Tag Archives: Arnot Hill Park

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.

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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.

 

Raindrops and Carvings

Owing to the disorganised nature of my blogging I’m now going to write about Thursday, even though it’s Sunday night. In fact it will be Monday morning by the time I press the button.

It was raining on Thursday  and Julia was busy all day with various tasks. That’s what happens when you are a pillar of society, people keep asking you to do things.  Nobody needed me for anything, so, with no supervision from my better half, I had a whole day in which to loaf.

First call was to some friends with a jewellers shop.  After dragging Julia round Lincolnshire on Valentine’s Day I thought a visit to a specialist in vintage jewellery who gives discounts for cash could be a good idea, particularly as I’d bought the flowers a week early because they were cheaper.

(I may have been put on this earth to be Julia’s soulmate, but I’m not convinced that I was put here to line the pockets of florists at peak times for sales of red roses.)

After that it was off to do some shopping and then, despite the rain, I felt the need for ducks. As you can see from the photographs, the waterproof plumage of waterfowl works well in the rain.

Despite many notices about not feeding the pigeons people keep doing it. They also keep throwing handfuls of food into the pond and around its margins. I don’t mind the pigeons (though I do wish people would read the notices) but I do mind the idea of attracting rats and fouling the water with decayed foodstuffs. At least nobody feeds bread, though I’m not sure what genius decided to dump a box of breakfast cereal .

Last time I visited they had cut down a tree on the island. Today I was amazed to see that it had been carved into a variety of figures, including a duck, a fox, a hedgehog and a heron. They are all good, though the Heron is particularly appropriate as it stands just yards from the place where we often see the real Heron.

It’s also appropriate as Arnold is derived from the old name Ernehale (Place of the Heron). Sometimes this is rendered as Place of the Eagle. but I’ve only ever seen Erne used as an archaic term for Heron.

If you follow the link you will also see a reference to the Hawksley and Davison mill that used the duck pond as its millpond.

A View from a Hill

It’s strange what you see when you’re out with a camera. I’ve never really thought of the “hill” element of Arnot Hill Park, and definitely never considered the idea of a view from the top.

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The Home Brewery Building from Arnot Hill Park

The pond looks massive from this angle. The grey building is a Royal Mail Delivery Office. I’m not sure exactly what happens there, but it has lots of vans based and it’s where we go to pick up letters when they need signatures or penalty payments.

I once went there to pick up a letter, paid a penalty because it had the wrong stamp on, and opened it to find it contained an advert on glossy card. It was just after the Post Office started charging extra for letters that were larger than standard and the sender had obviously not heard the news.

The tower in the background is now, I believe, empty. For the last few years it has been used by Nottinghamshire County Council. Before that it was the HQ of Home Ales, the famous Nottingham beer. I never liked the beer, and thought that most of its pubs looked like they’d been designed by an East German, but I can’t fault the main building or  Sir John Robinson, the founder.

There’s more information here. I will try to get more photographs as it deserves a better write-up.

The specks in the sky are the feral pigeons from the park.

First day of the next week

It’s the end of January and the first day of a new week. Being accurate, I suppose it’s the second day of the week, but it always seems like the first. It’s certainly the one that I treat as being the first working day of the new week. Julia, working from 6.00 to 16.30 on Sunday, doesn’t really share my enthusiasm for Mondays.

We originally said we’d have January off, and without us actually doing anything it seems like it’s going to work out just right.

Julia is looking about 10 years younger with the responsibility of running Quercus and the Centre lifted from her shoulders and is slowly becoming more cheerful. Meanwhile, I can feel my enthusiasm returning.

Julia has already had a couple of enquiries from people about her availability for work, but we’re taking things slowly and making sure we only take on work that suits us.

Nobody has asked me if I’m available yet, but I’m trying not to take it personally.

Julia decided to do the laundry this week as she doesn’t altogether trust me with delicate whites. I don’t either, to be fair, which is why I don’t own any. I do own a white shirt, which I wear with one of my two ties for special occasions. White shirt and black tie for funerals. White shirt and rugby club tie for weddings etc.. Everything else can be taken care of by a coloured shirt. (For these purposes lightish grey counts as white).

I went to the park and then shopping. They have been cutting trees on the island in the duck pond. Moorhens, Black Headed Gulls and Wood Pigeons were feeding on the grass around the pond, whilst nothing much was happening on the pond. The Mandarin, the Greylags, the Heron and about half the Tufted Ducks were all absent. I’m not sure where the next nearest pond is – I will have to look into it.

I’m currently perfecting some new recipes as part of my new commitment to eating a better variety of healthy food. We had tragically under-seasoned bean burgers bean burgers on Saturday, excellent sweet potato, ginger and chilli soup on Sunday (even if I do say so myself) and Welsh Rarebit for lunch today, which (after three weeks of trying) was just about right.

Now all I need to do is make it again, note the measurements and write the recipes. That’s the worst bit of the job. Apart from eating badly made bean burgers…

 

Old Men Doing Laundry, and other Sunday stories

There live not three good men unhanged in England; and one of them is fat and grows old:

Henry IV Part 1

We had quite a collection of elderly gents at the Sunday Morning Laundry Club. Vikram, Flat Cap, The Farmer and the Fat Man were all there. I know they call me that because they always call the other fat man”The Other Fat Man”. I call him The Goth, though he isn’t really a Goth. He is quite tubby though. The Scrap Man and Tablecloths were absent, but it was a bit late for them. They normally come in first thing, to ensure they get a drier.

That was one of the things we discussed, people who use the driers without using the washers, thus clogging up the system. We also discussed Vikram’s health and that of his wife (she’s in hospital), the rising price of food, the iniquity of supermarkets, Buddhism, funerals, recent price rises on the driers and wives. Vikram is retired whilst The Farmer and I both have wives who work on Sunday. We’re not sure about Flat Cap. He’s clearly been trained (he brings his own hangers to put his dry shirts on) but he doesn’t wash any female clothes and never reveals details of any former marital status. The general view is that he has been married but, through carelessness or death, has lost his wife.

After that it was time for a bacon cob and a read of yesterday’s paper at the cafe down the road. Fluffy white cobs and nice thick bacon with a garnish of black pudding. Just add pepper and brown sauce for an excellent breakfast.

After a few minutes in the car I decided to give the Waxwings nother go. Result – no Waxwings but plenty of Redwings. There are still a few berries about, so there is still a chance of seeing some.

I thought I’d have a look in the park on my way to the shops, even if this did involve me in shopping at Sainsbury’s. They are only 200 yards from the park so it seemed silly to go to TESCOs after the park.

I saw some ducks, gathered more material for a polemic on the way people abuse open space/nature and took some poor photographs.

After that I shopped, cooked and picked Julia up from work. You can tell the days are getting longer because it’s light when she comes out now, where it was dark a month ago.

From the fact that I’m still writing Sunday’s post on Monday you can probably deduce that the rest of the day was taken up with my normal regime of chatting, snoozing, TV and reading.

We said we were going to have an easy January and that is one resolution I’m managing to keep.