Tag Archives: Arnot Hill Park

Autumn is Here

Last weekend I was still wondering what Autumn was doing. It seemed to be taking its time about arriving. After a week of feeling under the weather and labouring away in a windowless back room at the shop (where the window is concealed by blinds and the doors by chipboard) I hadn’t noticed much change.

You may ask why we have blinds on the windows – and I will tell you. It’s one of the owner’s special security features. He thinks if people can’t see in they won’t want to rob us. It’s also great if you like working in twilight, don’t mind being ambushed by people lurking outside the shop and don’t want customers to find you.

I once worked in a jewellers where the owner had a similar idea. He replaced the back door left by the previous tenant because it had a small window in it. This was a weak point in his eyes, though it deprived us of the ability to spot anyone lurking outside as we left the shop by the back door.

Imagine his surprise when the landlord asked him why he’d taken off a Post Office approved security door with bullet-proof glass window and replaced it with a lightweight household door with a bit of steel sheet screwed to it.

We are hoping to have the front doors re-glazed next week, which will make things lighter, remove the impression that we are under siege and stop people asking if we’ve been robbed.

I appreciate that they are either concerned or curious, but it’s becoming tedious have the same conversation day after day. We’ve even had several, including one who had never been in the shop before, wanting to discuss out new security measures.

Let’s just say that no robber will be able to get in and out of the shop in two minutes again.

Meanwhile, as Julia did the laundry, I went for a walk in Arnott Hill Park, had a look at the new sculpture and noticed that autumn had arrived. I’ll put the photos up now, and then I’ll go shopping.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Japanese Quince – Arnot Hill Park, Arnold

Some Duck Pond Photographs

I finally got my act together and found the lead to connect the camera to the computer. It had been hiding in plain sight masquerading as part of a reading lamp. There are just too many bits of wire in the modern house.

The flowers are starting to show now. I’m particularly captivated by the aconites because of their multitude of alternative names – aconite, monkshood, wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, mousebane, women’s bane, devil’s helmet, queen of poisons, or blue rocket. Obviously the ones in the picture aren’t blue rocket, and to be honest I always thought that wolf’s bane was blue too. I may have to look into it a bit more.

Peter Livesey used it as a poison in one of his books – I forget which one – where a wife killed her husband by feeding it to him in a curry.

There’s a case on the internet of a gardener dying from touching wolfsbane. This gives me pause for thought because I used to work with it regularly in one garden I looked after, and never thought to wear gloves. I thought you had to eat it to poison yourself.

There seems to be something causing a glitch in loading my photos, but I’ve got round it by posting and then editing. If you’ve read part of this post and wondered why it ends abruptly, that is the reason.

I’ll end with a film clip of the Cormorant.

Monster of the Deep

Forget the Blue Planet, look what I photographed in the depths of the duck pond at Arnot Hill Park on Sunday morning.

It appears to be a grey plastic supermarket trolley. If my memory serves me right these were used in Wilko’s. I’m going to have to go in next week and see if they still use them.

It was a bit chilly so I resisted the temptation to dive in and photograph it in its natural habitat.

There were also a few ducks and moorhens about.

 

Mallard/Pintail drake cross

Mallard/Pintail cross drake

Yellow Flags, Ducklings and Swifts

Things are changing in Arnot Hill Park, the shrubbery has finally come to life, and the trees are in bloom. A pair of camera-shy Song Thrushes took cover in a horse chestnut as I approached and the trees were full of annoyingly elusive birds.

There’s nothing quite like yellow flags for cheering the heart, particularly when you’ve just been confined to the house. I like irises, and I particularly like the yellow ones so it was good to see them in bloom this morning.

As you may be able to tell from the photos, the water has changed colour to an exotic blue-green, while we’ve been away too.

There are ducklings about too – though they are a bit of a handful from the parenting point of view. The first ones I saw seemed to be attached to a pair of Red Crested Pochards but they made a rush for freedom, the adults swam off and the ducklings carried on by themselves. I think they may actually have been Mallards, as they seemed to stay with the adult Mallards.

Round the other side of the pond I found more Red Crested Pochards, this time with four ducklings. I’m amazed by how fast they are for such small things, particularly once you try to get the camera on them.

Incidentally, I’m back on the old camera as it’s easier to slip into my pocket and…well, to be honest, I can’t remember where I put the other one last time I used it. That’s how bad my memory has been during the last few weeks.

Finally, alerted by high-pitched squeaks I found a family of Moorhens with four chicks. Two of the chicks swam across one of the islands and took refuge inside the wire bastions they use for extending the islands. It makes a nice secure cage for chicks, though the other two kept to open water. Typical kids, you have a nice safe cage for them and they make for open water.

There are also two Coots sitting on eggs, so there are more chicks to come.

Unfortunately the Mandarin seems to have gone, so no more Odd Couple.

The film clip shows a pair of Mallards feasting on unappetising scum. No wonder they do so well if they are prepared to eat that.

And finally – Julia was out in the street this afternoon when she heard screaming calls, Looking up she saw eight Swifts. Looking down again after a few moments of Swift watching, she found a woman staring at her as if she was mad.

Who can tell?

Weathering Wood, Bathing Pigeons and Diving Coots

As you can see from the Featured Image the sculpture is weathering and gaining some definition. It also appears to have gained an electric light, though I thought the park was closed at night.

Despite what I say about them our urban pigeons seem addicted to bathing. Julia saw some last week that were showering in the fountain outside the leisure centre.

This is a picture of a Coot diving – quite an energetic performance when you see it. Sadly, when it surfaced it did so just out of shot. Must try harder.

I’m feeling better now I’ve been out and seen some nature.

 

The Odd Couple and Strange Pigeons

We went to the park today to see the ducks. The first thing I saw was a Wood Pigeon in a tree and a charm of Goldfinches drinking from the stream which acts as an overflow for the pond. The pigeon looked a little rumpled and the Goldfinches were too quick for me, so there are no photographs of those two.

We were surrounded by feral pigeons at one point. I counted them twice, getting 57 in one count and 62 in the next. Call it 60. That’s a lot of verminous skyrats. It may be that I’m being unfair to them, as they do look quite tidy, and even seem keen on taking a bath.

The odd couple are still there, though the goose does seem to be paired up with another goose too. The three of them were together on the grass at the far end of the pond. It now looks a bit like one of those situations where a man has married but still has one of his old mates hanging round, or playing gooseberry.

P3270066.JPG

The birds seem to be paired up and defending territories, but apart from daffodils and a few mahonias there is nothing much happening to suggest Spring. Outside the walls Spring is definitely here but inside the park things are a bit behind. It may be the trees, or the stone wall holding cold air in, but it just seems like the park is a couple of weeks behind the surrounding streets.