Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Foggy morning

people and trees in the fog

As we drive south for our walk, the fog thickens and I put on the car’s fog lights, yet some people are still driving without any lights at all.

Pulling off the main road, I head down the long drive to the car park, wondering whether there will be anyone there and am surprised to find business more or less as usual. The car park is busy; people wearing lycra stand around chatting after their runs while others whistle to their dogs as they return to their cars. Only the usual groups of young mothers with pre-school children are absent. Less for us to worry about then.

cobweb in the mist


Away from the cars the fog blankets everything and deadens sound like snow. I stand still for a moment to sharpen my senses, listening to the drip, drip, drip of moisture off the trees, the occasional bark of a dog, a plane flying overhead along the flightpath to Heathrow and, unexpectedly, the bright chatter of a bird.

a path in the fog

We walk on through the mist, sticking to the wide main paths. I’m soon able to orientate myself though, oddly better than usual, perhaps because I know I need to concentrate harder in poor visibility.

pond in foggy wood

graffiti on a tree

Nora soon sniffs out a path to the small pond where she likes to swim and I follow her down a narrow trail through some birch trees so that she can have her dip. She swims and fetches the stick I throw her until it disintegrates and then we return to the car.


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Smells and deer

There has been quite a strong smell hanging over Spring Cottage this weekend. It hit me as soon as I stepped out of the car. I looked into the field at the back of the house and, sure enough, it had just been ploughed up and fertilised. Luckily, it’s not a chemical smell. It’s organic but stinky all the same.

ploughed field

If you enlarge the picture above, as I just did, you can see a small herd of red deer in the field just to the right of the trees. I didn’t even notice them when I took the photograph. Only yesterday I was telling someone that I hadn’t seen deer from the house for quite some time. It may be true, but it doesn’t mean they’re not there.


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If you can be distracted from the wondrous moon lying back kicking its feet in the air while it relaxes with Jupiter and Venus, you can scent Spring in the air in the evening. Bulbs are bursting forth and pushing away the covering earth as they rise up to find the light. The plum tree is partially covered with blossom and the branches of the pear are fat with buds. It has also made such a welcome change to have some sunshine and light after so many grey days.

This song thrush sang so persistently and loudly for so long, that I had to stop what I was doing to go out and look for it.

The late afternoon light was lovely and made me regret that I’d been cocooned inside all day in my sometimes lethargic way. But we all occasionally need those kinds of days too.

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Robin’s song

Listening to you out there in the grey, you bring a touch of light to this dark day. Cheesy, but true.


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I’m not watching the men’s Wimbledon final, as I have no TV here at the cottage. My days of being interested in tennis are sadly also behind me. Sadly – because I was a great fan as a teenager, even subscribing to a tennis magazine monthly for a while. My father had brought me up on tennis, having once played in a minor ‘plate’ event at Wimbledon in the 1930s. I was rubbish at it and still am but both my children had lessons as I was determined that they would be better than me. They are. At most things, especially maths. Meanwhile, I somehow lost interest in tennis, which I always preferred in black and white anyway. It was easier to see the ball.

Anyway, all this is by way of saying that I have been doing other things this weekend. Riding in the morning yesterday, where I encountered the smallest pony I’ve ever seen – it’s Sue’s three-year-old grandson’s  – at the farm. Rather like a very large dog. The ride was gorgeous – I thought it would be incredibly hot and had slapped on some precautionary sunscreen but we actually spent a lot of time riding through cool and shady woods to the sound of birds calling high up in the tree canopy.

very small pony

Then I went to the Bishop’s Lydeard school fete. There was no ferret racing this year, or guessing the weight of the cake. No, the fete had moved totally into the 21st century, with a cordoned off area where a local driving school (presumably with dual control vehicles) was giving letting kids drive around in their cars. What I would have given to to do that as a child!

Touring the stalls, I swiftly bought a rhurbarb plant for the garden and a delicious raspberry, almond and vanilla loaf cake. Mmm. I took some pictures of it, but my camera ran out of battery and I found that I’d got the wrong charger with me, so uploading them will have to wait. Suffice to say, I’m going to have to try and track down the recipe, it’s that good.

Then in the early evening, I put up a bit of trellis which I’m going to try and train one of the honeysuckles up. I think this is probably a naturally occurring one  – you see that a lot here, all mixed in with hedge, miles from anywhere, so unlikely to have been intentionally planted. The trellis was bought for a song at a car boot sale.

garage and trellis

I’m going to have to be careful, as one thing leads to another when I start working in the garden and, before long, I’m weary and cross, and have run out of time before I have to leave for another working week. So now I’m calling it a day and going inside for a cup of well-deserved tea and a slice of cake. All the other things will have to wait patiently on my ‘to do’ list until next time.

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Sitting in my kitchen working from home today, I can hear incessant birdcalls. So I thought I’d upload some of the images of birds that I’ve taken in the last couple of years at Spring Cottage. They’re not great pictures or very exciting or unusual birds, but as I keep saying – this is principally a record for me and my family and, if anyone else likes it too, then so much the better.



When my parents-in-law first moved to the countryside, I was surprised to see the interest with which they watched the birds in their garden. I couldn’t have found anything less fascinating – I just thought, “Birds, so what?”. Now, I can see my children, who are in their early twenties, thinking the very same thing about me, as I get excited by the birds that nest in the garden or feed on the seed I put out.

pheasant in grassy field

Cock pheasant

old bird book

When I was a very little girl, I was given a bird book, so I must have had an interest in birds (although I also had a great uncle who gave me Ladybird books for Christmas until I was at university, so this doesn’t necessarily follow). I coloured in some of the pages with red felt pen and traced a lot of the images of birds over and over again. I wrote my name inside the front cover alongside little pencil hearts. It’s been well-loved and is now falling to pieces with a very broken spine but, despite having other bird books with lovely photographs, it is still this book that lives permanently in the kitchen and that I go back to when I want to identify a bird. Its drawings are clear and the birds are well described, which is more than you can say for a lot of modern books, although I do really rate the RSPB Bird Identifier website.



And while I’m thinking about my childhood, what bird epitomises a city child’s experience of birdlife better the sparrow? Sadly, these days you rarely see what used to be an everyday little bird, although bright green parakeets are now a common sight across London, frightening away the indigenous species with their loud cries. They annoy me in their huge flocks screeching across the skies, but I do enjoy them in my neighbour’s cherry tree, balancing on one leg while they hold a cherry in the claws of the other foot and take bites. This seems so comical.





The picture above is a bit of a cheat as I’ve had to enhance it slightly, as it was taken through my kitchen window and looked a bit murky.

robin on a branch


My favourite bird though, in town and in the country, remains the robin – for its faithfulness and friendliness. There always seems to be one around and they’re quite happy for me to take endless photographs of them, while they sing their hugely under-appreciated and beautifully varied songs.

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I’m actually going to get dressed and get out of the house on this beautiful morning but, before I do, here’s a picture of a pheasant that I snapped in my pyjamas (me, not it, in the pyjamas). It was surprising that I could get so close because the stupid creatures usually scuttle off at the slightest disturbance. The wind must have been in the right direction, for once. I just love their plumage.

pheasant in the sun

In the last few days, I’ve been so struck by the beauty of the robin’s song. Such a small bird with a lovely varied voice – here is the little bird below recorded on my phone today. He or she carried on for ages this morning, adding to the springlike feel of the day.

robin singing

Will say more about the simply delightful hoards of snowdrops in the gardens and other signs of spring soon. Although, if you see the article below, you’ll wonder if this is wise.

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Postscript: 13 Feb 1,774 more or less – pen was hard to write with in the rain.

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