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.

Place for Barking Dogs

Visiting the splendid Cyfarthfa Park in Merthyr Tydfil this morning with the dogs, parking in front of Cyfarthfa Castle.   The skies were gloomy grey and there was a fine mist.  There was little wind and it didn’t feel cold today.

Noticing today… many tree stumps in varying degrees of decay.  The tree stumps were swiftly being reclaimed by nature.  In some of the photos I’ve attached with this post, there are tree stumps camouflaged in moss, ivy, grass and many other living things.

I noticed the clipped beech hedging as there is much of this in the park, the tree bark on a conifer that looked like a Scots Pine, bed of hellabore in flower, daffodils pushing through the leaf litter, the variety of moss and lichen growing on trees. 

My attention was drawn to a nuthatch (Sitta europaea) gawkily climbing a tree ahead… easily recognised by its blue/grey and orange colours.

There were many dogs walking their owners today in Cyfarthfa Park.  The Welsh word ‘cyfarthfa’ can be translated as ‘place of barking dogs’.  There are other possible translations I understand, but I like this translation.  

On the last leg of my journey around the pack, I spotted a Weimaraner pointing intently in the distance near a hedge… When his owner passed, he explained that the dog was pointing at squirrels!

Molehills and Mountains

MolehillA frost down today but it didn’t deter the moles… On a playing field in Cardiff I noticed the many molehills.  The soil uplifted by the moles looked freshly dug.  I wonder how the moles adapt when the soil is frozen solid in a deep, hard frost?

Other things  I noticed on a brief walk during my lunch break : the lichen and moss on trees and the different textures of bark.

I also noticed an absence of something today … the sight of hills and mountains.  From this urban vantage point in Cardiff, I couldn’t see any of the familiar hills and mountain sides I’m used to.  Many years ago working from a multi-storey office in Cardiff, I could see the hills in the distance.  It felt re-assuring.  It also reminded me how I was in a very different landscape working in Cardiff.