Tag Archives: goldfinch

New Phone, Fingers and Flowers

 

Last night Julia went on line and arranged an upgrade for me with our airtime provider. Though you do have to pay for it somewhere along the line, it seems like a free phone and is not too bad.

The problem was that they set the ball rolling by sending me a code in a text. It’s tricky receiving a text on a touch screen phone when the screen is in pieces and stabs you in the fingers when you try to use it. Even when you try to use it carefully.

The new one is bigger than the old one, which seems to be the trend. It is also more complicated. I haven’t finished setting it up yet, but I have managed to fit the screen protector and insert it into the protective case.  Yes, definitely a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

(Did you know screen protectors come with their own screen protector protectors? I didn’t.)

I have also activated the fingerprint security system. Time will tell if this was a good decision.

Call me a pessimist if you will, but all I can think of at the moment is various ways I could lose my finger, and how I would unlock my phone if that happened.

The photos are from the Mencap garden this morning. There was no group in, and Julia needed someone to hold the other end of the tape measure.

Birds, Butterflies and Blogging

To be accurate the title really should be Birds and Blogging as there are no butterflies about, so if you have come here looking for butterflies I must apologise.

I’ve just been talking to a pair of birdwatchers who were going round the nature trail. The birds decided to cooperate for once and as we spoke we saw Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinches, a House Sparrow, a male Reed Bunting and a Robin. Two pairs of bullfinches and half a dozen fieldfares flew past too. That means I’ve seen as many bullfinches in a week as I normally see in a year.

They had seen Pied Wagtails, Bullfinches in the hedgerows and Linnets drinking from a puddle on the way round.

I filled the feeders in the middle of the morning and one of the Goldfinches refused to fly off until I was three feet away. It started trying to stare me down when I was about twelve feet away and almost growled at me…

They are much more aggressive than I realised. If it was five feet taller I really wouldn’t fancy my chances against it.

Julia is having a day off. It’s the first day she’s missed in five years so I suppose I can allow it. She’s at the graduation of Number One son. He didn’t bother going to the ceremony when he graduated from his first degree but now he has a second he’s decided to go. The fact his girlfriend is graduating at the same time may have some bearing on his new-found eagerness for academic ceremonial.

Julia described the whole affair as “Like Hogwarts without the Sorting Hat.”

The dance rehearsals went well this morning, and the group has been producing friendship bracelets under instruction from Dave, our co-founder. Julia and Dave were working for Nottingham City council when she was told she had to re-apply for her job and he came to the end of a fixed term contract. Somehow this led to a discussion that became Quercus Community. I can’t complain because this turned out to be the best job in the world for the last five years. It doesn’t pay much, but I do have plenty of time for birds, butterflies and blogging. I also get to do things that don’t begin with “B” but I can’t be bothered to list them all. The range of words describing my activities over the last five years start with alpaca and end with zoology so it’s been interesting.

It’s Dave’s birthday soon and we’ve had cake to celebrate. He’s claiming to be “thirty next birthday” and everyone is nodding politely. I will make no comment.

As you can see from the photos, he threw himself fully into the choreography, though when I asked the group who was the problem in the Dreamcoat number they were unanimous in pointing him out.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Buzzards, bees and bird song

It feels like summer has finally arrived, though I do realise that I’ve said that before.

The weather station reports and outside temperature of 19 degrees C, the sky is clear and the wind is little more than a baby’s breath (or 2 km per hour from the south, if you prefer facts to fancy).

We tidied up for  Open Farm Sunday and the farmer’s mother is having a significant birthday (and party) towards the end of the month, so there is a lot of gardening going on. She’s actually having two parties (one for family and another for people she likes, as I keep telling her) and I hope I have that sort of stamina when I’m 80.

The downside of all this uncoordinated activity is that the thistles earmarked for goldfinch food and most of the “wild” poppies have been removed. We have some great self-seeded poppies, including shades or red and mauve, and quite a selection of doubles with big pom-pom flowers. Correction, we had some great self-seeded poppies.

The paths between the “trees” in the “woodland” are cut (which means we have mowed between the sticks in the field), the wheat is beautifully green (probably the result of too much rain – you know how farmers are) and the trees in the agroforestry scheme are looking good in their rows.

The general effect is one of standing in the parkland surrounding a stately home.

