Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Buds, Birds and Blue Sky.

Darling buds of March seems a little premature and the frosty mornings have served as a little reminder that it is still early in the season. But we shall make the most of what we have. It’s beautiful.

Buds and blue sky-1

Spud has been getting hot and bothered, yesterday whilst Tom and I were sat by the pond, he took a cooling dip, and swam right through the gloopy remnant’s of the ‘frog spawn jelly’ before clambering out.  And what do dogs do when they get out of water? They shake. Bleuughhhhh SPUD! You revolting dog!


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Unfit for Avian Consumption?

 

The birds are working really had to find food at the moment, they are very visible in their efforts, not only must they be burning the calories fast in such cold weather, but they only have a few hours of daylight to find enough to sustain them, I imagine this must make being at the top of the food chain like the sparrow hawk an easier deal though. It is the RSPB garden bird watch this weekend, so if you don’t want to tick boxes on your tax return, get out in the garden and watch the birds instead and look upon it as your civic duty to help crash the HM Revenue and Customs website as you try to submit your  online self assessment at the 11th hour next weekend.

I spotted a  hungry blackbird seeking out the very last hawthorn berry from this tree:

The last berry

so why directly across the road is there another hawthorn dripping in fruit* and not a bird in sight?

Do not eat

It seems not all haws taste the same

*I’d have like to bring you a photo of glossy red berries, but it had to be an arty backlit photo job, unless I was going to climb over a barbwire fence.


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Balance

Just a puff of wind and I’m sure this snoozing duck will fall over

one leg and one eye

The open water around and about was still frozen, so the local ducks were hanging out in a field.

Double duck

Are you a ‘elder duck’ if you have a grey beak? is a yellow beak a sign of youth and virility?  They weren’t too phased by me observations, they just toddled off across the field when they had enough, taking the snoozing duck with them.

sleepy duck and friends

The hills in the distance were still snow covered

Snow and ice 

and as likely as not it was busy up there.

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Not on the Agenda

I was in a meeting the other day, in a first  floor office when I spied, out of the corner of my eye, an owl, it was roosting under the eves of the neighbouring building. I was very excited, my colleagues less so.

Night flyer, sleeping

It’s a tawny owl I think, according the the RSPB website it’s the size of a pigeon, well its a bloody big pigeon, to give some scale to the shot the pipe it’s perched on is a standard size overflow pipe, I’d have said it was more the size of a small chicken. (a friend tells me that ‘owls are like duvets, all fluffy and puffed up’ So maybe that’s the answer, this is all fluff and no substance: now I have a mental image of the RSPB lining birds up for an identity parade, feathers off, golden eagle to the left of line, goldcrest to the right.

Down below the snoozing owl the street was busy, workmen were using a pneumatic drill a few yards away, it seemed unperturbed ruffling it’s feathers occasionally and having a look around every now and then. It was a bit of a distraction, for me  at any rate, but then I’m easily distracted from any agenda. Obligingly the owl was sitting out the day in his/her somewhat exposed roost site so I was able to sneak back later to take these photos,

Night flyer, sleeping 2 

They’re not the best, but I had to be a little discrete, leaning out of the first floor window brandishing a long lens would not have done me any favours with security, as it is I’ve already got a bit of a reputation.


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Nutty Drivers

Speed freaks

They don’t

Nutty Driver

In spite of repeated warnings the squirrels have continued to use excess speed.The only answer has been to confiscate the offending vehicle

Wot, no wheels

Best get back up the trees guy’s, over at River Cottage they have been cooking up

Squirrel ragout (but not red squirrels obviously)

(Many thanks to Joe for post production CGI)


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Little Bird

After the most unpromising of weeks, four and a half inches of rain since Wednesday, today has, after a very wet start turned into one of those perfect autumn days, the sort you want to put in a bottle and save for a rainy day in January. A photogenic day and plenty of photos in the can, to play around with during the week. Mr Uhdd went out first thing, in full foul weather gear,thermals, waterproofs, boots and wooly hat, to attend a course on building dry stone walls, he will have been hot! But far better that than being pulverized by horizontal rain and sleet whilst learning how to do a three dimensional jigsaw with lumps of rock on a windswept hill (he was snowed on on Friday, when he was out running on the hills.)

Has anyone got any idea who this is  please?

Little bird 2

A wee sweetie of a bird, who was flitting around rose bush, whilst BiL (my brother in law) and I were sat on the steps having a mug of tea in the afternoon sun.

Little bird 3


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Menagerie

I’ve been feeling unwell for a few days, yesterday the only time that I crawled  in a slothful way, out from under the duvet was to pick up a prescription from the doctors. In the car park my legs didn’t much feel like they belonged to me, but rather a giraffe, they were sort of gangly and not quite going in the direction I wanted them too, maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to come out: an elderly lady was being helped from a  car into a wheel chair, her legs looked stick thin and  brittle, like those of a fawn.

In the Chemist, I slumped on the the ‘waiting chair’, what is it about the ‘ritual’ of dispensing chemists that makes reaching a packet of antibiotics off the shelf, slapping a sticky label on them and giving them to the customer such a big deal, the chemist took the prescription from me, entered it to her computer then proceeded to make two phone calls before, having the grace to come back and OK the box the assistant has reached off the shelf and hand it to me, I was feeling like a bear with a sore head, I just wanted to go back to bed.

Driving home I glanced in the rear view mirror, it was completely filled by the word VOLVO and the snarling radiator grill of a stone lorry, it was clinging to the back bumper like a limpet; maybe I was driving at a tortoise like speed, but no, on checking my speed it was the stone truck who had the issue with the new 30mph speed restriction not me. Back home I found my glasses (I’m getting as blind as a bat without them) I read the leaflet that came with the antibiotics, a list of possible side effects that’s enough to make you feel as sick as a parrot; but at last, I could go back to bed and curl up in my hibernating hedgehog pose. (not my photo folks)

image

I’m feeling much better today, well better than yesterday, it’s just as well because Mr Uhdd has been at home today, rattling around the house like a flea in a bottle and he has just taken a chisel to the kitchen wall, so it’s just as well my thumping headache has gone.

The weather has at last been beautiful (whilst I’ve been in bed, typical) so I did go and sit by the pond for a wee while this afternoon, this dragonfly was flitting around, they are tricky blighters to take photos of, they wont keep still; I think they have something a ‘prehistoric monster’ look about them, or maybe that’s the medication

Dragon fly

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