Posts Tagged "crow"

At the door of autumn – patch walk, 25th August

This is a long overdue write up that I kept on meaning to post! Better late than never…

Its a sunny morning, when the clouds allow and there’s a lovely breeze blowing. For the first time since June I need to wear more than a t shirt. Feels like a little victory.

The streets are quiet, the birds still largely absent. In the copse the crow is king, stomping around imperiously. On into the park and its quiet, really quiet for a Saturday. Not long now until children will relinquish it and hidden creatures will show themselves again.

I walk through the formal garden, enjoying the last of the lavender and head down to the black spruce tree. Still no sign of squirrels, its been 3 weeks now since the last time I fed one by hand.

There’s plenty of evidence that they’re about though, in the shape of cones nibbled to the core. They’re clearly finding food.

Also finding food are the ever-present magpies, woodpigeons and jackdaws.

Jackdaws are keeping to their usual patch and I wander off in their direction, but I don’t make it any further than a multi-stemmed holly tree as a new squirrel is seeking to make my acquaintance! The female squirrel is notable for having four flashes of red on her legs, so I’m going to have to call her Redsocks. She’s eyeing me up before disappearing into the canopy, but a couple of nuts on the ground soon tempt her down. She’s utterly unconcerned that I’m there and still seems unconcerned when a passing dog comes to investigate what I’m up to.

Another squirrel has gathered a bunch of leaves and holly berries and is hightailing it across the grass. Planning to relax at home, perhaps.

Now a robin has come to investigate too, looks like its all happening under the holly tree today.

Things are happening on the tree too, it looks like its going to be a bumper year for holly berries this year, which probably explains the 2 blackbirds I’ve just spotted lurking about. Probably time for me to move on and let everyone eat in peace.

I head out to the quiet corner of the park, to see how the crops of sweet chestnut and beech nuts are doing. Rather small, but they’re both on very large and old trees, so its not surprising. They’re as far from trees grown for crop as you can imagine. The same is true of the other sweet chestnut trees in the park, though the horse chestnuts are already dropping conkers. The hunt for fungi is still yielding nothing. Much more rain is required before they’ll emerge this year I suspect.

Moving back to the black spruce, another squirrel approaches me. Hang on, its Redsocks again! She checks one nut I throw and discards it, but then takes the next and hurries off to bury it. That gives me time to make it to the tree and by the time she comes looking for me again I’m in the right place to teach her the drill. She’s quick as a flash in carefully taking a nut from my hands and then off to bury it.

She’s got smarts, this squirrel, not only fake burying on the way out but on the way back too. Its not enough to outwit a magpie on one poorly placed hiding spot though. As soon as her back was turned it was swooping down to take advantage.

Magpie marks the spot where the nut was buried, you lose this time, Redsocks.

Most nuts she buries, some nuts she eats, until its time for me to head home through the trees, feeling like I’ve made a new friend.

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Finding blooms, patch walk 19th July

The only birds singing now are goldfinches and so I’m particularly glad for their cheery tunes as I step out of the door. Get distracted by a little weeding and then head on up the road. There’s a shiny, iridescent black feather at the top of the road, likely magpie, perhaps crow. Either way, into the collecting pouch it goes.

By the top of the road the theme of the walk is set, small white butterflies are everywhere, they’ve really come into their pomp right now. They’re industrious creatures, never really staying still, which makes them more than a bit tricky to photograph. There’s even more of them exploring the hedgerow on the back lane, dancing up and down like a small child on a visit to Disneyland.

The copse is full of butterflies today too, though here the speckled wood butterflies are holding their own against the small white army. Its a perfect habitat for them as they hug the sunniest spots that are just like woodland edges. Pairs of them dance together in pools of light. Singles flit between grass and leaves. Just for a moment its like a perfect patch of summer woodland.

