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Friday, 30 June 2017

Rise of the Cornflowers



As the summer moves on, the garden looks better all the time. As I often say, the cornflowers are splendid and in various colours. The usual blue it there, but the other colours are about in wonderfully mixed clusters. I always think they have not taken at first. But then one starts to bud. Then another. I get happy when a couple of blue ones open. Then all of a sudden, everything seems to explode with colour.

We have had a few heavy rainfalls but once the sun comes out that seems to be the remedy. Lots of water followed by bright sunshine. It does the trick every time. 

Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit by Craig Oliver

Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this fly on the wall account of the losing Remain team's efforts to win the EU referendum. One is taken through the various stages of the build up to the referendum. The negotiated new EU deal etc. It obviously points out the reasons why the Remain team wanted to stay in the EU with its economic argument. There still seemed to be the failure to recognise why the majority of the UK electorate would not be swayed. What I mean is they accept they lost and why, but there still seemed to be a refusal to understand the non-economical reasons. Almost like it must remain irrelevant.

My enjoyment is perhaps more warped because I know they are going to lose and I want Brexit to happen. I know it will happen and these guys are going to lose. Still, I do feel some sympathy for them. It is well written and I would recommend this account of well-intentioned British politicians who accidentally let a horde of apathetic gremlins out of the box to claim a nation back. Or so we hope.

The Black and Tan Summer: Ireland's Turbulent Year of 1920


View all my reviews

The Dunnock Eggs Have Hatched.



The Dunnock eggs have hatched and I'm hoping they'll grow strong and be able to fledge off into the waiting world. Nature is wonderful but cruel. Our world is a harsh mistress, yet it is full of beautiful things.

The dutiful Female and Male seem very devoted to the tiny things and constantly come and go gathering food to bring the little infants closer to the time of fledging.



Labradoodle Puppy Dogs.




Went to visit my sister's farm. She loves Labradoodle dogs. They look like big poodles. One of her dogs has had a litter of Labradoodle pups. I had to get a few quick shots of the noisy little bundles of fluff on my mobile.

She has three fully grown Labradoodles and they love life on the farm. The oldest, named Daisy is the mother of this litter's mother. Therefore, these pups are her grandchildren.

Daisy is grey and Millie is chocolate colour, while Rosie (The mother of this litter) is white.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Little Jenny Wren Bird


I spoke of the Goldfinches and their rescue after the House Sparrows attacked the nest. I was happy to blog about the Dunnock in the shrub with its nest of tiny turquoise blue eggs. Then this morning, when my wife went to the chicken and duck coops to gather eggs; she noticed the bird box we had put up. A little Jenny Wren flew inside carrying a feather for nest building.

I was pleasantly surprised because I had been speaking to Carole about moving the box where it might be hidden by the crawling plants on the trellis work further along the garden fence. I was thinking that the birds would like somewhere hidden and not exposed as this bird box is.


I’ll have to abandon that idea now because the little Jenny Wrens seem fine with the nest. I’m just worried that carrion birds might spot it. Especially the Jays. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Working Between Chatteris and Manea with Raptors Above.


I cursed my bad luck for not having my camera with me, but I was at work. The day before I was coming out of the village of Manea when I saw a Red Kite flying very low over the rooftops of two houses. I could make it out so clearly and was very excited to see a Red Kite in Manea. There are plenty of Buzzards and Marsh Harriers. But this was my first Red Kite in this particular vicinity. 

I got out my mobile phone and tried to get a photo shot, but the raptor caught the wind and was too far gone and could only be made out as a tiny dot.

The today, I was about five miles out on the other side of the village close to Chatteris when I saw another Red Kite. I can't say if it was the same one, but it may have been. I checked the van mirrors and nothing was coming along the country road. Once again, I tried my mobile and again the bird caught the wind and sped off. I managed to get this shot and one can tell the Red Kite by the shape of the tail.

When I talk to the Fenlanders, they are all adamant that they never used to see this many birds of prey and it is only over recent years that these Raptors have started to come back in numbers. There have been sighting of Sea Eagles in Norfolk - the next county that has a border is only six miles from this photo location. Perhaps Sea Eagles in a year or two?

War of the Worlds Fans Look at This!

video

THE LAST DAYS OF THUNDER CHILD - A War of the Worlds pastiche in paperback and on Kindle.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Thunder Child vs The Martian Fighting Machines.



War of the Worlds pastiche
Britain in 1898.

The Martians really came and this is the alternative history of that dreadful event. Join the crew of HMS Thunder Child as she prepares to embark upon her doomed voyage, before her demise and courageous battle with three Martian tripod fighting machines at the River Blackwater in the county of Essex, England, UK.

