• Blossom time

    I've been meaning to write a post about spring for ages - but life never quite lets up for long enough! Anyway, it's been lovely here in Devon - cold breezes have not stopped the sun from bringing on all the blossom.

    Today I found four different flowering trees all in the same family (Rosaceae) - all lovely in their own understated way.

    Amelanchier in the garden. This tree was planted to commemorate my Dad, who died at this time of year. An airy and delicate small tree with attractive spring and autumn foliage.

    Wild blackthorn. So-called because the blossom normally precedes the leaves on dark branches. Source of sloes for sloe gin or the blackbird's tea.

    plum blossom
    Plum blossom in our mini-orchard. A favourite decorative motif on Oriental ceramics, so doubly pleasing for me!

    Wild bullace. This little plum is often mistaken for blackthorn, but the light and delicate branches are quite distinctive, and the flowers are not so thickly clustered.

  • Thanks, Iceland!

    I forgive you your financial recklessness - for two blissful days of glorious blue skies with nary a contrail in sight. Normally, I can count between about 10 and 20 by 7:30 in the morning, but today - nothing but blue, blue, blue. I can begin to imagine how much nicer the world must have been in my early childhood when air travel was something for the rich.

    blue sky

    Long may the Eyjafjallajökull glacier continue to cause steamy explosions and send more ash our way from the so-far innominate volcano.

    Maps and video of the ash cloud.

  • Up with the lark

    I never thought of the origin of this phrase, but today, I was outside at just after 6. The sky was a dark inky blue starting to lighten to a sullen grey in the south, and apart from the distant roar of the surf, all I could hear were two larks trilling over my head. I stood transfixed in the gloom, wondering how I had missed this enchanting phenomenon for so many years.

    It wasn't till 15 minutes later that the first song-thrush started the dawn chorus, and now they are all at it in the grey cloudy glimmer of twilight. And I am sitting in front of my computer, about to begin editing an urgent draft before the day shift begins. Today, that means waiting for the vet first thing to come and see the pony who has an abscess in his hoof, and then frantically glazing some pottery in time, I hope, for a pre-Easter delivery run.

    Another fraught day, one of a rather long series recently for various mostly boring reasons!

  • Big Garden Birdwatch results, 2010

    This year's weather was cold, frosty and sunny for my birdwatching session. A lot of the dozen or so blackbirds who spent the very cold spell in the garden have moved on, leaving the regulars.


    Blackbirds: 4
    Blue tits: 2
    Carrion crow: 1
    Chaffinches: 3
    Dunnocks: 4
    Goldfinches: 2
    Great tits: 4
    Greenfinches: 4
    House sparrows: 1
    Long-tailed tits: 3
    Robins: 3
    Woodpigeons: 2
    Pheasants: 5

    Our occasional woodpecker visitor was absent, as were the coal tits that I know live in the garden - but the long-tailed tits are only occasionals and put in an appearance, so I was pleased!

    Results of this year's count will be published on the web site in March. My last year's results are here.

  • Don't forget the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend

    - I can't believe it's almost a year since the last one, Today, I saw three goldfinches at the bird table, so I hope I can "bag" them on Sunday - they aren't that frequent visitors as I have never found a niger seed feeder that is both squirrel proof and costs less than about £20.

    Big Garden Birdwatch


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