Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Tuesday 24 March 2020 - A View from the Kitchen Window

This cheeky little blue tit took a break from feasting on the peanuts that dangle from the washing line, in favour of nibbling on the tree buds outside our kitchen window.
In addition to my (getting slower) early morning run in isolation, I'm spending a bit of time each day raking moss from the lawn. There's lots of it, and it also offers the chance to enjoy a chat with the neighbours, from a very safe distance, of course. I've left some of the moss in a neat pile; hopefully it'll attract some of the nesting birds.
It was great to see a flock of goldfinches this morning, as I jogged along Derbyshire Road South.

Friday, 20 September 2019

On the South West Coast Path (3) Polperro

We passed through Polperro, one of the 'beauty spots' of the Cornish coastline, on 29 May 2005.
Whilst I remember it well, I don't have the relevant volume of my diary to hand as it's in the guest bedroom that's occupied by Ken and Helen, our visitors from Canada.
So I hope these four pictures might rekindle some other fond memories.
I think the bird is a herring gull, and I don't recall it snaffling any of our lunches - but the diary may prove me wrong...

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Saturday 5 January 2019 – The Wammy parkrun, and Apedale Country Park


We hadn’t seen Mick and Gayle for ages. So a plot was hatched to meet up at the Wammy parkrun in Newcastle-under-Lyme, then go for a short walk in Apedale Country Park, before M&G went to visit Gayle’s sister and we went to visit Dot, both of whom live nearby.

It was a great success. The Wammy, on which Mick is pictured below, is a fairly flat disused railway line with a tarmac surface. It’s a fast ‘there and back’ course. It must be fast, as I managed a very rare sub 23 minute time for the 5 km.


Gayle and Sue weren’t far behind Mick. Whilst Gayle looks comfortable, she did incur an injury – we hope it’s feeling better, and Sue looks to be in agony but later confessed that she was ‘just pretending’.


It was a very rare success for me, as I managed to come top out of the 275 participants, in the Age Grade results! (There are no prizes, and it’s not a race – but still very satisfying.)


The post run café turned out to be Bertie, pictured at the head of the posting. Mick and Gayle are imminently setting off in Bertie for some winter sunshine, hence us taking this opportunity to catch up.

It was a cool, dull day, not really suitable for photography, and the walking route we took in Apedale was just cobbled together to enable us to partake of a good chat in some fresh air. Not spectacular scenery, but it served a purpose.

Whilst returning to our vehicles after the run, we were passed by a cyclist who had chosen a rather inconvenient time to be on the crowded path… “That was your brother” exclaimed Sue. Either I have lots of brothers, or it’s a very small world!

Here we are, frolicking in Apedale. For a change, Sue decided not to fall over, despite passing through a muddy section which would have been ideal for a sprawl in the mud that she has developed a habit of adventuring into over the past few days.


Here’s our route – 8.2 km, 150 metres ascent, taking 2 hours.


After a spot of lunch in Bertie, we bade our farewells and headed off on our respective family visits. Sue and I were pleased to find Dot in good form, and able to play cards with the double size pack we got her for Christmas from the RNIB.

It had been great to meet up with Mick and Gayle, and we hope to combine more parkrun ‘tourism’ with suitable rendezvous points and post run walks with them in the future.

Finally, following Conrad’s comment on yesterday’s posting, I promised more pictures of the Lymm Dam cormorants. Here they are in 2009. I wonder how these birds are related to the birds we saw yesterday?


Friday, 11 May 2018

First Brood


Whilst our swifts are rustling to the sound of Radio 2’s non-stop oldies in their cosy incubatory nest under the eaves, the local lady mallards are busy looking after their first broods. Rather ominous as these birds were positioned just where a heron often stands, alert for tasty morsels….

Friday, 27 October 2017

Wednesday 25 October 2017 – A Short Stroll from Marple Bridge


An assortment of apologies produced a quartet of strollers for today’s morning walk around Marple Bridge. We were pleased to see AlanR, who had set off in the middle of the night to get to the rendezvous point almost on time.

We started from the free car park opposite Brabyn’s Park, picked up Alan at the station, and headed past the tennis courts to join the Peak Forest Canal towpath on a sunny autumn morning.


The aqueduct over the Goyt Valley from which the following picture was taken is impressive in itself; built in 1799 it remains (at 27.4 metres) the highest canal aqueduct in England and the highest masonry-arch aqueduct in Britain. It looks up to the even more impressive railway viaduct that dates from 1865.


Thirty years ago these paths were a favourite route for excursions with my children. Kate would walk, with Mike in a push chair. I remember it being muddy, but not quite this muddy. Both Alan and Graham tested the electric fence on the right.

