Surprise Buzzard & Sparrowhawk

Buzzards

Buzzards

My morning dog walks are tending to be a little longer at the moment as there is no train to catch to work (at least for now). The chance to take a little longer and walk a little further is good for my mental health if nothing else. When I get back I tend to sit down and look through the job alerts that have come through, earmarking any that I am going to submit an application for, and if there is nothing else to do (the last two days, I’ve been preparing a proposal for a client), get on with the applications.

This morning, just as we were heading for home, I heard a bird of prey calling. When I turned and looked up I saw first one and then a second buzzard circling. As I continued to watch a Sparrowhawk appeared.

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I wonder whether she was hoping for some smaller birds to be spooked by the buzzards and then be able to swoop in for a meal.

Quite pleased with the camera phone photos above, cropped in google photos.

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Being Positive

Always Looking Up

Always Looking Up

Yesterday marked an unusual day for me, for the first time since 1994, I found myself technically unemployed. I took voluntary redundancy from my last employer, after 17 years with them, and yesterday was the first working day that I have been out of full time employment.

Now I’m hunting for jobs, I applied for three yesterday as well as preparing a proposal for some self-employed work that I’ve been asked to do. The latter needs finishing today to submit to the client. I must admit, if I could make a living self-employed, then that feels a better option but it could be a feast and famine existence.

One things for sure I need to remain positive. Today is only day two, so it’s a bit early to see where this will go and how it will turn out. I believe the phrase is that “I have  a few irons in the fire”, but they could all come to nothing. If they do, then I’m sure that something else will come along, but in the meantime, I have a proposal to finish; dogs to walk, washing to hang out to dry; and all other jobs to do around the home (& allotment)! I’m sure that I’m not going to be idle.

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I Say Tomato

A Label That Doesn't Quite Reveal All

A Label That Doesn’t Quite Reveal All

I wasn’t going to grow any tomatoes this year. The previous couple of years, have resulted in such a dismal crop of fruit, that it really wasn’t worth the effort, so I thought I’d take a year off from tomatoes and just grow cucumbers instead.

That was until two separate people offered me a couple of plants. I changed my mind, not because I was particularly expecting any greater success, but because I thought I’d just give it a go, and I never like to turn down a gift of plants.

Now the first lot had the label in the picture to the left, not very revealing. The second, the person who gave them to me was honest and said, he had no idea what they were, but he knew he’d sown a cherry and a beefsteak variety, so they would be one or the other. So I took them, grew them on, and eventually planted them into their final spot, when the first flowering trusses appeared.

They’ve grown quite successfully, and I now have green fruits on both plants. It looks as though the cherry / beefsteak are in fact both beefsteak, or some kind of weird heirloom beefsteak, as they have grown some interesting fruit.

Weird Fruit

Weird Fruit

The others are slightly more interesting. They rapidly grew fruit, and at first I thought they were going to be the good old gardner’s staple, Moneymaker. However, something weird started to happen. The fruits grew to a standard tomato size and started to ripen, turning from green, to yellow. They did not however reach the red that you would expect from a tomato. Instead they seemed to hold as this golden yellow for days. Eventually I realised that perhaps this was their final show, so I picked one. Now slightly over-ripe, they were a great tasting tomato, but they were never going to be red, only ever a golden yellow.

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Never Going To Be Red

I’ve still no clue as to what variety they really are, just that they taste great. Always a bit exciting to grow a new plant, even when it’s only the humble tomato!

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Little Brown Job

Young Robin

Young Robin

Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) are birds that are often difficult to tell apart at first glance, either because they are similar in marking or are juveniles and have yet to develop their adult plumage.

I was sitting at my desk this morning, glancing out of the window, trying to find some words to describe my mornings walk and deer sighting, when a butterfly passed under the window and paused on the grass outside. Basking in the sun it opened and closed it’s wings and seemed to settle for a period, to absorb what heat there was. I picked up my phone, to try and snap a picture.

I went into the garden, and carefully stalked my intended model, trying not to cast my own shadow across the scene and scare of my muse. Photo complete I returned indoors.

Now there was a time, when I could recognise most British butterflies on sight. Over the years, I’ve spent less time outdoors, and my skills have gotten more than a little rusty. As I was walking back inside I can remember thinking, that my muse was a Meadow Brown. As I posted the photo to Instagram and I was looking at the wing spots I realised that it wasn’t.

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper, my morning muse.

My muse was in fact a Gatekeeper, similar to a Meadown Brown, but with additional spots on the hind wings. My butterfly had become a LBJ of the Lepidopteran variety, and I am ashamed of my identification skills, although I did spare myself any embarrassment of posting a misidentified photograph online.

More time in the field I think.

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Deer, Oh Deer

Walking the Fort

Walking the Fort

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about not seeing deer on my way to work in the mornings. I’ve been on “leave” the last couple of weeks, my official last day in my current job is tomorrow, which has obviously given me more time to take longer morning walks with the dogs.

This morning we were on our way around the fort when I heard something crashing through the bottom of “the moat”. Being Summer the vegetation is now green and lush, and it is difficult to see any distance, but I did glimpse the bouncing white tails of two Roe Deer. I’ve seen deer here before, but not that often as there are just too many people about. We’d obviously spooked them, and they weren’t hanging around, but it’s good to know that I still might see deer in the mornings.

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Allotment Video Update 25th July 2015

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Book Review: Common Ground by Rob Cowen

Common GroundCommon Ground by Rob Cowen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has taken me a while to read Rob Cowen’s Common Ground, because I’ve wanted to savour it. It reminds me of classic natural history books such as J A Baker’s “The Peregrine” and Richard Mabey’s “Nature Cure”, both of which I’ve reread this year, and so are fresh in my mind.

Common Ground takes the reader through a journey of the area of land on the edge of town. Rob Cowen takes the reader there through a series of chapters on different aspects and through different points of view. It is both incredibly well written, but also captivating in it’s description of the nature and of mankind and our attitude to an increasingly pressured natural system.

I’ve taken my time with the book, dipping in now and again to read a chapter or two. To savour it, as I didn’t want it to end, and I will miss it now that it’s over.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys natural history books.

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