On into the park and its largely quiet. The small birds are once again absent from the robin spot, but there are friendly dogs and I’ve reason to be grateful that I always bring dog treats with me in amongst the wild animals food! Its not long before that bag is empty. No sign of small birds and no sign of squirrels either but there are plenty more feathers for me to collect and lots of cones beneath the scots pine trees too.

The wild area is filled with brambles, which have completely taken over whole patches. They’re fruiting well, but not enough sun to be ripe yet. Soon they’ll be popular with all sorts of creatures. Already popular are the thriving clumps of ragwort, flowering beautifully and covered in insects, just like I was told they would be.

Its the random things you find in the wild area that I enjoy finding most, like a bed of spearmint just besides the path, just waiting to be brushed against and let fragrant and delicious smells loose.

I take a cutting of spearmint and a bit of ragwort too. Well, you never know if they might be persuaded to grow. Spearmint has a shot, ragwort is almost certainly wishful thinking.

Delighted to see that the stand of nettles has been left and the butterflies are making the most of it, especially our old friends the speckled wood. Long may park keeping decisions like this continue.

Disturbed from my nettle reverie by a cawing commotion I look up to see what all the fuss is about. Its a rare park raid by a troupe of gulls! Normally denizens of the nearby playing fields, these Herring Gulls are on a bin raid and making quite a bit of noise about it too, right until a black backed gull arrives and establishes itself as the king of the castle – or the top of the bin at least.

Its a scene that plays out in towns everywhere, but it is no less welcome a sight for that, especially when they’re the only birds I’ve seen all walk. That’ll have to suffice until the next time, its time to head home.

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One Windy Morning

The street trees are at their leafiest now. The wind stirs them, makes them dance to its commands. They flex, they creak, they roar and as they do they make their own music, the counterpoint melody to the wind, symbiotic layers of sound. The orchestra is in full flow.

Its still early, the morning rush has not yet fully begun. The occasional car rolls slowly past. Goldfinches chatter. Blackbird sings. Sparrows cheep. Woodpigeon coos. Crows call, getting louder as they fly past. Front doors get closed. Children shout and laugh. Yet beneath it all is the wind, the endlessly beautiful and magical sound of the wind through the leaves. Whispers shouted loudly, whispers that could tell us such secrets.

Its only the sound of one windy morning, captured by a microphone. Only that and so much more, because in these sounds are more tales than a thousand words or a thousand pictures could tell.

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Patch walk, 15th June 2018

Its cloudy, its cooler and there’s a fresh little breeze blowing. A lot better and a lot more interesting conditions than empty blue skies and wall to wall heat, to me anyway. Blame my long standing membership of the Cloud Appreciation Society for that. Its quiet outside today, both on the roads and in the trees and gardens as I’m walking past.

Goldfinches still sing from hidden perches on the back lane. behind garden walls or on roof tops that I can’t see behind the high hawthorn hedge.

The hedge is filling with even more flowers, including a bindweed flower that is so recently bloomed that it hasn’t turned white yet. Avens, green alkanet, brambles and nettles abound alongside.

Chaffinch is singing in the copse again. Crow is moving lazily at the edges, half-heartedly looking for food.

There’s an unfamiliar alarm call at the top of the canopy of trees, but the leaves are too dense for me to be able to see. Love a good mystery like that. I’ll be wondering what it was for ages.

There’s a tractor out cutting the grass in the middle of the park. If you’re going to cut you may as well cut big I suppose. Looks like some smaller, hidden corner areas have been cut too, but credit where its due the big stands of nettles have been left. That credit will be spent very quickly, however, as I later discover.

Under the shadowy yews of the robin spot a robin is already calling to say he’s seen me before I even get there. As soon as mealworms go down on the ground, so does he. Both robins are back and forth to the nest, but in between their visits there are squirrels sniffing about…quite literally so in one case as one squirrel comes right up to my shoes and gives them a good sniff! I’m trying to get these squirrels to stay off the ground in this area, otherwise they end up being chased endlessly by the dogs in the park, so no one gets a nut if they don’t come up the tree to get them.

