Uphilldowndale

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


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The Big Build

There is a whole lot of nest building going on.  I’m not sure how this thrush managed to find its way back to the nest site…

Thrush nesting

But it did.

Thrush nesting 2

We’re a little concerned as it seems a very exposed site, in an oak tree near the pond.

Thrush nesting 3

It’s only a hop, skip and a jump for the cats to be up there. We’ve already had  the bodies two young rabbits, two robins and three mice on the door mat, in the last couple of weeks. I suppose when the leaves open it will be better hidden. Fingers crossed. 


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Buzzards and Bramblings

How lucky am I to be able to sit and watch birds great and small from my window. I think these are bramblings, a bird I can’t recall visiting us before, there are greenfinches and goldfinches too.

Finch feeding_

We’ve moved the feeder, closer to a hawthorn, and it seems that with feeding wild birds, as in retail, the three most important things are position, position and position, there have been upwards of 40 birds visiting  at any one time, the hawthorn shimmers with them. But hard to try and capture in an image, especially when it is snowing, as illustrated here..

many birds in a bush

This afternoon a buzzard was soaring over the field against a blue sky, always a treat, it used to be rare to see to them here: and last week we had several sightings of a raven, much bigger than a rook and being mobbed by them, it was his distinctive call and a check with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust members on social media that confirmed our suspicions.

Saturday’s weather lifted everyone’s spirits  after a week of snow ice and rain: even if the  mood of the day was tempered by the news that after eight days without a telephone connection,  thank you Doris, we now face at least a week, probably more, before can expect to be reconnected, as the repair involves new cabling,  requiring traffic management, cherry pickers and cable drums.


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Lock Down

Our chickens continue their enforced confinement , due to the risk of them contracting Avian Flu from migrating birds, they have to stay in their run.

They’ve adapted pretty well to this change of circumstances, I’ve tried to give them things to entertain, as well as replace the amount of fresh grass  and vegetation they normally graze.  And  I’ll confess, that without thinking about it, that for a few days, I was taking them an armful of windfall apples each day, which they loved (we’ve had a prolific year for apples).

windfall 2

That was, until it occurred to me, that the migrating birds I was trying to keep away from the chickens had probably been grazing on these apples. So much for bio security!

I hasten to add that these apples are very much more munched  than back at the start of the lock down in mid December , when they were whole apples with unbroken skin

windfall


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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