Friday, 14 December 2012

Winter sun

Frosty all day every day for the last few days, I don't mind though as its brighter and dusk doesn't seem to come so early and we've had some lovely sunsets. The ice crystals coat everything like white winter flowers, glinting in the sun and drifting off in the slightest breeze, their delicacy reminding me of the snowdrops to come. Long-tailed Tits have started visiting the feeders and the birds have stripped all the Holly berries already. On these frosty mornings the sheep have taken to sunbathing on the lane in any patches of sunlight they can find, crowded together like holidaymakers on the beach. Missed the meteorites last night - too cloudy.

Even weak winter sun is very welcome

Ice crystals on fallen leaves

Fake Snowdrops?

So much frost it looks like snow


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Autumn days

An Alder tree that was interfering with our power line had to come down last week, bit sad but on the other hand it'll provide some useful firewood when its dried out. The stump and cut wood are a rich fiery red and the branches were just starting to form catkins - still at that artificial plastic looking stage.
We have up to a dozen Coal Tits at a time coming for the sunflower seeds we put out. They are generally very well behaved birds compared  to the squabbly Blue and Great Tits, even queuing for the feeders on top of the open shed door.
We have had some clear cold nights that have given us excellent views of the Milky Way on our evening walks with Bramble and we have seen plenty of shooting stars (or is it sadly space junk).
The shooting season has now started and we no longer have a garden full of pheasants as their numbers have been thinned out. We do still have a couple of white pheasants though - apparently you have to pay a premium to shoot one.

Very handsome Pheasant that visits the garden.

Pretty but a bit weedy compared to usual pheasants.

Lots of acorns this year so lots of Jays about.

This lovely velvety fungus was nestled at the bottom of a Beech tree.

Alder stump.

Autumn colours and White pheasant.

Coal Tits and Great Tits.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Autumns here

Autumn seems to be very gradual this year with the trees slowly getting their  tawny gold and russet red shades. The ground is completely waterlogged here, in the morning when the sun rises and heats up the ground a bank of mist rolls down the hill behind us engulfing the house and all we can see are the tops of the trees silhouetted against the sky. Just as soon as its here its gone as the day warms up, and then we are out walking Bramble who thinks its a great game chasing the Pheasants. The Pheasants are becoming a real pain in the garden they love all Brassicas and have decimated my cabbages and Brussel Sprouts. I have covered all my winter salads with cloches and fleece to keep them off except this is now providing shelter for lots of slugs. I just pick the slugs off and throw them on the compost heap where they can do something useful. The Squirrels know we keep the bird food in the shed and have gnawed there way through the door, we have had to lock everything away but they still go in just in case we've left anything out. I could go off wildlife. The oak trees behind the house are getting lots of fat acorns that the Jays will love - this is the first time in about three years that I've found any acorns - maybe Oaks love wet weather!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Summers Evening

Had a power cut yesterday from early afternoon till 3.50am so instead of watching telly we sat outside, reading by candlelight after dusk. Lots of moths, midges and bats and has made us definitely want to watch much less telly at least while its still warm. The swallows are gathering nest material so they must be planning a second brood, they have already raised five young. We had an evening walk and the swallows were feeding in a large group over the newly mown hay. Wondered if most of them were teenagers staying out late. I proved a magnet for Cleg flies that were landing on my chenille sweater and sticking their probosis through, mistaking me for a furry animal, though painfully, they eventually twigged to go for the bald bits. Our bird feeders have unfortunately attracted a rat, which the gamekeeper is going to come and trap. No one here believes us but it has been attacking the Grey Squirrels and driving them off. There is some footage of it on Youtube. Quite impressed.

Light Emerald

Antler Moth

Barred Straw

Meadow Brown

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Pink Grasshoppers and Osprey

Went up to Stocks Reservoir yesterday afternoon. Ben told us there had been sightings of an Osprey near the second hide. Drove round and there it was a white blob in the trees - we hadn't brought any binoculars. Luckily some lovely birders turned up and set up their scope and we got some fantastic views of a bird I've hoped to see here for a long time. Lets hope it comes back to nest next year. Walking round the reservoir we found a lovely pink grasshopper and a crab spider eating another grasshopper. There were also lots of jet black moths,  flying around and Ben had also seen some with yellow tails (Red-necked Footmen?) There were plenty of Lacewings and we think we found some of their pale bluey green eggs on stalks laid on the undersides of leaves.

