My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Saturday, 28 February 2009

A little entertainment

The frogs have calmed down and there's only about four at a time and they're mostly taking the air rather than....

Not been out for a walk today or to see any birds. Happy to report though that the female Blackcap and the male Brambling are still around in the garden; the Blue Tits are chasing each other about and the two Robins are still happy in their normal area of the garden. Must go and investigate to see if I can spot a nest - most likely it's several gardens away!!

I have a houseguest for a few days - all the way from Adelaide, Australia, who was a surprise guest at my Mum's 90th birthday last Saturday AND, as I type he's in the kitchen cooking the evening meal and a bottle of Merlot (Australian of course) is being consumed too. This is a very strange experience for me - to have someone else using my kitchen and I really must stop trying to "stir" or turn the gas up or down; I don't think it would be appreciated!!

And my guest is starting a cold. This is a shame really but if you come from 47 degrees C to about 13 degrees C I suppose it could be inevitable!

Bon appetite and cheers folks!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Further froggy frolics

Today I think Spring arrived. The sun was out and wonderfully warm; so where was I? I'd planned to go to the London Wetland Centre at Barnes or at least get out with my camera for a walk but..... but other events overtook me and I didn't get anywhere - sigh. Whilst I was awaiting various other events to happen I did manage to get some gardening done and during this , I was being serenaded by frogs in the pond - again! Today there were anything up to 10 frogs visible at any one time.

The crocuses in the front garden were opening their petals under the sun

This chappie was looking rather pleased with life!

and yet more spawn!

Frantic activity continues..

And as I type this (albeit somewhat later than usual), the frogs are still singing....
This year they're definitely spawning over a longer period...... - and if they don't stop soon, you might get very bored with my posts!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

A Frenzy of Frogs

After my post of yesterday I thought I'd seen a lot of life in the pond. However, yesterday evening at about 8.00 o'clock I was aware of some considerable amount of frog noise coming from the pond. I very quietly and carefully opened the door and, with torch in hand, was amazed at the swirling bubbling movement in the pond. This went on for some considerable time and at 21.45 I counted 22 frogs, mostly in pairs but just a couple of ménage à trois - and the noise.....

Utterly amazing and I was so delighted to be able to witness this - and almost from my armchair.

(I've never known there to be as many frogs as this before. I do wonder, however, if this may be the result of my neighbours' getting rid of their pond last summer!)

This frantic frenzy of froggy frolics was still in full flight when I went to bed at about 10.30 last night.

So yesterday this was the picture during the day:
(click to enlarge for the details)

and this morning -
well, you can see by these results that my froggy friends have been rather busy! Lol

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Life in the Pond

Last night (24 February) I was sitting reading when I heard - frogs croaking or, more descriptively, purring.

I looked through the window but couldn't see anything despite the outside light. So..... torch in hand I crept quietly towards the pond. Two splashes were heard as frogs dived back into the water. Further examination revealed four frogs of which two were a pair! Will there be spawn by the morning I pondered.....

This morning just as dawn was breaking (albeit the sun wasn't rising and, as I type, still hasn't risen!!), there was serious activity and movement in the pond in four separate locations. The frogs were under the water and in the semi-gloom I could not see them BUT what I could see was the first "blob" of spawn.

It got a bit lighter and I realised that the one blob of spawn had become two:

and this frog was having a rest!

I went out to do some food shopping and then returned for a quick sandwich. By now it's early afternoon and sitting eating my lunch I noticed that two had become three blobs:

A short while later and again there was much turbulent movement in the pond which, on further investigation, revealed this group of frogs. I know there are at least three frogs involved but........ there could well have been more.

It's interesting that in 2007 the first spawn was produced on 20 February and in 2008 it was later and on 25 February - this may have been later as there was still ice on the pond around the 20th.

So for the last three spawning seasons:
20 Feb 2007, 25 Feb 2008 and 25 Feb 2009.

I await tomorrow's events......

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Not a lot!

Nothing much happening with me at the mo. Haven't been able to do much walking/birding etc. for various reasons which I will not bore you with.

Now that we've some milder temperatures, the bird numbers in the garden have dropped somewhat and yesterday a Blue Tit was inspecting the nest box - not for very long and then flew away - hey ho!

This morning, in the garden observed from about 7.30 a.m. onwards (OK - I admit it - I read in bed and therefore missed dawn!!)

