Thursday, 12 December 2013

Things are Starting to Fall into Place!

Right well not sure where to start! Had a busy hectic few days and some good news!

I'll start with the weekend. I actually finished a knitting project - quite an accomplishment for moi! I volunteered myself to knit a tea cosy for the teapot we use for our teas on our Monday tasks. Below are a few nearly finished photos and the finished article!

The last row...

Blue butterfly (adonis blue) representing the KWT logo

The teapot ready to be dressed

A quick break for a dog walk....

Then taaaadaaaaaa....

I wanted to finish it before volling on Monday. Everyone was impressed and I must say I am fairly impressed too!

Everyone working hard - probably in need of a nice hot cup of tea!

Tea cosy in a more natural setting!

Everyone said how much hotter the tea stayed - in my eyes that is a success!

Anyone know what this is??? Edit: Cobalt Crust (Terana caerulea) a saprobic crust fungi

After the task, we went to check on Oare Marshes after the tidal surge last week. I didn't see the damage on the day but it is still very much under water compared to how it usually looks.

Evidence of the debris washed into the marsh from the creek. Water was flowing so quickly it dragged reeds as well

Water pouring from the ditches

Excess water gushing from the marshes back into the creek via the sluice

A beautiful calm day

On Tuesday I went on an Emergency First Aid at Work Training day. A really handy qualification to have when applying for jobs etc. It was a very informative and hands on day. I feel confident that I may one day be able to help someone if they were in trouble.

Yesterday We had our first proper frost. It still wasn't a proper proper one but the heaviest we've had yet.

Not too sure about that ice...

Give it a little sniff...

Then eat it!

I took Bracken down to the marshes with my camera and tripod slung over my shoulder. I needed an hour or so to clear my head because later on in the day I had an interview. The interview was for a trainee post with KWT and I was told to prepare a 3 minute presentation about a habitat or species group. I decided to talk about falcons! What better way to learn a presentation than go and give it to a falcon! We always see kestrels down at the marshes so that is what I did. A nice hovering kezzie listened very well to me rambling on about him!  I really wanted a nice photo of me and Bracken down there in the lovely morning light, hence why I took my tripod. I got a couple of shots that I quite like...

Anyway I went for my interview, it went okay but I was quite nervous. It obviously went better than I thought because I received a phone call when I got home and they offered me the job!! Truly ecstatic! The position involves working on the water vole project which I have already been doing for a while. I am just happy to be able to have a more formal role in the project!

This morning we went on another lovely walk. Well a normal kind of walk apart from the fact I saw my first little owl!! I wish wish wish I'd had my camera because it was no more than 2 metres away from me and looking directly at me!! I'm sure most birders see lots of these stunning little birds and I'm not quite sure why it has taken me so long to see one. It was well worth the wait though! I will always remember my first sighting of this smart little owl!

Right now I must apologise again for taking so long to catch up on blogs, that is my task for the next few days! I hope you are all having a great week! I couldn't wait to share my good news with you all!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Daily Life

December already! Although it is still feeling quite mild here in this part of the country. I'm eager for a nice frost as I've missed a nice crunchy walk!

Yesterday after I took Bracken for a walk I spent some time catching up with blogs and watching the birds who were coming and going in the garden. I have been inspired by Mike Dilger's new book to watch the behaviour of the birds who visit the garden and I've been writing a little bird diary. Something which I am sure most naturalists do.

Over the weekend I had a go at making my own birdy fat treats. Ages ago I bought one of those coconut halves and obviously they demolished the contents within a few days, however it was the perfect vessel to refill. I bought some white vegetable fat and melted it down, firstly putting a layer of mealworms, then some of the melted fat, then some oats and some more mealworms until it was packed with yummy bird treats. I also used a plastic pot which was destined for the recycle bin, and filled that with the same selection of morsels. The garden birds are still checking it out, making sure it isn't going to jump off the tree and eat them. There were 5 blue tits all inspecting it from afar, but still just a little too scary to nibble.

The weekend before, we went and explored some woods nearby which we hadn't been to previously. The walk was okay, but it was quite difficult to follow the woodland path. We encountered some lovely free roaming piggies which luckily Bracken didn't notice, so I was able to call him back and pop him on his lead. Probably not a footpath we shall use again, but that is what is great about using the OS map - we can find which places we like and which we aren't likely to return to. My camera's battery died after a few minutes so that was quite irritating.

Usual volunteering activities have been taking place, along with a dormouse check which resulted in just one wood mouse which had taken over the intricate dormouse nest. We then made a hasty retreat back to the truck as it started to tip down. Hopefully all the little dormice gained enough weight to survive the winter and have found a nice little hidey hole to hibernate in.

Anyway that is probably enough of my ramblings. Here are a selection of photos from the last few weeks worth of walks.

