Sunday, 22 February 2009

Doing Something Different

There's nothing like a change of scene for inspiration so I went to Harrogate for the weekend. The beautiful old buildings give the town a real sense of place. We went to see Strictly Strauss at the Royal Hall directed by Charles Stewart and his violin bow. The Johann Strauss Orchestra and Dancers and Victoria Joyce (soprano) were a delight. Go see the gala when it's near you - well worth it. I have to say that the Royal Hall is a stunning venue.

Meandering home, we visited Richmond and took as pleasant stroll along the River Swale to Easby Abbey. And on the way home we stopped off at Sedbergh, England's Booktown in the Yorkshire Dales, and I hopefully one of the shops there will very soon be selling copies of from the field book which is pleasing.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Fings to do before I'm Fifty

Inspired by Wendy Webb's recent Facebook note about 'Eighty things I may or may not have done before I'm sixty', I thought I'd write my own 'Fings to do before I'm Fifty' list. Bearing in mind I've only just under eight months to go, I started the list yesterday and am delighted to report that I have unexpectedly achieved item one this morning, thanks to Rick Spence's post on Chorley NATS website.1. Find a waxwing
2. Fells and Peaks - walk to the summit of Scar Fell (any offers?)
3. Fells and Peaks - walk to the summit of Coniston Old Man
4. Fells and Peaks - walk to the summit of Snowden
5. Fitness - swim 30 lengths each week (I'd die of boredom if I made it 5o!)
6. Fin at fifty - loose five pounds
7. Finner at fifty - loose an extra two pounds!
8. Find a spring - find one marked on an OS map and drink from it
9. Five more bird calls - learn to identify
10. Find a publisher for my children's story
11. Finalist - enter a poetry competition and be a listed finalist
12. Family - visit at least once a week and find something interesting to say
13. Fiction - write a short story and get it published in an anthology
14. Feet - have a foot spa
15. Fingers - have a manicure in a beauty salon
16. Funny Book - read Three Men in a Boat
17. Flexibility - be able to touch my toes and stay there! Legs straight, of course
18. Flat stomach - start pilates
19. Fungi - identify a wild one and eat it!
20. Fly - other than in a plane (done that already)
21. Fun - have a big birthday party! Folk dancing.
22. Fire - light a fire with one match and cook a fish on it (a throw back to my days as a Guide leader)
23. Feat - still working on what it will be
24. Fens - visit Norfolk
25. Fishnets - buy a pair then find an opportunity to wear them!
26. Firecrest - find one
27. Flycatcher - spot a spotted flycatcher
28. Foxgloves - grow some
29. Fall in a fountain / similar then pull my friends in too...

There's my list so far and I'm open to other ideas from you guys. But I've only got until October 4th to achieve.

Waxwing photo by Tony Dun

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Singing Ice

Ice sings - but I only heard it for the first time yesterday. Looking out over the mostly frozen Pennington Flashes and watching the geese and ducks, I heard not quite a wind, not quite a wigeon whistle but a tuneful wail sweeping round from some indistinct point. It was the ice - singing. I'd no idea it did.Is it created by the movement of wildfowl on ice? A Google search tells me that ice-skate blades can cause it - like rubbing the top of a wine glass and causing molecules to move. But I'm not so sure.... To me it sounds more like the movement of air (as in a wind instrument). As the ice moves and water laps it must cause the air trapped between the two to move, resulting in a whistle as is it is forced out along the melting edges and any other gaps. (And is consequently sucked in again.) Well that's my theory. What's yours?

A poem is slowly forming in the gaps.
Photo by Tony Dunn - see link in side bar.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Tetrad Visit

Today I did my late winter tetrad visit. What a difference a few months have made to this patch. No sign of the huge flocks of jackdaws and rooks. In their place are mixed flocks of redwing, fieldfare and starling. The flock numbered about one hundred and was mostly redwing.
Later on another mixed flock - this time lapwing, starlings and gulls (mostly black-headed although I did spot a common gull and greater black-backed amongst them). What a joy to see the broad black and white wings of a hundred plover taking off then re-settling nearby.

The paths through the fields are still muddy but I did get through - it was a case of set off and keep going - whatever! But the sightings were worth it. I also saw a brown hare. It laid low for a while but since it was next to the stile I had to cross I soon saw it running through the hedge and across the next field.

Photo of lapwings by Mike Atkinson. Photo of brown hare by Nigel Fairclough - see their links in the side bar.

from the field book

from the field book
An inspiring gift for anyone who enjoys watching nature.