Uphilldowndale

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


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Turn of the tern

Belatedly, it is back to the Farne Isles, and it’s the turn of the tern, the artic terns.  They seem to build ridiculously  scant nests,  not so much a nest, as outline planning permission for one.

Tern nest

Some don’t  seem to bother with even that much effort, when there is a footpath available (see bottom left of this photo).

What no nest_

But they are not any old terns, one at least is a record breaker

Tiny bird flies 59,650 miles from its breeding grounds in Farne Islands in the UK to Antarctica and back again, clocking the longest ever migration recorded

They are feisty in defence of their nests…

Tern attack

Mr Uphilldowndale had borrowed my hat, a hat designed for snugness rather than its bird deflection properties.

Tern attack 3_

The birds are protected and nurtured on the Farne Isles, and we felt very privileged to get so close to them, but we did wonder how much energy they were putting into attempting to ‘see off’ the endless stream of visitors…   They must be grateful for the days when the weather is too rough for the tourist boats to land.

Tern attack two


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Ghost Soldiers and Bird Song

I went to our  local park today, to the war memorial where there was a service to commemorate the  anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme.

I have to say the blowing of a whistle at the start of the service, chilled my blood. What a thought, that 19,420  lives were lost that day.

On 1st July 1916 at 07.30am, whistles blew all along the British front line driving thousands of troops out of the trenches into No Man’s Land as the Battle of the Somme began.

The park was built as a memorial to those who lost  their lives during World War I, and during the two minutes silence I was struck by the sweet scent of roses drifting up from the flower beds and the bird song from the surrounding, and now mighty trees. I could pick out the cheeky chatter of long tailed tits

Long-tailed tit, windy day

Birdsong must have been the last thing the soldiers heard before the guns

From Bivouacs by Gilbert Waterhouse

In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
We bivouacked and slept the night,
The nightingales sang the same
As they had sung before we came.
‘Mid leaf and branch and song and light
And falling dew and watching star.
And all the million things which are
About us and above us took
No more regard of us than
We take in some small midge’s span
Of life, albeit our gunfire shook
The very air in Somecourt Wood.

It was very moving, and I don’t think had I seen these  ‘ghost soldiers’ today, moving speechlessly through our cities, each one  simply carrying a card with the name and age of a soldier they represented. I could have helped but shed a tear. What a powerful piece of art.

'Ghost Tommies' at Waterloo Station in London


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A throning, or a party by any other name

I’ve a string of posts to deliver,  I’m behind schedule, I’ve been distracted; they are going to tumble out randomly, it seems to match the mood of the nation!

You’d be hard pressed to call where I live a street, but it didn’t stop us having a street party to celebrate the Queens 90th Birthday a few weeks ago.

There were a lot of planning meetings (Mr Uphilldowndale will tell you  what I mean by this, is that there was a lot of drinking of prosecco  on Sunday afternoons for the previous month) I’ll tell you the planning was just as sociable as the party.  We then went on holiday and left the neighbours to all the hard work, arriving back in time for the sound of popping corks.  They did a fab job, we had  music,  flowers, porta-loos, road closed signs, bollards and bunting, a proper party.

Road Closed_

We even had very official notices to close the road, who could resist a throning of neighbours?

Thronging_

 

Thronging 2

We didn’t divert any carts as far as we know, a few cyclists and a couple of walkers meandered through the tables, most took  the diversion in good  heart.

We brought out the finest vintage food (the ‘food miles’ of some of it could be measured in inches rather than miles)

pickle

Ate proper pie (Yorkshire pie, brought over the county boundary under special licence).

proper pie

I may have mentioned the prosecco before

drinks

So many cakes

cake

and a few gate crashers.

Gate crasher Moo over

We raised money for charity too, we are very lucky to have such lovely neighbours…


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Unidentified Emotions

As a friend put it on Friday, in the wake of the EU referendum results ‘I’m experiencing emotions I can’t name, I certainly haven’t felt them before’.

Politics isn’t something I’d normally mention here, but the referendum and  decision  for the UK to leave the EU is to big to walk on by.  I’m gutted. Horrified. Sad and bitterly disappointed for my boys. A few of those unidentifiable emotions my friend mentioned are swilling around in the mix too.

A conversation I overheard, seemed to me, to capture the fact that many folk hadn’t got a handle on the chain of events voting ‘leave’ would set in motion.

First women. ‘My son says Nando’s are leaving the UK because of Brexit

Second women. ‘Oh my god, you’d think it was the end of the world, all we did was put a cross in a box on a bit of paper!’

I wasn’t sure if to laugh or cry, so I  just stood in front of the newspaper stand in crushing bewilderment.

Mr Uphilldowndale and I were set to go to Loweswater, in Cumbria on Friday, in preparation  for Daz’s Memorial  fell race.  We didn’t like going and leaving Joe home alone, he’d been up all night watching the results come in and was as down as we were; but Spud the dog stayed at home to keep him company, as ironically Tom is away, in Europe, working (we cast a proxy vote on his behalf).

 

We stopped by at Dodds Wood and climbed up to the viewing point to see the osprey’s  this  and a walk in the woods did us good and soothed our souls a little.

What now

The next day I had chance to contemplate the hills and some of the many emotional events of the last few weeks, and some of those emotions spilt out. The sheep was my confidante .

Don't ask me. I didn't vote._

What more can I say.

Tek Care


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Puffin, nothin’

I’ve been away from the the blog for a wee while. Nothin’ has been posted.

I’d had high hopes of posting a  wildlife post  each day of June  like I did last year as part of  ‘Thirty Days Wild’  but I didn’t get off to a very good start!

However we’ve been lucky enough to spend a few days in Northumberland and visit the Inner Farne Island, it was fabulous, so much wildlife it felt like 30 days wild, condensed into a few hours . I’ve blog fodder for the rest of the month.

Let’s start with the puffins. I’ve always wanted to see Puffin’s, who wouldn’t?

Puffin proud_

You just can’t but smile at the sight of them. I’ve wanted to get a close look at them for a long time,

Puffin_

I visited Iceland back in the 1980’s (at the time everyone thought I was a little mad) and I only saw one puffin, so this was a puffin fest! I have to admit I was a bit excited.

Puffin excited_

So many Puffins

Three Puffins_

Their swimming style is not dissimilar to mine, not a very effective stroke (on the water at least)

Puffin swim splash 2

it’s a miracle they get airborne, when they do, their flying is distinctive.

Puffin flying_

They feed on sand eels, the supply of sand eels is crucial to a successful breeding season, however like all good fishermen’s tales, the ones that get away are the biggest…

Puffin 'this big'


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How old?

Nine years today, since my first post. Which seems pretty amazing to me.  As does this view, it’s Newborough beach on Anglesey, we’ve visited here a few times; whilst Tom has been studying at Bangor university, not so very far away. He’d have been twelve when I started blogging. He handed in his dissertation last week and has only a couple of exams left to sit.

Newbrough_

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