When we arrived I stood and watched for a few minutes. A buzzard was wheeling overhead, the bees were buzzing in the flower beds (their first major appearance this year) and a blackbird was singing from the hedge.

A grumpy goldfinch was twittering as it perched on a virtually empty feeder. It stared at me accusingly. I stared back, and did not refill the feeder. I do like birds but I’m not going to be bullied by something that weighs less than my watch.

Nature Notes

I say nature notes, but it’s mainly birds and butterflies. I’m trying to learn more about plants and insects but I don’t learn things as quickly as I used to.

We had two Swallows fly by last Thursday and another one yesterday. Working on the basis that one Swallow doesn’t make a summer it looks like we are well on the way. We also saw two House Martins at the weekend.

We have seen more Brimstones in the last week than we saw in the whole of last year. Well, to be accurate, I suppose it is more accurate to say we have had more Brimstone sightings – it could well just be one very active butterfly. The only time I spotted one land…yes, you guessed it…no camera.

The struggle with Jackdaws continues. They have started on the one at the back of the centre now, though it is quite obvious so this isn’t a surprise. The one concealed in the hedge has attracted some good birds, but the Jackdaws have spotted that one too. They don’t bother with it too much, so it might be OK. On the main feeder I’ve replaced the fat balls with peanuts so fat ball consumption is down and the smaller birds are able to eat without disturbance. I’m considering ordering some squirrel-proof fat ball feeders as the next step.

It’s quite strange at the moment. We have a pair of Greenfinches coming to one feeder, and a pair of House Sparrows on another. They used to be so common I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning them, but they have both suffered massive declines since those days and it’s good to think we have a few around.

Meanwhile, we have regular Buzzards over the farm and plenty of Red Kites nearby, as I may have mentioned. In the days of my youth (as I say more and more often these days) I can remember when we had to travel to Wales, Cornwall or the Lake District to see Buzzards, and when there were only 20 pairs of Red Kites in the UK (all in Wales).

The strangest sighting of the week has been a Heron that circled overhead for about ten minutes like a massive bird of prey. I managed to get a few distant shots but as it came closer and gave me a good view my batteries failed and the camera locked. I was not impressed. It perched in a tree for a while (hidden by foliage) before starting to circle and making a raucous cry. I don’t know what it was all about, as we don’t have any significant water about. Later that day it came back for a couple more circuits. It may be some sort of breeding behaviour but who can tell?

Birds can be very strange.

 

 

 

 

Days of contrasts

I did an internet course on Food Allergies on Friday. It was nothing spectacular – a couple of hours of reading followed by 15 not very searching questions and a button to print out a City and Guilds accredited certificate.

It isn’t so much about Food Allergies as about the legal requirements around food allergies that we need to know about when running the community cafe on Saturday mornings. So after a weekend of domestic servitude I was faced with a day of admin and lists, hence the lack of posting yesterday. I like learning, but to be honest, I really don’t like the grind of putting it down on paper so that people can advise me on how to improve it or how to make it into the subject of a meeting.

Talking of which, we dodged the bullet last night and didn’t have to hold a weekly meeting, though we’ll pay for that today as we’re having a quarterly meeting. Yes, the farm is run on the principle that more meetings make for better management. Shame it’s a misguided principle – more meetings make for more talking and, in my case, more danger of falling asleep.

It wasn’t all admin and lists to be fair – we also had visitors. Beth who used to work in the farm ofice came to see how we were. She’s happy with her new job in catering and hospitality, up for promotion and even seems to have grown, though I suspect that’s due to higher heels. You can wear higher heels in hospitality than you can in farming. The group found her a set of wellingtons (a size too big) and made her go out to see the new piglets, the pregnant goats and the obstinately non-lambing sheep.

Bea the sculptress visited for a working lunch. She’s going to be helping us make a tree sculpture for use with the Woodland Trust project we’re doing and, later, for the Education tent at Flintham Ploughing Match.

This morning (Tuesday) julia has just completed the new flyer for school visits – it features a watermarked picture of a small tortoiseshell butterfly and brought back memories of summer. For a moment I felt quite summery.

That lasted until I looked out of the window and saw a goldfinch hanging on to the nyger seed feeder for dear life. There’s a  20 – 25 mph gusting wind outside and the feeder is at a fair old angle so the bird is really having to work for its seed.

Roll on summer.