Monday, 29 December 2008

Quicksilver's Challenge - 3 days to go

Everyone's doing it......

I have to say, what started out as a bit of a thought along the lines of, wonder if anyone is interested in doing this, is proving to be great fun, for me at least. What am I referring to, but the Quicksilver Christmas Challenge, details of the QCC, here.

Thanks to great support by the likes of Boulmer Birder, ST, Snowgoosey and Jane at Urban Extension (links to left) and so on, it seems to be doing the rounds nicely, and comments are showing this is proving popular, or I hope it is. Just remember above anything else, this is for fun. I expect some will be doing a ton+ of species, but even if you saw a Robin in the back garden, let me know. Because what it's hopefully doing is allowing us to meet new people via comments. Mind you, is there a bit of cheating going on in Dorset...... Urban Extension. Individual species Jane!!

So how do you report your sightings? I'll post something on NY Day. If you can leave me a comment saying your report is now on your own blog, between midnight New Years Day and before noon Sunday 4th January I'll then cobble together a list of who's seen what, with links to your own blog and the report of your weeks birding. That way we can all share in all of our reports. I am really looking forward to reading these, as I hope you all are too.

I won't say what number I'm up to now, but a fruitful hour or so at Chew Valley Lake notched up a few more, including this Goldeneye (which bred at Chew this year) and a flying Water Rail, though saying Rails fly is sort of a misnomer, not the most elegant birds in motion. Yesterday apparently at Chew they caught a Firecrest at the ringing station...drat!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Part 1 Birding Challenge - NE 65 Species

Happy Christmas to all those who have posted comments here. Thank you.

Well I'm now back from my 753 mile Christmas trip and I have to say I enjoyed it immensely, even the drive back last night, over night. Roads were ghostly quiet and did the 320 miles door to door in a modest, erhhum just over 4 hours.

And now on Sunday I awoke to glorious sunshine.... bit dull in the north east yesterday, more depressing than having second helpings of turkey on Boxing Day just to use it up. Didn't get much chance for proper birding and for the first time in living memory didn't make it to friends in Northumberland during a visit, time just didn't allow. I have though begun the birding challenge for work, so far 65 species have hit the log book, 45 on Christmas Day, not bad for all of these being seen within a 5 mile radius of my parents house and all within the Tyneside conurbation. Full report next weekend.

Now I'm back in the, I have to say, absolutely freezing South West, I hope to hurtle this figure onto at least 66..... mate from work is already on 79 - eeek!!

Few highlights, a very obliging Treecreeper feeding off the fat spread

Cousin and wife stayed with my parents for Christmas, I've got her interested in birding, much to his dismay and she spent half an hour photographing stuff in my parents garden!!

and another obliging bird, Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Highlights so far have been 38 Turnstones, single Red Throated Diver, 9 male Tree Sparrows, Mediterranean Gull and possible?? Ring Bill Gull at Boldon Flats NR. The latter I'm not counting as it was a juvenile and these are deadly to id properly, but everything right. However too far away for a photo, so just a dream, though I did see one at Portland in January....Bit of a discussion with another birder, I know a Glaucous Gull when I see one, we'll leave that discussion there I think.

Right, sun is shining, Sand Bay here I come........ keep twitching 4 days to go!!


Somebody once said to me it was warmer in the South West. Well it may be sometimes, but this afternoon there was a wind blowing up the Bristol Channel which would have cut a Polar Bear in two. Glorious sunshine though, after yesterdays dark all day weather. So some photos to lighten the soul.

Wader paradise in the Bristol Channel at low tide - can't see it here but about 2000 Dunlin out there on the waterline, plus assorted waders, including 2 Greenshank.

This very pale Buzzard has been about for years, fools many in the summer who think its an Osprey. There are a lot of pale Buzzards around here.

An Arty shot on the way home.............

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Spring into Christmas....

I didn't think I'd have any time for a posting until after Christmas, but work is a bit quiet today, so in my tea break a quickie, because this morning I was amazed to see lambsies-a-gambolling in a field near the M5 at Clevedon (North Somerset).