21st November

21st November

21st November

23rd November - Walk along The Saxon Shore Way
Bracken having enormous fun with a plastic sheet.


Flock of  roughly 170 brent geese

Flock of linnets and goldfinches

Linnets and goldfinches

Another shot of the finch flock

Reed bunting

Poignant pose


Last Monday I took this cake along to our volunteer task for the Warden's Birthday. Usually no more than 10 people turn up so I cut the cake into 10. You can guess how many people turned up to that task....

Delicious Birthday carrot cake

The changes in the sky on today's afternoon walk...

Lime tree leaves

I am playing catch up with all your blogs, I haven't forgotten you I promise! I hope you are all well :)

Thanks for reading and any comments you take the time to write, I truly appreciate what you have to say! 

Monday, 18 November 2013

One Good Deed Deserves Another

Last Wednesday I completed my brushcutter course. It was a very informative day and one which I learnt a considerable amount during. The morning was dedicated to going through health and safety, PPE, risk assessments and legislation. After our intro we were then shown how to check the air filter, the spark plugs and how to re-tension the starter cord. We then had a go ourselves. After lunch we were driven to a reserve nearby and put it all into practice. We got kitted up and then spent 15 minutes or so clearing some bramble and scrub and got used to handling the machine. All in all, good fun and a handy bit of training to have!

When I got home the sky looked ablaze! Mum was out walking Bracken so I grabbed my camera and went to meet her and try and photograph the firey sky...

Now for a tale of a good karma...

On Friday I travelled up to the big smoke to meet my best friends from University. I hadn't seen them for months so was really looking forward to a good catch up! London certainly isn't my favourite place - lots of people and buildings and not enough countryside, but it is nice to go up once in a while - especially at Christmas time. We had a nice Thai meal, spent lots of time nattering and went for a few drinks afterwards. I somehow managed to lose my phone at some point during the evening, which was not only inconvenient but also meant I had no way of contacting anybody if an emergency had arisen on my way home. Luckily I made it home okay even if my mum was worried sick.

Anyway, the next day we rang my phone, but to the unwanted message of my voice-mail service, which I assumed was due to no battery power left. After an hour I tried again and someone answered! She said she lived in London but when I mentioned I lived near Canterbury she told me that she had been planning a trip to Canterbury the very next day!! I said I could call again on Sunday and hopefully I would get my phone back! Well Sunday came and we managed to meet up and I did indeed (very luckily) get my phone back! Faith restored in the kindness of people! I bought a box of chocolates to say thank you and wished her a lovely day in Canterbury.

Now, earlier on in the day my friend found an iphone in the toilet in Starbucks. We tried to think of a way we could contact the person whose phone it was by checking the contacts for a home number or parent etc. but found it to most likely be a work phone. After much deliberation we handed it to a staff member and hoped they would keep it safe in case the person went back to look for it. Maybe because we did the right thing, that in turn meant someone then did the right thing by me. Well I like to think so anyway :)

Sorry for such a lot of text and only 2 photos but I just wanted to share my little story of the kindness of a stranger and coincidence.

I hope you all had a good weekend and have an equally lovely week :)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Old Lawyer's Beard

A brief post today, goodness knows what has got into me... 2nd post in 3 days!

I filled the feeders up on Sunday evening and due to the horribly wet weather yesterday the birdies didn't visit until today. The rain didn't stop me though. Our Monday volunteer task went ahead and we were largely sheltered in the woods. A nice warming fire and some tea made (by me!) using the kelly kettle made the chilliness worth it. We piled the larger coppiced logs against trees to prevent them from rolling down the hill, and the smaller branches and logs we chucked on the fire.

Anyway here is Mr Blackbird in the garden just keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn't pilfer his worm!

The sparrows were squabbling amongst themselves for the remaining seed.

Not a very sharp photo but was taken through glass and dingy weather. Shows the squabbling though.

There were about 30 at one point, either picking at the fallen seed or waiting on various branches ready to take their turn. There was also a little blue tit, a great tit, a lovely robin, a collard dove and a number of chaffinches visiting the garden during the morning.

Poor photo but shows a few sparrows lining up.

This evening we nipped down to the strawberry fields and marshy fields where, last week, I had seen a fantastic specimen of Lawyers wig! The cap was much whiter then, and covered more of the stem. I think it is a rather charming fungi! The turned up black edges really do look like it's descriptive name! Think I'll keep checking back on it to see if it changes any more.

The old man's beard looked pretty against the vaguely pinky sky. The midges were out in force...

As we neared home, the clouds almost instantly turned pink, I love how quickly the colours in the sky change!

That's all for now folks. I hope you have all had a great start to the week :) I am off on a brushcutter course tomorrow. Then I will have that all important certificate (hopefully!) to say I can use one safely, which is important when volunteering or working for an organisation.