Female Xysticus cristatus

Chimney Sweeper ?

Lacewing Chrysopa perla

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


There was a really annoying article in the Daily Mail yesterday about slugs. I garden, slugs are a pain, but to say slugs have no redeeming features is silly. All I can say is dog poo (what else would eat it), roadkill and fungus. They moaned about organic slug pellets, well Growing success ones work for me and beer traps, saying rain dilutes the beer. I have some lidded ones from the organic gardening catalogue and they work fine. I enjoy hunting out the slugs and pinging them with my trowel into the adjacent wood, I like to think I provide a sort of Alton Towers experience for slugs, turning them into thrill junkies slowly making their way back, saying  "Do it again, do it again !" When I had a compost bin I used to gather up the slugs and snails and put them in, especially any snails I trod on. I ended  up with a bin full of lovely compost and some very odd patchwork snails.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


A grey and drizzly day in the garden. A pair of Red Legged Partridges have been coming for the seed we put out behind the house, sheltering together under a pile of scaffolding or sitting on the fence. Today theres only one - have they had a lovers tiff or far more likely has a fox taken one in the night.  Feel sorry for the one left behind, is it grieving or full of fear without another pair of eyes on the lookout for danger. We now have three squirrels visiting the garden, scaring off the groundfeeding songbirds. If I open the door to shoo them off they just tripod, paws held pensively by their chests, staring at me like teenagers claiming they "weren't doing nothing". One comically keeps trying to climb a holly bush to get at the fatball feeder, but the branches are too spindly to support its weight. 10/06/12 Unfortunately the Redatart nest has failed, the wet weather yesterday must have been the last straw for them. We saw the male make several visits with food, go into the nest but come out again wtih the food still in his beak. We've looked into the wall and think we can see dead chicks. Hope they try again.

The pair of Partridges

No idea but it was on a nettle.

At last a Hoverfly !

Friday, 1 June 2012

Hares and Snails

Very humid last night and when I went into the garden there were lots of brightly coloured snails eating decaying Centaurea flower heads. Felt mean as just put down some "Growing Success" slug pellets from the organic gardening society around my peas. They are only meant to kill slugs and snails and be safe for wildlife, but the snails were managing to look very beautiful. This morning we had a hare feding on the grass heads in the yard, watching us watching it through the window, eventually it wandered off literally kicking its heels as it went. It appears to be an on again off again thing with the Redstarts they are in and out of the hole in the wall but not that often to have young. Watched two voles have a real barney in the drystone wall by the greenhouse, totally oblivious to me. They chased in and out of the wall, coming to blows in the grass, one tried to run off but the other grabbed its bum and bit and shook it. It was a very, very noisy affair.

Hare eating grass flower heads

White-lipped snail

White-lipped snail

Brown-lipped and White-lipped snails

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Where are all the Hoverflies?

During the hotspell in March my garden was buzzing with Hoverflies, now there hardly seems to be any just the smaller species and few Bumble or Honey bees. The only butterflies I've seen so far are one Orange tip and a couple of green veined whites. None of which bodes well for the birds when they have hungry chicks to feed.

My lawn is covered in buttercups and they look wonderful.

Just thought this looked lovely in the sun.