“Quite a kick” observed Alan.


Luckily the horses in the field weren’t of the kicking variety, though they did whinge about not being allowed to share in the chocolate chip cookies that were being handed around.


Appeased by chocolate, nobody complained too aggressively when told that the episode of mud and electricity was a mistake.

So we returned through the mud to pass in front of Lower Watermeetings Farm on a well marked footpath. We were soon beside the River Etherow, leaving it to climb steeply and cross the road above Compstall. Today’s route then continued along a path I’d not walked before, beside Gigg Brook to a footbridge.


From the footbridge, Sue insisted that I took a photo of these impressive fungi. I’ve failed to identify them I’m afraid.


After taking the narrow lane past Campville Farm we descended Mortin Clough to reach the wide paths of Etherow Country Park. There were lots of people taking advantage of the sunny weather to walk their dogs and children.

Etherow Country Park appears to be a haven for Mandarin Ducks. There were many smart looking specimens, and the ladies were in much better shape than ‘Mandy’, our local lonesome mandarin who thinks she’s a mallard.


There was a mine around here, and several mills, some of which are still standing, as there was plenty of water to provide power. There’s a small lake in the Country Park, which was once the mill pond. Following the closure of the mills the area became one of England’s first Country Parks, later gaining SSSI status in 1977.


We paused for coffees all round at the excellent café at the entrance to the park where ‘special needs’ staff are sympathetically employed.

Across the road is a sad building, the George Hotel.


In days quite long past, when I arranged Wednesday evening walks all summer to provide a mid week respite from stressful work, the George was a thriving pub with good beer and a superb bowling green that always seemed to be in use. Somewhere, buried within several large boxes of photos and negatives, I’ll have pictures of it in that heyday of around 20 to 30 years ago. If I find one I’ll insert it here. Meanwhile, the internet claims that the following image shows the Hotel in its ‘heyday’.


Just up the road, a path leads over an iron bridge into Brabyn’s Park.

The carriage bridge dates from 1813, just a few years after the canal was opened. It’s a historic cast iron structure, made in Salford Iron Works, and it survived until 1990 with very little maintenance. But then it was declared unsafe and a Bailey bridge was used whilst funds were raised for restoration work that was completed in 2008. So I’ve probably crossed by the Bailey bridge (now dismantled) more often than by this lovely old iron bridge.


A stroll beside the river brought us out opposite the car park, with plenty of time for Alan to wander back up to the station and rendezvous with Sheila in Manchester. The rest of us returned home for lunch.

Here’s our route – 9 km with 170 metres ascent, taking about 2.5 hours.


AlanR’s excellent report, featuring much better pictures of the aqueduct and viaduct, is . Thanks Alan.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Rentahostel at Hawkshead – 17 to 19 March 2017


This was our annual ‘rentahostel’ weekend with 24 or so assorted friends based on Sue’s old university hillwalking club.

This year we had use of part of Hawkshead Youth Hostel. The weather was wet and the road between Hawkshead and the Youth Hostel was flooded. So despite an inclination to walk, we drove to the Red Lion on Friday evening.

I’d planned a circuit based on Dow Crag for Saturday. Whilst most people preferred something a bit lower in the inclement weather, ten of us assembled for the drive up to the end of the Walna Scar Road.

Before setting off, two of that number suddenly changed their minds in favour of a low level walk from the hostel. So it was just eight of us who disembarked at the Walna Scar Road terminus.


It was raining quite hard.

A search for Ken and Anne’s boots proved fruitless, so they were left with little option but to walk back to Hawkshead in their slippers. Bob and Judy, who had come for the day from their home in the Lakes, accompanied them.

So even before we had started, our group of ten had been reduced to me, Sue, Pam and Paul!

We made our way uneventfully up to Goat’s Water, which we could just about see through the mist.


There were quite a few people coming down the path leading to the gap (Goat’s Hawse) between Dow Crag and The Old Man of Coniston, some sporting rather drenched pairs of jeans. They were the last people we saw before meeting a mountain rescue team several hours later on the Walna Scar Road. We stopped for a cuppa just below the col where it was calm and warm. If wet.

Having ignored one of our ‘back at base’ number’s suggestion that we take the ‘seriously exposed’ climbers’ route up Dow Crag (why would we even know that there was a climbers’ route?!) we encountered no difficulties other than a bit of clambering over slippery rocks on Dow Crag. Then it was an easy walk over Buck Pike and Brown Pike, with occasional views down to diminutive Blind Tarn.

En route, the next two pictures taken from the same spot (it wasn’t a good day for photography in the pouring rain) give an idea of the terrain.


