Uphilldowndale

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


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Eleven years on

Apparently today is my blogs 11th birthday.

Trees have been a constant blog companion over the years, so my blog buddies, what is this? We saw it at Burghley we thought it might be an ash, from the leaf shape

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and the  purple-black buds, what do you think?

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But Ash can be complicated, one of those things I only found out whilst writing a blog post. That’s the kind on thing that captures my curiosity and has kept me blogging along for eleven years, what makes blogging a feast and social media a snack.

The flowers appear on the tree before the new leaves in spring. They are small and dark purple in colour, occurring in dense clusters, with the female flowers being slightly longer than the males. Unusually, ash can be either monoecious (meaning that both sexes occur on an individual tree) or dioecious, where any one tree has either all male or all female flowers. Some trees also alternate their flowering, bearing only male flowers in one year and females the next.

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It was in the sculpture garden, we had a nice time there, and it did get a little silly from time to time, its what happens when you get a group of mates together who have know each others since they were in the Scouts together, they still think they are sixteen, not sixty; brilliant.

I liked the cattle sculpture

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And the detail of some more abstract works.

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Then there was the floating swans, that drifted around on the breeze. I’m sure the central hub of this installation was supposed to be more low key than it appeared. A pair of coots, had made it their home, they were very house proud.

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we were impressed by the male who was bringing his best sticks to be added to the nest, expertly ducking between the rotating swans,

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it must be a risky job on a windy day, like crossing the M25 at rush hour!

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Sometimes a little magic flies by

We’ve been away, we’ve been to Rutland Water for a couple of nights in the campervan.  we had a lovely time, I hired an electric bike, such fun! I went wheeeeeee!

I’ve not ridden a bike for many many moons.

After that we went on to the nature reserve, and watched nature in all its Spring busyness.feed me_

From a hide we watched the osprey, they were a little too far way for my camera, but we were much closer to them than we had been before, in addition there was a large TV screen showing live footage taken by cameras looking directly into the nest.

Now that sound like an excellent day, doesn’t it? We settled down for the evening, with a glass of wine and some tasty Long Clawson stilton cheese.

And  then the magic arrived

Barn Owl Rutland 4

A barn owl flew in across the meadow, next to the camping field, quartering, searching for prey,  it swooped past us time after time

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It’s the first time I’ve seen a barn owl in the wild, I’ve had other owl encounters.

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It went on and on, taking prey off to its nest

Barn Owl Rutland

and returning, to our delight.

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The next morning, Mr Uphilldowndale went out on his bike at about 7:15 am, for a proper bike ride, one with pace and miles and without me going wheeeeeee all the time.

After he had gone I contemplated making a second cup of tea, I sat up in bed and peeped around the curtain and there it was again.

Right in my face, this time carrying its breakfast.  I’m such a lucky girl.  Barn Owl Rutland 7

All the photos were taken through the tinted privacy glass of the van, the last image with added condensation…


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Cold Feet

Cast you minds back, to November and I’ll tell you the adventure of a bold, but not very bright bird. Primrose the chicken.

Dusk arrived early, and the role call of chickens showed we had a problem.  Primrose was missing.

We called the neighbours, searched their gardens, scoured the lane by touch light, looked in the shrubs and bushes,  all to no avail.  Eventually we had to conclude she might have been picked off by a fox, who, made bold by hunger, made twilight strike, or she had gone broody and gone off somewhere to make a nest.  We called off the search.

It was bonfire night, rockets streaked across the night sky scattering glittering stars in their wake,  Spud the dog shifted uneasily in his bed.  Eventually all fell quiet, and then the rain came by the bucketful pounding on the roof in the small hours.

At first light, Mr Uphilldowndale went out to resume the search, to be honest he was expecting to find a drift of feathers somewhere nearby.

He couldn’t find anything. However, he could hear something.  Cluuuuccckaaaa, Chahhhaaa, Cluck! But where was it coming from?

As befits the start of a pantomime ‘It’s behind you!’ he turned on his heels to find…

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Can you see in the bulrushes, in the middle of the field pond? Oh you silly bird.

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She’d been standing, up to he knees (do chickens have knees?) in the water, all night.

Mr Uphilldowndale gallantly went in , braving chilly waters and slippery pond liner to get her*.  If you’d like to see how he got on, pop over to the video.

We took her into the kitchen to warm up. She can’t have had much sleep she kept nodding off in Mr Uphilldowndales arms.

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we don’t know why she was there, she will flap and fly a little, especially if startled.  She obviously didn’t have sufficient ‘runway’ to make her way back again.

* I think I’d have built a bridge, I’ve never been fond of cold water.


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Extended hospitality…

I mentioned we’d had a lot of visitors to the garden, especially at the birdfeeder;  well look who turned up today!

On the roof of my workshop, a buzzard.

To think it was 2009 when I first saw (and wrote about, on this blog) a buzzard in this part of Derbyshire.

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It is as tough as ever being top  of the food chain, the rooks were not pleased by our guest. There was a spat.

 

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Having dismissed the rooks, the buzzard landed on the wall, and was joined by a second buzzard*.

Other guests included the beautiful thrush

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and a timid robin.

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* I think the time is approaching to upgrade from my  world weary Canon ESO400D camera, any suggestions?


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Fair Game

During the short winter days, the birds arriving at our garden feeder bring us great pleasure.  For the last few years a regular visitor has been a pheasant,  we’d become very fond of him. 

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We called him Fezzie 

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Maybe Fezzie got a little too bold, complacent, let his guard drop? Or maybe he just ate too much of the hen food to be fighting fit?  You can tell where this post is heading can’t you?

Sadly, I’m afraid Fezzie is no more, we found his limp body being dragged towards the cat flap, by Dodger the cat, remember him? The butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, cool little kitten cat?

Now, as we later discovered that Dodger had cornered and killed Fezzie in the chicken run, which is the best part of 30 yards from the house, it means that he dragged Fezzie, quite some distance uphill! But then again he always did have ideas above his station…


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Seasons Greetings

We seem to have skipped along a season since I last published a post.  Which is a shame, its not that there hasn’t been anything to blog about, there has been plenty.

Lets start with an easy win…

A beautiful thrush, feasting on the berries of my pink rowan. 

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He’s quite protective of this crop, I can’t quite work out if he expends more energy chasing off the blackbirds than he gains in berries he could have eaten.  Surely there is enough for everyone?

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Wee Sweeties

 Ring Plover_

 

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_18

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, and August, I’m so,so tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

I think this  little bird is a ring plover (writing a blog its a bit like handing your school homework for marking,  I know someone will tell me if I’m wrong, just don’t tell me to stop in at playtime and write lines). 

What ever he or she is, I think its a wee sweetie of a bird, I’d call it the bobbing bandit bird, as it bobs about in a clockwork kind of way and it looks like a cartoon bandit with its black eye mask and neckerchief, it was pretty good at hiding itself too, its not easy to spot amongst the pebbles.

 Ring Plover 3

And are these  delightful birds dunlin? .

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There were so many birds to see on this fabulous journey

Dunlin_

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