A Quarrel Of Sparrows

Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.

Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a

considerable amount of spillage

cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,

and larger birds like blackbirds

and woodpigeons.

The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.

It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.

This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.

“Where’s Nugget?” (60)

She thinks the solitary crow on our rooftop is Russell, who latched onto her in its infancy in June 2018.

She also photographed

an iris,

the Weeping Birch,

a vinca,

an owl on the stumpery,

an osteospermum,

campanula,

heuchera leaves,

and emerging snowdrops.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.

 

Waiting Their Turn

We have now watched half the episodes of The Crown Series 2. My general impression is unchanged.

Much of the morning today was spent getting us back on line. The details are boring.

On another dull day the birds made full use of the feeders.

Sparrows tend to dominate in the front garden,

although they do occasionally allow the tits a look in.

The heavier wood pigeons and sparrows who cannot find room above find easy peckings from what has been tossed aside by the messy feeders.

Eventually Ron was able to take a turn on his own special feeder usually commandeered by voracious sparrows;

while the long tailed tits left a little for Nugget.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms with which she drank Diet Coke and I drank more of the Valréas.

Hatchet Pond At Dusk

Today’s Christmas rose is this peach one from the patio bed.

The neighbouring clematis Cirrhosa Freckles festoons the grateful gazebo.

The now solitary pigeon still perches praying for the return of its deceased mate.

Nugget now spends much of his time outside the stable door where he enjoys sole use of the feeder by the house which is too close for other birds to risk.

“Where’s Nugget?” (56)

“Here I am”, he says.

While Jackie worked on the Christmas decorations I finished the cards which we posted later in

a suitably capped pillar box

at Everton Post Office.

By dusk we had arrived at Hatchet Pond

where other photographers focussed on ducks and swans.

Oh, dear. I seem to have pressed publish prematurely. Tonight we will dine on Jackie’s superb Shepherds pie with carrots, cauliflower and runner beans which will no doubt be perfectly cooked. I will drink Patrick Chodot Fleurie and Jackie will drink more of the Sauvignon Blanc.

A Wintry Morning

Another splendid pastel sunrise heralded a cold, bright, morning, which sent us into the forest early.

We pulled into the entrance to The Joinery Barn, a short distance along our Christchurch Road,

so that I could photograph the sun-misted landscape alongside.

Since there is no real verge I needed to perch on a little bank at the entrance to the field gate.

Gaps in traffic along this road are in short supply, so I had to employ considerable concentration to nip across. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me.

In search of Christmas gifts, we visited Setley Ridge garden centre. It should not be difficult to discern that we did not come away empty handed.

From there we continued along Sandy Down where trees shadows striated sunbeams.

Jackie parked alongside the nibbled tarmac of Church Lane while I wandered back to photograph

cattle in a still misty field,

and fallen trees with reflections in the old mill stream.

Jackie, meanwhile photographed the garden beside her, including its bench and its stream, complete with ducks.

Further up the lane a pair of pampered ponied chomped on heaps of hay.

One took great interest in us as we focussed on

the garden next door, with its dying bonfire

and boxing hares exchanging fisticuffs on the sloping lawn.

A grazing pony could be glimpsed beyond a bend in Undershore on our way home.

Our wood pigeons mate for life and grieve for days when, as a day or so ago, their mate is slain by a predatory raptor scattering feathers.

Nugget, however, is still going strong. He had just left his feeder when Jackie produced “Where’s Nugget?” (50)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender cabbage with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Minervois.

 

 

 

 

 

Estate Agency

Today I watched recordings of the Rugby World Cup matches between Georgia and Uruguay, and between Wales and Australia. Taking breaks from these matches I made crops of Jackie’s photographs, and took the nesting box one myself. It is so good to employ a most competent Assistant Photographer.

Jackie carried out planting, mostly in the Weeping Birch Bed – such as White Ladies asters, and grass panicum Warrior – hindered of course by  Nugget who at one point nipped neatly onto her chair when she left it.Those readers who have missed Nugget in the last couple of posts have nothing to fear, our little robin is here. The scale of this picture showing a flash of Jackie’s jeans and a glimpse of her arm, the trowel beside the tufa on which he stands, and the pair of gardening gloves demonstrates just how little he is.

