Sunday, 4 January 2009

In the Midst of Winter

So, I go on about it being cold. "Nesh" is a peculiarly Northern term for not being quite as hardy and cold tolerant as perhaps one should be. Today I was "nesh".

Half the plants in the garden are looking extremely bad, not only is the frost killing them with cold but they are completely dehydrated. I gave in and bought some echiums into the house, a good re-hydration and two out of the three are looking fine, I fear the very tender one has succumbed.

Frost on the chicken run roof
While being on holiday over the festive period it has given the girls free range for garden decimation. Even though it was crisp and frosty, after a good feed all the chickens had a try at dust bathing, and they succeeded in finding a small amount of earth under some large echiums.

As you can see from the photo below, Ruby also got a very brief opportunity to sun bathe.
Weekends are also clean out times. Halfway through cleaning out the shed Harriet decided she wanted to lay an egg so stood there while John rushed and filled up the nest boxes with the appropriate wood shavings and straw. When a girl wants to lay, she will NOT be bothered by the orderlies cleaning the home!

"Come on Dad, I can't lay on newspaper"

So a weekend treat before the great return to work was an early morning bird-watch at Rainham Marshes It's the first time we have visited, no idea why not before as it seems to be our most local RSBP reserve.

Thames estuary on an early sunday morning with the thermometer registering -2 degrees c, it was a real way to wake up and also to wonder how birds manage to seemingly continue as normal in such weather.

Even with the weather and thinking that with such freezing temperatures visiting a marsh (and all that frozen water) was not such a good idea it was in fact wonderful if not slightly bone chilling (as I said before, nesh - gloves don't work as its so long since we had proper cold weather).

However we saw some great birds - a first for both of us was a jack snipe and in the three hours we were there we clocked up 42 species. You can view the list of all the birds we saw at:

Following are some great shots that captured the morning:

Goldfinch on hawthorn and below on fence wire

Coots and waterfowl in a small space of water in an icy lagoon

Grey heron on ice

More chilly coots and gulls

Frosty stonechat - our companions on the walk

The stonechats were very approachable and confident around people

Male reed bunting feeding - not seen one in a while and we saw LOTS at this site

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