pass a test before being allowed out in public. I had to wait at the entrance to the visitor centre as two pairs of dogs  faced off. I’ve been forced off paths and tripped several times too.

Anyway, here are some photos.

Back to Bempton

We went to Bempton Cliffs today.

It’s the first time I’ve found myself going through the motions. There are only so many Razorbills, Guillemots, Gannets, Kittiwakes and Tree Sparrows you can photograph before the novelty wears off. As for Jackdaws, I can see them any day of the week in Nottingham.

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Tree Sparrow (Male)

I did get a photograph of a Whitethroat, so that cheered me up. I’ve not photographed one before, though it’s not exactly rare.

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Whitethroat

There weren’t many Puffins about, but what’s new? There are rarely many Puffins about when you want them. At the moment they are mainly involved with feeding their young. I can identify with that.

It was a fairly dull day, and I couldn’t use the magic settings to liven the colour up as they limit the zoom to 40x, You need every bit of the 80x zoom to get a decent shot, and you also need steady hands, as any wavering is also magnified 80 times.

To make things worse, it was also windy.

The first Puffin shot was, I thought, only a shot of a half-hidden bird with bright orange feet. Imagine my surprise when, looking at the photos later, I found I’d been photobombed by another, much clearer bird. At 80x zoom, with a dull day and lots of concentration, I’d completely missed the obvious one!

A Rare Visit to Arnot Hill Park

I’ve tried several posts today but none of them worked for me. The day started badly when all the driers in the laundrette were taken by a couple of women who brought their wet washing from home. This forced me into being rude to someone who turned up with more washing from home.  He asked me to move because I was sitting in front of the only available dryer.

I refused, pointing out that I had three machines full of washing coming out in the next five minutes. I’m not sure what the correct etiquette for this sort of thing, but I can get very irritable when people bring their wet washing from home and fill the dryers.

This follows on from some thoughts I have been having recently about an error I made in bringing my kids up. I always taught them to consider others. The only problem is that other people don’t always consider them, which tends to make good manners a bit of a problem. The nicer you are, the more you lose out.

After a long drawn out drying session, using one dryer for the contents of three machines, I decided to go to Arnot Hill park. You can rely on ducks, and I haven’t done much walking recently.

A selection of ducks, followed by some photographs of Black Headed Gulls. They are only just getting their black heads back. Well, brown heads. They are badly mis-named.

And finally, a picture of a Japanese Quince. It looked better in real life than it does in the picture.

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Japanese Quince – Arnot Hill Park, Arnold

Spring is Coming

You don’t have to take my word for it – look at the birds.

The Black-headed Gulls are regaining their black heads.

The idiots are also out in force. This prime example spotted the perfect spot to stand and ruin my shot. Then he moved a few feet away before coming back for another go.

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Idiotus Domesticus

Robins were singing in the dogwood hedges (Cynical note to self – Robins are always good for attracting likes).

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Robin and dogwood

And the ducks are looking in fine fettle for breeding.

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Finely fettled ducks

And finally – it’s clear what is on this pigeon’s mind, even if the object of his desire isn’t interested.

 

The Scone Chronicles – Number 5

The last scone report was a bit of a cheat because it featured oatcakes rather than scones.  However, it seemed a bit of a waste not to mention oatcakes as we were in Stoke. This one, also from Wednesday, does feature scones.

After the various trials of the day we ended up at Westport Lake. It’s not very impressive at first sight – muddy surroundings, idiots with bread and lots of domestic geese.

It was actually quite pleasant once you started looking at the birds. I don’t need rarities, I can amuse myself with common birds, and the sight of tame geese chasing toddlers for food never loses its appeal.

The cafe is in the visitor centre, which is a wooden building that looks a bit like an ark and is mainly balanced on legs over an artificial pond. I’m not quite sure why they built it on legs, but it’s quite interesting. We ordered scones and tea and sat on the balcony. The seats are a bit tight for a man of ample posterior.

The scones were too dry and crumbly for my taste, but once buttered and jammed looked OK, though one pat of butter isn’t really enough for a large scone.

The first half of my scone had a slight, though not unpleasant, tang of baking soda.  Julia confirmed that hers did too, though she thought it was a bit off-putting. By the end of my second half I was beginning to agree with her. Early in my scone baking days I made a batch where I failed to mix the baking soda in properly so I do sympathise, though it should be easy enough for a professional baker to avoid the problem.

I think we’ll be back – it’s a pleasant place to spend time and they have oatcakes in the cafe too.

 

Phew, that was close…

I’ve been beavering away on the keyboard, watching TV and chatting to Julia (made possible by the absence of Number One Son doing a double shift) and I nearly forgot to post.

These are some photos from yesterday afternoon at Clumber park. I like the park, it’s just the service in the cafe I’m not keen on. I may have mentioned that.

The study of Japanese poetry must be rubbing off on me – crows in dead trees are pretty standard in haiku. So are herons.

I’m going to do my bit by making robins into a cliche too. They are great subjects, particularly as they come right up for a look at the camera.

 

I would have had more bird photos but a pair of pensioners drove up and started throwing bread into the lake – attracting all the birds and filling them up  with low-grade food.