My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
To view pictures in larger format, just click on any picture for the picture gallery....

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Starting tomorrow - Monday 1 Dec

Tomorrow the BBC are transmitting the first of 10 half-hour programmes (screened every weekday for two weeks) on BBC2 - 2.30 p.m to 3.00 p.m. (most regions) - Nature's Top 40. This series is produced by the same production team that gives us Nature's Calendar and presenters include Chris Packham, Mike Dilger, Janet Sumner, Sanjida O'Connell.

Pity it's an afternoon screening and at the time it is! Even the school children won't be home in time to see it. Hope everyone sets up their respective recording devices!

I will be particularly interested in episode 5 which is being screened on Friday 5th December - why? Because a great deal of the "Ring-necked Parakeet" part of the programme was filmed in my garden. In fact it was Graham - the delightful wildlife cameraman - who spotted (what I'd begun to wonder about) the first of seven Bramblings that I had in January of this year!! And I can confirm that in January - the sun was shining!!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

What to do....

Yesterday - I lost touch with sanity and decided I had to at least start my Christmas shopping. Not a task I relish - far too many people!! Managed to get a couple of presents and dipped on a third - still a few to go yet. So home for a lie down in a darkened room until sanity and good temper were restored!

Today - I gave my daughter a lift into town at a reasonably early hour so where to now? Weather was dreadful but the thought of being indoors all day, was not appealing!

I debated Wisley again to track down Fieldfares and Redwings but decided against it; it's a weekend and probably too many people about - they're shy enough birds as it is.

So I went off to Barnes (London Wetland Centre). Not only were there very few people about, but there were very few birds as well. The highlight (no pictures) was a small group of Goldcrests flitting through some silver birch trees. I was advised that there had been some Siskins but they were not there by the time I arrived.

Most of the usual were out on the water. Lots of Teals today, Gadwall, Shovelers, Cormorants, Grey Herons etc. etc.

Light was diabolical - I think it's called "daylight" but the jury's still out on that one!

Just a few pics:
Collection bird - but I don't know what! But I do like it's colours

Grey Squirrel having a snack..


(Male) Teal



Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Birding at RHS Wisley

I seem to have become a bit out of step with my posts in that I'm posting a day after the event!! This post relates to yesterday (Tuesday); I will get back into step ere very long - I hope!

I was in a birding frame of mind and, remembering a bird walk I joined at RHS Wisley in December a couple of years ago, I though I'd follow this up and see if any Redwings and Fieldfares were around the Fruit Fields. Well - if they were I dipped!!

There's another Bird Walk (with David Elliott and Frank Boxell) on 7 December this year - BUT I'm too late - they're sold out! One of the attractions of this bird walk is that both David and Frank know where the likely suspects are to be found, and they are both very knowledgeable. Another advantage being - you're in the gardens before normal opening time!

However, I spent a goodly time at one of the very large feeders that are around some parts of the gardens. At this one, the visitors were:
Blue Tits
Great Tits
Coal Tits

Nutchatch and Blue Tit

Blue Tits

(Male) Chaffinch

Coal Tit

Blue tit

Coal Tit

After a walk through the Arboretum which produced a small flock of Long-tailed Tits and, I'm not too certain, what sounded like a Goldcrest. Much evidence that the moles were still about - last time I visited, the mole was very active in that I saw the earth moving!!

Back around the gardens, and a further visit to another feeder.
A Jay which had been very noisy and evident, dropped in for tea...

This time, although there were Goldfinches and Blue Tits around they were staying in the tree. Why? I imagine the Male Sparrowhawk may have had something to do with their wariness.
Hello, thought I, what's this I see - I couldn't see too much detail as I was looking against the sun!

He was perched high up in a (birch?) tree and totally uninterested in the birds behind him. And there he sat - I was there watching him for a good 10 minutes and I was the first to leave! He must have been "fed up" as he was totally uninterested in the birds around him!

On the way back home, I stopped at West End to see if there was anything of interest on Prince of Wales pond.

Just the usual culprits - Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Mallards and two adult Mute Swans with one Cygnet. I'm assuming that this is the pair that bred in the spring. Last sighting I had was of three cygnets but only one was in evidence today. They are, I'm reasonably certain, too big now to have been predated - but, who knows? I'm hoping they've just left for elsewhere.

With the sun now getting lower, it highlighted the water droplets on the swans.

It was at this point that my camera "froze" again! I had the normal evidence (both visual and audible) that the camera had focused -
Pressed the shutter button - zilch!
Re composed the shot - same thing.
Switched camera off and on again - no change.
- ditto -
Switched off and removed and replaced CF card - no change!
Then I got the dreaded "error 99" message.
Removed and replaced battery - normal service resumed.

I've been yearning for a Canon 50D (or possibly a 40D)as a second camera (I'm changing the lens between 100-400 and landscape so often!) for some weeks now - my credit card keeps fluttering its eyes at me. Get thee behind me........