Captain McIntosh and his brave crew can hardly believe the semaphore messages sent from the shore stations. The news is so uncanny and fantastic that none can accept the stories of Martians falling from space. All hands of HMS Thunder Child must keep a dreadful appointment with destiny as they cruise towards the dire outcome awaiting them.

The War of the Worlds first terrified audiences in book form in 1898, as the first-person narrative tells us the adventures of an unnamed protagonist and his brother as Martians invade Earth. But there were other characters with stories to tell.


C. A. Powell delves into H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and offers fans of the original novel a brand new perspective on the invasion of Earth. In The Last Days of Thunder Child, we see this classic through the eyes of the Royal Navy crew members of HMS Thunder Child and the land based Ministry of Defence. With this pastiche novel, you will have an even greater understanding and appreciation for the original classic. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I Love the Garden

 

I know I keep banging on about my garden of late. I can't help it and this is a scrapbook blog where anything goes. Therefore, while the heatwave continues, I thought I might as well take advantage of the kind and warm days sitting in my garden with some gorgeous chilled draught Guinness. 

Add to this, my laptop by the bedroom window where our garden decking is, then there is my garden table with shaded brolly etc. Oh, and my camera because of the various birds and flowers that are in abundance. Who could want more?

All in all, my little rural bungalow as got it all. Meadows out the front and a nice garden at the back with a stone drive to the side with car port and other areas.

My wife, Carole, and I enjoy the garden immensely and we chat about all sorts of trivia during the summer months while working on projects to do with the garden and the house. Then we will stop and enjoy the visits of our various natural friends. Even Buzzards and Red Kites that often fly above.  

Of course, I had to get a few shots of the little Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow) Who has made a nest that contains eggs in the bush to the back. I mentioned this in another blog. 

Dunnock



Robin


Greenfinch

Fledglings

Adult Greenfinches
Greenfinch & House Sparrow

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Reed Buntings and Reed Warblers Along the Fenland Riverbank.


As we walked along the river there was an abundance of reeds either side of the bank. The birds of the reed bed are tiny and rather difficult to spot. And when you do focus in on one, they seem to dart off as quick as they come. However, one knows of their presence because of the wonderful bird chatter up and down the waterway. You can hear where they are but it takes a time to spot them at distance. They are so well camouflaged as they cling to the long grass stems.

Their bird song is gorgeous and compelling. As I try to home in with my camera, the little creatures seem to get spooked and fly off further along the bank. I take multiple shots hoping for a clear one at distance. I'm using a Nikon D3100 with 70mm to 300mm lens. 

After sifting through the photo shots I get one decent photo of a Reed Bunting above and another of a Reed-warbler below. We always enjoy going for the long dog walk along the riverbank when the weather permits. 




Loving All the Garden Flowers.


Everything is taking off 'BIG TIME' in the garden. My wife and I had planned to go out, but when we sat on the decking for a while and drank our tea and coffee, we decided to stay put and enjoy the garden for the day. We had food and drink plus the constant coming and going of the various garden birds. 

Why not indeed? It is very pleasant and I have my laptop outside while writing this little blog. The water fountain and waterfall is trickling away wonderfully.











A Dunnock - Hedge Sparrow Nest in the Garden.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone that is was very hot yesterday in the UK. (19th June 2017) My wife and I sat in the garden looking at the wonderful array of wild cornflowers and the various other flora we have. We have put out various bird boxes and many feeding tables to attract small birds. They are now visiting in abundance. Every day a pair of Pied Wagtails like to make a show of themselves. They seem to run across the lawn in short burst. I think they catch tiny ticks or flies coming up from the soil.

There is also a pair of Robins that flit about the garden too. They seem to enjoy the bedding areas where the worms are. We dug it up the other day and put down new shrubs, horse manure and high-grade multi-purpose compost. As a result, everything is in wonderful bloom. As one type of plant flowers and goes for the year, another plant seems to re-emerge from last year.

I was enjoying the birds and talking with Carol about the little visitors we are having in abundance. Obviously, the bird tables are mainly frequented by the more common Blackbirds and House Sparrows. However, the Robins are plentiful as are Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Blue Tits etc. I spoke of one type of bird that looked like a sparrow, but it was lighter in colour – almost sandy with a light belly that had little black dotted broken lines along it. Carole, who is more knowledgeable than me on birds, said it might be a Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow.

