Sunday, 24 July 2016

On the Bookshelf

Another passion of mine is books, any book I can get my hands on pretty much, I have shelves full and until recently a loft full too. Having to part with a few books was not easy but I figure it makes way for new ones!

I'm a fan of charity shops, you can find some fantastic books and in my town with the number there are it's easy to pick up something of interest.

In addition to that as I skip around the web reading blogs and such like I have a habit of saving a book someone mentions or recommends into my Amazon basket to check out further and probably purchase. I mean how easy does Amazon make it for you.....

I read a post a few weeks back at the end of 30 Days Wild on Louise's blog and it got me thinking about growing up in Guiseley and all the walking we did around the area as children and how much time I spent immersed in books. Especially one book my parents had - Book of the British Countryside - they still have the book but it's practically fallen apart now, it still has my pencilled tick marks on the bird pages. I managed to track down a copy online and couldn't help but purchase it. I remember it without the dustjacket though, I'm sure it had one but I never saw it. I do remember how much I loved the daisies that covered it front and back. I used to spend hours looking through it and looking up things we'd seen on whatever walk we'd been on that day.

A few of the Collins guides I picked up recently also, they're handy little books. In fact I've had my Collins bird guide a fair few years now and I take it out with me all the time.

This book though is one of my favourite reads for quite some time. I saw it on blog i've recently discovered and had been reading through - Birdingfordevils - a couple of weeks ago. The book arrived earlier this week and I've barely been able to put it down, absolutely fascinating read about Kenn Kaufman's Big Year adventures in the early 70's. I'd highly recommend it (though i'm no doubt late to the party and everyone has already read it!).

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Around the Garden

I've not had much free time recently so heading out for walks and such have been few and far between! I have got into a habit of noting things down though after 30 Days Wild, which is not a bad thing!

The garden has perked up a little bird wise, we've had Blue Tits and juvenile Great Tits on the feeder along with Woodpigeons and the odd Blackbird. The garden at the front of the house with the bird bath has been awash with Sparrows on the lawn and in the Buddleia. I can see the Magpie family from the bedroom windows either in the yard across the way or on the little road that runs down the side of the houses. The lavender is always busy with bees.

The Swifts seem to be getting noisier by the day and every evening spend a couple of hours screeching low around the house, they're a bit too fast to catch with my camera when they get so low but I caught a couple of them in the air.

With the heat recently we've been leaving the doors and windows open till late into the night which means we've been getting a fair few moths in the house. My favourite so far has been the gorgeous Common Emerald (thanks to British Moths for the ID confirmation!) which flew into the bathroom and landed on the mirror.

Snout Moth

Common Emerald

We tied the Buddleia to the side of the house last year, it's branches just brush past part of the living room window and now are just about reaching the bedroom windows too, hopefully now flowers are opening it'll prove good viewing for butterflies! Though it's going to have to be cut right back later in the year before it encroaches on the neighbours!

I've let some parts of the garden go a little wild and I think my favourite thing that has sprung up is this flower amongst my mint. I think it's St John's Wort?

Elsewhere my climbing rose is going strong and a lone poppy has flowered by the bird feeders.

I'm typing this blog whilst sat in the garden at 9.45 in the evening, it's finally cooled off a bit so it's lovely being outside now. The Swifts are still going and the midges are hovering (luckily I never seem to get bitten by anything so i'm pretty safe!), I can see a spider making a web between the washing line and the roses. It's just about perfect.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Churwell Urban Woodlands

I've been meaning to explore the woods in Churwell for some time after being told about some good bird sightings from a friend a couple of years back. Until yesterday though it's never happened. I've been following their Facebook page for a while and saw the summer event pop up, so off we went.

As the woods are in the middle of a housing estate i'd done a little drive around after work earlier in the week to find out how to get to them! The main entrance is quite easy to find and has this information board.

It was all set up with stalls today and we picked up a kids pack for my daughter to do. They have a great little railway that goes through part of the wood and she had to go on that first! Everything is run by the Churwell Environmental Volunteers and they have recently won an award for the work they've been doing.

We headed off in the direction of the hay meadow first doing the quiz questions that had been put up amongst the trees. I'm pleased to say my daughter did pretty well with the answers with only a little help on a couple including what trees who keep their leaves all year round were called! We saw a Mistle Thrush in the trees and lots of bugs in the grass and nettles. I spotted bat boxes too.