The tufa on which he stands is, according to Wikipedia,  ‘ a variety of limestone formed when carbonate minerals precipitate out of ambient temperature water.’ Plants grow on it.

He doesn’t take up much room on a trowel, but he can delay the Head Gardener using it.When Jackie was sitting in the chair mentioned above, Nugget would dart from this stone under her seat in search of fodder.

The finely woven wicker-work of his plumage is most intricate.

Whilst at the south end of the garden Jackie also photographed the Back Drive;

its Japanese anemones against the white wall of No. 5 Downton Lane;

raindrops on its out of season poppy

and convolvulus:

clumps of chrysanthemum buds;

sprigs of bright hawthorn berries;

a wood pigeon basking on the warm gravel;

a volunteer nicotiana sylvestris;

and a further clump of chrysanthemums against hot lips.

She photographed the garden as seen from the Heligan Path;

her stumpery;

and one of two pots of pansies in the Rose Garden.

Not satisfied with the third teapot she has offered Nugget through her estate agency,

when she popped out for more plants at Otter Nurseries she bought a purpose built robin nesting box to increase his choice.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (31)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s minced beef topped with Lyonnaise potatoes, crunchy carrots and broccoli with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

 

An Avian Altercation

The sun made brief appearances during another warm day which we began by driving to Milford Pharmacy to collect repeat prescriptions.

The Needles Loch Ness Monster substitute cast its baleful eye over the proverbial millpond that was the Solent.

A gentleman entertained his frisky barking dogs on the shingle then walked away along the promenade.

We turned up Downton Lane and took a trip into the forest.

I imagine visiting children had enjoyed beavering at dams across the Wootton Bridge stream, even though it is somewhat depleted.

Bracken alongside the road to Burley is beginning to turn golden brown, and is still home to

discarded drink cans.

Donkeys were petted as usual beside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill,

while ponies blended or contrasted with the landscape across the road.

An idle wood pigeon hitched a ride on

one of the thatched pigs wandering across a Sandy Balls roof.

A sturdy Massey Ferguson tractor sent up dust clouds whilst harrowing a recently ploughed field alongside Hordle Lane.

This afternoon, whilst I was engaged in boring administration, Jackie photographed the Westbrook Arbour and its surroundings while Nugget kept her company in his usual helpful manner.

Occasionally spreading his wings he darted after prey;

after due investigation he decided against diving into watered holes;

he perched on trugs and watering cans;

and presented silhouettes from above.

And, of course, he posed for “Where’s Nugget?” (24)

Just before Jackie returned indoors, she witnessed a violent altercation between two robins in a hebe. One was sent packing. We hope it wasn’t Nugget.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where the greeting was as friendly and the food and service as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Hariyali; we shared a plain paratha, mushroom rice, and Tarka Dal; and both drank Kingfisher.

Tattered Beyond Recognition

We enjoyed another day of pleasantly temperate weather.

Antirrhinums are blooming throughout the garden.

Clematis Marie Boisselot, now entering the third age has applied a blue rinse to her naturally white locks;

the stalwart Star of India shines less bright, yet it still graces the Gothic Arch opposite

the red and white of Super Elfin and Penny Lane living in harmony.

A white gladiolus and a red dahlia each radiate charm.

Fuchsia Night Nurse continues to soothe,

and sweet peas produce plentiful seed pods.

Bees home in on For Your Eyes Only,

and enjoy the sedum’s soft pile;

a ladybird scales the Westbrook Arbour;

Small White butterflies cling to verbena bonarensis;

and this solitary flier, tattered beyond recognition, flitted from bidens bloom to bloom

until seeking suitable camouflage, sinking onto stone below. Can anyone identify it?

While he was keeping an eye on the Head Gardener I asked Nugget if he was ready for his close up, and he cheerfully obliged.

I hope this “Where’s Nugget?” (12) will compensate for yesterday’s nigh impossible challenge.

A drowsy wood pigeon in the cypress tree,

attempting to keep an eye on us while we were enjoying our pre-dinner drinks on the patio, could barely keep it open.

We left him to it and partook of Jackie’s wholesome beef in red wine, creamy mashed potatoes, cauliflower and carrots al dente, and tender runner beans grown by the Head Gardener who had drunk her Hoegaarden outside. I drank more of the Malbec.