29 April 2007

Oh so quiet...

Wow, what a week! Not!

It comes to something when the highlights of your week are, in no real order…

It rained on Monday AND Tuesday! Great, just what the garden needed! Pity the sun came out again on Wednsday and dried everything up again!

I sat watching the Derby Cathedral Peregrine web-cam at almost midnight on Wednesday - the bird on the nest was turning the eggs, something they do regularly to help the chicks develop properly. I was rather surprised to see this going on in the middle of the night though.

I went into Derby with Lynda on Saturday - got my hair cut, picked up a couple of CD’s and a DVD, spent rather more than I’d have liked to on a new birding/walking coat! Still, I did need a new coat, the old one let me down when I was caught in heavy rain at Carsington back at the beginning of March.

As we arrived home from shopping on Saturday afternoon four Swifts were flying around over the house, our first ones of the year!

So, that was another week of my life that has been and gone - hope the next one is just as exciting!

Today must have been the start of next week, not the end of last week, because it was a little more exciting. Lynda and I went to our niece Chloe’s birthday party. When you have around a dozen seven year olds running around it is always going to be a little crazy! To make matters worse, they were all in charge of guns - laser guns that is!

The party was held at a Quasar laser arena and, I must say, it was rather fun! As well as the little people, around seven or eight of us "grown ups" also played. During the two battles we took part in, I was involved in 15 friendly fire incidents (trigger-happy kids!), ran into a wall twice in the darkened room, managed a total of 188 "kills" whilst only "dying" 52 times and somehow came out as "Top Gun" in both games!

Being seven is such fun!

21 April 2007

The Reasoning...

Hello!

Another quick post this one - not quite sure what to write, and I'm also short of time, so most of it will be just photos!

The Limelight Club gig was a brilliant night out. We had no trouble with the traffic getting there, we didn’t get lost and the music was excellent!

Touchstone, a band new to me, started the night off with a pretty good set. They played mostly their own stuff with one or two cover versions thrown in for good measure. It was the lead singer’s first gig with the band and, although she did look a little nervous at times, she did a great job and her confidence grew from track to track. This is a band I’ll be keeping a look out for in the future and will definitely go and see again.

After a short break, it was time for The Reasoning. This was the first time I’d seen this band play live although I’ve been listening to a fair amount of their music via the internet. They were just amazing! Each and every track they played was just pure class. Now that they are out on the road, and playing gigs and festivals, this relatively new band are going to be making a big name for themselves. The Reasoning are a band that you’ll be reading much more about here and a good deal of other places over the coming months! Buy the CD, go see them live, you will not be disappointed!

After Thursday's gig, I am now pretty sure that I’ll not be at the Off The Tracks festival in May; I’ll be heading over to Newark to see The Reasoning instead!

Below are a few of the better photos I took on the night. They certainly are not my best photos ever! Not sure what the problem was but the lighting played havoc with the focus and exposure on the camera.














18 April 2007

Mid-week update…

Work is a total pain in the butt this week! Nothing new there, apart from the pain is even bigger this week!

Two long bike rides into work so far this week - couldn’t use the bike yesterday as we went to the gym after work. Good workout, spoilt by having a large whisky when we got back home! Calories off - calories back on!

At the start of the week, I got the sudden urge to go to a gig this week! All the stress of work must have triggered that feeling! So, after checking a few websites, we are off to see The Reasoning play at The Limelight Club, in Crewe, tomorrow!

If we don’t get fog like we did for the birding trip last Saturday I MAY have some photos from the gig by the weekend!

Ta Ta!

15 April 2007

The Titchwell trip went off okay, not great but okay. We arrived at the coach pick-up point in Derby at just before 7:00AM and the weather was a little bit iffy. It was a lot cooler than the past few mornings and, more worryingly, there was quiet a lot of fog around but at least it was dry so we couldn’t complain too much.

By the time the coach was ready to set off at 7:30AM the fog had cleared and we had also seen the first “good bird” of the day - one of the Peregrine Falcons that are nesting on Derby Cathedral had put in an appearance. The sunshine that had broken through as we left Derby soon disappeared again as we headed towards Nottingham! The next time we saw clear blue skies would prove to be after we left Titchwell to return home!

