Tag Archives: bird feeder

The Marmalade Police and other stories…

My first thought on waking this morning was “The Marmalade Police cars don’t have very impressive sirens.”

No, I’m not sure what it was about either. I think it probably stems from my thoughts on making Epiphany tarts for our Christmas party, and my concerns about not having enough colours of jam to do the job properly. The use of marmalade has crossed my mind, but I have reservations, despite the recipe provided in the link.

There is something wrong, according to my moral conserve compass about mixing jam and marmalade. I’m not sure where this comes from – I’m happy with jam and curd being used together for instance – but I’m conflicted. Where does it end? Bovril? Marmite? Chocolate spread?

Obviously this has resulted in a dream world in which fruit spreads have their own Conserve Constabulary for ensuring that they are used correctly. Or, more tongue-twistingly, its own Jam Gendarmerie.

Yes, I admit it doesn’t sound sane, but dreams are like that.

We were out on the farm today, so things were less exotic for the rest of the day. We saw a Buzzard walking on a ploughed field looking for worms, and a few more Fieldfares in the driveway. Couldn’t get shots of either. Buzzards really don’t measure up to my idea of majestic bird of prey.

Couldn’t get a shot of any bird at all during the morning, but I did manage to answer some emails, have a meeting and test a pork pie.

Finally, just after lunch I snapped a Long-tailed tit. We haven’t seen many this year and I missed some yesterday. It’s not a great shot but it was nice to get one, even if the dirty glass was messing with the autofocus. That was followed by some time with Men in Sheds and a go at emptying the polytunnel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Long tailed tit at the Ecocentre feeders

Finally, with the fog growing thicker, and swirling with menace, I had one more go before knocking off early. A Wren kept tormenting me by posing in clear view, only to vanish as I zoomed in. We had Starlings, Blue tits, Great tits and Greenfinches, plus a mob of Goldfinches.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mob of Goldfinches

Finally a small brown bird perched to feed. I zoomed in and took the shot, noticing a tiny red patch on the head. My first thought was Linnet, but I’ve been fooled by red-faced Goldfinches and bad light before. I have seen Linnets around, but not on the bird table, so it’s always likely one may drop in.

However, when I checked the photo I had a pleasant surprise: it’s a Redpoll.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Redpoll on the Ecocentre feeder

It’s not super-rare, but I’ve not seen one on the farm before and I’ve never seen one on a bird table either. All in all it was a good end to the day.

 

More Birds – Screveton and Sherwood Forest

Here are photographs of more birds from last Wednesday, following up on the previous bird post and the Friday post.

The Goldfinches are acting like a bunch of thugs, quarrelling amongst themselves and driving other birds away. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but they really can be very aggressive.

We had a flock of Long-tailed tits look in, but they perched in the surrounding trees calling to each other before deciding not to contest the feeders with the Goldfinches. We really need fat balls to tempt them, but after the Jackdaw [roblems earlier in the year I don’t really want to use fat balls again. I may try coconut halves filled with fat as they seemed to work well when we saw them at Sherwood Forest last Friday.

We have moved the second feeder from the back garden to see if we can ease the thuggery by spreading the birds out more. It has never been well used, even though it is situated close to a belt of trees that attracts quite a lot of birds. The ones that use the feeders tend to fly out of the trees and pass it on the way to the other feeder.

Birds can be very strange.

So far, after one day, very few birds have chosen to use the new feeding station, despite it only being five yards from the other.

It’s a tricky situation because we will have to stop feeding the birds at the end of the month when we leave the centre. We haven’t really started feeding properly since we let it tail off in late summer. They have had plenty of food in the fields and some of the food in the feeders had actually gone off because birds had stopped visiting.

I rushed into it last week, cleaning the feeders with a piece of stick and using food that had been stored in a bin for the last few months.  The bin had been chewed by mice and I had to evict several before I could get the food, which smelt very mousy. I’m not sure if this has a bearing on the lack of enthusiasm for some of the feeders.

We will wash the feeders on Monday and refill everything with freshly purchased food. I know I found the smell off-putting and I wouldn’t blame the birds for feeling the same way.

We will feed until we leave and will leave the remains of the food and ask the farm to feed after we have gone. It’s not ideal but it’s the best we can do. Meanwhile the group can continue to watch birds until we finish.

Practical note here – cheap plastic feeders buckle when subjected to boiling water. It may seem hygenic, but it’s annoying to hqve to buy new feeders so be careful. I’m going to use Milton. It works for babies, lambs and apple pressing so it whould work for bird feeders.

The following photographs were some we took in Sherwood Forest on Friday. I’m quite pleased with the shot of the acrobatic Robin eating from the coconut shell and the Nuthatch. I’d hoped we would see a Nuthatch and we did see several in the end, though they are difficult to photograph. Julia managed to get the best shots, much to my frustration. Most of mine looked like blue blurs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coal Tit – Sherwood Forest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Acrobatic Robin eating from coconut shell

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Tit feeding from coconut shell

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nuthatch – Sherwood Forest

A mystery solved

You may recall that I’ve been blaming jackdaws for knocking bird feeders down and then eating the contents.

