Tuesday, 27 January 2009

RSPB Garden birdwatch and Hatchpond

Sometimes we travel to see the worlds most beautiful places and then we realise that they are all around us. This pond is in the middle of the urban sprawl, surrounded by factory units and offices but when I went there yesterday for a walk and hoping to see a few birds it felt like a little piece of heaven. The reflection of the sky in the water so amazing, the bird song sweet, the solitude for a few minutes and I felt like I was on holiday!

I had hoped to see the Bittern that is seen here sometimes but no joy, however I did see Grey Heron, Gadwall, Tufted duck, Great Creasted Grebe, Teal, Snipe, Coot, Moorhen...so not a wasted trip at all.

Not a brilliant result in the RSPB garden birdwatch, but I expected that really.

x 1 Wren
x 5 Sparrows
x 2 Wood Pigeons
x 1 Dunnock

I had put loads of food out for them but I still don't get much in the garden. Alot of trees have been felled in nearby gardens over the past year or two. It seems that people move in and within days have cleared the garden and made it into an 'outdoor room' with paving slabs, decking and concrete, seats, BBQ's but in doing so the foliage goes as does the wildlife, sorry a bit of a rant there!

Saturday, 24 January 2009


On the advice of Andrew at Border Riever blogspot we went up to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on the banks of the River Seven in Gloucestershire to see what we could see. My sidebar list of birds has grown by 15, taking the total up to 50, so halfway to my 100 goal! It is a lovely place and we only just fitted everything in during our time there. This top picture is from one of the hides looking over the river and on the other side is the Forest of Dean. You can see that there are a lot of birds to see, it's quite overwhelming.
I loved these two , a blue tit and a long tailed tit, they look as if they are chatting. I almost liked the woodland bird feeders more than the water birds.

And finally....we saw alot of "proper birders" with all their equipment gathering at the end of the day and it was obvious they were waiting for something, was the world about to explode or was the Queen about to walk by?. I thought I'd hang around too and as luck would have it a guide came along with a party of birders and I shamelessly tagged along and saw the most fantastic gathering of Starlings, thousands of them doing an amazing dance in the sky for quite a while before they dropped down to roost in the reeds. A lovely day, I didn't count the birds in the enclosures as that felt like cheating!
One thing puzzles me, the place is divided up into different areas with birds from different country's in the enclosures, but....how do they stop them from flying over the fence into the wrong bit? They had alot of gates but these are flying creatures! I'm obviously missing something and they didn't appear to have their wings clipped.
Tomorrow I will do the RSPB garden watch for an hour, I'm not expecting to see much.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Calender quilt

I have pinched this idea from another blog called calendar quilt challenge . Basically you sew one piece every day to do with that day, so this is the January strip. I was too late to register with the challenge so I thought I would do it anyway on my own. The picture below is the first part, Jan 1st is white to denote a new fresh start. The next few days are frosty and snowy shades as the weather was so cold. The jam pots are for marmalade making in January, the cotton reels because I sew in the winter when I can't get out so much in the evenings.
The picture above is from the 10th - 22nd, the check fabric is for the barn dance we went to on the 17th and the plates for a bring and share lunch we went to. The plain blue is the 20th so I might embroider Barack Obama's name on it as the 44th president of the USA....I'm getting carried away now!

It only takes about 5 minutes a day and by the end of the year I'll have a quilt done.
Oh dear, I definitely have too much time on my hands..... hoping to go to Slimbridge in the next month to do a bit of birding, off to Swansea for the day to see son number 2 and hoping to see youngest son in the Royal Marines very soon, he is desperately homesick and struggling with a heavy cold, but being all about endurance he can't let up at all. I thought when your children grew up there was less to worry about...not so!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

How to amuse yourself on a January holiday at home

I am having two weeks holiday from work at the moment, I have tried to do a bit of birdwatching but not with amazing success, so decided to sew a Goldfinch instead. I haven't done any cross stitching for ages but really enjoyed this one from Mary Hinkmott's magazine. I'll try the bullfinch next.
Nearly finished this quilt, only two more squares to go which I hope to do today, then I can piece it together.

Walking the Dorset countryside, this is Blandford St Mary taken from the trailway which we walked last Sunday with Wrecks the dog.

Find signs of spring, the first catkins I've seen this year.

