Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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Frozen canal and Jupiter’s moons

Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Canal frozen with snowy topping

Snow! But not enough to interfere with travel, just enough for prettiness.

The ducks weren’t quite sure what to make of it though.

Mallards walking on water

Mallards walking on water

This evening, the moon was full, so I went out to take some photos – not that it will look any different from the shots I’ve taken before, but it’s fun (if a bit cold) trying out different settings on the camera. None of them worked too well though, as I’ve misplaced the tripod attachment, so I was balancing the camera on a step-ladder. Not ideal.

Even so, I managed to get some pictures of Jupiter (shining brightly a bit to the left of the moon, should you want to go and have a look outside), and by zooming in and playing with the settings, I picked up three of its moons too (all in a straight diagonal line from bottom left to top right). I’ve posted pictures of them before, but it still amazes me that I can photograph them. Apparently Jupiter is between 300 and 600 million miles away. I can’t really imagine that.

Jupiter and three moons

Jupiter and three moons

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RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2014

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is apparently “the world’s largest wildlife survey”.  I’ve been doing it every January for several years, and now also often do a weekly birdwatch for the BTO too.  It’s a lovely calm way to start the weekend.  Though it seems it has been so popular that the website is now down (maybe because there’s a mobile phone app for it now).  I’ll put my results up later.

This year was, I think, the best total I’ve ever had on one day – sixteen species.  I made sure the feeders were filled last weekend and checked them through the week, as I know that in previous years I’ve often only remembered to top them up on the day, and not all the birds found them in time for the count.

A few of our visitors:

We have sunflower heart seed mix, peanuts, ‘buggy’ fat balls and a fat block.  There are two feeding stations, with the seed mix and fat balls in both places.  The feeders near the road are less popular with the shyer birds, as walkers with dogs go past only a couple of yards away.  I also sprinkled some seed on the drive again, in the hope of tempting in a pied wagtail – and this time it worked.

The long-tailed tits were back, just two of them, and I had a song thrush sitting at the top of the pear tree for a while.  We don’t see the thrush very often, so I was very happy it is still around.

Right at the end, when I was thinking I’d seen just about all the regulars (apart from collared doves), I realised I’d got a little brown bird that wasn’t a sparrow – it was a female blackcap (confusingly, the females have brown caps).  I’ve been looking out for them all winter, as we had a pair of them visit us quite regularly year when it was snowy.  It was very kind of her to arrive just in time for the Big List.

Final list: great tit, blue tit, house sparrow, starling, blackbird, dunnock, chaffinch, wood pigeon, greenfinch, jackdaw, long-tailed tit, robin, goldfinch, song thrush, pied wagtail and female blackcap.

Edit: Now I know why the blackcap was here – we’ve just had a short sharp hail/snow/thunder/lightning storm – it only lasted ten or fifteen minutes.  She clearly likes to visit when it’s snowy – though it was sunny and fairly mild earlier on.

White road with hail/snow

Hail and snow