A little herbaceous Potentilla

Friday, 25 May 2012

Sunny days and Misty Mornings

Everyones enjoying the sunny weather. The rabbits are sunbathing in the field and we've noticed one of the pheasants is very particular about coming back to the same spot to sunbathe. Unfortunately a large rabbit likes the same place and they end up almost side by side. We thought the Redstarts had deserted us but saw the male chase the female into a hole in the wall and then sit outside chattering at her as his tail quivered. He's  been in and out with food so fingers crossed.  We have seen Treecreepers going in and out of a crack in one of the old beech trees and a pair of Blackbirds turned up with a very noisy fledgling that chased them round the garden begging for food and on Monday morning  I heard a cuckoo calling in the woods. In the drystone wall under the sunflower seed feeder we have a family of voles that rush out for the bits the Siskins drop - like the Coal Tits they are very nervous of the bullying Siskins.  We had a pair of Blackcaps for a day and a pair of Redpolls regularly visit but are bullied by the Siskins. We see a pair of Pied Wagtails with beaks full of food but haven't spotted the nest yet. Swallows are going in and out of the barn but don't seem to have built a nest in there. The crows are getting nervous when the Buzzards fly over and we think the Buzzards have a nest by the lane. A Grey Squirrel has also started visiting us, it's nervous of the washing blowing on the line, squinting myopically at it and starting back as it blows towards it.  The hedgehog has been released but still comes back (or one comes back) for a dish of catfood at night.

Female Redstart

Orange Tip
Grey Squirrel

Tree Creeper by crack where nest is.

Vole Banquet

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Redstarts and Jays

The Jays have become regular visitors to the garden, though not everyone is happy. A pair of Blackbirds make every attempt to show them they are not welcome, working together to drive the Jays away. This morning we watched a pair of Redstarts investigating our feeders and then look with interest at a hole in an outbuilding. Apparently they like to make nests out of moss and hair so I think Barrie may be due another haircut later. Driving along in Bleasdale I saw something white flapping in a field, I couldn't make out what it was so got my telephoto lense out - two Redshank mating. We often see Deer in the grounds of Gisburn Park, as we were drivng past on Monday we spotted one by the side of the road  nonchalantly chewing as two men walked right past and never noticed it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Jays and Siskins

We noticed a little plush brown vole was feeding on the fallen seed under the bird feeders so we put some on the ground, hoping to get some nice photos. It didn't get much chance to feed as a fine pair of Jays turned up. We managed a couple of photos before one gave a very harsh alarm call and they both took off, hopefully they'll be back, though they are always very nervous. We also had a pair of Siskins coming for the peanuts.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Swallows are back.

Just seen our first Swallow of the year, a female coasting over the marshy fields behind the house. Nice birthday present for me but worried as the forecast for overnight is for gales and heavy rain. One swallow definitely doesn't make a summer. We are settling in and its amazing how quickly the local wildlife has cottoned on and since putting out food and mowing the lawn we have suddenly become a prime territory worth fighting for. Two equally matched Robins were particularly brutal rolling around the lawn attempting to stab each other in the chest with their beaks. At least one did survive as I  heard it singing later. Two female blackbirds had a scrap one dragging the other by a wing past the kitchen window while I was washing up. We did have three baby rabbits coming into the garden to eat my newly planted perennials - an ornamental Bistort being favourite. Barrie pointed out if I didn't want rabbits in the garden I shouldn't put out rabbit food (bird seed). I was going to try the strategic placement of Ferret poo but now there appears to be no need. A feral cat turned up for a few days and the bunnies are no more.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

House Move

Finally moved into our new home. Amazed how noisy the countryside is, especially when you haven't got double glazing. The dawn chorus starts with the Robin before daylight and he's the last to finish singing at night and still feeds around the bird feeders when its dark. He's joined by the hooting of the Tawny Owls and the melody of the Blackbirds and gradually the smaller birds join in with little more than a burp from a Bullfinch to the incredibly sweet song of the Dunnock. On Tuesday night it got stormy and the wind set the trees roaring and creaking. Most are Pine and they bend and sway at alarming angles. Th;ere are plenty of deer,  we watched three coming down to the stream  to drink while we were putting up the bedroom curtains. Our outside light is also proving very attractive to moths so I am going to have to brush up my identifying skills. However that would mean finding a book which is in a box of which there are many.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Sika Deer

Walking in Gisburn Park and walked into a group of deer feeding, all charged up the slope into the woods but keep peering out. Lived here 12 years and first time I've seen a herd. Not an expert but  I think they were a group of adult and young male Sika.