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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

And so another year comes to an end!

I wish you all the best for 2011 I have a feeling its going to be a difficult one!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I am my fathers son

I know that is "stating the bleeding obvious" (as they say around these parts) but it was brought home to me Monday.

I had just departed Chez Dad and I popped into my local Tesco. I headed straight to the reduced bin - look if I wanted a Tesco finest ready meal for the freezer or for the evenings meal I may as well get one reduced eh?!

Anyway I saw a load of Lamb's Kidney's reduced by 60% Pork chops at 4 for £1.35 (where can you get a chop for under 35p these days?) and they had two huge bags of fresh cod normal price £17 for £4.50 I promptly bought them and delivered them to my dad who was well pleased.

My dad is a child of the 30's and so he likes a bargain and the first thing he does is head to the reduced bin. I did pick up two heavily reduced ready meals for me and they are in the freezer.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Grey

I looked out of the window it was grey murky misty foggy and every where looked so DULL!! There is a legend that there is a big orange ball in the sky but I'm beginning to think it's a myth.

I had no idea what to do or where to go! I thought I'd go and photo some villages but just ended up at Rye Meads.

Do I take the camera? No point but I did anyway.

As I strolled up the path I spotted something in the undergrowth by the stream. It popped out briefly - Water Rail!

There were 3 Bullfinch along the path which was a good spot for RM.

A few ducks at Draper Hide but not much else. There was a flock of Long Tails and other tits along the path and some Blackbirds and Redwings.

The pylon coming out of the gloom.....



At Tern hide there was an area of water in the ice which had attracted a few birds.






The lake at Gadwall hide was frozen over there were some coots in the one area that wasn't frozen over, when I opened the hide window they were off!





As I walked to the Warbler hide I decided there would be nothing worth seeing and it was dull grey and I fancied some food, I turned around and hadn't gone 20 yards when something flew across the path... BITTERN!!! ooh nice

Bullfinch, Water Rail and Bittern? Now that is not a bad haul for a couple of hours!

Tomorrow morning my alarm goes off early and I have to return to work!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter

Well its thawing! Unfortunately it's very dull and very grey. I decided that there was no point taking a long lens out so put a wide angle on the dSLR and headed to the forest. The pics will be familiar but I hope that the snow and dull grey create an atmosphere.

The car park was like a skating ring! Very hard to stand up.














I stopped for a cuppa and brunch. These chaps were waiting. I think the caption sould read "OI Hurry up and get to the crusts!". Never fear they were well fed!



The ducks making use of what water there is! Actually we often hear of how hard it is for small birds but there was a Green Woody about and he was finding foo scarce.










Bird highlights? 6 Bullfinch in a tree, Goldcrest, Green Woody, Common Gull and a Marsh Tit.

Monday, December 27, 2010

And so that's Christmas for another year!

So what did I do?

Went around dads. Lazed around! Listened to music, watched a bit of telly - it was rubbish generally! Best programmes were this morning! Wild China and the Indian Hillside Railways!! - finished a book and started the next.

The pavements around dad's were like glass so no photos taken! I will head out tomorrow.

And may I add when I lived at home laying in was not easy my dad would be up early throw open the curtains and proclaim it "the best part of the day". NOW? I get up to get a cup of tea whilst sir was snuggled under the duvet!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Parakeet a pest?

I posted an article to my Twitter feed that evidence is starting to grow that the Ring Necked Parakeet is starting to cause problems to both Humans and native wildlife.

The study is by Imperial College London. The study has received details of various damages parakeets are now doing, including to gardens, church spires and even a vineyard. And there is now a roost of 4,500 birds at Stanmore near Heathrow.

As far as impact on the natural world ? well initial research indicates that the parakeets may be outcompeting other birds at garden feeding stations. There is as yet no evidence yet that they are displacing other species such as nuthatches from their nest-holes, although this appears to be happening in continental Europe. There is concern in London’s Royal Parks, e.g. Richmond Park, that the parakeets consumption of certain tree seeds is so great that it may be depriving the parks’ deer of essential food.

Apparently there are now 32,000 birds mostly around London and the South East. The population is thought now to be growing at the rate of 25% a year.

Last year the Parakeet was added to the list of pests that can be shot without a licence.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snow Snow go away

At about midday yesterday it started to snow and it was heavy GROAN

Of course this wasn't Canadian snow but by our standards (6 inches) we had a lot of it, and it went on for hours.

I therefore lazed around watched Poirot but mostly listened to music. Very pleasant it was too!

I've put some raisins out and I'll head to Tesco for some more birdy food. I ought to add we had more snow outside my back door than I've seen in the 16 years I've lived here.

I have also cleared the worst off of the drive. I've never felt the need to do that before! I'm not going to Dad's today not worth the risk if the roads are untreated.

The view from the back bedroom.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weather - This isn't Newfoundland !!

I awoke at some unearthly hour and switched the radio on.

