Friday, 17 December 2010

Life in a Cow-Pat

It was bitterly cold today so I thought, for this short piece, I would transport myself back to a sunny day in late July when ...

... returning home from another rewarding afternoon at Sidwood, crossing the high moor below Padon Hill, I paused to take-in this view north, to the remote steading of Dargues Hope, standing in splendid isolation at the foot of Blakehope Fell, and beyond, across the Rede valley towards the Cheviot hills and the border with Scotland.

As I turned away from the view to continue homewards, I glimpsed a number of fungi growing on cow-pats in a field to my right. The fungi were Egghead Mottlegills (Panaeolus semiovatus). This Mottlegill has distinctively shaped, cream-coloured caps and a short-lived, white-fading-to-yellow ring on the stipe.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Deep and Crisp and Even

Redesdale enjoyed something of a thaw last Saturday but the days since have seen the winter's grip on the valley re-tightened. Thankfully, there's been no more snow but today, having to travel five miles outside the village to the nearest Post Office, I thought the roads quite unpleasant to drive along. I was glad just to buy stamps for my Christmas cards and, once back in the village, some vegetables and a woolly Peruvian-style hat at the mill shop before returning home for my lunch-time soup and a sandwich and an afternoon with Patrick Barkham's enchanting The Butterfly Isles, which I am very much enjoying and can thoroughly recommend.

When leaving the mill, this view of sheep feeding in an adjacent field caught my eye ...

And in the garden, the birds return again and again to the food I put out for them at their temporary feeding station on top of the wall at my front door. Here's another of the Brambling pictures I took from my living room window last week ...

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

And a Christmas-card Robin ...

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Bramblings in the Snow

The snow in my garden on Thursday morning was three feet deep and the most convenient way for me to feed the birds was to place small portions of their favourite foods along the top of the wall at my front door.

From my living room window I watched three male Bramblings, a large mixed flock of Chaffinch, four Greenfinch, a female House Sparrow, three male and two female Blackbirds, individual Blue, Coal and Great Tits and a Robin visit the food. As might be imagined, I was particularly pleased to see the Bramblings. I think this is a first winter male ...

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Hard Times

Since the weekend, the winter weather, which was at least picturesque in my last my last piece, has continued to tighten it's grip on Redesdale. The accumulation now is certainly as deep as last winter and clearing it has meant a lot of hard work for me and my new plastic snow shovel. The car-wide track down to the road, created on Saturday when I dug out the six inches of snow lying on my drive, has filled and been cleared twice again; on Monday the snow was twelve inches deep and there was another six inches yesterday. And if I felt up to the task this morning, five inches more has fallen overnight. It's still snowing heavily as I write so I've voted for a lazy day. Sadly, the garden birds will not be able to relax.