Tag Archives: geese

The Geese Take Flight

It was a generally average Saturday. Nippy enough to tell you it was autumn but not cold enough for a coat. Moderate amount of activity in the shop and time enough to increase my knowledge of eBay. I have decided I need to become a better eBay user, both for my work and for myself. I really can’t put it off much longer as I need to reduce my collection and generate some cash.

The photographs are more from the visit to the gardens earlier in the week. There is a threat of frost this weekend and I thought I’d get a few final shots of the nasturtiums before the frost flattens them. The first frost and the devastated nasturtiums is, for me, the saddest sight of the year.

The header picture shows a skein of geese flying south. During the summer they fly in to the Trent every morning, where they gather on the river to feed and mug passers-by. AS winter moves on, they start flying away instead. It can be tricky taking a picture of geese in the sky with just a scratched screen for a viewing aid. I just pointed the camera at the honking and pressed the button every time the green square indicated I was focussed on something. It seemed to work.

 

I will close now as I need to get on with a few jobs.

In the Park

I went to the park on Sunday morning for a walk round the duck pond. I’m a man of simple tastes and thought I’d have a look in before buying coffee at McDonald’s and taking it back to the launderette. It didn’t quite work out like that as I became so engrossed that Julia rang me to find out where I was.

The young Heron in the header picture was loafing round too, so it wasn’t as if I was the only one loitering round the pond in an aimless manner.The main difference was that I was sitting on a bench and the heron was perching on an artificial island. The idea is that plants will colonise the mesh. It hasn’t quite worked out, but the Heron seemed to like it despite the lack of plants.

There were other birds around, and a selection of dogs and small children, but they weren’t as close as the geese. The pigeons were a bit closer, but they aren’t that interesting.

That was a few days ago. Today’s news is that I’ve chipped a front tooth. It’s been going for a while. I suppose it will get worse until it results in more time at the dentist.

We had a thunderstorm over the house last night, which woke us up and lowered the temperature for a while. It was so humid this morning on the way to work that I started sweating between the house and the car. I’m not very fit but even I don’t generally sweat after walking ten yards.

Tonight I’m shaving my head, as my current look – long thinning hair slicked down by sweat is a very unattractive look. Even Julia has mentioned it, and she’s not that fussy, as you can guess from the fact that she’s been looking at me regularly over the last 30 years.

The way my luck is running, I will probably end up cutting an ear off.

Distractions…

I have 25 minutes before I have to take Number Two Son to work, so just 25 minutes to write this post. I’ve had all day to do it, but haven’t been able to concentrate and get anything written.

I’m slightly distracted by the different colours that seem to have appeared on WordPress. My “Publish” button is an unattractive shade of red, instead of green and several other things have changed colour too. I’d love to know why, as it’s definitely not an improvement. Things were fine just the way they were, and I can’t help thinking there were more important things to do, like fixing the inability of my site to search for photos that are more than a couple of weeks old.

Apart from that, I’m distracted by the number of things I have to do. I have three book reviews to write, for instance, but can’t seem to get to grips with any of them.

At least I managed to run a few errands with Julia today (it was an unadventurous day off today) and finish a book that arrived in the post yesterday. It was a short book.

And so, in twelve minutes I’ve accomplished what I couldn’t manage in the previous twelve hours.

Amazing what a little time pressure will do.

When I post this I will be in the final week of my 100 post challenge and down into single figures for the haiku challenge. Time to think of what will replace them. I’ve gone off the 100 tearoom challenge as I’m having to think of my weight.

The photographs are from a visit to Anderby Creek in 2017, which was a day I remember fondly.

 

 

 

A Misty Dream

Actually, there is no mist involved, but I think I used the days of wine and roses quote as a title before. I also used it in a comment I made on a blog last night, so I don’t want to overdo it.

Yesterday I visited the local duck pond for the first time in months. Even when I’ve been well, I’ve been tired or out of sorts and the trip has seemed too long. Last time I went the yellow flags were just starting to flower. Now they are finished. Being somewhat morose at present, I can’t help seeing it as a metaphor for my life.

A cup of tea soon dispelled that thought (no biscuits – I’m on a diet) as very few depressing thoughts survive tea and sunshine. Even a comparison to the pond couldn’t dampen my spirits – I’m happy being shallow.

Anyway, enough of the introspection, and on with the character assassination.

Earlier in the year I mentioned that a woman thought the white ducks were swans. I was, I think, a little critical. In fairness I shouldn’t really have a go at her for being as dim as a 40 watt light bulb, or say that there…

No, I still think there should be a permit system for breeding. Two kids per family and none at all unless you’re smart enough to distinguish a duck from a swan.

While I was reflecting by the side of the pond yesterday a group came to feed the ducks, led by a woman who, to be chivalrous, was older than me. This is old enough to know that geese don’t have cygnets!

The pictures show geese with their goslings, some young moorhens and coots and some ducks in eclipse plumage. Eclipse plumage is the dull, almost camouflaged, plumage that ducks grow when they moult after all the hassle of raising a family. I can sympathise.

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Mallards in eclipse plumage

Later there was a small child called Sam (name changed for Safeguarding purposes, and because I forgot it). His mission in life seemed to be to feed birds and use huge amounts of energy as he ran round saying hello to people. I would have been happier if he hadn’t introduced himself to dogs by holding out his arm in such an appetising manner, but even the Staffordshire Bull Terrier with leather harness and tattooed owner merely licked his hand and allowed itself to be stroked.

