Tag Archives: wren

Idle Valley Nature Reserve

Let’s be honest, doesn’t Idle Valley sound like a great place to be? It has to be up there with Happy Valley and Easy Street.

The walk was bracing , and there were some interesting birds about but as we sat in the cafe, eating Fat Rascals and drinking tea a member of staff came in and started to engage in protracted loud banter with the cafe staff. I could have done without it, but it wasn’t too bad. When he started moving chairs and tables, including the ones next to us, I began to have flashbacks to our visit to Attenborough NR.

It looked like he was preparing to remove the Christmas tree, which begged the question why he couldn’t have done it before 10 am or after 4 pm when the cafe was closed to the public. It just goes to show how assumptions can be wrong, because he was actually preparing to have a cup of tea and a twenty minute session of complaining about management changes.

What is it about me that seems to attract this sort of thing? All I want is tea and cake.

The lake is quite a big pit, the sun was in my eyes for most of the time and much of the lakeside path doesn’t run along the side of the lake so it wasn’t the easiest place to watch birds. Fortunately we started off with a big flock of Teal (thanks to one of the telescopes in the visitor centre) so we were guaranteed a new bird for the 2017 list. Part way round I picked a couple of Gadwall out of a small flock of ducks – they are quite dull, greyish ducks, but they stood out by body length and dabbling behaviour in a group of Tufted ducks. It’s another new species for 2017 and they were closely followed by a group of Shovellers and a couple of Pochard, which were also new species for the year. Let’s be honest though, on 4th January most species are going to be new for the year.

Before we set off I’d checked up on the recent sightings and looked the rarities up so I wouldn’t get caught out if I saw them. Well, I didn’t get caught out, but that was due to lack of sightings rather than lack of preparation.

One day we’ll find something rare, some day…


Gadwall drake – a rather dull duck


New pictures on Individual Pages

I’ve just put some new pictures up on the individual pages, if you want to see what people are up to. As you can see from the featured image, which shows us at lunch yesterday, life isn’t exactly hectic at the moment.

Julia fell over last night when we were tidying up and bruised her hip. I call it her hip, from a sense of delicacy. Wherever the bruise is sited, it is causing considerable discomfort when she sits, and a lesson in why it is bad to carry hard objects in your back pockets.

When I suggested that the blog needed a photograph of the bruise for documentary purposes she was most uncooperative.

I really think she doesn’t take my social media work seriously.

It’s been a reasonable day for birds, with a wren hiding somewhere round the compost bin and scolding me constantly as I was working with the poultry. I’ve also seen the brightest goldfinch I’ve ever seen, so I’m wondering if it has just completed its moult.

Apart from that the big event of the day has been the constant laughing call of a green woodpecker coming from the trees between us and the road. As usual in summer I can’t see it because of all the leaves, but I’ve been able to hear it for several hours. The call is supposed to be a sign of rain.

As the sky is grey and there is a damp feel to the air I’m sure the bird is right. I do hope so, because some of the vegetables are looking distinctly done in by the constant hot, dry weather.

Of course, it won’t suit the farmers…

Tea, Tact and Talent

We sat under the awning to eat lunch and drink freshly brewed mint tea and the first thing I saw was a large reddish brown dragonfly. It was about twelve feet up in the air and flying strongly so after consulting the internet I’m thinking it may have been a brown hawker. They are widespread and common, so it seems like a good ID. I’m always suspicious when people like me (with little knowledge and an internet connection) claim to have seen a rarity. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera but if I had I doubt I would have got a meaningful shot.

As we ate, I was concious of a lot of movement and raucous calls in the trees that line the boundary. Eventually two wrens popped out. There may have been more, they move so fast I’m never quite sure. Once they decided to show themselves they spent a good ten minutes perching on fence rails and the edges of raised beds. Oh, for that camera again!

I like wrens, though they always sound so cross.

Last Saturday, I spent the afternoon at a food festival run by a local school. It’s completely out of context here, but I’ve nowhere else to put it. I was surrounded by people giving out free food, mainly fruit, which was irritating because I couldn’t get away to eat any. As we packed up I did notice that someone had a poster up claiming they could sell you a vitamin supplement to make your kids more intelligent. They haven’t met mine.


I suspect that it was mainly snake oil, though the weren’t the only ones peddling a good line in…er…the latest fad. Note how I select my words carefully. Note how I carefully add a link there too, in case anyone thinks I am accusing local vitamin pedlars or being cruel to snakes.

I’d watched Saturday Kitchen before going to the fair and Jay Rayner had stated quite clearly that there was no such thing as a superfood – just a marketing opportunity. Now, I’m not qualified to judge, but I do find merit in his argument that a varied, balanced diet is healthier than a load of superfoods.

Imagine my surprise upon finding myself next to a stand from a well-known supermarket and two staff members who kept saying “It’s a superfood, you know.”

Now, I’m not one to bear grudges, but that particular supermarket branch refused to let me have a day there for bag packing when Nottingham Outlaws Juniors needed new shirts. When I applied to their community fund for backing they turned us down. And when Julia tried to see if there was any way we could work together on the education side we were told that they only worked with farms that supplied them. It’s a good thing that I’m not one to bear grudges, as I say.

I was tempted to quote Jay Rayner, and I was also tempted to say that the best thing about chia seeds is the hour of amusement you get from picking your teeth after eating. But I didn’t, after all, do we really need more sarcasm and ridicule in the world?

Unfortunately, though I’d like to share a photo with you, I don’t think it would be ethical. Plus I’m having trouble cropping it to hide identities


. However, there’s a message on the shirt – “Farm to Fork – I’m helping children learn where their food comes from”.

Their table was heavy with water melon, mango, avocado, pineapple and chia seed, so I suggest that they must be teaching kids that  a lot of food comes from far away.

The eyes in the top picture are something Julia bought – we are rehearsing for Britain’s Got Talent. We don’t have much talent so we should fit right in.