Coupled with the Celandine in flower on the 21st in my garden, a bat flying around the garden last night, spring bulbs about 2 inches high in the pots, a Robin singing last night by the Cathedral and a Raven displaying over the garden at the weekend, it's all springing into Christmas nicely.....
....... I'm definitely going now, have a wonderful Christmas all, and I hope some of you at least will take up the birding challenge in my last posting (20 Dec). Whether it's only one species seen from the car, or major finds, it'll be fun to read. I'll leave you with this very cute photo from a Kiwi reintroduction organisation in New Zealand.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

A Christmas Message

As this is my art (in all permutations) blog, I thought in the spirit of those dratted round robins we all receive, I'd post my own RR, as an antidote to the Credit Crunch.

Well I can safely say this will be the last Christmas message from me for 2008. Is it really only a year since one of my Round Robins floated effortlessly onto your doormat? Well actually it’s three years. So much has happened in those 3 years I’m at a loss to know what to put down on paper, therefore I won’t. But to outline the whirlwind lifestyle of Border Reiver, that well known socialite, the following diary excerpts will add warmth to any cold winters day.

The books (not to mention the glossy magazines) say Christmas is a time to reflect, sit back, unwind a bottle and send someone a friend. But is it me? Christmas is getting just far too hectic. What Credit Crunch? The shopping Malls are heaving. Today I found myself having to queue for at least a minute while buying some Sellotape to wrap my presents. It’s a tradition of mine to wrap and send myself a present. Always better to receive than give. After that dramatic episode which saw me seething at this monstrous delay as the woman in front of me bought 3 stamps, using cash of all things, I had to return home.

Actually I had to return home as the 4pm curfew came around quicker than I’d planned. If I’m not home by then the tag I am now required to wear doesn’t half set up a din, and at a frequency which seems to attract cats. Never again will I believe a Polish immigrant that the Afghan he had with him was allowed to remain in the country. It looked such a lovely dog to me as well, or at least that’s what I told the authorities as they entered the transit van at Clacket Lane Services. Mind you being indoors all winter has its advantages, as I’ve done all my Christmas shopping on-line this year. Don’t expect anything though, as the one day I did leave the house (to buy Sellotape) the post arrived. Not being at home the card which was left for me said I have to collect my purchases from the sorting office which is only open..... you can probably see where this is going?

Decided to deck the halls with holly. Given I don’t actually have any holly, or a hall, I made do with some driftwood and tinsel around the shed. I have to say it looks tremendous. Later I headed out into the front garden to wrap my new outdoor lights around a tree. These 150w fox-lights have the ability to light a runway and with 200 on the string, a long runway at that. So I was especially keen to get them in situ soonest and then all my neighbours could enjoy the spectacle. It didn’t quite work. On the box it said a 6m cable from plug to first bulb. Smashing I thought, more than enough for my needs. What the box failed to say was that at the 6m mark lurked the “interface” box (which allows various animated illuminated light displays) which must not be left outdoors. Is it me, but surely outdoor lights are not meant to begin indoors. Anyway I muddled through and now sit watching Emmerdale wearing sunglasses, until that is the next phase of the light show plunges the house into darkness momentarily. Fantastic.

Christmas is always the time for having the house lit by candles. There is something magical in the warm glow candlelight provides, and the seasonal treats of stubbing one’s toe or maybe ricochet a shin off a coffee table while trying to find the remote control in the gloom make this time of year so pleasurable. This year’s Advent Candle is providing much needed entertainment. In my youth such a candle would burn quietly through the relevant days, no bother. What on earth is this one made of? In glorious red, it is the shape of an elongated pyramid but just refusing to budge past day 12. I had it lit for 48 hours last weekend and only half of number 6 succumbed to the flame. However the table it is on now looks like an extra from a Sweeney Todd play. Considering the candle is getting no lower, where on earth is this wax coming from? Fetching brown paper and an iron to remove the wax from the carpet, I tripped on the flex went a right old perler into conservatory. Olympic gymnasts would not provide such an acrobatic spectacle. Words were said while I staunched the flow of blood from my nose. I’ve decided to leave wax on the carpet as a Christmas decoration. I’ll stick a sprig of holly in it, no one will notice.