We arrived at the reserve at just after 11:00AM with visibility down to around 200 yards. Not the best of weather for birding but at least the fog was now patchy and not so thick that we couldn’t see anything. After a brief look around the visitor centre, we headed out onto the main reserve.

The scrub area around the freshwater marsh gave us our first migrant birds of the day - Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Swallow were all seen along with good views of a male Marsh Harrier, a pair of Ruddy Duck, a single Siskin and two pairs of Bullfinch. Cetti’s Warbler was also heard but even though there were at least two if not three birds calling, we couldn’t manage a sighting of these notoriously skulking birds.

An Avocet - in the fog!

The freshwater marsh itself held good numbers of Avocet, Shoveller, Oystercatcher, and Brent Geese. We also saw Ruff, Turnstone, Common Snipe, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover, and both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit amongst the waders. The “star bird” of the day was also located on the freshwater marsh, a single Little Gull. Okay, it wasn’t the best looking of Little Gulls, I would guess at it being a first or maybe second year bird, but on a dull and foggy spring day, it was great to come across this little gem!

The Little Gull - through the fog!

The last part of the reserve, before you walk into the sea, is the tidal marsh. Here the fog became quite thick again as it was blown in off the sea. We did manage to add one or two more birds to our day list though. There was a single Spotted Redshank, a few Grey Plover and two Little Egret.

The return walk back to the coach at the end of the day had one more surprise in store for us, a Cetti’s Warbler showed itself! It was at the side of the path, low down in some dead reeds, collecting what looked like nesting material. As soon as it saw us, it was up and way like a shot! It then had the cheek to start and call again once it was out of sight.

The foggy view over the freshwater marsh.

Once back at the coach the birding continued for a while longer. A superb male Wheatear had been located in a field next to the car park and, whilst watching that, a Barn Owl was seen hunting along the hedgerow! A great finish to a rather good days birding, despite the weather! Including birds seen from the coach during the trip to and from the reserve Lynda and I saw a total of 76 species.

Today, the sun came out all day! The sky was blue, there was little or no wind and the temperature was more like July than early April - what a difference a day makes!

13 April 2007

Evening!

Just a quick Blog to keep things ticking along on here - which basically means I’ve no real news but I’m going to post anyway!

Work has been great this week - I only had to work three days, so it was great! There has been one little bit of pleasure there this week though; three Ringed Plover have been displaying on waste ground at the rear of our site and myself and one of the salesmen have been popping out to keep an eye on them every now and again. Hey, if people can have a cigarette break, I can have a birding break!

The Derby Peregrines… The good news is that the Peregrines have laid a full clutch of four eggs! The even better news is that the “live” web-cam is now up and running! The link only went live yesterday, and there are still one or two things to sort such as a sound feed and also static images, but it is now available. You can link to the web site HERE.

A "live" image taken from the web-cam at 10:20PM tonight!


Another sign of Spring / Summer showed itself in the garden this week, my Snake's Head Fritillary bulbs came into flower again. I've had a pot full of these gorgeous little flowers for years now and they just keep on coming back each year. If I remember, I'd like to plant more of them out in the flower borders later this year.


Snake's Head Fritillary flowers.


Tomorrow, we are off to Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve for a days birding, with the Derby RSPB group. I’ll put a “report” from the day and also some photos on here later in the weekend.

10 April 2007

Easter Weekend...

Yes, I know, it’s been ages since I updated this but I’ve not really had anything worth posting.

Last week was pretty quiet both at home and at work with little or nothing of note happening. The weather has been slowly but surely getting warmer and we’ve even had to water the garden a couple of times, as the ground is so dry.

The Autograss season is now fully underway but, as yet, I’ve not been to any meetings. Gary has not finished the work needed to bring his car up to 2007 spec. rules yet so it will be another few weeks before his car hits the track.

