Jackdaw Jack With An Eye For The Bright

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The telegraph pole over our garden wall provides a handy look-out for jackdaw-kind. These, the smallest of Britain’s crow family, are renowned, like magpies, for their thieving ways and proclivities for bling. But they are companionable birds. They mate for life, and form large flocks. They also gather with rooks and starlings, joining in their aerial sundowner displays.

The common name derives from their call: tchak-tchak, but they have many other apt descriptors including ‘chimney-sweep bird’. Anyone who has ever had to remove a jackdaws’ nest in their chimney will never forget the astounding deluge of soot and sticks and bird detritus. So if you have an unguarded chimney be warned. They do like the pots to nest in; also holes in trees and nooks in castle ruins.

I’m wondering what this one is thinking about. It looks like a bird with a plan.

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Bird Weekly #42  Lisa at Our Eyes Open wants to see what we’ve seen bird-wise in the past fortnight

Bright Square #13

Of Windflowers And Pileworts

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That would be wood anemones and lesser celandines – the bright stars of English wildflowerdom. The celandines have been flowering for weeks and weeks and usually are among the first spring bloomers. It’s hard not to smile when you first spot their mini-sunbursts popping out the dreary over-wintered grass.

This year they have also colonised our front flower bed that runs down to the road. There must have been hosts of seeds among the wood chippings that I gathered up last year after tree and branch felling in the Linden Field. A double bonus then: first the autumn mulch, then an unforeseen spring flowering. They grow very low to the ground in coronets of lush green leaves, and so have most discreetly filled gaps between the daffodil clumps. I expect I’ll let them stay. The pilewort common name of course denotes an old herbal application.

I’m not expecting any wood anemones to emerge from the front garden mulch. As their name suggests, they prefer wooded terrain, or at least ground where woodland once was. I found the one in the photo growing beside the path between the Linden Field and Windmill Hill, under the oaks and conifers, keeping company with primroses and violets and dog’s mercury and wild arum. Legend has it that only the wind will make them open their delicate petals. I beg to differ. When I took this one’s photo it was embracing the sun full-on, as you can see. The next day when I returned to the same spot, the anemones were all hanging their heads and shivering in the cold wind. With no sunshine on offer, they looked like bedraggled waifs, much hard-done-by.

Today in Shropshire the snow flurries have stopped. We have sun and wind. A good moment then to check on the plant life in the Linden Field, and also to gather supplies from a fresh cache of wood chips from a felled oak tree. They chips are brilliant for allotment paths and dosing the hot compost bin. The things one does!

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Copyright 2021 Tish Farrell

Bright Square #8

“And imitate the stars celestial…

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Magnolia stellata in yesterday’s spring gale

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“Learn then to dance, you that are princes born,
And lawful lords of earthly creatures all;
Imitate them, and therefore take no scorn,
For this new art to them is natural.
And imitate the stars celestial;
For when pale death your vital twist shall sever,
Your better parts must dance with them forever.”

 

Stanza 60 from Orchestra  or Poem of Dancing by Sir John Davies English poet, lawyer and politician (1569- 1626). You can find the full work HERE.

And more about Sir John Davies HERE.

But for now, why not do as the poet and Mr. Bowie says: Let’s Dance…

 

Bright Square #6

Yippee For Yellow!

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It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to seed sowing, or at least to sorting out the seed packets and checking what needs to be dealt with when. There are visions, too, of new planting schemes – as in trying to remember where things are in the garden. With some plants you never do know. The Welsh poppies are complete vagabonds and can pitch up in the most unlikely quarters. Likewise the dandelions, the little gate-crashers. Needless to say, the garden must have plenty of yellow. Got to keep the bees, bugs and butterflies well fed. In the meantime, here’s a reprise of some of last summer’s best yellows.

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Life in Colour: Yellow

Life In Colour: Yellow

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The wayward Polar Vortex has apparently been behind the recent frigid weather events in the northern hemisphere. But at last there’s been a shift in the UK: from locked-down locked-in C minuses to double-figure plus. Even so, it’s hardly warm and the garden, though defrosted, looks as if it’s been shot-blasted. And so to encourage it and me into thoughts of spring, I’m posting this very exuberant sunflower. Soon be time to sow some seeds for this year’s crop.

In the meantime I’m wondering if the Dyer’s Chamomile in the guerrilla garden over the garden fence will have survived the cold. It made such a show a couple of years ago, though I remember when I sowed it, the packet described it as a short-lived perennial. I’m thinking a fresh sowing won’t hurt. There are times when you can’t have too much yellow.

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Over the garden fence: Dyer’s Chamomile and Townsend Meadow under wheat

 

Life in Colour: Yellow

Elementally Exhilarating And A Cautionary Tale

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A scene of things to come in the northern hemisphere – daffodil extravaganza. But not just yet. The leaves may be pushing up through the soil, even a few buds showing, but spring is on hold, as in icily gripped. We had more snow last night, only a dusting, but the temperature feels Siberian. So to brighten things up I’m reprising these photos from a visit to Bodnant Garden in North Wales, taken in early spring a few years ago.

I’m lucky to still have them.

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Which brings me to this week’s moderate, though potentially horrendous disaster on the computer front, the bottom line of which is: do not put blind faith in an external hard drive for storage purposes! Back up the back up. And then back that up too.

I’ve had so many ‘lost file’ situations over the years – dying computers being the main cause. So I should have known not to keep my photo files on an external hard drive without some consistent backing-up routines. I’m also thinking that leaving the thing mostly attached to the PC was not a good idea – not least with Windows 10 wretched updates so often on the rampage. They seem to create total system muck-ups before and after they happen.

Anyway, the storage failure is not as bad as it might have been, and I have enlisted  the aid of an IT whizz to see if he can extract the files. I can also retrieve some lost shots from my blog though I’m not looking forward to doing that. In the meantime more cheering daffodils are called for. It was wonderful to see the effect they had as soon as people clapped eyes on them – and not just the children.

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Life In Colour: YELLOW  Jude has given as a new colour to think about in February. Guaranteed to lift the spirits.

Upsy-Daisy Does It

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It was definitely a case of trial and error. This wood pigeon was far too big and heavy to perch safely in our little crab apple tree AND snaffle the apples. Various approaches were attempted. Finally the down-under manoeuvre did the trick. Success!

 

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Today Becky is using her magic crystal ball to do some conjuring.

Bird Weekly – up tails all

This week Lisa wants to see ‘butts in the air’ bird life.

Iced Up

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Yesterday we woke to an all-over frosting, every outdoor surface bristling with ice crystals. This led (once well wrapped up) to a long prowl around the Farrell estate to see what caught the eye. I was rather taken with the Echinops seed head over the garden fence. It made me think of ice lollies, or sherbet on a stick. The fence looked pretty enticing too, and behind it the dead-flower spikes of lemon balm.

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Square Up #8