Seeing a fast-moving young squirrel was a definite highlight, not seen any 2018-edition squirrels before today.

Heading off around the park. Blackbird-by-the-oaks is out and about, watching me walk past. Seeing him is always good news, but going through the hedge and seeing the other side is serious bad news. Some muppet has been cutting the hedge and right by the robin nest too. Its a real mess. I see one of the adult robins close to the nest site, but they show no interest in coming down for food as they always have before. Has the nest been disturbed? It seems extremely likely, looking at the devastation of the serious cut-back the hedge has had. This is too sad to look at. How can people be savvy enough to leave nettles uncut but then cut hedges at this time of year, especially a hedge that was so obviously occupied?

Great tit and wren are singing as I wander past the overgrown areas of the park. Time to head home.

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Patch walk, 8th June 2018

Its a cloudy morning and with the temperature rising its already feeling quite close and humid as I step out of the door. Hmm, herring gulls are calling loudly, that’s a little unusual at this time of the year. Part way up the road the reason for all the noisy kerfuffle is revealed. 3 herring gulls are mobbing a buzzard. Its all happening at close quarters, the buzzard trying to flare its claws at its tormentors but constantly giving ground to them. By the time I’ve reached the top of the road and have an uninterrupted view things are changing again. Another buzzard floats effortlessly into the melee. The gulls don’t seem to like this change of odds and swiftly change direction, unwilling to take on 2 buzzards at once.

On the back lane, goldfinch and robin are singing while dunnock and sparrow are foraging where the road surface meets the old hedge. The only singing in the copse today is from woodpigeons. The great tit nest is still devoid of activity, the woodpigeon is off its nest and there’s no activity at the nuthatch nest hole. I suspect I’ve missed my chance to see the nuthatches fledging, they were so close a couple of days ago.

In the park and below one of the huge horse chestnut trees there’s a collection of feathers. Downy feathers, all white and grey.

Handiwork of the sparrowhawk I’ve been hearing so often recently? Seems like there are too many of them to be from the impact of just one kill. Perhaps the sparrowhawk’s favourite plucking post is right above in the horse chestnut? Its definitely worth keeping an eye on.

At the robin spot the resident robin is around, albeit a little reluctantly today as the area is currently overrun with with very active squirrels. She does come down to collect mealworms, but she’s not hanging about, smashing and grabbing, back into cover. Just how fast is she on these forays from the bushes? Faster than the zoom on my camera, I don’t manage to get a shot today.

With appointments to get to later I don’t have as much time on the patch today, so head straight to the black spruce tree and the squirrels…who aren’t there and aren’t appearing quickly from elsewhere in the park when I rattle the bag of nuts either. Still, it gives me time to collect. I do have a bit of a habit of collecting what catches my eye from what flora and fauna have left behind. Right now, with birds starting to moult, there’s plenty of feathers to collect. Crow and woodpigeon feathers are easy to identify, but the last one (all shown above) is new to me. Could it be a buzzard feather? I think it is.

Its too beautiful to leave behind either way, this one is going on display at home.

There’s also the first spruce cones of the season on the ground, not fully grown of course, but the shapes and patterns are fascinating and these are still sticky with sap.

Eventually, after going on a little wander while rattling my bag of nuts, Braveheart squirrel appears and is looking either extremely eager, extremely curious, or both together!

“Focus? Schmocus! I want to do an extreme close up!”

Its not just Braveheart who turns up today though, there’s also the polite squirrel as well as a new one who’s not come to the tree before. He squats down, both paws crossed across his chest, trying to look innocent. Trying, but the missing section of one of his ears suggests he knows how to look after himself. He gets up to the tree stump and has a good look at me, but doesn’t take a nut yet. His approach is to try and chase Braveheart for his nut instead, so the squirrels are all spinning around the trunk like fireworks.

With the sun over the yard arm and appointments imminent its time to head home.

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