Saturday, 27 February 2010

Bits and pieces

Some frustratingly slow progress in recent days - too much work to do! Not real work - just school work.....

But, more logs have been split (only about 6-8 tonnes left....), wallpaper has been stripped in the dining room, and all is about ready for Rupert to get in, rip out our old boiler, and replace it with a shiny new one - mayhem just around the corner. And the lawn tractor shopping is going well, too. Watch this space.

And better still, two new birds for the garden list today - Greylag Goose and Golden Plover, both overhead, obviously! Now on 63, and spring is just around the corner - still no House Sparrow, Grey Heron or Lapwing, either.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Blitzkrieg on the biomass

A great day today - a slightly damp walk in the Forest with our good friends Geoff, Elaine, Tim and Gill, and yet another showaround of the "the estate" - which (outside) is barely recognizable now that Olly C has flattened all the Leylandii! Even a new garden bird in the form of (gasp) Pheasant.

In the woods - with our mates - and good ol' Kevin (now an amazing 15!)

The former front hedge....

....and where the back hedge once was!
Simon gets heavy with the new splitting maul

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Logging time!

Some epic action going on in the garden today - Olly Cracknell and his crew are well underway bashing the 54 (count them) trees which need to be felled and grubbed out. Almost all are Leylandii, but there was also this rather hefty Eucalyptus - animated gif action time!

Olly C. gets to work....

TIMBER! Awesome!

Carnage down the west side of the garden

We had our "young personal friend" Josh Nightingale down at The Willows today - we all thoroughly enjoyed stacks of Redpolls, Siskins, Reed Buntings and Bramblings in the garden - and then went and topped up with even more of the same at the Woodland Hide on the HWT reserve.

There we also met up (by chance) with Gary Prescott - the famous Biking Birder who is going for a fantastic year-long bike around the UK, visiting all the RSPB and WW reserves (plus more besides!) and aiming for a new British record. He told us he was "inspired" by my own 2005 Hampshire Year List record, as well as Chris Mills 251 Ironman of Norfolk effort. Really glad to have met Gary - and we wish him all the best for the rest of the year!

The top bird of the day was a really good find - a Blashford patch tick and a proper inland Hampshire rarity - a cracking male Common Scoter on Ivy Lake, right in front of the Tern Hide. Result!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Half-term holiday home

At last, half-term has come! We chugged down to Blashford on Saturday after dropping in to see Guy & Carolyn in Chandlers Ford - all house bores now.... On arrival, Julia promptly dashed off for a yoga afternoon in Christchurch - Simon spent the afternoon finalising building/boiler details with Rupert Coutts, and did just a little local birding. We had an evening meal out in Ringwood, narrowly squeezing our way past numerous semi-clad young women out on Valentine's night dates with their (we thought) distinctly under-dressed boyfriends. Overnight camping was much more comfortable this time - better preparation!

Julia in no way resembling a vagrant

Sunday morning dawned cold but settled, and we enjoyed an hour's walk around the Reserve before hardly anyone else had arrived - no great surprises, but nice to see all the waterfowl in good light on millpond-like lakes. On the practical front, we did a few bits and pieces - kitchen door painted (15 individual windowettes to be glossed around - on each side!), brambles pulled up from the front garden, and (most importantly) an initial collection of willow withies collected and dumped in bucket of water - live fences, here we come!

The Withy Man

We did also have time to do a bit more photography - brace yourself!!!!

Grey Wagtail on Linbrook Stream

Pochard on a glassy lake


Tits ahoy!

Male Brambling

Female Siskin

Long-tailed Tit


Friday, 12 February 2010


Julia spent the day down at The Willows today, doing lots of useful jobs....well, photographing the birds, actually! But it's about time we had a few avian visitors on our blog - so here goes! All photos taken TODAY!



Long-tailed Tit

Reed Bunting

Great Spotted Woodpecker







Great Tit



Sunday, 7 February 2010

Minor progress as spring is (possibly?) in the air

A fairly gentle day together at The Willows today, following a pretty busy one for Julia on Friday when she did stacks of gloss painting. On the practical side, all we did was hang the curtains in the sitting room, tinker with a few bits of paint, and change the light fitting in the hall - low key, really!

The nearly completed sitting-room - curtains to be updated soon!

But we also enjoyed a walk up from the house onto Rockford Common and back down by Moyles Court - finding the long-staying female Smew on Rockford Lake. We also saw plenty of Redpolls, Siskins and a few Bullfinches, plus "the usual" Goosander, Goldeneye and other wildfowl.

Back in the garden, a new peak was reached for Reed Bunting - nine! Also new in the garden were a couple of Siskins, plus Goldfinch, and we finally got around to birding Snails Lake from inside the front garden - easily adding Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mute Swan and Coot. The garden list is already up to a highly impressive 57....

Julia feasts on baked potatoes - new microwave in action