Uphilldowndale

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


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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…

Cold feet 2-0942

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.

Cold feet 3-0943

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.

 Buzzard -1115

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

 

Rook Buzzard -1119

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. 

pink rowan snow thrush-1014

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? .

Dunlin 3

There were so many birds to see on this fabulous journey

Dunlin_

Dunlin 2


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Starlings on the shore

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_10

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m 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 hadn’t really thought about how starlings are to be found at the coast, to us here in Derbyshire they are winter visitors, with vast flocks  occasionally forming  murmurations, I’ve not yet being lucky enough to see one yet.

That said, I have a card, by one of my favourite artists, Mark Hearld, its title is ‘starlings on the shore’ its one of those gift cards I bought ‘for stock’ and I haven’t yet managed to part with, because I like it so much.  I think I’ll find it a frame, its a keeper.

'Starlings on the Shore' by Mark Hearld (A341)

We saw many starlings, on our travels, especially on Orkney,

I spent time one evening watching a  somewhat harassed mother feeding her brood, she worked feverishly, the chicks seemed larger that her, due in part I think to their  baby plumage being  less sleek than the adult.

Starlings fledgling_

It was a risky business though,  Mr uphilldowndale saw a gull swoop down and snatch a chick.

Later we saw starlings gathering on the fence, before taking flight together, they seemed to be using this a tactic to deflect the ever present hungry gulls

Starlings group


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Red Shank

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, 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.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_06

On Orkney again, near the magical Ring of Brogdar; a beautiful redshank. It was raining when we arrived,

Redshank in rain 2

but as is the way, it soon brightened.  They are such elegant birds.

Redshank take 3

I think by their agitation and shrill, piping call, that they had young nearby, and that they would like to lead us away from the nests.

Redshank flight

However we were well marshalled by paths and fences so there was no danger to their young, but also no hope of seclusion for their nests, so close to such an famed archaeological site.