Monday, 10 June 2013

Messing About On Boats and Baby Sparrows In The Garden

We went to Oxford on Saturday to go punting with M's cousin and his family. M was a professional punter during his time at Cambridge (something that makes us all laugh). He got paid and still has the straw boater to prove it!

I am a nervous punter and generally spend the first fifteen minutes sitting as still as I possibly can  holding on to the edges with white knuckles wondering what on earth I am doing here and quite unable to speak to anyone. F and L, who had never been before, on the other hand took to it like the proverbial ducks to water and were no sooner in the punt than they were leaping up on to the front doing star jumps that a) made the blasted boat wobble horribly and b) gave their mother heart failure at the thought of them slipping and falling in ("we can swim mum, stop panicking"). They spent the next half an hour begging to be allowed to leap from our punt into M's cousin's. I very nearly had a sense of humour failure.

After half an hour or so (which included C, M's Irish cousin, coming dangerously close to taking a fellow punters legs out from under him in a manouvere that prompted my first experience of what can only be described as River Rage) we moored up at a bank, scrambled out and (I) collapsed gratefully on to terra firma for a much-needed picnic. Gin would have been useful at this point but I had to make do with M's homebrew and Belinda's excellent brownies.

Feeling restored to something more like my normal self, I amazed everyone by jumping confidently back into the punt when it was time to resume our river journey (instead of needing to crawl pathetically on my hands and knees) and even cheerfully taking hands-free photos...


L, who is now known as Captain Saltwater..


Passing the Mooring Area


Ducklings and Geese on the water



I'd forgotten how sharp a goose beak can be...


M teaching J how to be a Top Punter


A moment of quiet contemplation. Enjoying the peace of the river....



C teaching F how to punt while we very nearly crash into them...


M's cousin's punt


F trying to turn them round (and eventually ending up lodged in the river bank!)


Suffice to say we all had a fabulous day out. Despite my reservations I would go again and would also recommend it as a lovely and unusual day out if you haven't been before. There's something very freeing and peaceful about being out on a river in a boat and the children all loved it, so much so that we are now thinking about getting a small river row-boat (what was in that beer?).

SPARROW NEWS

I've now got photographic evidence of the Sparrow Children, who are completely adorable and worryingly tame. I'm hoping this is just with me and that's its due my relationship with their mother, who as we know displays a total lack of respect for my presence to the point that she will skim my nose or the top of my head with her wings on her way to the feeders. I really hope it doesn't extend to other people or indeed to dogs. Mrs S brings her children into the garden and deposits them more or less at my feet, which is both lovely and also a bit concerning. 

Anyway, because she seems to think I am to be trusted with her offspring I have been able to get some great pictures close up. There are rather a lot of photos because I am totally in love with these babies and can't get enough of them at the moment so if you're bored please skip through them. I've counted at least three children and I think there are more still hidden in the hedge. Sadly a Jay took one on Friday. It was over so quickly I hadn't realised what was happening until it was too late. I'm pretty sure Dad is now sitting on another clutch of eggs so hopefully that will mean another successful nesting in a few weeks time. Busy Busy.....

Two of the Sparrow children



Mum is still feeding them, although they are getting the hang of picking up worms and seeds for themselves



Mum with two of her children. I nearly had two of the babies land in my lap yesterday while I was sitting on the wall near the feeder. Their flying skills (with particular reference to accuracy) are still in the development stage. They are like their mum- not remotely concerned at me being within reach and I've had them chirp at me from the hedge several times over the weekend as I walked past. I have wondered if, in the absence of their mother, they expect me to feed them!




The new nest box is now in situ on the wall, although as the Sparrow's nest in the eaves still seems to be safe from intruders I doubt they will use the Des Res, which means that there are three spare houses waiting for other feathery people to move in to. 

I have finally seen the Goldfinch's Baby this morning (very exciting- I think there are two but haven't yet been close enough to tell for certain, and they also haven't brought them into the garden yet, preferring to leave them in the hedge). I wonder whether they may nest in one of the boxes?



To finish off, some pics of eggs laid in foliage around our pond over the weekend. Are they butterflies and if so which ones? Any help with an ID will be very gratefully received. They are on the Iris leaves, the Marsh Marigold and also the Lords and Ladies.....




I'll leave you with a picture of the newly formed (and so far rather exclusive in terms of membership numbers at least) Pigeon Watchers Club. You have to be small, white and fluffy to join, and it also helps if you have an all-consuming obsession with pigeons...... (the nest is in the hedge above them, tantalisingly just out of reach: "perhaps if I jumped on your back Dougal, we might be able to reach it...?")





14 comments:

  1. The river trip looks great. I'm delighted no-one fell in! You are so lucky to be able to get the sparrows so close to you, they are very sweet. I'd say they are butterfly eggs, but not able to identify them-sorry.

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    1. I was amazed nobody fell in Suzie- they really deserved to with all the leaping about!

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  2. I've never been punting but your pics make me want to....love the baby sparrows!

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    1. You should try it Em, OB would love it if he's anything like our lads.

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  3. Punting looks fun! We have something similar here on river Aare but I have never tried it myself. The sparrow photos are lovely and they look so cheeky! Unfortunately no hint from me about the eggs - I hope they are butterflies. If I was small, fluffy and white I would apply for that Pigeon's Watchers club! They look lovely! - Thanks for your kind words on my recent post. - Take care, Christa

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    1. I've asked Ted and he says you can be an honorary Swiss member of the Pigeon Watcher's Club Christa. CT x

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  4. Sound likes a wonderful river trip :) Have been on rowing boats lots of times but never punting sounds fun :)

    Love your baby sparrows - so tame :) I think they are probably butterfly eggs too but sorry not sure of species. When they hatch post some caterpillar photos and I'll have a look in my butterfly books.

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    1. I'll be keeping a close eye on the eggs and will post caterpillar pics as soon as they hatch. Just wondering if they're going to eat all my new pond plants :-)

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  5. Those sparrow chicks are just so sweet!

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    1. I'm completely in love with them- noisy, boisterous, demanding and utterly hopeless with their flying. It just makes them all the more endearing!

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  6. Your day out punting looked great fun (although I think, like you, I'd prefer everyone round me to be very still and calm in the boat these days) I've been punting in Cambridge but that was years ago. The Sparrow pics are wonderful, they are really gorgeous little birds. The eggs are fascinating, I wonder what they are? And I love two dogs - such concentration!

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    1. I'm looking forward to the eggs hatching and hopefully being able to work out what they are. The only butterflies I've seen in the garden this year have been two white and an orange tip. Numbers seem down so far....

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    2. Hi, This morning I found similar eggs on the leaves of iris plants around the margin of my garden pond, I wonder, did you discover what they eventually became?
      Regards
      Colin

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    3. Hi Colin. Unfortunately, the eggs disappeared soon after I took the pic but I am fairly certain they are butterfly eggs- probably one of the whites as they seem to resemble their eggs most closely. Good luck with yours- I'd be interested to hear if they survive, and if they hatch what they are.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x