Tag Archives: cormorant

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.

The Plan Falls (Mainly) Into Place

Right, I’ve sorted out the debacle that resulted from this morning’s post. I’ve also confessed to another world-class senior moment. This is beginning to be a habit.

So, how did the plan for today go, I hear you ask.

Well…

Julia – dropped off at work on time.

Go home – read blogs and write one.  I think you probably know how that went.

Laundry – did that. Couldn’t get a parking space so  had to carry three nags of washing  round the corner and across the road. Managed to set one machine on a cold wash, which was annoying.  Apart from that I had the place to myself most of the time.

Photographs – went to Arnot Hill Park. Didn’t get many as there were a lot of shadows on the water from neighbouring trees, and the bits without shadow had glare from the low sun. There was a cormorant – originally diving for fish, then drying its wings. It took some stalking after I first saw it, but once it decided to dry its wings it stood and displayed itself shamelessly. Nobody else seemed to notice. It’s the first one I’ve seen on the duck pond.

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Tufted Duck male on the duck pond at Arnot Hill, Arnold, Notts

From there I went shopping, met an old friend, and spent a happy hour catching up on the news.

After that it was back home to cook and plan blog posts.  However, first I had a sit down and cup of tea. Shall we just say that no cooking or blogging took place, as I moved smoothly on to the final element of the plan.

Fortunately I had set the alarm on my phone, and was  woken in time to pick Julia up from work.

We’re now waiting for a Chinese delivery, as it’s too late to cook. Well, that’s the excuse I’m using.

Only two photographs today because the rest won’t download. The card reader isn’t working and the lead for connecting the camera directly seems to have disappeared. They do that if you don’t keep a constant watch on them.

 

Kingfisher!

OK, you’ll have to take my word for it because, as usual, we didn’t get the photograph.

We went for a look at Budby Flash, because we wanted to see birds but didn’t want to walk. As we parked, Julia pointed at one of the feeders, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding.  The photos are a bit hazy because we took pictures through the windscreen rather than risk scaring it off.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker – Budby Flash

When we did eventually get out of the car it flew off, as expected.

The feeders were full of tits with the odd robin, chaffinch and dunnock having a go. The robins, which normally pose so well, were too busy chasing each other, resulting in a lack of photographs. I got one poor shot of a coal tit but it was mainly a day for blue and great tits, with a visit from some long-tailed tits (who did their best to hide their faces).

While I was taking photos of the feeders Julia stalked round the trees that overhang the water by the bridge. A cry of surprise interrupted my photography and I turned just in time to see the eastern end of a westbound kingfisher. It managed to find a spot just round the corner, where it was still close, but hidden. I did think I’d spotted it later, but it was just a discarded beer can when I zoomed in.

Some Birds at Clumber Park

I wrote this last night, with the intention of posting it in the morning. That way, I thought, I’d come home to a selection of comments and I wouldn’t have to rush to write a post tonight.

As you’ve probably guessed from the opening paragraph, things didn’t work out.

I’m not exactly clear what I did, but the absence of post tends to suggest that I shut down without saving. Yes, it’s thirty years since I first laid hands on a computer and I now know less than I did in 1987.

So here it is again.

It’s a big lake, and there are plenty of birds about, but they aren’t the most interesting selection of birds. Swans, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Mallards, Tufted Duck…

As you can see from the photos there were Shovellers, Gadwall, Cormorants, Goosanders and Black=headed Gulls.

At Arnot Hill Park, or even at Rufford, the scale is more manageable, and you are generally closer to the birds. There’s a little more excitement at Arnot Hill, because you are never quite sure what is going to be there, and at Rufford there are plenty of woodland birds as well as the waterfowl.

To be fair to Clumber, I only ever scratch the surface – it’s so big. The main thing I go for is the end of the lake with the dead trees and Cormorants. In the 1980s and again at the start of this century, mine workings subsided near the end of the lake and the resulting low ground filled with water, drowning the trees.

When I first visited Clumber in the 90s there were more dead trees in the water and they were full of Cormorants. Now when I visit there are just a few trees and a handful of Cormorants, but there is still a possibility of interesting photos. Sadly there were no good Cormorant/tree photos to be had, but I did get a heron on a tree.

 

I also saw a family of Long-tailed Tits, a Goldcrest and a dozen squirrels, but couldn’t get decent photos of any of them. The only in-focus Long-tailed Tit was so badly framed all I pictured was feet and belly.

 

Almost According to Plan…

Well, it rolled out almost as I expected.

I loaded the pictures, I had lunch and I read a couple of chapters of the book  I’m currently reading. That wasn’t actually in the plan but I like to keep the momentum going.

