Thursday 31 January 2019

My Own Personal Big Freeze

As I had glumly predicted  last night, as the pavements began to sparkle with ice and the puddles solidify into solid mirrors for the streetlights, this morning was going to be a very cold cycle into work.

And that is exactly what it was, a rimed world of biting air at minus seven celsius, Raynaud hands bitten by cold as I rode along trying to keep my eyes open for black ice in the pre-dawn light.

I was safe though, riding very carefully and the dry night meant there wasn't too much ice to be had. But it was still a relief to get to work in one piece.

The grasslands at work looked stunning, plants frozen into crystalline alien life forms on a frozen satellite in another solar system. Then the fog came, and the air glittered with drifting hoar frost.

It was beautiful, but I'd rather it happened at the weekend when I'm not working.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.01.19

Monday 28 January 2019

A Mini Photography Expedition

I had a sort of greatly compressed day today where I got a lot done in a fairly short space of time - shopping, library visit, intense exercise bike ride, cooking - and still fitted in a sort of accidental photography walk.

I realise I haven't really used my bridge camera too much in the last couple of years, finding my latest mobile phone far better for macro type insect and wildflower shots, as well as having really good on board editing software for all sorts of photograph. However, for bird pictures, only my bridge camera will do the job I need.

I'm just not very good at using it.

So deciding that I needed to practice, I just went out into  my garden to try and photograph some songbirds. Of course, having been plentiful earlier on they all disappeared, and I ended up walking through the cemetery to the lake to try and get some shots.

I  got a few, and I have to say I'm pretty pleased with my singing robin - not a bad shot for 36X and my jelly hands!


All text and  images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.01.19

Sunday 27 January 2019

2019 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Well I did mine  today at 3pm, in bright conditions, but with a howling bonechiller of an easterly wind promising to keep the birds huddled away.

Last year, if you remember, it was a bit pathetic, but the presence of a marauding sparrowhawk may have prompted to keep the songbirds to keep their heads down. This year, I saw more birds in the first ten minutes than I did in the whole of last year's watch.

I resolved to watch from my dark doorway, out of the wind and hopefully not too disturbing of the birds, and as soon as I opened my door I saw woodpigeons and blackbirds. Indeed, the local blackbirds were very busy the whole time  ferreting through the leaf litter, occasionally tossing the leaves high above their heads in a show of strength.

There were plenty of gulls and feral pigeons flying overhead, but not many small songbirds in evidence. Both my neighbours have feeders, but no birds were visiting. Some very obvious birds were missing - no robins when normally you say at least one knocking around, no great tits - and no more interesting visitors like winter thrushes or blackcaps.

However, it is good to closely observe your own garden area, rather than hunting further afield.

There's always  something to see when you keep your eyes  open.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.01.18

Saturday 26 January 2019

Out on the Wildflower Walks

It's been a battleship grey afternoon again, the sort of one where I take myself out plantar fascitis or not. because I didn't get outside much last weekend with having the landlords visit and tomorrow will be RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

Hopefully it will be better than last year's where I barely even saw a sparrow.

There are more snowdrops on the ground in the cemetery, and a few crocuses have decided to sprout and open up for business too, although there's no buzzing customers yet and nor will there be for a month I reckon when the first brave honeybees make an appearance.

No goosander at the lake, but a little egret was in the usual spot where the lagoon is divided from the main Blue Lake.

I've doing a lot of research and treatment on my dodgy foot, without a massive amount of success so far. The key, I've learned, is that the problem lies elsewhere than the foot itself but in the calf and beyond. So as well as the old rolling a tennis ball over my sole trick, I've been standing on the stairs stretching my calves by dropping  my heels, and various other things.

I hope it works.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.01.19

Thursday 24 January 2019

Christmas Roses

My stepfather has been buying yet more nice plants for my mother's enormous nice plants collection, and the latest edition is pictured below.

Apparently it is a "Christmas Rose" but to me it is Green Hellebore in a plant pot. It is a very attractive plant, although compared to some of my mother's fancy orchids it is a bit overshadowed. Our favourite white and purple ink splotch one has been in flower continuously it seems for several years. 

So, we've had a really sharp cold snap since the weekend, and I've been cycling to work through the lot of it. The last two mornings were savage, with black ice everywhere which meant I was safer on the main roads than pedestrians were on the pavements. On the bridge over the railway line, folk this morning were desperately clinging on to the railings to stop themselves sliding 50 metres down the slope. 