I’ve been neglecting my wildlife blog; such has been the excitement of this week. Today saw the 1st anniversary of my blog, which seemed to pass-by the newspaper headlines. After posting a journalistic tour d force, I waited with baited breath for my legions of fans to post comments and best wishes. There was obviously some sort of internet problem, no other way to explain the lack of replies, so I brewed myself a cup of tea. What is it about tea, we English cannot survive without it? The slightest mishap and out comes the caddy, kettle boiled and away we go, all the problems of the World solved in one cup. I’m always amazed where the stuff I write comes from. I seem to have a very fertile imagination, and certainly most of the comments I receive seem to confirm it is mostly unbelievable. Sent myself a comment anonymously, this may start the ball rolling.

Still no comments on the blog. They must all be out Christmas shopping. Following a walk along the beach to blow off a cobweb or two, returned to write my Christmas cards. Before this can happen I had to print them off. Simple job, select a photograph, print it onto card, sign card, pop into post box. I bought a new printer in the autumn, which is singly unable to print anything sensibly. All looks stupendous on the screen, press print and some other highly amended version of the article emerges. It’s all too much, I can feel my blood pressure rising. I may pop to Lidl and buy my cards instead. One version in particular was, very artistic. Somehow orientating itself NE/SW on a card it managed to avoid the entire photograph, printed the text on the back, twice, and somehow added some characters from clip-art. Mind you having said that, it looked far better than the original.

Is finally upon us. Time for a rest and put my feet up. First though I had to nip to the recycling centre to remove the mountain of scrap paper I seemed to have developed since yesterday. Piled alongside the candles, it was a bit of a fire hazard. It was while at the tip, I fancied a poached egg on toast. Returning home a friend popped in so we unleashed the free range into the pan. Lo and behold, a double yoker, it’s years since I’ve had one. This must be a symbol for the coming festive season. The symbolism of this egg wasn’t lost on me, went down a treat, with some tomato sauce. Great Stuff!!

I feel much better now, so with that I’ll wish you adieu Mon Ami, all health and happiness for 2009, a wonderfully happy Christmas and of course leave the washing up to Santa and the little elves!
And don't forget to watch Santa on his travels from this website. But only on Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas and birding notes

This will be my last posting until after Christmas. Couple more days at work, then up to the North East, before coming back in time for the New Year, and more blogging.

But before I go, a couple of parish notices:

The BREATHING PLACES campaign continues to encourage thousands of people to “Do One Thing” for nature. It has a brilliant Christmas viral video - do take a look, great fun.

I mentioned in my last posting possibly doing a Birding Blog Event, just for fun. So here's my suggestion; work off those Christmas pounds, get out there and then during the weekend of the 3rd & 4th January we all post on our own blogs what we've seen and the number of bird species (or wildlife) over Christmas and the New Year. It should be great fun to read what's happening around the world, be it a single entry from a garden or a full blown twitch.

If you're up for this, leave me a comment when you've done your posting and I'll do a bit of a summary and spread the word.

Therefore until my next posting I'd like to therefore wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and a personal thank you for all the comments and encouragement over the last 12 months of blogging.

Finally : I've posted a bit spoof diary on my Art Blog, my antidote to Round Robins, if you need a bit of a diversion.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Lay down the challenge... Xmas birding

This time of year is always hard to balance wildlife watching and the demands of Christmas and short days, but even in the most unexpected places wildlife can be seen.

Last night I went to John Lewis in Bristol and a few moths were flying around a car park light, and within the underground car park a robin fed on some discarded food. On Monday night a Tawny Owl flew over the house, which I saw by pure fluke taking the rubbish out to the bin, though the singing Redwings on the move are still being heard. Today next to the M5, I estimate about 100 curlew were feeding in a field, and the number of Buzzards around have increased recently. I also nearly flattened a Grey Squirrel which ran in front of the car. It survived though.

On Sunday an early morning walk along Sand Bay, at low tide didn't produce much, though makes for atmospheric images. Out towards the sea, were about 500 Dunlin, 50+ Curlew and high numbers of Shelduck. Which reminds me I've not had time recently to do my stationary scope watch. Hopefully will get back to doing this over Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I've finally managed to print off my Christmas Cards, which now gives me time to plan for the annual NHU Bird Cup. This was launched again today. Basically the Bird Cup has simple rules.

Count the number of different species seen or heard in the wild, in Britain, between 00.00 on 25th December (i.e. midnight on Christmas Eve) and 24.00 on 1st January (i.e midnight at the end of New Year's Day). Escapes, cagebirds, birds in a zoo, the Christmas turkey do not count - everything else does.

This year's categories are:

1. Supreme Champion – longest overall list

2. Best Beginner - never bird watched before

3. Best Intermediate - improving birder

4. Best Family - birding with children

5. Highest Garden List - species seen in, over or from your garden…

Last year I was 8 off the Supreme Champion prize, which was 98 species. Not sure how I'll do well this year, as I'm not match fit, but will give it a go.

So if any of you out there in the blogging community fancy taking up a similar challenge, maybe we could have a Blog Birding Day in early January when everyone posts how many birds they've seen during this Christmas time frame (and around the world, not just UK). It could be fun. Of course there are no winners or losers, just being out there watching is the prize in itself.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Christmas Card 2008 is....

Well after all of that thought, my Christmas card for 2008, is NOT a painting. Hopeless, I had a wonderful image in my mind, a watercolour of a streetlight at night in a street, lights from a window, you know the sort of thing, all atmospheric and moody. But it just wouldn't come. I love watercolour paintings but I'm not very good at taking my time drawing out the details and then making it come alive. I'm more a slosh it over the place person.

So looking at the frost in the garden at the end of last week, I thought why not take a photo of a plant in the garden and looking at the winter tubs I'd planted a few weeks ago, an idea came instantly to mind.

So photographing frost covered Heather, Cyclamen and leaves on a shrub, I then went into Photoshop to play about. Not quite an original painting, but good fun to let the software manipulate the mundane into something special. I think it is anyway. And here are the results.

Frosted Heather with a 3 way Kaleidoscope

Frosted Cyclamen with a circular distortion

Frosted Leaves with a circular distortion

But in the end one image appealed to me, Frosted Cyclamen with a 5 way kaleidoscope. There was something in how the flower became a star and a star is for Christmas of course. Symbolic as well as unusual.

So here it is, the image used for my Christmas Cards in 2008, Frosted Cyclamen.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Level best birding

By rights, I should be Christmas shopping but this last week has been a bit frantic. Last evening I was at the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 08 preview, presented by Miranda Krestovnikoff, who I'm old enough to remember as a junior researcher in the NHU. I'm not sure I agree, and many a debate was under way, with the Winning photo, a Snow Leopard, which was caught by remote camera. My joint favourites were a truly spectacular shot of a Black Grouse backlit, and just a hint of steam from it's mouth by Bence Máté and Snow Swans by Yongkang Zhu. But all the photos were stunning (unlike that which follows in this posting), so if you wish to have a peek, click here.

Anyway this morning I thought, steady on Border Reiver my old son, you need some fresh air. Blow the cobwebs off, so even though it was wet and dull, on with the galoshes and away to the Somerset Levels......

This was my first stop at Mark Moor. If you notice there is a footpath sign pointing to the rhyne, I'm not sure I'd wish to walk that way. The birding began on the journey down, Little Egret, Kestrel, Black Headed and Herring Gull by the motorway, plus a lot of Starling activity.

The opposite rhyne was being patrolled by a Grey Heron and a couple of Mute Swans with Glastonbury Tor in the distance. This was quite a good spot, Robin, Wren, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Blue, Great and Long-Tailed Tit, plus Stonechat were constantly about. A little further off 38 Swans were in a field, some Mallard, and 3 Meadow Pipit.

My original intention today was to go to Catcott Reserve, but I seemed destined to stay here. While driving along a drove road, this male Stonechat flew in front of the car and resulted in this poor photo. However while trying to photo this bird from the car, a Goldcrest landed on a branch inches from my wing mirror... sadly it was off before a photo was possible, though I did see it again 3 or 4 more times.

And so on to Tealham Moor, which is actually wet grassland.

This Carrion Crow was setting up it's cheek to the swan but both finally accepted their presence and they parted friends. While I was watching this performance, a familiar call alerted me to a passing Raven. I'm a happy bunny now I've got my Raven in the log for the day. Some Wigeon and Mallard were in the main Drain, more Grey Heron (7 in total today), couplet of Moorhen, and Meadow Pipit, more assorted gulls made me realise I'd walked a long way. So it was a long way back to the car.

At the far end of the Moor, I noticed a huge flock of Lapwing from the car. Luckily here, unlike some other parts of the UK, Lapwing numbers are holding up. I stopped to get the scope out, as sometimes Golden Plover are mixed in the flock, not today though.

I was just getting the scope out when the whole flock rose together, which can mean only one thing, Bird of Prey, and more likely a Peregrine. But where was it? I was in a quandary, the Lapwing were doing spectacular flocking maneuvers, but I needed to look elsewhere, so a few record shots of the flocking birds, then a 360 scan with the bins. There it was, 100 feet away behind me, coming in low like the clappers in front of the car, more like a Merlin hit and run chase, but then it rose up, the flock split, pandemonium followed, but my witnessing a kill wasn't to be.

So the Perry landed on a tree to watch and wait, the Lapwings left. What was unusual was this Perry was calling continuously, a very strange cackling call they sometimes do.

Keeping quiet and out of the way were a pair of Buzzards, wondering what the fuss was all about. It was while watching the Peregrine that the mobile went off, Stephen Moss inviting me for coffee, as he lives just a few miles away. While chatting to him a woman on a bicycle came into view and stopped for a chat. It turned out this was Alison Everett, a fellow member of the Somerset Ornithological Society, known as the SOS. We'd never met before, but we both knew of each other from the wonderfully names SOS Message Board!! It's a funny old world birding. Middle of nowhere and you meet someone you know, even if just by name.

Anyway just because I like it, this is an arty photo of the tree the Peregrine was in, the Lapwings were to the left. I think that field needs draining !! While talking to Alison Everett, I spied in a very distant tree a weird "black shape", which is in the tree, middle of the below picture at the end of the rhyne going bottom left to horizon.

This turned out to be a Buzzard, but weirdly it was perched with it's wings outstretched, much as a Cormorant does to theromregulate. Very odd given the cool temperature. What was also odd was it stayed like this for at least half an hour. Testing my zoom lens on the camera, especially as it was being hand held, to the limit, the following 2 photos show what I mean.

I've never seen anything like this before and when I popped in for that coffee at Stephen's, he wasn't sure either what was happening, but agreed it was odd behaviour for a Buzzard. Mind you we didn't have much time to talk, Stephen had been left babysitting for a few days while Mrs Stephen enjoyed herself with friends. 3 children under 5 can destroy a house when their mother is away overnight, Stephen was doing his best to control the melee, but I know who was winning. I never knew scrambled egg could stick to a forehead before!! Great fun though.

But time to go, and the drive back also produced a few nice moments.

These Mute Swans with the Mendips in the background were a pleasant discovery, while these Starlings being lifted by yet another Buzzard, provided a very atmospheric view.

And finally a view of Brent Knoll. For 3 and a half years I lived at the foot of this volcanic outlier next the the M5. From there are stunning views across the whole area, plus it's a great place for wildlife. I still miss not living there. But a great morning, and now, back to the Christmas toil....

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Deep and Crisp and Even

Cor blimey it's brassic out there. But just lovely. We've had a week or so now of clear skies and heavy overnight frosts, glorious winter weather. Mind you driving back through the lanes last night after a trip to London, it was a bit lively on those un-treated roads.

(For those of you into beat-combo-hip-to-the-jive music, during a break from our "workshop" at Television Centre, we went and saw Take That recording for Top of the Pops Xmas Special - apparently they're a well known band)

Anyway back to the birds, as this cold snap is bringing them into the garden now. On Tuesday I had 2 male Blackcaps in the honeysuckle, which was a real treat. I tend to get one maybe a pair in the garden in the winter as they come in for food, but 2 males is a real treat. So this morning before dawn I was out replenishing the feeders, hence the photo above.

Still a bit dark to see much, but the Jackdaws and Carrion Crows were in full song as they flew past, a few starlings did their weird "peheew" call, a Wren was chip chipping somewhere, a Blackbird silhouetted against the tree proclaimed its territory and would have made a fab photo, had I not left the flash on, and it was off. Yesterday before going to London, about 15 House sparrows invaded the feeders, plus half a dozen Goldfinch.

I know it's cold and dark and one doesn't want to leave a warm cosy bed, but go on, go out before dawn one day when the air is still, frost on the ground with the aim of quietly listening to the emerging birdsong as the sun rises, rather than trying to watch them. It's a truly atmospheric experience in the winter with less foliage to deaden the sound and if the air is still, birdsong travels for miles.

Oh dear, the smoke alarm is going off, that means my bacon is probably quite, deep and crisp and even!!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Darkness comes to Dunster

After Border Reiver had a shopa-holic-session in Weston super Mare (brightened only by a Raven pronking overhead). He decided in the evening to drag a friend down the M5 to Dunster, near Minehead. Completely unrelated to wildlife blogging, but if this sort of malarkey is good enough for Boulmer Birder, its good enough for Border Reiver.

This weekend was the Dunster by Candlelight, err weekend. Unusually it didn't rain. Its about 6 years since I last ventured into this glorious Medieval village in Somerset for this event, and its well worth the visit. Don't go expecting to shop till you drop, the place is heaving, with many shops providing sardine-type-entertainment-games for the populous. Just go for the spectacle of being in a fabulous part of the country, at night, a frosty night this year and take in the sights, sounds and smells, as a prelude to Christmas.

This is the old Market in the centre of the village, if it wasn't dark and I was inside this you'd see a big canon ball shaped hole in a beam, a relic of the English Civil War, from a rapscallion Roundhead canon ball, in case you are wondering whether it was just a hole made by mice, which just happened to be cannonball shaped.

All the villagers go to town and place candles, lanterns and so on around their doors and in windows. It is very atmospheric. One house had 2 women dressed in mop caps, waving at the crowd whilst sitting in front of a roaring fire. I think I spied a bottle or two of finest pale sherry next to their seat. It was the only explanation for their most indecorous behaviour !!

Another view of the main street in the village, looking towards the Castle, lit in green this year.

My friend managed to get herself arrested by a policeman in a fetching festive decorated helmet. I think it was because she was seen eating a sausage bap, to which no bap was attached....

........ this is the culprit, the man in the white coat with a selection of wicker baskets attached to his arm. He was selling sausage baps for £2.50, but as he'd run out of baps, we had a naked as a jailbird sausage, for 50p each.

A wonderful night, even if we didn't get home until nearly midnight. Though actually we nearly didn't make it, as a small herd of Roe Deer were in the middle of the road driving back, that part of the Quantocks is alive with them.


A couple of other things to add to the blog.

Firstly that Canadian bird in the last posting. After a comment and a couple of e-mails, I can safely say it is a) either, or b) possibly a Juvenile Red-Wing blackbird, or a Cowbird. Ed Drewit from Bristol Uni got back to me and if he's unsure exactly, I'm not even going to hazard a guess. Thank you all who replied.