A Mirid bug I think - possibly this one?

A beck runs along the woods and a pond dipping area has been set up here. We didn't catch anything but a young boy managed to catch a tadpole, one of the first they'd had this year. There were a lot of snails in the water too. One of the volunteers mentioned they had stickleback in the pond and that they also had a Kingfisher visiting regularly.

The walk past the pond took us further down the beck and into the woods alongside the hay meadow.

It was fairly free of people and it's a lovely walk There's a bench to sit and watch a bird feeding point, we took a break here and watched Great Tits in the trees and Speckled Wood butterflies along the edge of the field.

We walked to the end of the path by the beck spotting these tiny mushrooms and ladybird larvae and decided to turn around for now as we we hungry!

So back to the main part where we had bought buns and hot dogs (delicious), seeing this Blackbird on the way.

After we ate we headed in the opposite direction into Clarkspring woods.

Another lovely walk along the beck with Speckled Woods, Blackbirds, young Robins/Magpies, Great Tits and a Chiffchaff.

Crossing over the road we went through the woods into the park and walked around to the pond (where I had managed to nudge my camera setting on to M and overexposed the shots which I didn't realise till later!). Heading back out of the estate we walked on home.

I am so pleased we finally made it down here, it was beyond my expectations and you can see the hard work that has gone into the area. It will be somewhere i'll be coming often especially as it's close by work and there's still a few of the paths/woods we didn't get chance to explore. I think it'll be good for the birds too, it'll be interesting to see what's around through the year.

Friday, 1 July 2016

30 Days Wild Part 4

25th June

After visiting Rodley (see here) we ended up at the garden centre, where picked up some flowers for the new border - Lupins (husbands favourites), Agastache (which smells heavenly), Salvia Roemeriana, Geum and Pentstemon, granted my daughter picked the last two purely on their colour! They'll have to wait till later in the week before they can be planted but we put them out on the patio and the bees were all over the Lupins.

26th June

As we headed out this morning a rat was running around the street at the end of our row, there has always been rats around, there's a park and two factories near by and I think they come from that direction, we've seen them in the garden occasionally but not for a while. 

A Kestral was hovering over the farmers fields I pass when on the way to work. The rest of the day was spent in Leeds not doing very much wild..........unless you count the cocktails........ Though my friend who has recently started feeding the birds in her garden, has really been getting enthusiastic about it and we had a good chat about what she's seeing.

Back home and the garden has been quiet the past couple of days, i've not seen any birds on the feeders though the Sparrows, Doves, Woodpigeons and Starlings are still around in the trees and on the rooftops and of course the Swifts are ever present.

27th June

This morning had the garden free from birds again. It was a nice day though, sunny and warm but the wind got worse as the day went on and even though the door at work was open I didn't hear a peep from the birds.

I'd left the new flowers out in the sun this morning but didn't check the water, talk about drooping! I had a panic i'd killed off the husbands lupins! Luckily a gallon of water later they were all looking much better.

28th June

Another sunny morning, it's quite warm by 8.30 as I leave the house. The are lots of Sparrows in the supermarket car park this morning, there has been a few nesting in the eaves of the small church in the middle of the car park.

I noticed there are some flowers appearing on the road down to work now, there's definitely not as much growth as last year but that's not surprising after the all the weed killer that was put down. It's good to see some making a comeback though and it was nice to hear Goldfinch in the trees as I went into work too.

29th June

All was quiet bird wise this morning at home and on the way to work, maybe the impending downpours had them all taking cover! I haven't seen the Swifts for a couple of days.

At least the sunset was beautiful this evening if nothing else!

30th June

What a difference a day makes, the sun is shining when I got up, birds were singing, a Blackbird was having quite a rant sat on the fence in the garden. A butterfly has just flown past the window, I could see the shadow on the curtain.

My new fence has gone up today, though my husband isn't overly keen i've gone for green paint! It still needs a second coat and the gate needs to go up tomorrow but then we can get the plants in the new border and hopefully attract some more bees and butterflies! Along with the lavender we already have i'm hoping it'll be buzzing in no time.

Despite coming to this very late in the day i've managed to squeeze a fair bit in though the latter half of the month has been a little 'wild' sparse! It's been fun though and interesting to see what I notice on a daily basis that I sometimes take for granted.

Next year i'm determined to be a little more prepared for me and my daughter. If someone could just remind me a month beforehand...........