Things ground to a temporary halt. Just as I entered the surgery some ferrety type slipped round me to beat me to the desk. I hate it when people do that. If they get there first, that’s life, but why treat it as a race? Naturally he had a complicated matter to sort out. I dropped a few hints, like leaning on a convenient pillar and whimpering.

I was just on the point of suggesting (a) he accepted the “wrong” drugs on his prescription and (b) he took them all in one lot when the receptionist called for help.

Shopping was easy enough. The kids like breaded chicken and it’s cheap. Add salad and baked potatoes and it’s easy, cheap and mostly healthy.

Then it was time to get home for Pointless.

You may have noticed a few omissions, but I forgot the ice cream (and the brown sauce) and decided it was too hot for duck ponds.

I see I got my sons mixed up. It was Number Two son I coerced into doing the washing up and Number One who was coming to visit. He made his own way from the station, which was a bonus. We had tea, they mumbled, I dozed off.

It’s comforting to know that in an ever-changing world that some things remain the same.

Nature note: Julia was walking along the embankment in the afternoon on her way between the garden and the office, when she saw a Cormorant catch an eel. It was quite a big eel, and kept thrashing about until it wrapped round the bird’s neck. This is understandable, as things were clearly going to end badly for the eel if it couldn’t escape.

After a certain amount of thrashing about and diving, the bird won. I’m not sure what the diving was meant to accomplish, the eel clearly wasn’t going to be inconvenienced by it. Eels like water.

When I asked if she’d managed to get any photos on her phone…

…well I’d have been too interested watching too.

Tomorrow I will tell you, with photographs, what Number One son brought back fron Vietnam.

Attenborough Nature Reserve

We decided on Attenborough Nature Reserve for an expedition a few weeks ago. It had come up in conversation with visiting birdwatchers on the farm and it occurred to me that I hadn’t been there for about 10 years.

I started to remember why very soon after arrival. For one thing, the reserve is a series of gravel pits, and gravel pits on a murky December morning can be a bit bleak. For another, there isn’t much else to it. There’s no ruin or old trees.

First stop was the cafe. It’s so long since I’ve been to Attenborough that they hadn’t built it last time I was there. It wasn’t very welcoming. Some people who arrived after us started moving chairs around, including a couple on our table. They seemed to be regulars from the way they spoke to the staff, and clearly felt we were in their way.

After that one of the staff members started telling them that despite her years of experience nobody listens to her, and they had put the Christmas tree in the wrong place.

It’s a decent cafe (with shop, toilets, classrooms and a sand martin nest bank/hide) but after our experience on the farm we just don’t want workplace politics with our scones.

The nature area at the back of the cafe has several things of interest, including three sorts of bug hotel, all pictured below.

Add that to being trapped in the sand martin hide whilst a lecture was delivered, loud conversations, brightly-clad joggers and a man letting his dog chase ducks. It all adds up to  an uncomfortable experience.

It seems, from postings on the website, that the bustle doesn’t upset the wildlife and the habitat is some of the best in Europe. It’s also clearly well-used by many people for a variety of recreational and educational purposes.  You can’t really fault it when you look at it like this.

It could have been so good…

Ah well, we’ll just have to give it another try in the New Year. I’m sure it has lots of good points, but the last thing we needed at this point was cafe politics (read previous posts if you want to see why).

 

 

 

 

Gardening

It’s been the first day of the year we could get out in the garden and we’ve done quite a bit this afternoon. Not all of it has been structured or done well, but it’s the thought that counts and we needed the exercise. Well, I needed the exercise.

We’re still in the process of planning the vegetable garden, partly through lethargy and partly through not knowing what the plans are for next year. Hopefully we will find out in the next week or so.

 

The sheep are carrying on, with two more lambs born over the weekend. They’re not very cooperative when it comes to posing for photographs at the moment. Unfortunately we had someone walking a dog without it being on a lead – that always makes them a bit jumpy. Makes you wonder what people are thinking. Or if they are thinking.

At the moment we’re practising for the bird watch this weekend. I’m having to answer a large number of questions, including the difference between a pied wagtail and a magpie (they are both black and white with long tails, which causes confusion) and why it might be better not to sit there sniggering at the common name of Phalacrocorax aristotelis. (It’s a shag for those of you who aren’t familiar with the poem, or with juvenile humour.)

Despite what the poem says, the common cormorant is not another name for shag, and what I always thought of as the common cormorant is now the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). Tricky things these bird names, which is why we need the Latin names too.

The Common Cormorant

The common cormorant (or shag)
Lays eggs inside a paper bag,
The reason you will see no doubt,
Is to keep the lightning out.

But what these unobservant birds
Have failed to notice is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood