Wildlife Diary 2013

                                 January 2013

                        Weather This Month

            Max Temp = 10.7ºC    Min Temp =  -6.3ºC    Mean Temp = 2.4ºC

                                     Max Wind = 21mph

Rain Days Over 2mm = 9    Rain 24hr Max = 23mm    Monthly Rain = 74.8mm

20th.  It's bittersweet at present. As many know I love the snow but about 12 months ago Mandy and I were delayed by over 36hrs and spent 2 day's at Manchester airport due to bad weather coupled with Thomsons diabolical service to it's customers. So is it going to be groundhog day....as our holiday creeps up on us in a week or so time. I looked on Thomson website this morning and I noted that a flight from Manchester to Cancun had been delayed for a day.....and I had to laugh when it stated that all those who are already on route to the airport would be looked after by the helpful staff....trust me I have seen the helpful staff and if they could have had a bit more training they could have competed against Usain Bolt in the Olympics! They were terrible. It is a difficult thing to cope with but the comments and lack of forethought was truly scary. I hope others do not suffer as I can fully understand how this can affect people...I just hope we do not suffer again this year.

Back in the garden and the snow that seems to have hit other areas of the country has mostly stayed away. It's not got above zero for the last few day's but the snow had been mostly grainy. I am just mildy thinking that overnight tonight could be problematic as I think we may get a snowfall, but how much I am not sure. My weatherstation is showing a slow drop in pressure and it says snow within 12 hours, ominous at best!
13th.  I hate to say it but.....I told you so! Snow began falling at about 14:00 and has covered by a couple of inches. I managed to clean all the feeders and replenish food just in time before the clouds started rolling in and instead of the usual rain we got both the right stuff and the white stuff!
Anyway as I cleaned the feeders today I was pleased to hear Siskin singing. My messing in the garden kept them from feeding but they did hang around the area with a flock of 30 or so Goldfinch. These birds are clearly a wandering possy as they are not familiar with the feeders and they are very skittish though they are are welcome sight...and sound along with the lolipop on stick visitors.
Did I mention it's snowing.
6th.  The cold weather has yet to happen and it seems it does not look like changing...well not until next Thursday as this is when a change in temps is supposed to occur. By next weekend we are to get some below zero temps and possibility of snow! The warmth we are stuck with is coming from the South by by Thursday a swing to the West and then a speedy swing to ESE ending on Friday with a shift to easterlies....that brings the cold.....then on Sunday it may get interesting as a sudden shift to Southerlies can have the cold meeting warm....then snow! That's my hope rather than prediction I have to say.
Mandy's attempts at using her new camera seem thwarted all every turn with yesterdays visit to see Waxwings turned a no show and by the time we got to our local little pond the clouds rolled in and the light only allowed 1000iso shooting! Today if there is one thing you just can't get anything from as a wildlife photographer and that is pea soup mist and just as it starts to clear it's now going dark!
Evening Update: I had the office window open this evening and I was so glad to hear the Blackbird song that greets you like a fine whisky. Strangely it started off in the distance and Mandy wondered what I was doing as I rushed past and into the garden, Mandy followed and faintly we could hear it over the sounds of combi boiler fans and traffic. It made it's way closer until it finished in the dark at 16:30 as it's songs changed to the sharp tick of the roost call....although as I write this he has again started singing...hurraaghhh

                                 February 2013

                           Weather This Month

Max Temp = 10.3ºC    Min Temp =  -3.9ºC    Mean Temp = 1.7ºC
Max Wind = 19mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 8    Rain 24hr Max = 16.2m    Monthly Rain = 77.4mm


27th.  It seems some time since I updated and indeed it is over a month. The holiday has taken some getting over we had such a great time and everything running like clockwork. we have met some lovely people and once again had a wonderful experience with the friendly Goan people. I shall be doing the report as normal when time permits and the several thousand images have been sifted through!
Just a note to say.....Spring has sprung and new life once more brings forth the wiff of excitement as the plants, birds, frogs and hogs all look to the most important time of the year.

March 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 12ºC    Min Temp =  -6.3ºC    Mean Temp = 1.1ºC
Max Wind = 17mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 8    Rain 24hr Max = 15.2m    Monthly Rain = 57.4mm


30th.  How about a good old carol song? That is all that is missing at present with the snow, wind and daytime only just about reaching 5ºC! It has not as not helped having had our gas supply cut off for a couple of day's. It really has stunted everything as bird song and nest building has not been noted and the daffs fogs and butterflies have decided they will not be braving the weather at all. No spawn in the pond and the Great Tits showing interest in the nestbox have all but given up. 
The last few days, whilst being cold overnight, have been lovely with broken cloud allowing some sun hit the garden. The garden is not giving up the snow easy with half the garden still having 4" of snow left on it.
A few jobs done today and then I decided to keep an eye on visitors for a while. I was pleased to record lot's of Blackbirds, a pair of Mistle Thrush and a pair of Song Thrush. I am now hoping a bit of sunshine will have the birds more interested in the chatting up stages again.
All together...Away in a manger.....
11th.  I had the weekend off and was a little undecided in regards to what to do, or should I say what to do and which day to do it. as it was we went shopping on Saturday and birding on Sunday. Leighton moss was our choice and I can tell you it was bitterly cold. I was hoping to see or at least hear the Cettis Warbler...or at least one of the two, that has nested there. This was my second try for it but again it was not to be. A lot of work is being done at Leighton Moss around the visitor centre so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out. We saw 51 species in total for the day which is below.
Greylag Goose (European) 45
Mute Swan 3
Common Shelduck 100
Gadwall 100
Eurasian Wigeon 50
Mallard 50
Northern Shoveler 34
Northern Pintail 23
Eurasian Teal 200
Rook 1
Carrion Crow 20
Common Raven 1
 Common Pochard 4
Tufted Duck 105
Common Goldeneye 34
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Common Pheasant 20
Great Crested Grebe 1
Great Cormorant (Eurasian) 12
Grey Heron 1
Little Egret 2
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier 2
European Greenfinch 1
Eurasian Siskin 1
European Goldfinch 9
House Sparrow 2

Common Moorhen 18
Eurasian Coot 100
Eurasian Oystercatcher 39
Common Redshank 30
Black-tailed Godwit 60
Common Snipe 5
Black-headed Gull 20
Great Black-backed Gull 2
Feral Pigeon 12
Common Wood-Pigeon 45
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Common Kestrel 1
Common Magpie 5

