Wednesday, 11 February 2015

I Got Up Extremely Early This Morning....

Here in the UK it's Big Farmland Bird Count time (you may have seen it on Countryfile over the weekend), and I was up at 5.57 this morning getting ready for it.  

I'll just say that again.

5.57.

5.57 is a RUDE time - it was STILL DARK for heaven's sake. I was even up before my husband, who wins prizes for his early-birdedness in this house. I was up so early that Poppy actually growled at me when I came downstairs because she didn't believe it was me. 

I made L's packed lunch, wrote him a note for PE which I left on his bag, made myself a thermos of hot water (not wine this time), packed my banana on the outside of my rucsac to stop it getting squashed and made brown as I can't stand a brown banana (more on that later), washed and dried my hair, stuck on some last minute makeup because I didn't think it fair to subject my fellow students to a 5.57 am me with no war paint on, refilled the dogs bowls, packed a bag with bins, camera and several pairs of gloves and the only thing I forgot was an extra chocolate bun for L, so I reckon I did pretty well considering my brain only starts to function normally at around 7am.

I left the house at 6.30 (still dark but mercifully no frosted up car to defrost and heat through) and got to college at 7, by which time it was just about getting light and everyone cheered and told me I was late (I wasn't). 

We all piled in the minibus and drove to a farm where we got out and walked up a lane a little bit into various fields/ woods where we spread out and hung about for half an hour noting all the birds we saw.

We didn't see much- no goldfinches, no siskins, no linnets, no yellow hammers, but there were a few blackbirds and robins, blue tits and great tits- but we did see a Hare, which made up for the lack of birds.

It was cold, despite my five layers, and everyone laughed at my banana, despite my explaining it is strapped to the outside of the bag for a perfectly sensible reason, namely to stop it turning into brown banana soup, which is Yuk to eat.

A Yellow Banana
 
A Cold Field

We got back to college at 9 and plonked ourselves on a table in the canteen where we thawed out by consuming fry ups for breakfast for £2.50 (there are some perks to being a student in your 40s after all), then we piled back in the minibus and drove to a different farm where we had a very interesting talk on Cover Crops which are increasingly being used to prevent nitrogen run off from fields, into rivers, and therefore our drinking water. 

The chap doing the talk had a beautiful black lab who kept us all entertained by scampering about like a mad creature and periodically launching himself at various students without warning. Keeping an eye on him and trying to predict where he would launch next stopped us thinking about how cold we all were anyway.

This time there was no laughing at my banana, but there was general laughing at me for taking pictures of radishes. In my defence, they are called Oil Radishes and I'd never seen them before and I thought their stringiness interesting....

Cold ecologists in a field

Entertaining Black Lab

Interesting Stringy Radish :o)
We got back around midday so I got home around 1, which meant I had time to walk The Hounds, who have been Cooped Up since the weekend as I've been a tad busy this week. They were pleased to be out and I took the camera into the woods to see what I could find while they were exhausting themselves by whizzing about all over the place, noses down tails up on Various Interesting Scents.

First of all we saw a Chinook....


Which Poppy thought was fascinating because she's never seen one before...


Then we found a Stag's Head oak, which is hopefully home to hundreds of insects and possibly a few Stag Beetles too...


Then Pop found an Interesting Tree to run along...


While I took pictures of lichen...


Old Man's Beard...


Interesting Tree Bark nodules (great word, nodule)...


An Oak Apple that the Gall Wasp looks to have already come out of...



And another one that looked like it had provided lunch for someone...


Squirrels, (or someone else) had been having a Right Old Feast of these pine cones. They littered the woodland floor which was covered in orange flakes beneath the pine trees...



Finally, I managed to get a better shot of Mrs Catkin (she of the shocking pink hair), along with Mr Catkin (the long, thin one you can just about see the start of underneath).