Now the other thing. Some of you up't north will already know Trai Arnfield, the weather girl on BBC's Look North from Newcastle. What you may not know is a) she is an ME sufferer, and b) she's about to take 6 months off to travel the world. Yesterday she sent an e-mail outlining what she and a friend who is also an ME sufferer are planning to do, partly as a restore their health vacation and partly for a very worthwhile charity,

Here is a link is to the website they have developed http://7relaxingwonders.synthasite.com/

As Trai said in her note, please have a look at the website, share it with other friends and colleagues to raise further awareness of ME, and if you possibly can, please sponsor me. Even a little will make a big difference. My cousin is an ME sufferer, and I know how dreadful this illness can be with the roller coaster of good and bad days. Please spread the word, AND when they set off in January, keep logging on and sending support via their blog.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Christmas Card Inspiration - or not!

Is it really 6 months since I last posted something onto my Art Blog. The last 6 months haven't been good in terms of keeping the creative juices going, but recently I can feel the paint coursing through my veins.... and of course kept my wildlife blog going......

..... but it's nearly Christmas, and every year I try and produce a Christmas card. This year I'm struggling a bit, not because I don't know what to do, I have an image in my mind and it's formulating well, and have never done a watercolour Christmas Card before. It's purely time to sit down and do it.

This is as far as I have got!! I thought if I leave the stuff in the conservatory rather than the very cold Studio/Shed, I may get cracking. But not yet. However tonight I'm off to Dunster for the Dunster by Candlelight evening, so I may just come back and get this finished, after being inspired there... the weather looks fab for this evening anyway!!

2007 Christmas Card

2006 Christmas Card

2005 Christmas Card (Abstract doesn't go down well)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Does anyone know what this bird is?

Why an I posting this? Well my family in Canada sent me this photo of a bird at their "camp" in the woods, in Ontario. I've no idea what this bird is, but through the blogger community may be able to help?

So anyone know what this is? Leave me a comment and I'll let them know

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

He's a closet blogger you know....

Someone said to me this week, how long have you been blogging.

It almost makes it sound like I'm up to something underhand "oh you know him, he's a closet blogger", shunned by society and keeps it behind closed doors. In those early days I kept my identity secret. Which looking back seems odd, when writing a diary for others to read, but then again we never know who is out there. But it got me thinking, how long have I been a blogger. I had a look yesterday; lo-and-behold, today is my 1st Anniversary.

I thought I'd started this rambling diary in October 2007, but (and of course a sign of getting old), I started it quietly on December 3rd 2007, but then listed the birds seen back to November.

This was the bird which started it all off, a Glossy Ibis which arrived in Somerset last November and stayed for weeks. For some reason I've never posted a photo of this strange and exotic bird, so here is the best of a bad bunch (it was early morning and dull)

I've had great fun over the last year, some successes, more failures and made some fabulous blogging friends. You know who you are, thank you for all the comments. It is a strange old business, we sit and write whatever rubbish comes into our minds, publish it on the web, and if we're lucky some nice comments. I remember the excitement of getting my first comment, someone had read my blog. I never got another comment from that person, so they must have succumbed to boredom...

Wot I rite, on the blog has changed too. It started as a pseudo-wildlife diary for me, but my interests are really the British Countryside, so over time the subject matter changed. Writing a blog also makes a difference to being out and about, I always have a camera with me now, and the smallest event or incident becomes fuel for the blogging fire. And it makes one look at the World around us in a completely different way which in turn makes the World seem different.

Personally the last year has been jolly traumatic and unsettling, but hey, I've got my health, kept my sense of humour (debatable to some) and throughout all of this the blog kept going. Mind you the the art blog has suffered a bit and the gardening blog had to be deleted through lack of time. So lets raise a glass of single malt to the postings of the future.

Speaking of which, on a dark, frosty day in December, I'm posting this picture of Lyme Regis, June 2007 and the rebuilding of the beach, a Jurassic earth mover on the Jurassic Coast - we all need colour in our lives on a day like this.

A huge thank you to all of you have read my ramblings, posted a comment or provided encouragement, it's very much appreciated, has kept me sane, and kept me going throughout the strange year I've had in 2008.... I hope I can keep it going for another 365 days.