As we spoke one came in and landed by the rabbit hutch. We watched it hop about and gradually it went inside the duck coop. I explained that the other day I saw it on the fence by the duck coop and it had a feather in its beak. It jumped down behind the Ceonosis Bush. Carole replied that it probably had a nest in the big bush by the fence. I asked why none used the bird houses we have put up. Carole said that they might get used in about another couple of years. One here or there and that once the array of clinging plants surrounded the hutches it would make them more secluded and inviting to the smaller birds.

As we watched the Dunnock hop about the coop it gradually went towards the very Ceonosis Bush I had been speaking of. Then it stealthy entered from below at ground level. Carole said that it would try and use various ways to enter its nesting area because of predators.

We had been watching a BBC programme called Springwatch in which, Jays (Carrion Bird) attacked a nest and killed all the fledgelings of a Wagtail. Also, in our very garden, a few weeks earlier, we had witnessed the Goldfinch nest attacked by House Sparrows. Of the five fledgelings, only three were saved by our intervention. Two died in the attack but the other three, who jumped from the nest to land upon our lawn, were saved because we called an independent rescue centre who came and reared them. The Goldfinch parents have not been back since. They do not know that three of their chicks survived the attack.



A little while later when collecting the duck eggs, we saw the little Dunnock leave the Ceonosis Bush and we were standing very close to it. As we looked inside, we saw the nest. The inside was lined with white feathers like the one I had seen the bird carrying a few days earlier. There were also some tiny little turquoise blue eggs. I did not count them all because I could only see a section from outside the bush. I had been photographing our flower array and had the camera with me. I could not resist photographing the Dunnock nest.

Afterwards, I sat outside waiting for the little Dunnocks to reappear. They did and I managed to get a couple of shots on the Camera to add. 



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Dog Walk by the Rickety Old Cottage.

The rickety cottage stands on the bank of the River Bedford. On the other side is a long dyke and beyond is a parallel river called the River Delph. This forms the flooded fen of Manea in the winter months. This time of the year when the summer is in its glory, the water recedes back into the Delph and cattle graze the once flooded fen.

We took our little dotty dog Dotty along for a good run. She shot off barking all excitedly at first and then got it out of her system and fell in ahead of us as we walked along the bridal path passed the rickety cottage and along the river listening to the warblers singing their little summer songs.

Amid the reed beds, there was an abundance of Thistles and Adder snakes. The snakes would uncoil and slither off as soon as they heard or felt our footsteps. We saw a number of different things and chatted about all sorts as we walked along. We went into one of the bird hides for about forty minutes and looked out for a while. Dotty was restless and so we decided to move on. I took a few photos of interest along the way.










A Day in my Garden.

My wife and I were sitting in the garden the other day. We began to chat about the amount of room the chicken coop took up and that we could move it next to the duck area and have another garden patch, plus a long box for the strawberry plants. We were both agreeing with our suggestions and gradually began to form a plan of action. As we were forming the said plan of action we were physically putting ourselves to the task of moving the chicken coup there and then. We were occupied for about six hours and by the time we had finished, there was a big area of mud were the coop had once been. We began to rake the stones and mile mud behind a rockery boundary.

The next day, we went and bought some turf and then went to a nursery and purchased some shrubs and other plants. In no time we had the area looking well, though the new turf still looked a little yellow compared to the rest of the lawn.

 As we worked, a pair of Robins and a Pied Wagtail were shuffling around us looking for worms. They always come when we are digging. They seem to know its food time. 

During the course of the afternoon, all sorts of things were happening and by the time we sat down we agreed it had been a very fine couple of days in our garden.

Deadheading the front's flowers

One of the Robins pays a visit.
The Pied Wagtail being nosey.



Hedge Sparrow pays a visit

RAF Tornado flies over the house.


Pied Wagtail searching for some lunch

The Part we have already done.

Even the Red Kite want to know more.




The final finish where the old chicken coop was.


Monday, 12 June 2017

The Cornflowers are Here.

Now, all of the cornflowers are beginning to spring up amid the flower array. I love it and can't help getting a little excited. There will be other types of flowers too, as we progress into the summer months. It will all make for a splendid mix of unconventional colour. A riot of undisciplined cascading flora with Sunflowers, Foxgloves and Hollyhocks springing up from the wonderful mob.  

I'll sit on the decking with a beer and the computer, doing this sort of thing (Blogging.) Or reading my Kindle while the waterfall trickles away gently and the flowers swing to and throw in the summer breeze. Every now and then I might stop what I'm doing and ponder my Fenland Garden. Of course, the barbeque will be there when we feel the need and Dotty the dog will be sitting and waiting expectantly, plus Bob the snobby cat too.

Carole and I will talk about the world and its problems and then suggest new things we might do with our garden. It's all idle chit-chat but then summer afternoons in kind ambient gardens are what it is all about.