Barn dancing last Saturday at our Church. Sadly I lost a tooth during this (to be truthful it was a loose crown anyway!) but still embarrassing when you are on your knees trying to retrieve said tooth....well they cost alot of money if you have to have a new one!
Spend time at the dentist having offending tooth glued back in and then the painful bit...£16 for a couple of minutes work on the dentists part.
We've had various friends round for supper a few times and more to come this week.
I've tried to declutter the house a bit and spring clean too.
My lovely friend, Cathy has been round for lunch today, we shared some soup and crusty bread and alot of laughs!
I think I'm too busy to work now, I'm enjoying myself a mite too much! Still I have another week to go yet, yippee!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Back to Swanage

A while back I did a blog on the paintings on the outside of this lovely little house in Swanage ( see May 24th 2008) but only today did I notice that there are more paintings on the wall outside the doors of the house on the left of this picture. It looks like the Purbeck countryside with the steam train running through which is apt as this house overlooks the station. Sorry I don't know how to link to the previous blog!
As we wandered around Swanage my husband was really trying to talk me into moving there, he likes it so much and I must admit you can see green hills all around which is very tempting. We drove round areas on the very edge of the small town, and one or two villages just outside and I have to say I can see what he means! The shops are mostly small and independant which is nice and from the village we looked at it would only take about half an hour to walk into town.

This is looking east, we went there this morning as the weather forecast is bad for tonight, gales, heavy rain and high winds! I think we had the best of the day. Oh well, off to batten down the hatches now before the storm and then off to a barn dance tonight with some friends.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Lookout, spring is just around the corner

The first Primrose I have seen this year on Sunday, apart from a few that are out in the garden but I don't count them!
It was growing on the old railway line near Corfe Mullen. My better half read in a magazine article that there was a new trailway open at Corfe Mullen along the old railway line to Broadstone and Wimborne. So we parked by this old crossing keepers cottage and headed off along the old track. If you click on the link you will see an old photo of how the cottage used to be. It seems it has been extended but in a sympathetic way.

This is where the two tracks divided, the dirt track to the left was to Wimborne and straight ahead was to Broadstone.It is hard to believe that huge steam trains once steamed through these areas. Sadly we didn't enjoy the walk as much as we had hoped as it runs alongside a busy road so there was constant car noise and maybe naively we had thought the path would be like the one at Sturminster and instead it was a quagmire!...this was a good bit!

This is the bridge near the original station which has now completely gone...as you see Wrecks has decided he's not going anywhere until the pack is complete and I had lagged behind to get a picture!
Birdwise, saw lots of Blackbirds, and a Nuthatch and a Jenny Wren.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The British and the weather.

What would we Brits do without the weather to talk about! It's a subject on everyones lips as it's been so cold. I walked by Poole Park the other day and the poor birds were padding about on top of the ice looking down in a puzzled sort of way. When I passed anyone and said "hello" they nearly always reply "It's cold isn't it!"
Today we drove to Hamoon and then walked along the trailway to Sturminster Newton...about a four mile round trip. Again everyone commented on the cold weather, people are so friendly and we passed the time of day with a delightful lady out with her little dog. Popped into the greatest fabric shop in the world in Sturminster, Hansons and sadly parted with some cash for 4 yards of fabric.

This pond was also covered in ice. Bird wise I saw a Moorhen, female Kestrel, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Rooks and a Lapwing. The Blackcap and the Coal Tit were in my garden. A lovely walk apart from feeling like my nose had dropped off in the cold. Still they say it will be warmer and wetter now, so what will we talk about then!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Cold for Commando recruits

My two boys have gone back, one to University and the other to the Royal Marines...and this week from today he is sleeping out somewhere on the moors in the west country in this freezing cold weather doing a three and half day field exercise. I know he chose his career but I can't imagine why at the moment. It's all about endurance and they really do put them through the mill.

Walking Wrecks the dog today and I saw a Redwing, I haven't seen one of these for years, we used to get them in the garden with Fieldfares many years back but not now.

My list of birds I saw on the Christmas to New Year challenge was:







Hen Harrier

Wood Pigeon

Little Egret

Black headed Gull




Ring collared dove

Great Tit

Blue Tit



I would like to challenge myself to see more birds this year and have gone for a target of 100 birds, I'm not sure if this is a realistic target as I only managed 65 in 2008. We have joined the RSPB so will visit a few reserves this year also joined the National Trust...now I'm really worried that middle age is setting in!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Remember children, never play with fireworks or matches!

This is the end of the Gingerbread house. First they tried to blow it up with a firework...it sounded impressive and blew the roof off but nothing else. So plan B, a fire was started inside it which burned a treat and below is the remains....just ash! I have been trying to download a couple of videos but cannot get it to work, if I can't this will have to do until someone more knowledgable comes home!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Interesting ways to destroy a Gingerbread house

This is a gingerbread house my daughter made from a kit for Christmas. It is not edible so we have decided to destroy it on Saturday...you must understand that I have a household with three men/boys in it and so putting it in the bin is not an option.
Ideas so far have been, blowing it up out in the garden, dropping it from a great height but the latest and most popular idea is to put a firelighter inside and make a hole in the chimney so smoke comes out...then letting it catch fire!
If you have any better ideas, do let me know...I will try and post the result after the great deed is done!...Although I think the boys may have made up their minds already!