1 x Male Brambling (he's back!)
1 x Female Blackcap
2 x Great Tits
2 x Blue Tits
2 x Dunnocks
2 x Blackbirds
2 x Robins (must be a pair - quite happy together)
5 x Greenfinches
8 x Goldfinches (numbers down considerably)
5 x Ring-necked Parakeets
several Feral Pigeons
1 x Jay (but 3 seen chasing through the Oak Trees)
Frantic frog movement in the pond (which I think has a leak - oh joy!!)
1 x grey squirrel
1 x field mouse enjoying the sunflower hearts
and Woodpecker drumming heard again.

So all-in-all a quiet morning.

Crocuses blooming along the grass verges of the roads and my first daffodil in flower in the garden. Some sun would be nice.........

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Birthdays and Births

On Friday I went down to Mum's to continue preparations for her 90th Birthday party.
Happy Birthday Mum
This amazing cake (and decoration) was made by a lady who lives in the same Sussex village as Mum. The floral decoration is made entirely from sugar - with the exception of the tallest "twig" - and the sponge cake was yummy!

The weather was amazing and the sun so warm that it allowed us to drink a toast and congratulate her out in the garden!!

Mum enjoyed her weekend which was full of surprises; the main one being the arrival, from Australia, of a family member whom she hadn't seen for about 37 years! My brother and I did give her a day's warning before we arrived on her doorstep - a 90-year-old going on 9 years I reckon, so great was the excitement!!

Today I came home and needed to stretch my legs. So off I trotted for a quick saunter around Bushey Park.

And I was well rewarded. I was reminded that on 1 March last year, Pete and I came across some Egyptian Goslings which were the first I'd seen in 2008. And today, 22 February I saw the first young birds for 2009

Egyptian Geese Goslings - just two of them - in the Woodland Gardens

Mrs. Mallard was having a late afternoon preen

as was Mr. Mallard

whilst this Canada Goose had a drink!

The black-headed gulls (now showing evidence of gaining summer plumage) were resting in the trees

and a Mute Swan in the Woodland Gardens was preening

as a Tufty (Tufted Duck) swam past.

Whilst I was wondering whether the Ring-necked Parakeets were eyeing this tree trunk hole as a potential nesting site, a Grey Squirrel appeared; I think the Paras will have to look elsewhere for a potential home!

And in the Woodland Gardens, this poser presented himself for pictures

This Red Deer Hind was having a very tasty snack - she shouldn't have been there as this is a fenced off area so how she got in......

Out in the main park again, this Fallow Deer Buck advanced towards me as I was taking his picture. As I wasn't quite sure whether this was a grimace or grin, I decided it was time to go!

But one of the other Bucks in the group looked much friendlier; if not definitely posing for the awwww factor!

On the way back to the car, a Kestrel (record shot only!!) was chased by a Black-headed Gull!

It was good to be stretching my legs in fresh air again. A wonderful weekend!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

A walk along the Thames - continued

My post on Tuesday of my daughter's and my wander along the River Thames in London was getting rather lengthy, so here is the final chapter.

Having viewed London from the top of Tower Bridge, we came down the stairs and passed one of the interestingly-shaped windows through which, you could see the traffic crossing the bridge way down below us.

Once out into the open again, we walked along to the other tower and this time, went down (instead of up) to visit the engine rooms. The machinery gleamed and looked very impressive. The steam engines are no longer used to raise and lower the bridge to allow tall ships through the bridge. I believe the last time was in the 1970s.

The staircase in itself was interesting as it spiralled away from us.

One of the boilers

Which is big enough to consume one small human being in the shape of my daughter (sorry SPD but this picture is included for reasons of comparison for size).

And one of the wheels

We walked a little further east coming across this rather strange sculpture

and an area that once was a wharf to serve the shipping of the Thames - much more attractive to me.

Now retracing our steps towards our final destination and seeing Tower Bridge from the east

This cobbled street fascinated us with it's walkways stretched between and linking the two buildings. Butlers Wharf, now residential buildings, sports potted palms along it's joining walkways.

Having walked along the cobbled street we came out into the Piazza with

a rather unusual centre piece fountain!

and more glass and buildings reflected

This was the larger of two ball sculptures - and it did move very slightly when pushed - so we stopped pushing as soon as we discovered this!!

Hayes Galleria which is a shopping centre is quite an experience to enjoy in terms of its architecture.

And the centre piece is this "Heath Robinson" type sculpture of a ship with moving parts.

and back where we started - outside the Tate Modern

and finally a backward glance to the east as we neared Waterloo train station.

Having reached the station and as a wait for our train was necessary, we indulged in hot chocolate (with cream!) before heading off home.

A great day out in excellent company; thanks SPD :D
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