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A Walk in the Park....

Some days I don't post at all - today, this post is the final of three all posted today!! I've been a tad busy!

So Monday comes - back to the weekly routine. The usual visitors in the garden this morning and I was treated to another fly past by the Grey Heron. Its presence is always alerted by the gardens birds who take off for the heavens upon its arrival. Unlike their behaviour when the sparrowhawk visits and they scatter every which-way, filling the sky with beating wings, the Heron's appearance normally predicts that each species flies off in their species groups - pretty impressive sight nonetheless!

The wind was bitingly cold today, but fresh air and exercise were much needed so I headed off in the afternoon for my local patch. As I arrived in the car park - the heavens turned the colour of soot - and the resulting hailstones ricocheted of the car roof! So I bided a wee while until the worst had moved on. The car park was virtually empty of vehicles, but the opportunists had moved in.
(I've uploaded these pictures in a smaller size to save space!
Clicking to enlarge them, could be to your advantage)

I then walked past the Diana Fountain

where many Canada Geese were grazing

Today, I forsook a wander around the water, for the gardens of Hampton Court Palace. There's normally a charge to enter these nowadays (at one time, as a local resident, you were entitled to a pass - but no longer) but in the winter there is no-one collecting the relevant entry fee!!

I wandered into the formal gardens at the rear of the Palace. Beyond these, and through the ornate gates, is Home Park, where the Grey Phalarope was residing last week, on Rick Pond.

The Long Water, - (a very long piece of canalised water) which is the River Longford feeds the ornamental gardens of Hampton Court and then, having travelled as the Long Water, goes into Rick Pond before finally discharging into the River Thames.

One of the young occupants...

With my back to the Long Water, looking towards the Palace

From there I walked through the rose garden (where roses were still in bloom!) around to the "front garden".
This is the "front door" to the Palace

Here the signs of commercialism were obvious. I large hoarding proclaiming "the return of King Henry 8th" to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his accession to the throne.

And the less historic, but becoming annual Yuletide event, of the Ice Skating rink. Today, this was being filled with water and the refrigeration unit (shortly to be immersed in ice) was clearly visible.

I left the garden by way of the towpath and then up onto the road bridge from where the soft late afternoon sun (albeit weak) was lighting the palace and River Thames.

Walking back into the Palace grounds through the main gate, you're in the shadow of four stone sculptures (three shown below) - each set high on a stone plinth at the gateway

On returning to Bushey Park the sun was setting behind the Diana Fountain and pond.

A pleasant wander despite the weather.

Sunday comes

OK - I'd planned that we'd go down to the West Sussex coast for the day. BUT - when I awoke on Sunday morning - it was snowing.

Probably as a direct consequence of the weather, the garden birds were very evident. The morning count resulted in:
3 Blue Tits
2 Great Tits
1 Robin
7 Greenfinches
2 Chaffinches
12 Starlings (the numbers are increasing)
2 Blackbirds (back again - great stuff!)
12 Ring-necked Parakeets
1 Grey Heron - flying over the garden
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
14 Goldfinches
At one time, 40 birds (various species), were around or on the feeders.

The snow shower didn't last for too long and the snow that had fallen was just a "sugar coating" and no more - unlike other parts of the country. This was followed by heavy rain - oh joy!! Having kept the day free to go out, the weather hardly encouraged this thought! So - various games were played and a pleasant morning was spent being somewhat lazy.

However - as the morning wore on, the weather improved dramatically and, after an early lunch, I - grabbed the car keys and off we went - south in sun and blue sky - to the sea!

Down on the beach, the tide was far out and, apart from the usual miscellany of gulls, nothing noteworthy of the birding fraternity that excited the interest. We walked along the sea front towards the pier. It now being about 14.30 the sun was just beginning to sink and this created some wonderful light reflections on the wet sand where the sea had so recently receded.
Walking eastwards towards the Pier

Looking westwards..

The pier beckoned, so we relinquished ourselves to its call and enjoyed a relatively people-free stroll along to the far end. Its always interesting to be able to look back at the shore, so recently vacated!
Looking to the east of the pier, from its end.

A fishing boat on the shore en route to our next stop

So where now - off to a favourite cafe - which was shut - oh rats! Disappointment abounded.

By now the sun was beginning to sink....

so - OK - then, a bit of quick-thinking on the hoof and, having been reunited with the car, we headed off west along the sea front for Ferring - where there's Sea Lane Cafe - which hardly ever seems to close!

As we consumed milk shakes (him) and coffee (me) and flapjack (both of us!) the sun was very low in the sky and lighting the beach with it's wonderful warm glow. I love the setting sun at this time of the year.

We popped in to see Mum on our way back home. Once home, we had an evening meal, watched a DVD (I shan't say which) and my visitor headed off for bed.

A really good day, a great weekend and excellent company - thank you J :)
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