Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


Birds and blue skies

We’ve had some lovely bird-watching weather this week. I’ve also managed to do a bit of running every other day – this morning even running halfway up a steep hill. Very slowly, and not for long, but I’m back running again, and that’s good.

On Wednesday I saw this grey heron stalking fish. His (or her? how do you tell?) long streamer feathers blew about in the wind rather beautifully.

Grey heron

Grey heron

This starling was eyeing up the fat balls in our garden. The sheen on his feathers goes well with the shiny bark. We saw a flock of about a hundred starlings wheeling round over the village today. I hope they don’t decide to visit for fat-balls all at once. I need to remember to look out for them doing their evening murmuration acrobatics – though maybe they fly off somewhere else to do that.



The clear blue sky set off these hawthorn berries rather well. There is quite a glut of hedgerow fruit- I haven’t yet seen any redwings or fieldfares, but they are apparently already around this area, according to my BirdTrack app.  You can put in the name of a bird, and find out where it has been spotted in the past few days.  Earlier in the week, I thought I’d heard a raven fly over our house, but as I’ve never seen one here before, I was dubious whether I’d misinterpreted the sound.  But the app showed that they have been spotted recently nearby – and today we spoke to a farmer who said he’d seen ravens round here.  It sounded really rather like a sick duck.  You can listen to one on the RSPB site here.

Hawthorn berries

Hawthorn berries



ilike my iphone

I’ve finally caved in and bought myself an iphone, after years of having an extremely basic mobile.  Oh, what fun I’ve had this weekend!  Photos taken, messages and emails flying, web pages read and apps downloaded.  Time wasted.  🙂

I am very pleased with the camera so far.  It can’t get quite as close up as my main camera, and won’t zoom so far away – but it’s pretty good.  The lighting was lovely this weekend – very autumnal with alternating sun and heavy showers plus some mist.

Stag's-horn sumach (Rhus typhina) in its autumn glory

Stag’s-horn sumach (Rhus typhina) in its autumn glory

Village church in golden Horton stone

Village church in golden Horton stone

Rainy street and a rainbow

Rainy street and a rainbow – and the old village pump

Misty morning

Misty morning

Minute toadstools, about 1 cm tall, amongst moss

Minute toadstools, about 1 cm tall, amongst moss

I’ve only tried out a few apps so far. A couple of weeks ago, I have to confess to not being entirely sure what an ‘app’ was, but now I know. I like being able to record birds, butterflies, ladybirds and mammals out ‘in the field’ so those are handy, and seem to work pretty well.  I was lucky enough to spot a kingfisher on Saturday, and a jay on Sunday, so the bird recording got off to a very good start, as I don’t often see either of those.  It must have been blue-feathered bird weekend.

A pulse rate app (cardiio) that works by detecting minute changes in face colour (or by a finger over the camera lens) is amazing, and surprisingly accurate too.  It is free, but I’ve just noticed it’s only free ‘for a limited time’. Having the phone even got me out walking/running, so I could try out ‘map my walk‘ – I need a bit more practice to deserve ‘map my run‘ I think though.

So, a busy weekend.

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Distracted by butterflies and damselflies

Any excuse.  I went to bed much too late last night, fiddling about with garden bioblitz stuff, so it was  a struggle to wake up this morning, and I really didn’t feel much like any form of exercise.  However, another gloriously sunny day, so rather than go straight home, I went for run/walk round a nature reserve on the way home from work.

River Leam Cow Parsley along woodland path








Quite a few butterflies and damselflies about, which kept stopping me from running…  I am a list-maker and can’t resist recording every butterfly I can identify.  (Warwickshire butterfly records here.)  However, they don’t always want to cooperate, so I had several bits where I ran backwards and forwards trying to take a photo so I could figure out whether they were Large Whites or Small Whites – or Green-veined Whites, or possibly female Orange-tips (which don’t have any orange).

But didn’t catch any of them, so those are all are now Unrecorded Whites.  But I did see several Peacock butterflies, one Comma and one Orange-tip male.  Plus several Banded Demoiselle males, which are really spectacular. Pictures are less than spectacular as they’re mobile phone ones.

Peacock butterflyBanded Demoiselle








Anyway, I was active for about 45 minutes, almost 30 of which were slow running/stop/start/butterfly chasing.  Grand total of…  3.7km, including the walking which is not at all impressive, but it was hot, and I was tired.  Better than nothing anyway.