Biggest laugh of the week came at work… One of the salesmen tried to take the top down on a cabriolet we have for sale and got the electronic mechanism totally messed up! The end result was the roof stuck down and the boot lid stuck four feet up in the air! We sent him off back to his desk whilst we sorted everything out.

The jammed boot lid!

The Easter weekend was a quiet one for us. On Good Friday and Saturday, I had to work. On Sunday, I raked all the dead moss and grass from the lawns, and then mowed them; I dug the flower borders over and then washed the car. Lunch was a delicious roast turkey with all the trimmings - just like Christmas all over again! We even had a Christmas Pudding! Needless to say, we didn’t move far in the afternoon.

Yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday, I went out birding for a few hours at Willington Gravel Pits with Paul. We didn’t come across anything out of the ordinary bird wise - Sand Martin, Chiffchaff, Little Ringed Plover, Ruddy Duck, Wigeon and Common Buzzard being the highlights - but did get to watch a great fight for a nest hole between two male Great Spotted Woodpeckers! One of the birds had obviously laid claim to the hole and was quite happily going about removing debris from inside when along came another woodpecker that decided he would try to evict the first one. The fight that followed got to be quite nasty at times and also rather noisy; we left them to it with the bird that had first claimed the hole having the upper hand.

This weekend’s warm weather has seen quite a few butterflies taking to the wing. On Sunday, we had numerous Peacock and Small Whites in the garden and also a single Brimstone. On Monday, we came across more Peacocks at Willington along with two Orange Tips and one or two Speckled Woods. Later in the afternoon, we had another Speckled Wood in the garden at home. At last, some real signs of summer!

Today, I’ve been off work - time owed for working Good Friday - and I’ve spent much of the day sorting through well over 1000 photos on my PC! I’ve still not got them all in order, or transferred onto disk, but I’m getting there!

Is it the weekend yet?

Chiffchaff at Willington Gravel Pits.


Peacock butterfly at Willington Gravel pits.


Speckled Wood butterfly at Willington Gravel Pits.



The next photos show the second of the two male woodpeckers advancing on the nest hole.





This last photo is as far as the intruder got into the hole!

01 April 2007

Not much going on but...

Here’s a quick run down of the week and it will be quick because not much has happened and I’m not really in the mood for sitting here typing loads of stuff tonight!

We hit the gym twice in the week and at last I’m fully back in the swing of things there - I’m actually enjoying it again and now look forward to going! Not felt like that for around 8 months or so! I’ve also managed to dump around 6 or 7 pounds of excess weight just by cutting out some of the rubbish I was eating. Not sure how long it will stay off though.

On Wednesday, I once again gave the neighbours good reason to think I have gone totally mad - I spent almost ¾ of an hour watering the lawns! Yes, I know it was still March and yes, I know it’s not been very hot but I wanted to roll the lawns to try and get rid of some of the humps and hollows that have developed over the past few years. When I tried rolling them last Saturday the ground was already too hard hence the watering!

The second part of the week had me watching my purchase figures at work like a hawk - it was the end of the first quarter this weekend and I needed to hit 100% of target so that we got a rebate back from Kia. We hit 100% on Thursday and, with a little bit of extra work and a very small piece of luck, we managed 105.3% by the month end. That last little push means that the rebate will now be more than double what it would have been.

Yesterday Lynda and I went into Derby in the morning. I needed a haircut, again, and we needed to do a little bit of shopping. All went off fine, Derby was pretty quiet, the weather was pleasant, if a little chilly, and I came home in one piece - just a pity I forgot half the stuff I went for! I hate shopping!

This morning I spent a few hours out and about birding. I checked three sites, all local to home and managed to add a few good birds to my year list - Sand Martin, Swallow, White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper. All common enough birds but good to see all the same.

So, that was last week. Now for a few photos from today.

Looking over the main pool at Willington


The newly created wader area at Willington.


A very friendly Robin that came to say hello!


There is plenty of Blackthorn in flower now.


A Dog Violet - I think!


Just a Dandelion, but from a bugs view!


Lesser Celandine - I hope!