 Marsh Tit 2
Coal Tit 5
Great Tit 2
Blue Tit 8
European Robin 5
Eurasian Blackbird 10
Redwing 5
Song Thrush 3
Mistle Thrush 2
Dunnock 7
Reed Bunting 1
Common Chaffinch 23
Eurasian Bullfinch 2

7th. Good news on several counts. First the Great Tit is back in the nestbox for tonight...pheeww. I wonder what happened last night to make him decide on not using the box to roost? Disturbance maybe...not sure. The other great news is the reason we should all have wishful thinking. I mentioned to Mandy that I hoped the Bullfinch would again return to the garden to feed whilst they bred locally. A voila....two day's later and Mandy text me to say our wish has been granted with a female feeding in the garden this morning. Let's now hope she sticks around and of coarse finds a partner....mind you something as beautiful as a Bullfinch...how could she not!
6th. As promised I checked out the nest box and yes we have the smallest amount of nesting material in the base. It looks like moss and after checking the box on my return from work a little bit more had been added. I left the tv camera on and Mandy has informed me that no Great Tit was in the box. Mmmm that's a bit of a concern as I was not expecting the box to be vacated so early on. I really hope that nothing has happened to our Great Tit. I shall keep an eye out in the garden for him as I hope to hear him singing around the garden....fingers crossed!
5th.  The warmest day of the year so far today as it topped 12C. I did not get chance to see the light of day today but through a window it looked ever so nice. I opened the door to the shop for the first time...and it stayed open until closing time. Things are on the up. I have not had chance to check to night, due to the football, if this has encouraged any nesting in the Tit boxes. So far the Great Tit is roosting overnight and with it's head tucked under it's wing it resembles a tennis ball! I will check tonight on the camera to see if any material has been brought in as the temps have started to rise so to will the sap!
The forecast is for rain the next few day's which brings to an end a really pleasant spell of weather. I hope that this continues as many would agree we really do need a summer....not bothered about blazing sun, just dry slightly warm days would be all that is needed...not that surely is not to much to ask. I am also going to place the trailcam in the garden at some point as I start to think about hedgehogs and when to feed them. I do worry about the local hogs as we are becoming increasingly hemmed in by fencing making exit and entry more challenging for our nocturnal beauties.

April 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 15.5ºC   Min Temp = -4.2ºC   Mean Temp = 5.8C
Max Wind = 22mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 17   Rain 24hr Max = 9.4mm   Monthly Rain = 45.4mm


25th. Good news! Today the Great Tit box has something that resembles a nest inside. Don't get me wrong it's not full blown nesting but it's along the right lines. I had the afternoon off and whilst other things kept me occupied I saw little of the Great Tits despite the odd song from the male. It is looking better though!
The other great thing is the appearance again of the lovely irruptive species the Bohemian waxwing in the same trees that they appeared in back in March/April 2006. That occasion brought four this time...so far...we have just one. It is quite nice to be able to see such a bird from our kitchen window and I seem to be checking every hour on the hour. It seems to be feeding from the partially opened buds of the poplar trees. Is it the buds, insects inside or the sticky stuff that often accompanies the opening of the buds? Not sure but hopefully he will do fine on the stuff before he decides to leave.
18th. A very windy night last night. The weatherstation is partially protected from the winds say at rooftop height but I still recorded winds of 22mph. It was gusty and at 3am I was chasing our wheelie bin and it's contents around the area. It rained also last night but the strong winds made it seems heavy which was not actually the case. Today, with the afternoon off, I have done a few things I needed to finish off including fitting a home made wheelie bin holder courtesy of Mandy's magic talents with metal.
I forgot to mention I have recorded the first queen Bumble Bee in the garden this year. It was actually back on the 3rd of April with furhter sightings since including today. No news from the Great Tit camp still has us totally puzzled. 
A lovely first real migrant to visit the garden this year in the form of a male Blackcap. I noted it last night late on and it has been a regular most of the afternoon. It is taking full advantage of the suet peanut cakes I have out. I replenished this with a new one and have hung out an apple to see if I can tempt him further!
14th. Ok I I have to conceed we needed rain. My only issue with rain in this valley is when it starts somebody just leaves the tap either running or dripping. It has been the windiest and warmest day today so far this year as the wind got upto, as forecast 19mph, with a top temp of 13.6ºC which is a massive jump in temps although the windchill factor is making it feel more along the lines of 10ºC.
My attention is normally of the nesting kind at this time of year but with all the snow, cold temps and now wind it seems only the frogs are the ones thinking along the same lines. Plenty of spawn is now in the pond but still no hedgehog sightings in the garden. The Great Tits and I am sure this is followed around the area have not really got into gear. I am hoping it is just a timing thing at present due to the cold but it is definitely a slow one this year. The Tits are keeping an eye on the garden box and the other day something resembling feathers had been placed in the box but then nothing else has happened for the last three days. I always put out cat hair that Mandy collects over the year from our cat and so far I have not seen anything take it so whilst I keep wondering if "our" tits are nesting elsewhere I know they are not taking much in the way of nest material anywhere....the mystery goes on!
10th. After being out birding along the river Ribble a few weeks back and seeing the river bed I suppose it is fair that rain is forecast. I have looked back on my weatherstation data and it really is as long on paper as it has felt, indeed the only real rain was on the 15th March with 15mm of rain and then 10mm on the 16th. Since then we have had a total of approx 25mm so far. Hosepipe ban anybody? Well I decided on the afternoon tomorrow...and yes its the day it's supposed to rain. At least that might shift the last of the snow some 3 weeks after it first fell.
No movement on the Great Tits in the nestbox althought the female does keep entering on accasion and doing the nesting wriggle....we live in hope still.
2nd. At last we caught up with the most beautiful of eruptive visitors and it was only round the corner from where I work. I did have to go home to collect both Mandy and the photography equipment...but it was worth it! This was courtesy of Mandy, I faired..well not as good!
Thank you John Earnshaw for allowing me access to this cracker!
1st. I hope you all enjoyed your holidays....I managed a few day's of work with a few day's of play...well things to be done that are not related to work at work that is! I put a new nestbox together for a friend that was looking to have a mini cctv camera installed inside a nestbox to keep tabs on any young. I sourced all the bits and a now it is ready to go with only a lick of stain needed. It may still be of use this season as the nesting season most certainly has been delayed. I am wondering about the possibilty of young this year in our nestbox as the early interest shhown in the nestbox on the house has now disappeared although one of the Great Tits is still roosting in it over night. I hope this is only in response to the cold temps and snow of late rather than an abandonment? Talking of Snow here is a picture I took the other day in the morning of the garden after a little snow had fallen.
The snow is still with us in parts where it is still 4" deep. This is a week later and I may take another photo to show this if I get chance.
The other news at present in the garden is Spawn...finally we have some! Quite a clump overnight so we may yet see a bit more. It is indeed very late this year with late Feb or early March being the norm so at best it is two weeks late....no wonder though!
Mandy and I also decided on a visit to the Brockholes nature reserve where an Osprey had been seen the day before....an Osprey before Sand Martin? We saw about 44 species in total which was ok considering all the day trippers for the Easter fun activities. It was very windy and very cold though and photography chances were low. I did take a picture of the new proposed site for the family hide and Sand Martin nest wall. The nesting wall was a disaster first time they built it as the whole lot collapsed very quickly due to the weather...fortunately now birds were in residence due to them not returning at that point. A very fancy looking family hide is being built right next to the nest wall and hopefully the picture I took will give some idea. I will take another when it's finally all in place.

Greylag Goose (European) 5
Canada Goose 100
Mute Swan 4
Northern Shoveler 35
Eurasian Teal 17
Common Pochard 5
Common Goldeneye 7
Common Pheasant 1
Great Crested Grebe 4
Great Cormorant (Eurasian) 9
Grey Heron 2
Common Buzzard 1
Common Moorhen 10
Eurasian Coot 50
Northern Lapwing 12
Common Ringed Plover 20
Eurasian Oystercatcher 23
Common Redshank 1
Eurasian Curlew 3
Common Snipe 2
Black-headed Gull 100
Lesser Black-backed Gull 10 
Great Black-backed Gull 5
Feral Pigeon 10
Common Wood-Pigeon 100
Common Kingfisher 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Common Kestrel 1
Common Magpie 7
Carrion Crow 34
Skylark 2
Great Tit 10
Blue Tit 8 
Long-tailed Tit 2
Eurasian Wren 1
Common Chiffchaff 3
European Robin 10
Eurasian Blackbird 10
Dunnock 4
Pied Wagtail 4
Reed Bunting 5
Common Chaffinch 9
European Goldfinch 5
Tree Sparrow 6

This picture was quickly taken as a party of 3 deer scarpered up an embankment and into Red scar wood.

May 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 20.7ºC    Min Temp =  -1.5ºC    Mean Temp = 9.1ºC
Max Wind = 20mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 14    Rain 24hr Max = 24.4mm    Monthly Rain = 113.6mm   


18th. The garden is greening up nice now with a few showery rain spells and a few more sunny days. Today as been damp all day but a little sunshine is due tomorrow which would be welcome. My attention is diverted eleswhere at the moment as Mandy and I are redecorating our bedroom. As we were stripping wallpaper late afternoon Mandy shouted from another room that something in the garden was screaming. Sure enough the screams were from a Starling that was pinned down on the lawn by a female Sparrowhawk. Ferly, our cat, wandered out at the same time so the Sparrowhawk took the bird in it's talons. Ok ok I have to admit a few pangs of regret over that as at this time of year Starlings would have young themselves but we have to remember that the Sparrowhawk also has young mouths to feed.
Birds noted taking food away so far have been Robin, Blackbird and Starling.
6th. A great bank holiday by all accounts as although our hope for a city break to Valencia proved not possible so we turned our attentions to Wales and in particular the RSPB reserve at Ynys-hir. I hoped to call at the Red Kite centre at Rhayader as it felt rude not to but two day's before we set off the B&B rang to say they had only Friday night available and not Friday & Saturday as booked. We thought somebody was telling us not to bother so we gave up at that point and settled for some day tripping instead.
We decided on Spurn point and then today we followed this up with a visit to the Wildflower Centre in Liverpool. The weather has been good with the hottest day of the year so far being reached at 17;00 today topping the thermometer at 19.7C. 
Picked up a UK tick at Spurn in the form of a Yellow Wagtail (flavissima) which was quite nice with a strange long stayer in the form of a Fieldfare. Plenty of migrant birds to be seen with Lesser & Common Whitethroat, Swallow, House Martin. Sedge Warbler and a single Marsh harrier. The lovely sight of over a 1000 Grey Plover in their finest outfits was quite welcome.
3rd. Good news! Having noticed hedgehog droppings I put some food out watched by the trail cam and look whos visited

June 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 24.1ºC    Min Temp =  3.7ºC    Mean Temp = 12.8ºC
Max Wind = 19mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 9    Rain 24hr Max = 13.6mm    Monthly Rain = 67mm    Yearly rain Total =  421.4mm


23rd.  You only live once and mandy and I are looking to saok up as much Bruce as possible. We hope to have another concert lined up but Ticketmaster are just totally well....as Bruce would say....."Like a river that don't know where it's goin' they took a wrong turn and just kept goin'"
It's been a lazy weekend really although we did mange to get that bit closer to finishing our strip down of the bedroom as we managed to find somebody who could make use of our old furniture...I hate to throw stuff away when I know somebody can use it....it's just finding that somebody.
The Great Tits that fledged have not been back as far as I can see sadly. The Sparrows are taking full advantage of the mealworm though with multiple visits as they carry beakfulls of this protein packed livefood to their nests. 
I was late out feeding the Hog last night and as I tramped up the garden for it's food he was already waiting....but soon ran when I got close. The food was gone by morning though! I wonder where the nest is? 
20th. Well a busy period in time as Mandy and I celebrate our anniversary, I become a year older, the Boss shows us why and the Great Tits are out!
First up is the fledging of the Great Tits. It had to happen as we were away for a few days but it's always nice to know they have done OK and as we peered at our empty TV screen we were happy to note all seven eggs hatched and all young managed to taste freedom. In truth only one will probably make it to breeding age themselves but at least they have had a great start.
Our trip up to Glasgow and church on the hill of hampden park had us jumping around...if only a little bit.
It was a gorgeous evening concert as the sun shone as Bruce and the E Street Band took to the stage at 19:28 and thus the sermon went on for 3 hours and 28 minutes with 30 songs being sung. Set list was

1. We Take Care Of Our Own
2. The Ties That Bind
3. Jole Blon*
4. It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City*
5. Radio Nowhere
6. No Surrender
7. Wrecking Ball
8. Death To My Hometown
9. My City Of Ruins
10. Spirit In The Night
11. E Street Shuffle
12. I'm On Fire*
13. Tougher Than The Rest*
14. Atlantic City
15. Murder Incorporated
16. Johnny 99
17. Open All Night
18. Darlington County
19. Shackled and Drawn
20. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
21. The Rising
22. Badlands
23. Land of Hope and Dreams


24. Born To Run
25. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)*
26. Dancing In The Dark
27. 10th Avenue Freeze Out

28. Twist and Shout

29. Shout

Encore 2

30. Thunder Road (Solo acoustic)



Show Length: 208 minutes
For Mandy and myself it was a flat kind of atmosphere in the stadium with a few songs like Darlington County, Rosalita and Johnny 99 being one to many in the staple diet of songs we have heard. Whilst for many it was a great concert for us it was just OK. The Etihad concert 12 months ago in comparison was as good as it gets for us....so far. My Dad who was treated to the concert as a fathers day gift and could not fully understand our thinking that it was just OK, as he loved it with the one or two older songs like Jole Blon. Lulu and shout though for us was just not what I wanted to hear from him....I realise the connection of Lulu but.....Shout when we could have had Tom Joad, Dry Lightning, Youngstown, Jungleland, Rocky Ground etc.
The highlights though were without doubt the very timely placing of the My City Of Ruins as this was the date to the day 2 years ago that the Big man Clarence Clemons sadly died. Bruce counted him as a best friend and it showed in his many times repeated "changes upstairs" Very emotional song on several levels. The stunning ending was right up my street with a solo acoustic version of "Thunder Road".....thats what I was talking about.
Bruce should be on your Bucket list!
16th. The plant that has gone mad this year is the hedge garlic which has cropped up all over the hedge plants and eleswhere. That's OK as the plant is a good filler and of course it's a good food plant of Butterflies. The rain has returned for now as the lovely weather a few weeks back seems hard to imagine as we have gone from 20C back to a dismal 13C. It is almost 12 months since we went to see Springsteen in concert in Manchester and that day was the record rainfall in any 24 hours ever recorded....and it felt like that! We were lucky in the end as it abated as the Boss to to the stage. Well here we are booked to visit Hampden Park to see him again and you guessed it.....rain!
The early sights of a few young from Starlings and Dunnocks seems to have dried up with no other young being see. I am hoping that the pair of Bullfinch that visit may well show us what our sunflower hearts have been helpful with!
3rd. The garden and indeed it's diary have been neglected but most important is the lack of time I have had to keep an eye on the Great Tit nesting in the box. What i can say is that all seven of the eggs have hatched and at about 5 days old they are doing well with mum and dad doing the feeding nicely. I will supplememt their food need in a couple of days with some mealworm which should make things a bit easier.
The weather is.....well lovely. It's got from hats and gloves to t shirts and shorts all in a few days. Dare I say it felt a 

July 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 29.1ºC    Min Temp =  6.8ºC    Mean Temp = 17.0ºC
Max Wind = 16mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 7    Rain 24hr Max = 43.4mm    Monthly Rain = 159.4m 

30th. Ok ok it was my fault.....in the post below I mentioned that if heavy rain appeared......so it did and boy was it sharp and torrential with a good smattering of hail just for fun!
On the 26th July we had accrued just about 30mm of rain but from the 27th-30th we now have a further 100mm and indeed it came down in heavy downpours with a huge 26mm coming down yesterday between 17:00 and 17:35.
I forgot to mention we had the moth trap out the other night and I hope to add a few pictures in the August diary page. It was also nice whilst the sun shone on Saturday to record Meadow Brown, Small Tort and lots of Large White Butterflies. Let's hope the good July weather has given the population a boost....can't be long before the Lovely Painted Lady finishes it's journey North and heads our way.
26th.  As July comes to a close I can say for sure it's been lovely and nothing can spoil it now even if heavy rain appears. Yes we have had one or two heavy downpours this week but it's been on the whole...well...summer! Plenty of young birds frequent the garden at the moment but a nice surprise is a bird that normally turns up in August September decided to come to feed early. A young Great Spotted Woodpecker has been visiting the feeders and also it is quite vocal around the area as it sounds it's "kik" call. It's always a welcome visitor and with any luck, as in previous years it will hang around to maturity. 
The Starlings have now moved their young to the wider countryside as all is now quiet after two broods worth of early morning noise. The Sparrows are doing a good job of keeping up entertained though with all their goings on.
Mandy and i put a few more flowering plants in the garden the other day just to give it an injection of colour and a bit more kerbside appeal to passing butterflies and bees......
19th. It ain't arf hot mum! A new record for the garden was as suggested. It hit a new high at 15:35 and topped out at a marvelous 29.1C. It has been a touch clammy also reaching a high of 19.4c on the dewpoint measure and that is classed as uncomfortable...well at least it is for those not able to sit out and relax. My weather forecast is for a breezy weekend with lower temps of 25-26C...and I have taken the weekend off to celebrate!
As news still to come in on the Swift i took to hospital this time last week I was contacted by a friend who had rescued a young House martin in the road. I recommended several things and he decided on the Greenmount Wildlife Hospital I had used. The lady said it was dehydrated badly and that due to the warm weather they had quite a few patients with the same problem. 
18th. A quick note to record the hottest temp was again beaten for this month and indeed the year with a balmy 28.6C being recorded. It almost broke my personal records for July with that standing at just 0.2C more at 28.8C, yet what I can say is that the 28.8C was also a record for the hottest temp ever recorded in the garden so today's temp turned out to be the  sescond hottest for July and the second hottest of all my records! Will it be beaten I wonder? I took the afternoon off as I had some decking to rearange and boy was it hard going. I am not a sun God and even less since my radiotherapy although I do actively try to keep my vitamin D levels a bit higher than of old.
I notice the 3 weeks of good weather is getting bad press at present...what is that all about...we have hardly had six months of searing heat! I can only assume that news is in short supply at present.
11th.  No word on the Swift as yet. Good news though as the first of the Robin young have been seen along with a few Bullfinch juveniles. The Robin sighting is very late this year but I guess at least some have got away ok. I guess the question of the moment is...where are all the butterflies? we had a few showing during a warm spell in early June but despite the warm period at present we have hardly seen any. Mandy did see a Cinnabar Moth the other day which was quite welcome due to the fact the food plan, Ragwort, is much maligned due to it's reputation ofbeing very poisonous to equine beasts.
I guess the garden at the moment is very much "left alone" state as I have done little with the planting scheme. It looks full though and a few of the plants in the hedge will be cut back as one or two have got too big for their place.
PS. Hose Pipe ban anybody?
Another warm day was felt on the 9th with the gauge reaching 27.7C! That felt warm and whilst I took the afternoon off it still fely warm in the "mild" temp of 24.8C. I still have to be careful in strong sun but I balance that with topping up on vitamin D. 
8th.  The Swift was still doing Ok when I arrived home on Friday evening and I promised that if she was still with us I would take her to a wildlife hospital to see if anything could be done to return her to where she belongs, the air. I found Greenmount Wildlife Hospital so after a brief phone call I made the 45min journey. The Swift became quite lively in the box during transport hopefully not due to stress. On inspection the nurse said she was quite thin although I felt this could be down to the fact this individual could be a bird feeding young. Anyway she was admitted and after leaving a donation I could only hope for the best. Lot's of birds were eveident in the place including a very cute young Mistle Thrush.
I was given a reference number by way of contact to see how Apus was doing so I shall report back when I have the info.
Also a note to record the hottest temp of the year was recorded on the 7th. It topped 26.4 at 17:00 and boy it felt hot. Today again was a scorcher with a temp of 25.7 being seen it felt great despite the high pressure giving me a slight headache for the day. The weather is supposed to continue for a little while longer yet so I am going a few jobs in the garden as clay soil is always difficult to use in the wet!
4th.  It's a hard life and that feeling comes from watching the thing you love as it ebbs away without being able to do anything. What am I talking about. I was visited today at work by a man telling me of a little bird that was flapping around on the lawn.....I quickly followed him and my heart sank as it was being held and it was a bird man should never have the opportunity to handle...when you do it often means there was a problem....and yes there was. It had clearly collided with something in the garden and I could only put it down to a washing line. The Swift is such a magical bird spending it's life on the wing except for a brief breeding break where it's short legs scrabble around a nest site somehow. I was hoping that given air time it may fly as I know that a Swift cannot fly if it lands on the ground due to it's wing length and short leg combo. A little help into the air can be all that it needs but sadly this bird is very much in need of two wings and one of them clearly was damaged. Gutted as it sadly felt a lost cause. I asked the person to put it in a box in a quiet spot and I would collect it as sometimes they can come around after a shock of an impact.
I was hoping but really I felt things were in vain. I brought it home with me and did unmentionable things to mealworm to gain the "goo" the Swift would need to feed. It had fallen in consciousness on getting home so I began feeding it a little water carefully with tweezers. I carried on and then added mealworm parts. It began to work and the bird came round. I allowed it to liven up in quiet and carried on feeding. I then inspected the bird and have sadly made the decision not to carry on the feeding. The wing has now frozen and I feel I am prolonging possible pain. So so sad as this bird is probably feeding young at present.

August 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 28.4ºC    Min Temp =  5.6ºC    Mean Temp = 15.1ºC
Max Wind = 15mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 12    Rain 24hr Max = 23.2mm    Monthly Rain = 107.8mm

20th. Fresh back from the Birdfair at Rutland and we had a great time with a very enjoyable 3 day's of mixing with new and old friends, rubbing shoulders with like minded folk and listening to those who have a strong viewpoint on all things birds! I particularly enjoyed the "evening lecture" on Saturday that was to celebrate 25 years of the Birdfair and what impact this has had on conservation projects in places we can only dream of visiting. I recorded quite a lot of the evening talk and will post it here via You Tube when I get the chance

The real thing Mandy and I are working toward, as I have tried to for the last few years, is the Birdlife Malta camps in Spring and Autumn that are to highlight the horrendous slaughter of wild birds that migrate through that gem of an island, Malta.
Most wildlife enthusiasts are aware of Med countries and their love of hunting but Malta is by all accounts not a place a bird should enter into without risking life....yes it's that bad. It's a complex story and issue and I would urge anybody to write or email to their MEP. I am still finding paperwork from the fair so I will post a few links that give easy access via email to find our local MEPs etc.
Mandy and I have been mulling this over for a while and we have set the ball rolling with both reading up on Malta, attending talks and we have given some finacial help albeit only a small one through becoming members. It's something we are going to do more of culminating in a dedicated page on the website to this cause and ultimately a trip to support the local Maltese people who support the ending of illegal spring hunting on the island. The camps are run in peak migration months April and September and we hopefully will be one of those earning the write to wear the yellow T Shirts to promote ourselves when illegal hunting is taking place.
15th.  A quick entry into the diary to highlight a bird that is often mis identified particularly this time of year with young bird being confused. This bird has been absent from the garden for some years but two have made a welcome return to take advantage of a bit of spilled seed.
First was a handy visitor and this is a young Woodpigeon. Note the eye colour and beak length.

Can you tell what it is yet?

Yes this a the very tidy and attractive Stock Dove. Probably resembles a feral pigeon at first glance but it's behaviour alone suggests not. I love that silky black eye. Also note the two slight marks of black on its wing around the secondaries area. Note the white patch is missing on the Dove that is present on a Woodpigeon, instead a lovely green iridescent patch.
It's been missed over the years. I have only seen one bird over the last two or three days in the garden so we may have lost one. The dance and song of a bird showing off to a prospecting mate is great fun to witness so I hope it sticks around!
7th.  Mandy took a picture of a large caterpillar today on her phone as she returned home from work. Mandy estimated 65mm in length and it seems we have the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk Moth.

We then noted a Skipper Butterfly on the Coreopsis plant so that also got a picture portfolio!

4th. I woke early this morning as it felt a little to warm so I got up about 05:00 just as a little light brought the natural world to life. First up are the Woodpigeons, indeed four of them all chomping on what the hedgepigs did not want on the lawn. The Blackbirds soon followed with their young calling for breakfast in close attendance. 
I watched as a posse of young from birds and mammals all took their turn in feeding. The family of four Magpies finding the young of the Squirrels fair game for a bit of "tail pulling" which I think the Squirrel went along with for a time.
I hope most of you are noting the same as we are in the garden at present and that is things that breed have done well this year with plenty of young Blackbirds, Robins, Sparrows, Great and Blue Tits and even a few Collared Dove young. The only thing that seems to be standing out is Finch numbers as Greenfinch and Goldfinch young have been very hard to find.
I was watching the skies as a group of House Martins were what looked like "napping" flight as they seem to hang in the air with little forward motion. All of them were doing this spread eagle flight with no height being gained or lost. Was it to do with the early sprinkle of rain at the time allowing for a mid air bathe or were they just catching a few winks of sleep on the wing? I wonder.
Weatherwise has turned a touch cooler although we still are sitting out in the evenings which is a welcome return to things that we missed last year. The wind had a cool edge yesterday and the forecast is for today to be similar but cooler still with more cloud. 

September 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 22.9ºC    Min Temp =  2.2ºC    Mean Temp = 11.6ºC
Max Wind = 16mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 7    Rain 24hr Max = 20mm    Monthly Rain = 74.6mm 


18th. The question I get asked most this time of year is.....where are all the birds? Well as many know several things are going on this time of year including moulting whereby the birds skulk away whilst they change their clothes. The other thing is that the countryside this time of year is literally full of food with berries, seeds and nuts starting to ripen and the birds know best where to get it! 
I don't kn ow about anybody else but I have managed to keep a few birds. True Sparrows have artificially swelled the bird count...not that I mind that, but I have had Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Bullfinch with still plenty of Chaffinch. The only real absentee which is always missed is the Blackbird. I look forward to seeing these again and no doubt when October comes around they will be queuing up for the sultanas. The lack of Thrushes at present has had the usual sultana feeder on it's side and tucked away. At least my wallet gets a rest at this time though!
13th. Ok so a change of direction...well sort of. It's still birds related it's just that it is big birds and made of composite materials. No not big bird from Sesame Street this is XH558 better known as the Vulcan Bomber. If you have never seen this beauty and indeed do not know of it's importance of the plane both in it's active days and modern day then I urge you to both read about it and also experience the plane in flight. One of these things ie reading about it is easy the second is becoming more and more difficult and the website below shows you why. 
You must see this plane in flight...it cannot be a bucket list thing as it won't last that long!
Just click the picture below to find out how to help

8th.  A quick setup of the new equipment and I decided a try out despite it being through a double glazed window I am so far finding the results acceptable.
4th. The last few evenings have been really nice and today whilst seeing quite a cool temp overnight of 8ºC we also recorded a nice high so far of 22.9ºC at 17:30. As we sat out on the decking a few things occurred that had us thinking of the inevitable approach of Autumn with a party of 14 Mistle Thrush flying over the garden at about 18:00. Also I berated the Robin as his autumnal ticking noise that is often a precursor to his winter song was heard....he heeded my warning and did not sing!
I waved goodbye to a very important piece of my kit yesterday as I sold my very very loyal Spotting Scope and accessories. The Zeiss 85 T FL with 20x60 zoom. It has served me very well over the last 7 or so years and the pictures I have taken with my camera through it are always testament to the quality of the scope. My disgust at Zeiss for handling a repair to the scope 2 years ago which was truly a shambles on Zeiss' part always had me looking for an alternative. I often find the only way a customer can have an impact on a company these day's is not to buy their products again and so at the first chance of something taking my attention other than the setup I already owned I felt it time to let go of my scope. It was hard work I have to admit as I had taken a lot of time getting this kit to a very "right arm" feel to it as I enjoyed the digiscoping aspect through this scope. I also liked the neoprene case for it as it just did the job rather than a lot of other cases that seem over engineered.
What.....!!! I hear you cry no scope???? Don't worry I have a plan! All in due coarse!

October 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 17.4ºC    Min Temp =  3.4ºC    Mean Temp = 10.6ºC
Max Wind = 17mph
Rain Days Over 0.2mm = 20    Rain 24hr Max = 31.2mm    Monthly Rain = 209mm    Yearly rain Total =  981.6mm

31st.  Mandy and I sadly had to attend a funeral last Friday and whilst we were out parts of the Rossendale valley experienced some very destructive weather. It was between 17:00-19:00 and whilst we were only 5 miles from home at the time we did not experience what our home did. We were only alerted to it on Sunday when Mandy received a call telling her that her works had been flooded as all the skylights had been punctured all over.....2" holes peppered the whole roof letting water in. Now often weather is a much exaggerated thing but we were lucky that somebody out walking around our local res took a picture of the the hail stones....I have personally never seen anything like this.
Just a reminder to those interested....Autumnwatch is back on BBC2HD and it is nice to see it coming from our "local" RSPB reserve Leighton Moss. Sadly it seems a short series with it finishing on Friday. It seems that Winterwatch will also be made a series following a similar format, which is always great to see. Anybody else picking up on Chis Packham references this series? He is a very good naturalist and his ability to hold info and that level of interest is something to behold
27th. I thought it better for the long term recording of events that the area mentioned below should have it's own section as it would be better set out with a clearer more defined timeline of events added to it. Those interested can find the details on the main menu under the section simply named Jubilee Walk/Garden.
26th.  It's a long story but the issues are relating to a patch of land that runs at the back of the house and to the right. It was given to the people of Whitworth some years ago and named Jubilee Garden/walk. As like all councils the maintenance of such areas have long since been given up on and the once trimmed back grasses have slowly been swamped by long grass and other plants.
The red line on the map gives a rough outline on the area.

Trees in this land include -: Oak Tree with plaque of commemoration. A row of Alder tree, 5 Poplar trees, Mountain Ash trees, Dog Rose, Hawthorn, Buckthorn and a few others. The ground is very wet and the bull rushes in the far end in the more open areas quietly give evidence to the trees requirement over anything else. When you take time to talk to residents that have been here longer that the trees on this land (pre 70s) there is further warning about getting rid of the trees, coupled with a basic understanding on why some of those species of trees were planted there.
Some residents who have had large extensions and huge double garages fill their own gardens, felt it would be good to have this land as their own. Others have just fenced areas off...you get the picture. It is has a public footpath running through it and is used by many as a cut through and a good space to walk the dog. So far neighbours plans to purchase this land and take it away from other locals has not been allowed, now some have set about making the land seem like a nuisance to the council, so began the complaining about this piece of land. It's the grass it's to long.....it's the trees they are to tall....it's all the leaves.....it's the light the trees take away.....it's the dog muck.....anything that just makes it a nuisance coupled with a dog with a bone type approach until daddy gives you what you want.
I wonder why some bought places so near to areas that cause them so much irritation? What kind of people think council land that has value to a community, environment and a general good impact on families have the right to make it theirs?
Some of those people that have complained about the trees in that area, are the same people that have planted several Scots Pines all within 3 feet of each other and under the canopy of established trees and then complain about trees being dangerous? Ignorance is not an excuse but it does seem that these persons have it in abundance. They are in all neighbourhoods and the council have to put up with these on a daily basis and I admire their ability to assuage whilst trying to do a job.
Anyhow back in July/Aug we received a letter telling of tree removal work in the area due to "inappropriate" planting of species? Is that the similar term used when money has to be paid but the only justifiable word to cover it is "administration fee"? The letter further explained that the trees do not pose any danger...what? I sent a reply to the council asking if the correct surveys had been carried out, and if so why they have either missed the nestboxes on the trees and if they had not missed them I would like to ask about how familiar they were with the countryside act 1981 and the removal of nesting birds with particular importance to section 1 of that act? That law is for a reason and I was quite disappointed in the fact that a local council would brush it aside. I also question the integrity of a Council and the allowance of persons to do this kind of work in breeding seasons knowing that removal of trees could retrospectively bring a court action against the council as again ignorance cannot be used in such instances. Greater accountability should be of importance in such bodies but clearly it seems that if they can they will. 
I will continue with a few pictures of the area and further keep a log of events in the coming months...and it is not all bad news I promise....I was actually pleased in the end.
23rd.  I don't know about others outside of the Rossendale valley but the weather has been a very strange affair. It has been spectacular in various ways with evening and morning red skies and the other day we had a really lovely yellow sky that made the whole garden glow. It was a colour hard to describe but it was truly an Autumn colour as though the sun was blocked out by a yellow Maple leaf straight from a north American fall movie. It has also remained remarkably warm with temps during the day reaching 15C and overnight temps are still in double figures....and we still have not put the central heating on....but like many I was pleased to receive an email from our gas supplier giving those handy tips on how to cut my bill? 
19th. I have just noticed I have reached 200 UK species of Bird. My world list stands at 581 and I really need to work on both, but for now finance is being used up elsewhere and to much surprise to those who know us cannot believe we have nothing planned....as yet although I do keep an eye on Oct next year! The bird that brought my 200 species was a Little Stint seen at Spurn. 
I have cleaned out the nest boxes in the garden ready for those birds that will use them for roosting during the winter months but I have not yet checked the cameras to see if we have any at present.
I will post a little sad tale at of a great loss to me and indeed to the area of where I live. I have managed to console myself with a little something but I will post a bit more in the coming day's as I will add a few pictures also to help in the epitaph.
12th.  As promised a few pictures of a very iconic car. I have put them in a different section as they are a bit out of place here so if you are interesting in the world of detailing click HERE
8th. A bit of time off from work finally arrived which allowed us to have a couple of weekend stays at one of our favourite places this time of year, Spurn. These two breaks were either side of a little detail. I have an interest in car detailing...one of the sadder interests I have! I usually do run of the mill stuff but a flurry of fine cars have come my way of late...one being Ashley Cole's old SL55 Brabus AMG F1 sports car and the other a very spectacular Ferrari of my era. I shall post a few pictures both of the Spurn trip and the Ferrari..a very unusual Ferrari at that when I get chance.

November 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 11.4ºC    Min Temp =  -3.1ºC    Mean Temp = 4.9ºC
Max Wind = 32mph
Rain Days Over 0.2mm = 13    Rain 24hr Max = 18mm    Monthly Rain = 95.4mm

27th.  It's always this time of year that the garden really survives all on it's own as work only allows views of the garden in the dark. Having started the feeding of the birds again almost a week ago I have not had to fill the feeders up at all....mercenary behaviour I think! The cold snap we have had over the last 10 day's or so has come to an end with mean temps of the day dropping to between 1C to 3.4C. It has been noticeably warmer today and it showed as the thermometer hit 9.1. The mean temp for the day so far has raised to 8.3C, quite a difference.
Mandy and I along with a few friends visited Martin Mere last weekend and whilst it was quiet in general it was what happens on the edge of darkness on the reserve that makes it quite special. First up it's the lovely Whooper Swan that come down from the tundra to take advantage of a evening feed of grain. Strange watching wild birds queueing up to be fed under floodlight.
Then the real stars turn up as the lights fades beyond the binoculars struggling to see the winged wonders as they wiffle their way in to the safety of the reserve.....I don't know how many came tumbling in but it was at least a few thousand in several skeins. The Pink Footed Goose has to be what epitomises Autumn wildfowl with their neat lines in the air like a red arrows display coupled with that enchanting chatter that always announce their presence. We left with smiles on our faces as the cacophony of the wildfowl kept up their calls. A really nice experience that I would repeat anytime.
21st.  The Collared Dove that I sent off to the London Zoo for autopsy was indeed infected with disease. I received an email from Tim Hopkins a few days back which stated

Dear Mr Rush,

This adult female collared dove was in emaciated body condition at the time of death. A large trichomonosis lesion in the pharynx was preventing ingestion leading to dehydration and starvation.

Today marked the recommended period of time not to feed the birds in the garden and having the afternoon I filled two cleaned feeders and a brand new one. The only takers were from the Tit family although most of them were totally unaware tea was on the table and kept heading for the monkey nuts which took some stripping back to get at the peanuts.
We have still not put the central heating on as yet despite the temps outside hitting lows of -3.1C. The gas fire is just about keeping the house warm. I have read recently that we are supposed to be in for a winter not seen since 1947 with lot's of heavy snow fall to come. Is is just the press serving up "news" no matter how credible or are we going to be experts with snow shifters come March?
10th.  On a very special Sunday, namely Remembrance Sunday the weather has allowed those to visit the local cenotaph to remain dry. It is a truly gorgeous day with a still, cloudless sky yet a coldness that just gives that feel of winter. It was also the first day where the garden has recorded a minus temp of the Autumn. At 08:30 this morning it dropped to -1.3ºC and a ground frost resulted.
I am missing not feeding the birds as the feeders remain empty although I do put out a few fat balls and monkey nuts for the Woodpecker and Jays. One small bit of solace at present is that the Blackbirds have now returned with many young Males with their dark bills and brownish colouring. I have put some sultanas out but they seem just as happy with the berries provided by the Mountain Ash and the Pyracantha.
I will be sending of a Collared Dove for autopsy which is carried out by the London Zoo on behalf the BTO. I hope to find out the results in due course but I would be surprised if it came back anything else but trichomonosis.
A website of interest in case you are interested about this topic is HERE
5th. Is it really the 5th of November? The weather has put out any hopes of eating your toffee apple without it either being blown off it's stick or worse the toffee coating being washed off before you could eat it! Very few fireworks are evident in the night air. I think the houses of parliament are safe for another year.....shame!
I have been contacted about the diseased birds and am now in a better position to offer them for autopsy as they need a certain way of both storing and posting. I placed these two bird, Greenfinch and Chaffinch in an incinerator outside but I have not kept them as needed for a good subject for dissection so if others are found I shall now know how to store them and package them.
I have decided due to the nature of the disease that the best thing for the birds is to not feed for 1-2 weeks and keep an eye on things. The feeders have been cleaned but I think the best thing is not to have birds visit the feeders where the disease can easily be passed on via saliva and droppings. The disease does not survive long outside of a host so I think the best is to stop any chance of the birds feeding near any contaminated items. This will be the first time I have not fed for any period for about 11 years.
I would urge anybody else noting the disease to do the same as it is a devastating disease that can even pass to birds of prey if eating infected birds.
3rd.  I thought this image sums up the time of year nicely.