Around 6:30 I flew downstairs, made a cup of tea and some hot scones, turned the heating on rushed back to bed and went under the duvet and turned the MP3 on and listened to Julia Fischer (a woman so ridiculously talented that she is has won prizes for Violin and Piano) Martin Helmchen play Schubert.

Can't find a clip of that so have some Mendelssohn.



oh and the Piano?





I looked out of the window and it was white! Ok not a lot of snow but given the forecast is for heavy snow I decided that I'd just pop to Tesco make sure I am thoroughly stocked up.

I am now going to read listen to music and watch repeats of Poirot.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Dinner

It was our Christmas lunch today so it was kind of apt then that it snowed!!

We went to the Mary Green Manor at Brentwood - pricey but at least it's well cooked!!




I was very traditional - Pumpkin Soup, Turkey, Christmas Pudding with Brandy butter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Kindle has been opened

Sunday evening I had finished the book I was reading, I had a few paperbacks still to get through but I decided to read something off of the Kindle.

So how has it been?

Readability? - not an issue read a page of kindle is no harder than a page of a book. I've read for over an hour at a time with no eye strain. The page turns are quick.

Glare? Not a problem, occasionally the strong overhead lights at work can create glare BUT this is not like glare on a conventional screen. It is still readable and moving the screen a millimetre clears the problem.

The kindle works well for fiction or for books that you start at the beginning and go to the end. They may sound daft but some books you want to jump about on - reference books for instance. You can do it but it just isn't as easy.

Downloading books? easy via wifi or downloading to your pc and then copying to your kindle. Its great that you have lots of books in a very light package.

Books are generally cheaper BUT be careful of brand new books in hardback and I've found the odd book in paperback dearer. Lots of classics are free.

There are plenty of books available but there are a few omissions.

The biggest con? Its not a book, the one thing I miss is the tactile feel of holding a book, the pages. It is a little anodyne.

However on balance I have no regrets. The kindle is not perfect I will still be buying reference books in physical form but for fiction and travel writing publishers need to make there books available in kindle format! For me the time is right for the e-book!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Please read the signs

I was sad and disappointed  (if not surprised) that five sheep have been found dead in the past month over at Hatfield Forest apparently due to being worried by dogs.

Ian Pease, the forest’s conservation warden said

I’m fed up with picking up dead sheep worried or killed by out-of-control dogs

last week we had two killed, one on Wednesday evening and one on Thursday morning (December 1 and 2)

They were perfectly healthy animals that were found dead with bite marks on their back legs.

People have also letting their dogs off the lead while walking near the cows and young calves which also graze the forest.

Alas none of this surprises me. There seems to be a number of dog walkers who let Rover run all over the place regardless of the signs. The lake and boardwalk area is leads only but many owners ignore it. Equally there are signs asking visitors to keep dogs away from livestock. I have commented to the Trust that the signs are pretty poor generally and you could easily miss them as some look like info signs - you know the sort of thing "this way to the cafe, this way to the...." and a sign of a dog on a lead those clear is easy to miss..

And let me add I don't blame the dog I blame the owner!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Some excellent patch birds

I had intended to head to Wimpole Hall to their Christmas event but as it was I ended up over the Forest.



Everywhere still frozen over.



The mallards wer not happy sitting on the ice!



There were lots of Redwings about and I saw a Coal Tit (not a common bird there). I stopped at the cafe and had my brunch. I was joined by lots of ducks and as they had trotted across the ice towards me earlier I fed them some bread.

So where now? Well I hadn't been to Rye Meads for a while so.....

I was greeted in reception with "the Bittern was showing". We chatted a bit and the two ladies mentioned that they were heading to Hertford after lunch to try and find the Waxwings.

I headed off , a Buzzard went over and got mobbed



The normally good Draper hide was birdless just beyond there is a private path I glanced down it and saw a few Redwings and... hang on a minute WAXWING!!!!! I put someone else on to them and shot back to the centre to tell them.

Anyway they were still there and I went on. This little chap posed!





As I arrived at the relevant hide they had the waxwing at the other side of the lake (11 in a tree) as to the Bittern I was told it had being showing for an hour and a half but... I didn't have to wait long as it flew across the lake. Distant but a patch tick none the less.

Soon after the weather clouded over and so I headed back. Rather successful bit of local birding.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I didn't twitch!!!

I had to visit a building society today. I could go closer to home but its always a nice excuse to take dad for a ride so off we headed to Sudbury. Business done we went on to Long Melford.

Now this is our "normal route" on such occasions BUT I will admit I did have a slight hope I might see "something".

I left dad reading the paper and off I went. Now I only had my pocket bins and my travel zoom, I knew I needed to be off left and I glanced up at a tree.... promising! Bins up... nice!! I followed the road round and there were a few chaps with MASSIVE lenses. Alas my little travel zoom was not ideal but I gave it a go.

Waxwings!! There were loads about coming into some smaller trees in smaller numbers.














We then on to Clare to eat our sarnies and had a stroll around.

VERY SATISFYING!