Monday, 28 December 2009

The Neatness of Crows

In search of redwings, I decided to visit Healey Lodges but there wasn't much opportunity to scan the hedges as the icy paths demanded all my attention. I pressed on through Nab Wood towards Heapey Lodges - no redwing there either, nor in the fields on my return. So I began to contemplate the neatness of crows. It's that sleekness, like finley chiselled and polished jet, that makes them so easy to distinguish from shabby rooks. And just as jet is considered to ward off negative energy, crows too remove negativity from the fields by quickly removing carrion. Where would we be without such natural cleaners?

All photos of crows welcome - just attach to an email. Thanks.

And first up is a hooded crow from Peter Woodruff. This reminds me of my trips to the north. (We don't often see hooded crows in Lancashire.)

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Cold Comfort

We really have to earn our way off our road this week. Layers of ice-snow-ice-snow have persuaded us into a one-way system: we crawl up the lesser incline to exit and gently slide down the steeper one to return home.
I saw a small flock of lapwings flying over this morning - a unusual sight for Euxton. I couldn't help but will them to find some snow-free field to dine in. And a first for my garden - a beautiful cock pheasant trying to scratch beneath the snow. He was searching my lawn for a good 20 minutes. The alders that border our garden are busy with gold and chaffinch; blue, great and coal tits bustle around the feeders until the nuthatch brusquely scatters them. Robin and dunnock are around all day and a song thrush has been arriving around midday. A wren might have taken up residence in a thicket beneath the dormer.
I've not seen a goldcrest in the garden this winter which is a shame. For the past few years one has wintered in / close to out garden. It has been a bad year for them but let's hope....

The goldcrest above was photographed by Phil Kirk of Chorley NATS - thanks.

And another photo of a goldcrest. This one is by Chris Rae also of Chorley NATS. Keep them coming guys.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Still trying to make friends

Despite wearing my new boots around the house and taking them out on several short walks, they're still giving me blisters. Ohh dear.... I wouldn't care but they're the most expensive hiking boots I've ever bought! But I live in hope that they will eventually become my best friends.... Maybe I should have bought some new socks as well?

A short walk down a frosty Eyes Lane, Bretherton and looping back through the crunchy fields (disappointingly no snipe there) revealed: moorhens, jay, treecreeper, nuthatches, yellow hammers, reed bunting, sparrow hawk, kestrel, 80+ lapwings, a small flock of 16+ jackdaws, mistle thrush and heron as well as common garden birds (blue, great & coal tits, chaffinch, robins, blackbirds). There was also a large and close-knit distant flock possibly starlings. A beautiful cerulean sky to lift the spirits and dazzling low sun seeking out and bringing everything to life.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Not so shy

I managed to coincide some free time with good weather this week so wandered down to Yarrow Valley County Park because I've been told about a not-so-shy water rail. And sure enough not long after I'd arrived she emerged from the reeds strutting her feathers, stomping her beak and not at all perturbed by a couple of onlookers.Thanks to Brian Rafferty for this stunning image. His blog is well worth visiting.

Back on the big lodge, the merest glance of a human sneaking a plastic bag from a pocket immediately triggered a cacophony of opening wings, quacks, skidding webs and attention grabbing calls from circling black-headed gulls.

Thursday, 10 December 2009


I know it's been a while since I last blogged but I'm back now.

On Tuesday I was pleased to attend the launch of Aware 5, the literary magazine produced by Chorley and District Writers' Circle. I was chair when we launched the first issue and I'm glad to see it's progressing into a fine publication.

I also collected the runner up prize in the competition 'heat' judged by Carole Baldock, editor of Orbis. My poem is reprinted below with one minor edit thanks to the judge's comments. My congratulations go to the worthy winner Holly Prest and brilliant runner up Lynne Taylor.

Stay out of the kitchen
where words are unpeeled,
sliced, mercilessly
dissected to increase
the raw surface area,
seared in hot fat,
then served on a cold, white plate,
-and vinegar of course.

from the field book

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