Mandy is a tester for Lush products and these are two on the testing agenda. The products are all very natural ingredients and the Lush company is a genuinely conscientious brand with the owner of the business Mark Constantine being a birder with some superb attributes.
Lush can be found HERE
Mark's other interest is sounds which is tagged as "the sound approach" which can be found HERE 

A little, not so gentle reminder, is that the garden is again experiencing the disease that has become a bit more of a problem countrywide. I first recorded this disease back in 2004 and I have seen it every year since. I have reported this to the BTO and have confirmed I can have them autopsied if needed. Please if you feed the birds wash those feeders or have spares ready to make a quick change over if you see signs of disease. So far I have noted 2 Greenfinch, 1 Chaffinch and one Collared Dove.
For more info please see the BBC HERE
And for recording such disease please see HERE

A quick resume of the disease is below

Trichomonosis in Garden Birds
Trichomonas gallinae is a single-celled protozoan parasite that can cause a disease known as trichomonosis in 
garden birds.
Species affected 
Trichomonosis is historically known to affect pigeons and doves in the UK. It can also affect birds of prey that feed on 
other birds that are infected with the parasite. The common name for the disease in pigeons and doves is “canker” 
and in birds of prey the disease is also known as “frounce”.
Trichomonosis was first seen in British finch species in summer 2005 with subsequent epidemic spread throughout 
Great Britain and across Europe. Whilst greenfinch (Chloris chloris) and chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) are the species 
that have been most frequently affected by this emerging infectious disease, many other garden bird species, 
including the house sparrow (Passer domesticus), siskin (Carduelis spinus), goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and 
bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), are susceptible to the condition.
Trichomonas gallinae typically causes disease at the back of the throat and in the gullet. 
Signs of disease
In addition to showing signs of general illness, for example lethargy and fluffed-up plumage, affected birds may drool 
saliva, regurgitate food, have difficulty in swallowing or show laboured breathing. Finches are frequently seen to 
have matted wet plumage around the face and beak. In some cases, swelling of the neck may be visible from a 
distance. The disease may progress over several days or even weeks, consequently affected birds are often very thin 
or emaciated.
Disease transmission 
The Trichomonas gallinae parasite is vulnerable to desiccation and cannot survive for long periods outside the host. 
Transmission of infection between birds is most likely to be by birds feeding one another with regurgitated food 
during the breeding season or through food or drinking water contaminated from an infected bird.
Disease patterns
An epidemic of finch trichomonosis occurred throughout much of Great Britain in 2006 and 2007, and the disease 
has continued to cause large-scale mortality of finches in subsequent years. The number of outbreaks typically peaks 
in the late summer to autumn months, although they can occur throughout the year. 
The geographical distribution where most finch trichomonosis outbreaks occurred shifted from western to eastern 
areas of Britain in 2007-08, but the disease is now established throughout the British Isles.

December 2013

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 11.4C    Min Temp =  -1.1ºC    Mean Temp = 5.1ºC
Max Wind = 36mph
Rain Days Over 0.2mm = 20    Rain 24hr Max = 18mm    Monthly Rain = 149.2mm    Yearly rain Total =  1231mm

31st.  Looking back on the year and it feels a little shall we say non discript in general. I was hoping to beat my year list but have fallen short of the UK total for a year. I really should try harder! 
I, like many, was very pleased with the weather over the summer as we managed to spend quite a lot of it outside in the evenings, something we have not managed in the last couple of years. It was heading for the driest year in terms of rainfall until an average rainfall amount for December pushed us over the threshold. One thing that cannot be doubted though is the average temperature for December which has been very very high at 5.1C. Previous average for December was 4.3C so that is quite a remarkable upturn. This has been helped by only five day's dipping to below zero with the lowest temp being -1.1C. The warmest was a balmy 11.4C which strangely was the warmest temp recorded in November. Looking back further into the warm December it was noted that it was warmer than November.
I wonder what the New Year will hold for us all?
21st.  It's that important time of year again....no not that date the other one....the 21st is winter solstice and from here on in the nights get shorter and the day's get longer. At present the sun rises at 08:24 and sets at 15:50 that will not lengthening bit by bit. It seems to take an age to get to this place. 
Couple of welcome visitors to the garden of late in a single Lesser Redpoll and the continued visit by the  lovely Song Thrush. The sultanas always draw a crowd but the Song Thrush likes to wait for the crowds to ease before snatching a few fruit and then zipping away to cover.
December so far has been reasonably warm with only one below zero temp being recorded...so far. Still no central heating needed which has to be a record for us. The wind has been the dominant feature of weather at present with high gusts of 36mph and a continued strong gusty wind most days. A few hail showers and an odd flurry of snow but nothing to remind us of the last few years at this time of year.
8th.  The Blackbird numbers in the garden are slowly increasing to about 7 and yesterday as I returned home from work I peered into the garden and spooked a Song Thrush taking sultanas. It was quite nice to see these lovely Thrushes taking advantage of the fruit I put out.
First snowfall was noted on Thursday night...in fairness it was a very small flurry despite the temps actually reading 4C. Still no below zero temps have been recorded for December so far and looking at the next week this looks like it will not change. Still no central heating needed in the house as the gas fire seems adequate to keep the house aired.
Importantly no more birds have been seen with the disease noted in November so the bird feeders continue to be full of food.
1st.  A weekend off had us having a look over in Yorkshire at the RSPB reserve Blacktoft Sands 
I was looking to get Hen Harrier as two had been seen both Male & Female. It was quiet in general but some good hides and reasonable weather had us keeping happy enough as we knew that the birds only come in to roost only when the light fades.
A lone Avocet on one of the pools was a bit odd although it may be one of those birds that are wild but unable to leave the reserve due to some reason or another despite it being able to fly, albeit we only saw short flight.
Plenty of wigeon and a large passage of Pink Feet was a constant as they fed on the fields nearby. The reedbed is quite extensive but despite listening we could not here Bearded Tits pinging let alone get a glimpse.
We headed to the far hide to find standing room only.

After some time Mandy managed to nab a from row seat as the light started to fade

As we waited for a glimpse of either Male or Female we were happy to see so many Marsh Harriers also coming in to roost in the reed beds, probably well into double figures. For a brief moment we were distracted as a young lad asked what the bird on the edge of the water was????? it was a pipit.....where I was stood I could not get onto it as instantly I was thinking Water Pipit which would have been good for the year list.....I moved around but could not see it.....a bloke said it's a Water and then I saw it fly off.......count or not to count? Not for me on that sighting!
My poor viewing area was compounded as the Warden shouted ringtail coming in over blah blah....Mandy with ring seat got it but I dipped again. It dropped into the reedbed not to be seen again and as the light faded we headed home with only one pleased, and that one was not me!

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