Today’s guest picture is a scan of the birthday card my brother would have sent me if events and illness had not conspired against him. It is very suitable. Now I’ll have to try to remember to send him one next year.
Birds were on my mind when I got up as Dr Cat Barlow had sent me a text to say that she would be bird ringing at the Moorland Feeders if the weather conditions were right. The weather conditions were right – still and cloudy, perfect for keeping the nets as well disguised as possible. Cat’s bird ringing is part of a huge nationwide volunteer survey of bird populations and health in Britain. I like it because it lets me get close to birds in the hand which otherwise might be hard to spot in the bush.
When I got there, Dr Barlow had already been hard at work and was busy ringing birds in her car.
So good were the conditions for netting birds that she had to stop ringing and go and collect the next set of birds before they got too cold. You have to be very careful of the bird’s health when ringing in cold weather. I admire her fortitude immensely as the disentangling of the birds from the nets must be done with great care and patience and with bare hands even when the temperature is 1° as it was this morning. Add to that the delights of being pecked by blue tits and having your hands punctured by the razor sharp claws of woodpeckers and you can see that among those lining up for training as would be bird ringers will not be numbered yours truly.
Still, it is interesting to watch and I drew my car up beside hers so that I could get a mugshot or two before the birds were released.
The remarkable thing about the goldcrest was that it weighed less than the amount of yeast that I put into a one pound loaf of bread.
The moorland feeders play host to a good colony of woodpeckers. Cat has ringed 25 over the past few years and this male was a previous customer.
Woodpeckers do not take kindly to being netted and shout a lot and peck the hand that feeds them too.
There was a new female member of the woodpecker tribe to hand as well today.
Cat ringed and released about 50 birds today but I am not so hardy as she is and left before she had completed the task as I was quite chilly enough even with my gloves on.
Cat and Daniel, who was helping her, are planning to build a proper bird hide at the feeder station so that more people can come and enjoy the many birds that come to feed there. I am looking forward to using it myself.
When I got home, it was almost lunch time so I picked a leek and got a couple of our few remaining garden potatoes out of the bag and made another pan of leek and potato soup. It is going to be a blow next month when we have to go to the shops and pay ready money for our potatoes. The good crop this year has lasted much longer than usual so we can’t complain.
The weather in Scandinavia must be quite good because we still don’t have any waxwing visitors and in the absence of bramblings, repolls and siskins, the garden bird population is still chiefly our resident chaffinches.
The weather was just pleasant enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal out on a manure mining expedition and when she returned, she set about some more tidying up of the borders so the garden is looking well cared for. I was pleased to see a shy primula poking its head up after the surrounding sedums had been cleared.
I was looked at my compost bins and felt very pleased at how well they have done since being turned. They are ready to be used as a mulch whenever Mrs Tootlepedal feels the need. Behind the bins, a solitary snowberry gleamed.
I realised as I looked through my photographs for the day that I had missed a very important shot from yesterday’s sunny afternoon. Looking out of an upstairs window where she was sewing panto costumes, Mrs Tootlepedal had noticed a seasonal marker.
It was a man from OffSanta, the Christmas regulatory body, checking our neighbour’s chimney for Santa suitability.
In the evening, we settled down to watch the telly. We are in a short season of dance and Danish treats and as always, I shall be sad when they both finish in a few weeks.
The flying bird of the day is a familiar feathered friend