Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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Descent

Descent of the River Avon in Bath, below Pulteney Bridge.

Weir, Bath

Weir below Pulteney Bridge, Bath

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A frog he would a wooing go…

Well, the frogs were all at it this morning. They rather made me think of hippos.  I love the echoes of the reflected eyes and the frogspawn.

Frogs

I couldn’t remember any more of the frog wooing song than the first line, but found a version here:

“With a roly poly gammon and spinach, hey ho says Anthony Rowley…”  Very strange words indeed. The wikipedia article about the ‘Frog Went A-Courting’ version of this song was intriguing, suggesting various possible origins, such as that it could be (or could have been altered to be) about an unpopular royal marriage. And/or that the roly-poly bit could be a list of “four families of Suffolk notables, Rowley, Poley, Bacon and Green”. I rather like the idea of gammon and spinach being derived from Bacon and Green.

A one-minute film of them is here. You can hear them croaking, and various birds (House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Starling) and the church clock ringing ‘quarter past the hour’ in the background. Plus quite a few cars and an aeroplane.

I took this picture of a crocus, while looking for something to fit the them of ‘inside’ for this weekly photo challenge. What a strange stigma the flower has – saffron trumpets. Culinary saffron comes from another species of crocus. What a job to collect them it must be.

Purple crocus

Saffron stigma glowing in the spring sunshine


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Early birds through my kitchen window

Early bird survey
Yesterday morning and this morning I got up earlier than usual for me at the weekend, and did the Early Bird Survey  for the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology).  All it involved was recording the time that I saw different birds at our bird feeders, from the first bird onward, up to a maximum of ten species.  It also fits in tidily with the weekly photo challenge of ‘Window’.

We have a sunflower seed mix, peanuts, ‘buggy’ fat balls and a fat block, and I’d scattered some seeds on the drive to see whether I could attract any ground-feeders (I don’t usually do that to avoid attracting rats – yuk).

We have streetlights about 50 metres from our house, which may or may not affect the time that the birds begin feeding – investigating that, is the idea behind the survey.

Earlier start
Yesterday, I’d heard the first bird singing (a robin) before I was ready to start recording, so I was downstairs a bit earlier this morning.  There was a lovely red glow in the sky, but it was still very dark inside.

Before dawn

Before dawn

1: Robin – 7:37
Sunrise is about 8:15, but I’d heard the robin at about 7:20 yesterday.  This morning he was singing at 7:10, but didn’t visit the feeder until 7:37.  (Photo taken later on when it was lighter.)

Robin

Robin

2: Blue-tit – 7:45
A blue-tit was next, at 7:45. Later on, I saw up to four blue-tits in the garden, but only two visiting the feeders at once. On average, a blue-tit visited every five minutes between 7.45 and 10.30, with most visits (7) between 10 and 10:15. They ate seeds, fat from the fat balls or fat-block and sometimes peanuts.

Blue-tit

Blue-tit on the buggy fat balls

3: Chaffinch – 7:37
A female chaffinch came along at 7:37. Yesterday she didn’t appear until much later on. She only visits the seed feeder, or hops around picking up bits others have dropped.

Chaffinch

Female Chaffinch

4: Dunnock – 8:05
The fourth visitor, at 8:05 was a dunnock, or hedge sparrow, picking up seeds from the drive. They don’t sit still much though – fuzzy photo.

Dunnock

Dunnock about to hop off

5: House Sparrow – 8:05

Three house sparrows arrived at the same time, 8:05, on the seed feeders. Later on, there were up to six of them feeding or just chirping and watching. Sometimes they feed on the fat balls or fat block, but mostly they eat seeds.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

6: Goldfinch – 8:12

Sixth species was a goldfinch at 8:12. It returned a number of times, with a friend or two. Very dashing outfits they wear. They eat the seeds; I used to put out Niger seeds for them, but they seem just as happy with the sunflower mix.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

7: Great-tit – 8:15

At 8:15 a great-tit visited. It came back a couple of times, once with a partner, but all three visits were very speedy, just long enough to grab a peanut and go, but not long enough for my camera.

Sun-arise
Here comes the sun…

Sunrise

Sunrise through kitchen window

I carried on watching for several hours (it’s a good long meditation session), recording every bird that visited. I suspected that was all I was going to see (though we do sometimes get greenfinches on the seeds and starlings on the fat).

Prowler
A neighbouring cat was lurking under the car, but didn’t catch anything today, thank goodness (fewer blue-tit visits while the cat was there though).

Cat under car

Predator on the prowl

8: Long-tailed Tit – 10:12

Then ages later, at 10:12, a pair of long-tailed tits came for the fat block. Hurrah! I think they are my favourite birds, and I’ve only seen them a couple of times this winter, so I’m so pleased to see them back.

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit – didn’t stay long, this was the best picture I got

Not quite ten today
Eight different species used the food we put out, and all the different foods were visited. Blue-tits were the most frequent visitors, and they ate all the different foods. I also saw a male and female blackbird, a male chaffinch, a starling, jackdaws, collared doves and wood pigeons, but not at the feeders.

I don’t usually note down the time that different birds visit, so it was interesting to notice how different the feeding patterns were. I’d definitely recommend doing a survey like this – though maybe just do half an hour or so for starters!


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Photo Challenge: Grand yews – or elderly ladies?

Weekly photo challenge: Grand

This challenge made me think of a grand garden that we visited a while back (just checked – goodness, it was eight years ago), where there was this wonderful hedge of topiaried yews.  It was at Powis Castle in the Welsh Borders.  The wall beneath, with its elegant flower-pots in pilastered niches is rather grand too.

The yews made us think of a row of elderly ladies, sitting waiting for a bus to arrive, though that is perhaps not such a ‘grand’ idea.

Topiaried yews at Powis Castle

Powis Castle – a garden on a grand scale


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Lights

A response to this photo challenge

I enjoyed this photo challenge.  OK, so one of them isn’t a light, but its shape makes it look as though it ought to be. Doesn’t that make a lovely lampshade? I like the mysterious atmosphere of the blue Christmas lights.

The last two pictures have nothing to do with light sources, they’re just ones I wanted to share.

Japanese Maple leaves

Japanese Maple leaves

seedhead

Clematis seed head – that reminded me of a spider

And finally, today I reached 50,000 words written in November for NaNoWriMo – tada!

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo


I haven’t written a novel though, as I really had no ideas for characters or plot, so I ‘rebelled’ and just wrote whatever was in my head. It was surprisingly easy (and satisfying) to write that much rubbish – but I certainly won’t be publishing any of it. 🙂 Maybe next year…


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Beginnings

The Daily Prompt for today says:

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BEGINNING.

I woke early yesterday, and could see pink clouds outside, so I put my dressing gown on and went out to photograph the dawn over Edge Hill, as the sun was beginning to rise.

It is the site of the first battle at the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642, and the ghosts of the dead soldiers are supposed to be heard every year on 23rd October.  We keep the curtains drawn all night, just in case.

Sunrise over Edge Hill

Sunrise over Edge Hill

Edited to add picture of spooky Roundheads getting ready for battle a week ago.  Yes, they are waiting for cars and vans to go past…

roundheads