The drawback is that these cold nights and mornings have made me ill again,  or at least reversed my slow recovery from this wretched cold. Do not feel amazing.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.01.19

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Show Off Red Arrows Again

Well, it was a bitterly cold night, leading to a bitterly cold cycle to work with the degree of hand pain telling me it was -2.

Accurate too, as ever!

The ghostly moon faded and sank into her bed as the morning dawn came on, leaving the seagulls almost dazzling bright in the light while the carrion crows looked like nuggets of coal, hard as anthracite.

More man made creatures were also at work, with the Red Arrows doing their practicing a few miles away off to the north over featureless farmland. The hawk jets are invisible, but you can see the smoke trail emitted as the practice looping the loop, then looping the  loop inside their loop the loops.

Us earthbound mortals drink our tea, look out the window and wonder how much pain I'll be in cycling home.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.01.18

Monday 21 January 2019

Eclipse Fail

I did stay up for the total lunar eclipse last night, hoping that in the end the clouds would part an allow me a glimpse of the moon turning that potent crimson colour - everyone else says "blood red" and I  refuse to succumb to that cliche! - as it passes through the shadow of mother earth.

Of course the clouds never did part, so all I got for my troubles was very cold, very tired, and thus stressed for the visit of my landlord and a valuer to my flat. On a bright clear day good for photography, I  then had to stay home waiting for a plumber to show up to fix my kitchen tap.

The only wildlife I saw all day were these two.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.01.18

Saturday 19 January 2019

Redwing at the Bottom of the Drive

I noticed as I walked into town today that a flock of around 20 redwing had descended on the small ornamental park near my hometo finally make a concerted attack on the cotoneaster berries that always get left until it gets cold and everything else has been eaten.

I resolved to photograph them with my bridge camera when I got back home. And after I had eaten too of course. That was important.

Luckily after prandial perambulations they were still around, so I grabbed the camera, nipped across a road parasitised by roadworks, and got a few pictures.

The light was horribly flat and grey, but contrary to expectations I got some ok pictures of these chacky little thrushes. Probably because they don't swim fast like bloody goosander do.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.01.19

Friday 18 January 2019

More Plants that Should still be in Bed

My various walks and runs around the lakes the last weekend has revealed that more  wildflower species have emerged, some rather earlier that I would have thought.

The first cemetery crocuses have appeared, frail and sad looking in the grim weather, their purple flowers yet to unfurl, petals huddled against the cold. 

On my travels I have also seen the first flowering lesser celandine, down by the ditch by London Road pond. This is a usual spot for them, but I don't recall ever seeing them this early. 

That was nothing compared to the ragged robin I found further down, past the second bridge on the cycle track where every year the smooth newts gather and fail to breed because their temporary pond dries up.

Just a solitary plant, it's spidery spiky flowers pink. The frosts may have already knocked it on its head. 

It should have stayed in bed.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.01.19

Tuesday 15 January 2019

A Reflective Great Crested Grebe

I took a lot of shots on my walk yesterday! The goosander turned out less well than I hoped, but this great crested grebe, now coming into his breeding colours, was a better subject.

The fact is, unlike the goosander, this character decided he was able to sit still on a mirror calm bit of water and give me at least half a chance. It's still a very soft shot, but it is rather better than a lot of other bird ones I have taken.

Still rubbish compared to the bird shots I see on Instagram!

Still, I give you great crested grebe!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 15.01.19

Monday 14 January 2019

Successful Goosander Hunt

I repeated my route of yesterday again today, this time at a slower pace on a brighter, calmer day.

My bridge camera was with me, and I was keen to get some decent goosander pictures for you. Compared to previous years, they are venturing closer inshore on the Blue Lake, but they still are very wary of people and the odd time even took to the air when they noticed me approaching.

They never stop moving either, so it is difficult to get a good shot and I'm still struggling with this bridge camera. At least you can see what I've photographed today!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 14.01.19

Sunday 13 January 2019

Another Wildflower Run

I'm going to try and keep running gently once or twice a week, so long as it doesn't make my foot any worse. The recovery is so slow it is driving me mad - to help counter this I've just ordered an exercise bike online so I can train inside my flat as the approaching cold weather makes cycling outside not an option.

So, I trundled 6.2km today, with my big camera too in case the goosander were in range; they weren't and the wind and choppy waters would have made getting a decent shot very difficult.

So, I had to restrict myself to wildflower shots - the aconite has really shot up since last week, with the trademark carpets starting to appear in the usual places.

I am pleased!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 13.01.19