On reaching the Walna Scar Road, I pointed out the easy shortcut back to the start of the walk, but that option was rapidly discarded in favour of a further four summits.

Good paths led over Walna Scar to White Pike, from where there would normally be a good view, and back beside a wall to White Maiden.

A compass bearing then guided us towards our final summit – High Pike Haw, seen here from near our lunch spot after we’d established that the compass bearing had taken us in the right direction around a few steepish cliffs.


High Pike Haw is a minor summit with character. From there we headed over Torver High Common in a roughly north east direction, keeping to the left of a boggy area, to eventually re-join the Walna Scar Road at its bridge over Torver Beck, which unlike Ash Gill, crossed en route and pictured top, would not have been an easy ‘hop’ today.


We finished the walk around 3.30 – here’s the view to Crowberry Haws from the car park.


Despite the weather, only Pam had wet feet, and we were otherwise nice and dry apart from having wet hands. Waterproof garments had all worked well apart from some of the gloves. In this weather (not too cold) I find that fairly lightweight gloves that can be wrung out frequently keep my hands warmer than my waterproof gloves (Terra Nova Extremities) which were hardly used today.

Here’s our route – about 15 km with 800 metres ascent, taking 5.3 hours.


That left us plenty of time to relax back at base, where a sumptuous supper was served. There was an assortment of excellent menu items. My contribution of chardonnay chicken with artichoke hearts proved a good choice – it’s really easy to prepare, and went down well with Sue’s baked potatoes.

By Sunday morning the rain hadn’t abated, so most people went home via indoor attractions. Hawkshead hostel is shown below; we were in an annex behind me.


Sue and I were joined by Andrew at Leighton Moss Bird Reserve, where we eventually escaped from the café. There’s a fairly new ‘Skytower’ that affords a view over the reserve. Can you spot it in the picture below?


Here’s the view from the Skytower.


Back down to earth, these Scarlet Elf Cups were abundant. Apparently they are very tasty, but we didn’t pick any.


We visited several of the hides and got occasional glimpses of Marsh Harriers, as well as seeing the following:

Mute Swan
Greylag Geese
Tufted Duck
Little Egret
Great Egret
Curlew (Saturday)
Marsh or Willow Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow

Had Ken and Anne been with us, we would no doubt have spotted much more.


The reed beds have been cleared in places in order to prevent tree growth, and efforts are being made to provide suitable habitats for both Bittern, who like it wet, and Bearded Tits, who like it dry in the reed beds.


The pheasants seemed pretty comfortable with our presence. This one wasn’t sure whether to regard my orange anorak as friend or foe. Gun shots could be heard in the distance.


Here’s where we walked – a bit less than 7 km.


Then we went home.

Thanks to Sue W for organising the weekend but not for providing her customary wet weather.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

An Elephant for Sale!


Various wild animals seem to be roaming the streets of Sale. This elephant was seen last Thursday, trotting past Vao Restaurant before we popped into the Waterside Arts Centre for a Karen Matheson (of Capercaillie fame) concert, supported by Fara, a girl band from Orkney.

An enjoyable evening of Celtic music.

We walked there and back along the canal towpath, dodging the cycling commuters on the way there, and observing numerous resident bird life, which at present can be summarised as follows:

Lots of Mallards and Canada Geese
Occasional flocks of Black-headed Gulls
A family of Mute Swans
The Timperley Heron
Mandy the Mandarin Duck (resident here for 4 years)
Grey Wagtails near the bridges
Feral and Wood Pigeons
A lone young Moorhen
A Cormorant on tour
Blackbirds, Magpies and Carrion Crows on the towpath
Lots of Sparrows chattering in the hawthorn hedges lining the towpath

How many of these can you spot between Dane Road and Timperley Bridge? And what have I missed? (I know there are more, such as roaming Goldfinches, and tits in the hedgerows.)

And where are all the other animals?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Around Timperley


Time flies in between trips.

Just a few snaps have been taken since returning from Scotland and spending time planning future exploits and watching the Rio Olympics.

Meanwhile, some of our local ducks are looking after their second broods, and one of the rich people of Hale seems to have exited his Mercedes rather faster than his footwear permitted…


JJ and Rick joined me for a stroll in intermittent drizzle down the Bridgewater canal towpath to Dunham Massey and back. The majority of the old Linotype Works that we passed is being demolished to make way for housing.


The local cygnets were staying close to their parents.


These boys are causing trouble at Dunham. It’s rumoured that they have been foraging in the ornamental gardens.


The following day, Sue and I enjoyed a trip to meet up with Jon and Eddie at a mutually convenient Thai restaurant. There were no tractors in evidence. Will a postbox do by way of a substitute?


Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit the opera.


Enjoy the hot weather!