Sparring Sparrows

This morning I spent some time studying the various avian eating activities.


Garish goldfinches;

red-breasted robins – Ron or Ronette;

 

daredevil dunnocks;

squabbling sparrows;

great tits all balanced precariously on the feeders swinging in today’s cooler east wind.

I was fascinated by the various grips. The great tits grasped the mesh grid;

a goldfinch gripped the perching bars;

sparrows clutched whatever was handy, sometimes causing them to do the splits;

dunnocks fluttered their wings for fear of fdropping off.

Sometimes the flapping was quite frenzied;

sparring sparrows are especially vicious.

Ron, or Ronette, is shown above on a rare visit to a feeder.

Normally he or she, like bigger birds such as pigeons, collects spillage from the ground below.

When the stations are particularly crowded, even the sparrows wait their turn in the blossom trees above.

Jackie continued her considerable work in the garden, and reports that Nugget made several fleeting visits.

She photographed a young spider

from which Edvard Munch surely gained inspiration.

This evening we dined on the Culinary Queen’s wholesome chicken and vegetable soup with bread and butter, followed by flavoursome mixed fruit crumble and custard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their Hay Day

Today was dull and dry.

This morning Jackie photographed a great tit in the garden.

After lunch she drove us to Helen and Bill’s home in Fordingbridge. My sister-in-law was returning two grandchildren to their parents; we stayed chatting with Bill for a while and drank his coffee. We left birthday presents for Helen, then took a leisurely route home through the forest.

Three deer had wandered into a garden on Frogham Hill.

Jackie braved the shuddering potholes at Abbots Well in order to enjoy the landscape

which despite the sun’s feeble attempts to penetrate the cloud canopy remained rather murky.

A crow conversing with a bay pony

delayed its descent down the sloping woodland.

Another pony following the first passed one of the many

worrying signs that seem to proliferate in this area. Just after I photographed this example a young man having difficulty instructing his bouncing dog to sit effectually settled it enough for him to remove its lead and set it bounding off, quite close to this

grazing pony.

 

On Cadnam Lane a farmer squelched across the boggy green to leave a heap of hay for the waiting assortment of ponies. He wore wellies. I didn’t, so my walking shoes collected a coating of claggy clay as

I approached

the diners.

Mutual grooming was undertaken by some of the Shetlands carrying caked mud.

On our way home a couple of deer sped across Roger Penny Way in the glare of a car’s headlights.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. We both enjoyed tempera prawn starters; my main meal was a succulent steak speared with a stick of prawns; crisp chips; and fresh salad. Jackie’s choice was equally good mushroom stroganoff and salad. She drank Becks and I drank Ringwood’s Best.

One For GP

As was the case this morning, the seed feeder in the front garden is usually overcrowded by sparrows,

with the inevitable pecking consequence.

Great and blue tits share more harmonious meals.

This afternoon we drove into the forest and got no further than Holmsley Passage before we witnessed

a string of ponies crossing the moorland in our direction.

They were headed for pastures new,

and a visit to their swollen waterhole,

now freely flowing.

The Assistant Photographer produced an image she has entitled “two white manes”

while I leant on the bridge to photograph a grey drinking.

Others leaving the stream cast long shadows in the glow of the lowering sun.

Our blogging friend GP Cox really likes the ponies. So, here you are GP – a post for you.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; tender cabbage, and tasty gravy with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barbera d’Asti 2016.

 

 

Only So Much Rain

We have now realised that the birds partaking of the front garden feeders are field residents from across the road.

Their numbers now include gymnastic blue tits

and patient sparrows here waiting their turn at the trough.

Our young visitors bear only so much rain before disappearing, following further leakage from the clouds, leaving the winter flowering cherry to carry the torch for signs of life

 

amid dripped drops clinging to glistening branches,

 

dotting netting; slicking crab apples; offering sparkle to the dank morning.

before a further temporary lull lured the great

and blue tits back for a brief breakfast refill.

The grey day gathered relentless gloom.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika, special savoury rice, and stringless runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Lathyrus Latifolius Jewels

Such minimal bright light as we enjoyed today graced us early this morning. Thereafter our vision became more and more dingy.

In order to provide me with as clear a view of the bird feeders as possible our friend from AP Maintenance cleaned our sand blasted windows. This is not the usual use of the phrase sand blasted. It is what happens when the gravel pit vehicles make their daily trips past the front of our house.

 

I did manage shots of a great tit partaking of peanuts

and suet balls a little earlier. Such is their timidity that these birds swivel around clinging to their perch after each peck in order to ensure their security.

Before the heavier rain descended Jackie alerted me to the bejewelled nature of our garden plants, such as

the outstretched Japanese maple

and drooping Weeping Birch branches;

the fuchsias like Delta’s Sarah;

the spiky New Zealand phormium;

rose bush petals;

fallen leaves;

and the calligraphic curlicues of the lathyrus latifolius (everlasting sweet pea).

When not eyeing his own robin feeder, Nugget, “Where’s Nugget?” (48),

foraged on a bed of crocosmia stubble cleared earlier by Aaron.

For this evening’s dinner, which I relished, Jackie produced succulent roast pork; crisp Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.

 

Chancing Their Claws

I was prompted by ‘Time Clock’, today’s thought-provoking post from SueW, to visit my library to retrieve

a teenage poem I penned more than sixty years ago. I began with the classic iambic pentameter, then tried something more concrete.

