RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Survey

My RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey completed today. Birds in garden 3 great tits, 1 robin, 10 sparrows, 1 chaffinch (female), 1 magpie, 1 blackbird (male).  Others seen beyond garden : 2 seagulls, 4 wood pigeons, 2 kites, 3 jackdaws, 3 starlings.  Quite busy!

 

Paying attention to the birds in your garden

Disappointed I didn’t take part in the RSPB’s Garden Birdwatch today leaving it too late in the day.  Fingers crossed, I can take part today.   The garden birdwatch is a chance to spend an hour paying attention to the birds in your garden.  It’s relaxing, challenging, and you’ll be surprised what birds visit your garden.  

On a walk with the dogs, I noticed two magpies, a robin singing boldly in the branches a foot or so in front of me (see video) …

.. a crew of garrulous sparrows … 

It was a windy day with ice cold winds.   I noticed the creaky sounds one tree made in the wind… Listen to the first few seconds of the following video.  I couldn’t get any more ‘creaks’ from the tree, perhaps it sense I was recording it.

Variable weather for the day including bright sunshines and the dullest of dismal grey skies.   We had sleet, fine snow, hail and rain.  The weather couldn’t decide what it wanted to be today… it had an identity crisis.

Later in the afternoon I heard a loud noise from above, I looked outside thinking it was a large skein of Canada geese, but it was a squabble of seagulls.  Noisy buggers

A useful page here on collective nouns for birds.

Tune into Nature on Lunch Break

On a walk in Cardiff today noticing daffodils about to open, snowdrops (galanthus nivalis) bright in bloom, and some very distinctly patterned bark on a tree I’m not yet able to identify.   

I think it’s really important to tune into the natural world on a lunch break, a short refreshing walk recharges the body and soul!

From dark and gloomy to glowing

Noticing the dark gloomy skies first thing in the morning and then much later in the day.   On the morning commute to Cardiff down the A470, noticing the red glare of car brake lights on a dual carriageway choked with vehicle traffic.   

In the evening on a run to refresh myself, noticing the coldness of the early evening air as it enters my mouth and lungs, and noticing the moistness in the air as it hits the skin on my face.  Running near the roadside the noticing the everpresent noise of the vehicle traffic passing and the stink of fumes from vehicle exhausts.

 Sensing myself glowing after the run, mind and body re-set outdoors, moving muscles releasing tension.  

 

Snowy Warm Morning

I woke to the lovely dull and insulated sound of a snowy morning.  There was a few centimetres fallen overnight.  It felt cold but the day’s sunshine soon melted away most of the snow on the Valley streets by early afternoon.

Snowy mornings are one of my favourites and I associate them with warmth… being snuggled in bed and then opening curtains to peek at the pristine sheet of fresh snow.

In the afternoon on a walk, noticing the lacing patterns of the snow.  On the mountains, noticing the snow clinging on the higher hilly ground.

 

 

Pen y Fan in the Snow

A late morning walk in the snow to the summit of Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

It takes about an hour to climb this moutain, the highest peak in South Wales.  The first thing I noticed on the ascent was the dull crunch underfoot as the snow muffled my steps.  One of the things I love about snow days in the blanket of silence it usually brings.  I notice this silence most in the mornings if it has snowed overnight.

I’ve climbed to the summit in every decade of my life, but this was the coldest conditions I’ve experienced.  Near the summit the wind picked up and the wind chill factor hit me… despite being wrapped up well with extra layers and two hats, the cold wind felt like ice cold needles poking my cheek skin.  Part of my head nearly nearly froze at the summit.

There was very little visibility near the summit.  The landscape reminded me of scenes from the Battle of Hoth in the Star Wars film.  I expected to see an AT-AT Walker or hungry tauntaun at any moment.

I felt refreshed and invigorated after the walk with MORE not less energy after the walk.   The physics of exercise amaze me… fairly strenuous exercise like this releases so much untapped energy.

 

Great Tit and Wren

Noticed a Great Tit (Parus major) high in the tree canopy whilst on my walk with the dogs this morning.  Then in the afternoon spotted a fast-moving wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) at the foot of the privet hedge in front of the patio, searching for bugs in the plant pots.

Tip : the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) publish a really useful guide to UK birds here.