Tag Archives: birds

More Pictures from Bempton Cliffs

There are other birds apart from Puffins at Bempton – here are a few, though they aren’t quite as photogenic as Puffins.

And a few more.

Finally a few shadow selfies, because the Devil finds work for idle hands.

Oh, alright then. And a Puffin.

Pride Coming Before a Fall

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

Only yesterday we were discussing driving in the shop, with particular reference to the idiocy of other drivers. I stayed quiet on the subject. This was partly because I have done a lot of driving and done it safely, and am therefore quietly confident (possibly even smug) about my abilities. It was also because over the last year or two it has begun to occur to me that I’m not quite as good as I used to be. I’m less alert, not quite as quick-thinking and have more trouble looking over my shoulder than I used to. It’s a troubling thought as it involves admitting I’m getting old.

This was driven home forcibly at lunchtime.

However, before telling you about that, I will briefly describe our activities of the morning.

First we looked at the snow that had fallen overnight. It wasn’t particularly impressive, but it was a complete covering. It was also much fluffier than usual, and brushed off the car easily. I’m told that this is because it’s coming across land, where our normal snow is soggy from a journey across the sea.

Then we went for a late breakfast at Harvester in Wilford. I had a smaller breakfast than usual. I probably isn’t such good value for money as the bigger one but I left feeling I could have fitted a few more morsels in. This is how it should be. Ramming the last few forkfuls home like I’m loading a cannon is uncomfortable, and probably not helping my diet.  Anyway, having fitted in fruit, yogurt, an extensive Full English and several crumpets, I really didn’t need any more.

Next stop was the MENCAP garden. It’s closed for the week as it’s likely to be too cold to work, particularly as it has no electricity and little shelter until the polytunnel is re-built. There is a container, but Julia has increased membership of the group as part of her job and they can no longer fit in it comfortably.

While we were there we collected some paint and woodstain, filled the bird feeders and noted that something in the garden likes kale. The obvious culprits are pigeons. Even though kale is generally considered safe from pigeons we can’t think of anything else likely to have done the damage – it certainly isn’t caterpillar weather.

Kale, Wilford

Wrecked Kale at Wilford

Finally the long-suffering taxi-driver was allowed to listen to the radio in the car park outside Hobbycraft as his wife made a dent in their extensive stock.

This proved to be the highpoint of the day.

On the way home I turned onto a steep road. It’s called Mapperley Rise at one end and Winchester Street at the other. In between it is quite steep. However, it’s a reasonably busy road and it’s used by buses, so road, I assumed there would be no problem using it.

How wrong I was.

About half-way down one of the cars in front of us started fish-tailing and skidding wildly. It didn’t seem to do anything, the slide just started. Fortunately it regained control after about twenty yards.

The same thing happened to the one in front of us.

Me next.

I was very careful. I was gentle on the controls. And I didn’t slide where the other two had slid.

However, I did seem to be going a bit too fast.

I tried a bit of cadence braking.

It didn’t work.

As the rear end of the Peugeot in front loomed larger I had three choices.

Choice One – overtake. which might involve the front end of an oncoming car. Did I mention we were on a bend and I couldn’t see what was coming?

Option Two – hit the Peugeot. My experience of French cars is that they are quite soft.

Option Three – hit the kerb to slow down or mount the pavement and squeeze into the narrow space available between the Peugeot and the somewhat menacing wall that runs  along the side of the footpath at that point.

(Please note that these “options” were more like swift thoughts accompanied by a touch of panic. I’ve dressed them up in hindsight to make myself look more competent than I actually was.)

I completely failed to find the kerb and was most of the way past the Peugeot on the footpath when the tyres started to grip.  At that point it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought of pedestrians. Fortunately there were none.

Looking back, I think that there was a layer of melting water running down the hill on top of ice, and nothing short of snow chains was going to prevent us slipping. When the cars in front skidded they scrubbed speed off by going sideways and hitting the kerb. My careful approach prevented me skidding, and meant I was going too fast when I finally lost control.

I’d have been better off skidding in the first place.

I still have a few errands to do, but they can wait until the weather improves. Until then I’m going to sit at home and consider the benefits of humility.

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Julia struggling

The final picture shows Julia struggling with the feeders. I could have helped, but then I wouldn’t have been able to take the photo.

Photos added later.

Natural History from the Car

As I drove to Newark this afternoon I noticed a group of rooks whirling aimlessly round the sky. On looking closer I realised they weren’t being aimless, but were in fact mobbing a buzzard. here were about 20 of them, though it wasn’t that easy to drive safely and count rooks at the same time.