 

 

 

 

 

More from Rufford Abbey

Still catching up from yesterday. A mysterious glitch seemed to stop the photos loading, whilst still allowing me to upload the post. As I’m trying to post every day, it left me, at quarter to midnight, with the choice of posting something imperfect or posting nothing. That isn’t say that I don’t post imperfect pieces all the time (they are all capable of improvement) but yesterday’s was far from finished.

This post will mark my 70th consecutive day. It’s not much compared to the magnificent achievements of some people but it’s a considerable one for a man of my disorganised personal habits. The only fly in the ointment is that some days I know I’m writing rubbish just to tick off another day. I didn’t set out to be a blogger of great dignity and importance, but I do have standards, even if they are low.

I’m going to continue with daily posts as long as I can, but I’m going to improve the quality. Er…

Yes, exactly. What is quality in blogging?

I’m not sure. I tend to like the ones about people of a certain age who do a bit of pottering, and I also like the ones about nature, which could be because that’s a description of me and my life. In fiction terms I suppose you could say I’m looking for something character-driven. Or you could say I’m nosey. (I’m the sort of person who enjoys railway journeys because you can look into people’s back gardens).

I suppose I’m not really talking about quality, but more about what engages readers and makes for a popular blog. Quality, which tends to make me think about seriousness and maturity, is probably not the exact word to use.

What does anyone else think?

So, back to Rufford Abbey.

The first thing we found was that a bottle of gooseberry vinegar that emptied itself on the back seat of the car (where my jacket was conveniently placed to soak it up and save the upholstery).

We had a look at the lake, which seemed less populated than usual. I suppose they are all off doing spring things. Apart from the Great Crested Grebes. I’m sure they should be exhibiting some interesting courtship behavior but all they did was sit there and float.

I nearly managed a video of courting grebes two weeks ago but they didn’t try very hard and it just looked like two birds flapping. My attempted video of two Robins fighting wasn’t usable as they were both quick and in cover, though today’s Robin photo shows one of the combatants  perching with its tail cocked as it keeps an eye on the interloper.

Julia spotted the Kingfisher, which I missed completely, and we both saw a pair of nuthatches, a Marsh Tit and several Wrens, which also all eluded the camera. I did manage to get a shot of a Coal Tit and the Ice House. Ice Houses tend not to move when you take photographs.

 

 

 

 

Shiny Ducks and Spurious Swans

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A Spurious Swan

You can’t blame kids for being ignorant when you see a parent tell them “Look at that Swan.”

That’s the “Swan” in the picture above. The white bird that’s the size and shape of a duck and has a curly tail just like a drake. It walks and talks like a duck too. I’m not one to take the moral high ground on bird identification, having already proved I’m shaky on waders and not good on gulls. (And if you wait for summer I’ll parade my tragic lack of warbler skills).

However, a Swan is a basic bird, like a Pigeon, a Sparrow and a Magpie. In an ideal world such basic knowledge would be part of the Parenthood Exam and if you couldn’t ID a Swan you wouldn’t be allowed to breed.

That should also weed out people who feed pigeons even though told not to.

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Who? Me?

 

Meanwhile, the Odd Couple seem as close as ever.

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I worry about these two…

 

Birds at Rufford Abbey

The walk started with me scanning the treetops for greenfinches, which were calling loudly, though they were quickly chased away by Fieldfares. I couldn’t get a decent photo because the twigs prevented the autofocus from working. That was followed by a photo of a blurred dot over the abbey as I failed to get a good shot of a circling buzzard. Bird photography is a bit trickier than buildings.

We decided to walk round the lake, a route which includes walking through woodland. The first birds we saw on the walk  were eating food someone had put out for them on a picnic table.  We saw blue tits, Great tits, chaffinches and (something I’d hoped to see) a Marsh Tit. I’m sure it was a Marsh Tit, though Willow Tits are very similar in appearance. In fact, Victorian ornithologists didn’t even know they were two species until 1897. The glossy cap and white stripe on the beak (which you can’t see on this photo) are good pointers to it being a Marsh Tit.

 

Further round, we crossed several bridges and took pictures of Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and Black Headed Gulls, though the light wasn’t very good and they were mostly blurred. many of the gulls were in their 1st winter, as shown by the brown feathers amongst the grey and white. I find I have difficulty with autofocus on subjects with white bits – the Coots  all came out looking like the heads were blurred. I also had trouble with a Magpie and the heads of the Great Crested Grebes.

 

On the main lake we saw Great-Crested Grebes in winter plumage and Greylag geese, finally walking round to the shop and tea room (where you can buy duck and goose food). We bought Bakewell tarts and tea, crumbling the pastry from the edge to feed the birds and provoking a minor riot.

 

When the boys were small (oh, how easily I fall into nostalgia mode) the Canada Geese were both numerous and aggressive, but these days there are only a few about, though they were quite aggressive in the pursuit of food from small children. There was also a small group of Egyptian Geese, which I always thought must have escaped from a collection somewhere. When I was searching for information for the link I found out they’ve been breeding in England for around 300 years, so it’s possible they might have been proper residents.

There also used to be a lot of rats around because people were over-feeding the birds. At one point the water by the tearoom used to be full of floating bread and the surroundings full of notices about not over-feeding. The current lack of notices suggests that people have become more sensible, as does the lack of rats.

You can currently buy duck and goose food from the shop for £3.50 a bag. Let’s say that at that price I’d rather be a seller than a buyer, as the bags don’t look very big. Next time I go I will take some of my own bird food. Once the cold weather takes hold the smaller birds will appreciate it, and are happy to comedown and feed. I may take a little bread too, but there really isn’t much danger of the ducks and geese going hungry.

The featured image is a Tufted duck – the white bits on his back are the water droplets from his recent dive.