Thursday, 2 April 2020

20 in 2020

I saw an idea on Amanda's blog here earlier this year about doing 20 things in 2020, so decided to do a variation on this with a couple of different lists.

Though I read voraciously it's usually fiction and in the crime/thriller genre, I have huge reading piles and a lot of generally nature related non-fiction in these piles so i'm making the effort to read at least a couple of non-fiction books in between the fiction! In theory this should give me 20 (at least) books this year. So far it's working well -

1) Wham and Me by Andrew Ridgeley - ok so this is not nature related, it was a Christmas gift and one i'd been looking forward to reading, Wham were my favourite band as the 80's child that I was! I won't go on about it but if you're a fan it's a definitely a book you should read!

2) Effin Birds by Aaron Reynolds - this was also a gift from a lovely friend who had received it to review and knew how much I liked my birds. It's not a bird book in the usual sense in it being quite sweary and silly really, the illustrations are quite wonderful and fun but it's not a book for everyone!

3) The Stationary Ark by Gerald Durrell - I read every Durrell book I could get my hands on at the local library growing up  (more than once) and picked this one up in a charity shop last year. Once I started reading I realised I hadn't actually read this before. It's an interesting book with a lot of very forward thinking for the role of Zoos for a time when Zoos were not into conservation and most wouldn't even entertain the idea. Of course zoos are still controversial in some quarters but there is no doubt that Durrell was trying (and succeeding) in making things better.

4) The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell - I've followed this lady on twitter for quite a while after she popped up in my timeline with her lovely nature filled tweets. I bought the book when it came out last year and i'm so glad I did. It chronicles a year in her life and how nature helps with her depression. The writing is beautiful and a lot of it resonates with how I feel when just watching the garden birds or taking a walk and seeing the simple things like trees in bud, hidden flowers, first Swallows. It is a really wonderful book and one i'd 100% recommend.

I'll add to the list as the year goes on, (i'm half way through my fifth book right now) i'm not a book reviewer (I'm not good at writing and expressing with the right words) but hopefully you may feel like picking up at least one of the books from my list! Plus putting this out on my blog motivates me to keep up with getting through my very large to read pile! (I've got to admit though with everything going on at the moment i'm struggling to concentrate to read anything!)

I also decided to do another 20, this one 100% nature based - learn 20 new wild flowers, I used to be so good with wild flowers when I was younger but somehow seem to have forgotten the names of even the more common ones that pop up through the year. At the moment of course Snowdrops, Crocus and Daffodils have been dominating the landscape but I have also seen my first Marsh Marigold in the woods early March, i'm looking forward to refreshing my memory and relearning things I really shouldn't have forgotten!

So far though the only one i've come across that I struggled to name was the following -

1) Coltsfoot - this was by the sea in Scarborough, in full flower and plenty of it too

It's a start, we'll see how it goes over the coming months with my world restricted mostly to the garden and the small nearby park at the moment!

Thursday, 26 March 2020

The Coast

As you might be aware we are now on a lock down in the UK for at least three weeks, I am working from home so it's garden birding for me for the foreseeable future. This post is from a day out we took a while back before everything changed.

We took a day out to the coast to try out our new car (not new new but hopefully one that doesn't eat money in repairs!) and give it a good run. The East coast is one of our favourite places - Filey, Bridlington, Scarborough.......

An early stop at the Holbeck car park in Scarborough on the off chance of a Mediterranean Gull, we didn't see any but the sun was shining and we had a walk down to the sea anyway.

It's a long way down

And a longer way back up....phew!!

On to Brid, the weather by now was a little mixed, cloud, sun, wind and it was pretty quiet everywhere. The tide was coming in and Turnstones were up on the walls around the harbour and I managed to spot two Purple Sandpipers on the beach.

Purple Sandpipers

Taking a bath with some Turnstones!


I saw a Cormorant on the marker, looked away for a few seconds and it had been replaced by a Gull!

There were Gulls everywhere of course, i'm still working through IDing them!

Herring Gulls

Black-headed Gull

Lots of Redshank were in the harbour

We found quite a few shells along the tideline and a few dead fish, some kind of Flounder perhaps?

A plant root I think?

Then my husband found this fossil - we've never found one before so it created a bit of excitement!

In the walls along the jetty's lots of snails were hiding.

This was the scene on the way home

I think nearly everyone who checks in on the blog is probably affected by Covid-19, I hope you're all staying safe and continue to do so. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Signs of Spring

More news on the Blackcap in the garden, the male has become a daily regular usually early in the morning filling up on berries and fat balls. I spotted a female occasionally but never at the same time. The male this past week has started to sing from the Sparrow roost and from the top of our Laburnum. Yesterday I finally saw the pair of them together and they fed on the Cotoneaster berries together and did again early this morning!

Exciting news as we've never had a long staying Blackcap let alone a pair like this. I've been reading up on them and I think it may be a bit early for breeding but as we back onto a park there are some suitable areas which would be good habitat for nest building! Of course they could disappear tomorrow but in the meantime i'm enjoying every moment of having them in the garden.

Male taking a breath in between singing

Male and female together at last!

Elsewhere there are plenty of signs of spring, a Song Thrush has been singing from the same tree each time we've visited the woods, and just yesterday we spotted a pair mating, another male was singing further along in the woods. 

After single sightings over the past couple of years a pair of Treecreepers flew right in front of us last week and landed in the nearby trees. Another good sign. Though it's odd that the Nuthatches seem to disappear over winter, where do they go?

In the ponds and streams frogspawn is appearing in large piles, Frogs were still busy all around the main pond yesterday morning. 

Elsewhere the trees are full of bird song, Magpies are trying to build nests, when not fighting off Crows and male Blackbirds are chasing each other around the trees.

Blue Tit

Carrion Crow


First Greenfinch spotted in the woods this year


Blackbird looking fierce after chasing off another male!

The first Marsh Marigold of the year

Lots of buds and blossom are bursting through

The reeds are growing again


Hopefully i'll still be able to update on the Blackcaps in the next post, fingers crossed!