Shortly after that I passed a roadside tree full of strange ball-like growths in its leafless branches – mistletoe in its natural state.

A bit later in the same journey I had to brake sharply when a large fox decided to run across the road. You don’t see many foxes in the middle of the day, and this is the first time I’ve ever had to put the brakes on to avoid one. It looked healthy and well-fed so I’m not sure why it needed to be out and about. Sometimes things are meant to remain a mystery.

The only other bit of natural history was a buzzard roosting in the roadside tree. Always nice to see, but let’s face it – they aren’t rare these days. It just goes to show what’s about, even on a grey day of driving round doing errands.

The picture is a random pansy. They are out in the garden so I thought it would be OK to show one.

 

 

Some Pictures of Slaidburn

There were plenty of sheep about, as you would guess, plus a nice car park with toilets (because it’s a great centre for walkers. There was also a large gathering of Starlings and crows – mainly Jackdaws and a Blue Tit flitting about.

 

It’s a lovely village in the right weather, though I’d hate to live here on a miserable grey day. I often think about that when thinking of my family working on farms round here, with rain and woollen clothing. They must have hated Autumn and Winter.

The pub in the pictures is the Hark to Bounty. In the late 19th century it was run by William Stead – blacksmith and innkeeper. He was there in 1871, married to my great-grandmother’s aunt, and died in 1893, leaving £808, which was good money in those days. In 1871 my grandmother was working for them, having come from Leyburn, about50 miles away. That’s presumably how she met my great-grandfather.

 

 

 

 

A Walk, a Weasel, but no Wren

If I ever write a novel about Time Travel, and I’m not saying one way or the other, I’m going to need a way of making my protagonist travel in time. One way I’m considering is making him write a blog which gets behind, a bit like I often do, so that he trips over his metaphysical feet in trying to catch up.

It’s taken me three days to write about Monday, and nothing much happened on Monday. If it had been a day filled with incident I’d still be writing. As it is, I’m just about to start writing about Tuesday.

I loaded up the camera, put a handful of bird food in my pocket and set off round the lake at Rufford Abbey.

It was an interesting day and after taking nearly 300 shots I’ve already deleted over 100. The problem is that birds just don’t cooperate. They move too fast, they hide in shadows and they lurk behind twigs (which prevent the autofocus working).

At one time I did consider a post based on near misses – the blurred Goldcrest, the fence rail recently vacated by the Dunnock and the twig where the Wren had just been perching. Fortunately I had second thoughts, or this could have been one of my less popular posts.

The best bit of the day was when I was photographing at the woodland bird tables, and fighting off squirrels. Suddenly there was a flurry in the leaves and the squirrels scattered, closely pursued by a weasel. I was too slow to get anywhere near it with the camera, but it was very funny, and what they deserved after stealing most of the food I put out.

 

 

Eleven Photos and the Benefits of Blogging

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Teasels in flower

The main picture shows some teasel in flower. They have gone over a bit but you can still see some of the bluish flowers. I thought I’d include the picture after showing the mature ones earlier on this week.

 

The fungus is growing out of one of the raised beds in the Mencap garden and the mooring ring is from the quay at Burleigh pottery in Stoke.  I spotted the blue butterfly on a visit to Men in Sheds in the summer and the bear was in a field near Scarborough advertising a music event. The dragonfly was pictured on our trip to Rutland Water, but I don’t seem to have identified it on the photo and can’t find the reference. I think it’s a Common Darter if I  remember correctly – I only see common things.

 

The bird with the bandit mask is another Nuthatch and the Swan was cruising down the river at the back of the National Arboretum last year. The mouse is from a harvest loaf we cooked on the farm and the remaining two photos are also from the farm – a Mint Moth (there were dozens about in the herb garden) and a poppy with chamomile.

They all bring back memories, and without blogging I wouldn’t have restarted with the photography – another thing I like about blogging!

A Walk in the Woods

I went for a walk in the woods today and, as you can see from the header picture, I managed to get a photograph of a Nuthatch. It took some doing, I’ve discarded around 20 blurred images and another 20 photos of an empty table. They really are flighty birds.

The morning looked hopeful, with sunlight and a number of great lighting effects behind the clouds. By the time I reached Rufford Abbey the light had, of course gone. It did reappear a couple of times, mainly at the wrong time and in the wrong place.

 

There were a few other birds about but I failed in my attempts to photograph a variety of tits and waterfowl. I had been hoping to get some shots of swans, with reflections, but that was doomed by a lack of swans. There were a few of this year’s cygnets about but they didn’t come close enough for an attempt.

One of the few subjects that did benefit from the lighting was the bed of teasels. They also have the advantage of not moving much.