Uphilldowndale

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


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Downy nest down

Spud the dog and I found a nest today, a crushed cornucopia, a squashed tricorn hat, with an extravagant plume of horse hair. Mosses, lichens, feathers and webs, felted into a snug bivi bag of a home.

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The fact we found iton the ground suggest its not a story with a happy ending.

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We found it under the apple tree, near the conifer. I think its the nest of long tailed tits, one of my favourite birds. I’m guessing a magpie had something to do with its demise

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Wading in

A heron in the field pond, I don’t think I’ve seen one wade in quiet so deep before, not quite up to his neck in it, this is about as deep as it gets (too deep for a chicken we established).

Heron

After a week of windy weather, which played havoc with our Internet connection (the  wind dropped and it seemed to ‘self heal’,  but who knows the real reason) the UK has experienced one of its hottest Easters on record, very pleasant to be out and about in, but a also a little worrying, the ground is so dry, moorland fires have been a problem yet again. Sadly people just don’t seem to understand how easily a fire can start and just how long peat can burn for.

Nature has been dead in  tooth and claw, kestrels are nesting in a dead tree in a neighbouring field, but the jackdaws are mobbing them, I hope they manage to rear their chicks,  and I don’t think the three dead goldfish found in the yard are the herons work, more likely to be the cat’s antics.


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The Berry Report

I was concerned in the heat of the summer that there would be a shortage of berries for the birds this winter, great swathes of the best blackberry banks had withered and died,

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The winberries, had the very life blood sucked out of them by a young oak.

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And of course my beloved pink rowan, had failed to flower, oh how I will miss it this winter, the birds will probably be more adaptive about it than me.

But things have rallied, acorns are abundant, I thought I’d be seeing the jays with their stitching flight, working across the field to their favourite oaks, but I’ve not seen one, I think they have found one tree and scoffed themselves silly, until they are unable to move

The red rowans are heaving with berries, well they were, the chickens have made inroads into them, further than you’d expect of a chicken.

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They seemed to be having training seminars on how to get to the best position,

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I wouldn’t mind but I’d put the wire cloches there to stop them digging up my plants

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The same flourish can not be said of the grass. Farmers are still very short of feed for the winter.

 


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Sweet Scented Shady Lanes

A delightful place to be on a hot day, the deeper the lane the better.

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Whilst many plants suffered during the ‘Beast from the East’ some seem to have had a bit of a boost, rhubarb for example, every one seems to have so much they are making rhubarb gin, or maybe it is that  rhubarb crumble has fallen out of favour.

The honeysuckle is divine this year, especially  first thing in the morning, so sweetly scented.  However, my precious pink rowan, has not a flower on it, and its usually smothered at this time of year, we came home from Ireland, to find small withered stick and buds scattered along the path, presumably what should have bourne this years flowers and berries, oh my how we will miss the berries


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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

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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

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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…