Through mirky windows on this the gloomiest morning of the week I watched still timid visitors who had just found bird feeders installed a few days earlier.

This robin can’t have been one of our normal residents, because

it flew off upon coming aware of me, even though I kept behind the glass.

Most small birds don’t alight on their target immediately, but, like this great tit, first occupy an intermediate perch taking a shufti around to be reasonably assured of security before

chancing their claws on the proffered food.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. My main course was Chicken Jaljala; Jackie’s, Chicken Dopiaza; We shared mushroom fried rice and egg paratha, and both drank Kingfisher.. In the two months since our last visit they have been tastefully redecorated and staff have changed. Manager Raj is still there and the service is as friendly and efficient as ever.

‘It’s Not A Rat, Is It?’

Thanks to Facebook comments from Jackie and from Barrie Haynes, I was able this morning to add some interesting detail to the thatching description in ‘A Christmas Rehearsal’.
Jackie then drove me to Milford on Sea where I did a little Christmas shopping then walked back home by my usual route.Clifftop footpathGrasses
The fierce headwind on the clifftop was so strong that, had I not hooked my shopping bag over my arm, I would have undoubtedly watched it soaring aloft among the crows and the gulls, which were themselves struggling to remain airborne. Ornamental grasses bent into the banks.
On her visit yesterday, Margery had said that she was fond of pictures of the sea, so I attempted to produce some she might like.Closed stepsIsle of Wight and The NeedlesSeascapeWaves on breakwater                                                                            There were so many damaged, and therefore closed off, sets of steps leading down to the beach that it was a while before I could descend and slither and slide along the shifting, crunching, pebbles, to watch the roaring, oscillating, ocean crash into the shingle and the breakwaters. Dog walkerAn intrepid young woman walked a pair of dogs along the shore.
It was actually a relief to reach the comparative shelter of Shorefield where, on West Road someone seemed to have abandoned the attempt to freshen the 10 m.p.h. sign with Tipp-Ex. Or maybe this was a misguided effort at erasing it.10 mph and Tipp-Ex
Great tit in streamAs I crossed the footbridge over the stream, I noticed a flicker of movement at the water’s edge. Leaning on the rail, I pointed the camera, pressed the shutter and hoped for the best. It was then that a woman peered over my shoulder and asked me what I had seen. I didn’t know. ‘It’s not a rat, is it?’, she asked, rather timidly. ‘Let’s have a look’, I replied, zooming in on the shot. If you care to do the same you will see that it was a great tit perched on a stone, probably having a drink. Refraining from mentioning that I had found a dead one in our garden, I assured my companion that I had never seen rats in that location.
This evening we are on our way to The Family House at Totton where we have booked a table for Flo’s eighteenth birthday celebration. I doubt that I will be up to writing any more, even if I am awake, when we return, so I will report on the event tomorrow.

Fag Ends

Front garden cuttings heapBenjamin Renouf and Tony of Abre Electrical arrived on time this morning to fit a new fusebox, run a power cable to the kitchen from the upstairs circuit, and generally check over our supply. They were quiet, efficient, and wasted no time, although they were here all day. I would certainly use them again.
I spent the morning further clearing the front garden. This involved the usual uprooting and pulling out bramble and ivy, and heavy pruning of overgrown shrubs. By noon I had a large pile to be added to the vast, constantly growing heap at the far end of the garden.Derrick with cuttings heap 2
Before lunch I trudged down to the postbox and back. A trudge was all I could manage.
 
Great tit and robin on feederAfter lunch I took a break and watched the birds. The avian activity was fascinating. Some were prepared to share the feeding station with others. The robin and the great tit seemed unfazed by the other’s presence. Starling and young blackbirdA young blackbird, however, was most disgruntled at the invasion of its territory by a starling.Young blackbird on feeder After it had seen off the rival, it turned around and began to scoff.Blue titBlue tit on feederBlue tit on feeder 2
It was fascinating to follow a blue tit’s progression from the netting to the seeds.
Female blackbird on feederThe crow has desisted from trying to clamber onto the feeder. Other birds, like this female blackbird, a little larger that those others depicted, flap around somewhat, as they have trouble landing.
The strong sunlight revealed the inner nature of honesty:Honesty
and lit attractive patterns on the geranium palmatum, such that it was tempting to play around with the image:Geranium palmatum
or perhaps not:Geranium palmatum 2
 
One can’t really improve on nature.
Throughout the day, Jackie continued with her creative planting, weeding and watering. This involved the removal of some heavy stones with her Time Team trowel.
While we sat on the patio before dinner, Jackie mentioned how some visitors had ground their cigarette ends into her grass and patio paving whilst sitting in her garden. This took me back to one summer in the late 1980s in Newark, and to Lincolnshire N.S.P.C.C. I was facilitating some team-building days for this staff team in Lindum House. Before the ban on smoking in the workplace, I ensured that there was a plentiful supply of ash trays in the rooms being used. No-one smoked. Yet after each break period the trays were filled with dog ends. When I asked why this was, I was informed that the smokers had all enjoyed their cigarettes in the garden, but had brought the stumps inside so as not to spoil the garden.
After this chat, Jackie collected fish and chips from Ashleigh’s, and we ate them at home. I finished the Bordeaux with mine.