Well, it seems there is another possibility. They may have been knocking the feeders down but I now have another avian candidate for the emptying of the feeders.

Look at the photos of these two suspicious characters mopping up spilt food and all will become clear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Suspicious characters lurking under the bird feeders

They need to be careful, because unlike jackdaws, they taste nice when roasted and people are always asking about them at Christmas…

Man v Jackdaw

They found the fat balls I hung in the hedge so it’s time for the next phase.

Wilkos have these feeders in for £7, which is the cheapest I’ve been able to find. You get what you pay for but I can’t see that Jackdaws are strong enough to bend the bars so cheap should be good enough.

I’m going to try one and if it works I will buy more.The main worry isn’t if it works but if it acts like a sail in the wind as it gets quite windy out here and it’s quite common to find the feeder pole at an angle of 30 degrees after high winds.

Meanwhile, I suppose I ought to consider alternative foods (as in the peanuts) and whether of not I have the right to feed finches and starve Jackdaws. For the moment though, as Monday morning is not prime time for debating questions of ethics, I will confine myself to trying to outwit them.

It may not be easy.

 

The great coat rack migration mystery

Better weather today and the birds started to use the feeder. This is a problem in another way as it now exposes the poor quality of my camera for photographing birds.

As long as the weather holds we may be OK for tomorrow.

 

You can see how much rain we’ve had over the last few days because the Trent has come over its banks at Gunthorpe and is now looking twice as wide as normal. I’m glad we don’t live near the river.

We live on top of a ridge and are fine as far as flooding goes, but the wind can be tricky. About twenty years ago, having left the cat flap open (one of the cats had lost its magnet – again!) we got up to find a snow drift in the kitchen. That’s what happens when you leave a north-facing cat flap open in a blizzard.

I can’t think of much to say. It’s a day for boring admin tasks.

Apart from the birds, the most interesting event of the day was turning up to find the broken coat rack from the kitchen has been moved, and is now next to the recently-broken coat rack in the centre.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shared premises are always a mystery, but at least it stops us stagnating.

And yes, that wall on the left hand side is made from soil.

 

 

This knife of Sheffield steel (3)

According to an article I read last week,  instead of puns and quotes I should be using a set of simple formulae for titles. If I’d read that before starting this three-parter it would be entitled 5 uses for a Stanley Knife and people would be beating down the doors of the internet to read it.

However, as it only features two uses for a Stanley Knife (cutting paper and amateur surgery) I’m going to stick with the original title.

So, back to the hospital.

I could tell that it was getting late from the rising howls of injured drunks sounding down the corridors, but there wasn’t a lot of action in our corridor.

Eventually I was allowed into the next room and told to lie on a couch. Lie on a couch? For a finger injury? What would they have done if I’d been, for instance, pregnant or knocked down by a car? I was soon to find out as they helped a little old lady into the room and told me to get off the couch.

“We need it because she’s been hit by a car.” They said. “It’s an emergency.”

Well, she didn’t seem to be too bad; she was built like a prop forward and sheathed in one of those old lady checked coats. I’m fairly sure that somewhere a car driver was having to explain that though it looked like he’d hit a buffalo the truth was far less interesting.

FInally, about seven hours after arrival, I was called through and a doctor yawned his way into the room, muttering in the manner of a man that has just been wakened and isn’t very happy about it.

I received more evidence of this when, after injecting the local anaesthetic, he grabbed my finger in one hand and a pair of tweezers in the other.

“Just checking there are no foreign bodies in the wound.”

I could have told him there weren’t as the only possible foreign bodies were Stanley knives and sheets of A4 paper – both of which would have been obvious to the trained eye. However, he needed to run his tweezers over the surface of the wound to be sure, which made me jump a bit. The good news is that it only took three stitches and the anaesthetic was almost working by the time he tied off the third stitch.

I couldn’t help but think that the nurse at reception could have put three stitches in without anaesthetic, which would have saved me something like 7 hours waiting and a massive parking bill. It would probably have been less painful too.

After that, the ignominy just kept coming.

Next day I had to go to a conference. Competitors, customer, workmates, ex-college friends, strangers – all united in pointing and laughing at The Man with the Comedy Finger. I, of course, retained my normal cheery attitude but couldn’t resist using the comedy finger to make my feelings known amongst the general outbreak of mirth.

Then, at the end of the week, I went to see a customer.in Leicestershire. Imagine my surprise, when he opened his door, to find that he had two comedy fingers raised in a massive V-sign.

Seems one of his poultry feeders had jammed and as he cleared the obstruction he suddenly remembered that he hadn’t switched off. The chain took the ends off two fingers. One, when washed, was stitched back on. The second was last seen clutched in the beak of a chicken heading into a dark corner.and was never seen again.

So, bad as my week had been, someone had been having a worse one.

Over the years I recovered the feeling in the finger tip and it gradually turned pink again, then one night I slipped with a kitchen knife and sliced myself so close to the original scar that it actually formed one boundary of the new cut…

Repeat.

(Don’t worry, there is no Part 4.)

(In fairness I ought to point out that my recent experiences in Casualty have been a lot better than the one described here, which is now 25 years ago.).