Students don't go in much for shocking pink hair these days I find, which I think is disappointing on the whole. My own hair has been, at various times during my life, all the colours of the rainbow. The worst of these was when, aged 17, I streaked it various bright colours with food dye, only to learn the hard way (at school, in front of everyone- of course) that food dye runs when it rains and that, while it runs freely out of your hair, it runs freely into your skin, and that bit doesn't come out, not for quite a few days afterwards as it happens....

The dogs reappeared with Ted wearing black socks. I was pretty sure he hadn't been wearing them when we left the house.

Where did you get those socks? I asked him, suspiciously.


Over here!, he replied, in an excited sort of voice that should have alerted me to the danger at once.


Oh No!.


Even better, mum! I've showed Poppy how to get them too!


Great.

We headed back down the ride which I always think of as belonging to the Dragonfly, because there is a Very Splendid And Very Territorial Golden-Ringed male who patrols this area in summer. He flies up and down the ride, just over the dogs' heads and Poppy goes berserk trying to chase him. Every now and then he'll come down to face level with me and hover intently a few inches from my nose, studying me, before turning round and zooming off up the ride again :o)


I got distracted on the way down the ride (of course) by this beautiful lichen growing on the hawthorn. I think it is Xanthoria parietina (also known as common orange or yellow scale). It's not a Great Photo because....



...my Bridge Camera, although excellent at zooming in on big things over large distances, can not cope with small things close up at all and has a hissy fit and casts its shadow over whatever it is I'm trying to photograph.

This is not Great News with moth and other generally small-but-interesting-people time of the year fast approaching,and I have been fretting over how I'm going to get any decent pictures of them at all for a while now. Last year I reverted to using my old bridge for the moths but that is Aged and Doddery and I don't think it will last much longer. 

I was telling M about my Small Things Photography Woes over the weekend and he has been a Total Knight In Shining Armour (as he always is) and has come to my rescue completely, by telling me he wants to get me a specialised DSLR macro camera for my birthday! (which is in Spring time). So now I am starting to look at them and see what fits the bill and doesn't cost the absolute earth at the same time :o)

I'll leave you with a pic of T and P snuggled up together after our walk...

.

...and wish you all a Pleasant Evening.

I'm off to light the fire, pour a large glass of chilled white wine and sit down with it in front of the Sewing Bee :o)

Happy Days,

CT :o)

































48 comments:

  1. I'm pretty much exhausted reading this post, lol
    I am privileged to be able to get up when I want now that I am a Senior, 5.57 a.m. sounds awful..
    Loved the socks.
    Briony
    x

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    1. It was meant to be 6am but I woke up 3 minutes early and was spared the harp alarm clock on the iphone :o)

      A lovely day- I really enjoy being outside and busy.

      I will tell Ted you like his socks, it will only encourage him I suppose but at least he is happy! xx

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  2. What a long day, but such interesting adventures! Even though your camera challenges the macro shots, they look great. Love that old man's beard. My dog likes to get thoroughly soaked in a river or lake, then he'll roll in the dirt and leaves because he doesn't like the tickly feel of water under his fur. A real nice mess. Your little muddy pawed pups are adorable. Wendy

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    1. The old man's beard is looking really whispy at the mo and is everywhere here in hedgerows.

      What is it with dogs? Whenever ours have a bath the first thing they do is find the dirtiest patch of garden to roll in! :o)

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  3. Lovely post again. How funny that Poppy growled at you because it was so early. If i get up that early my cat gets very nervous and hides because she thinks we are going on holiday and she is off to boot camp.

    Jean
    x

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    1. That's so funny about your puss cat. Our two stay at ma's if we're ever away which they absolutely love so we don't get the whole 'uh oh, the suit case is out' thing xx

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  4. The pics of your dogs in the mud made me smile! That looks like something my doggie would do.

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    1. Ted usually avoids mud so I'm not sure why this patch was so irresistible! xx

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  5. M sounds very wonderful indeed, lucky you. Your course is very interesting, no doubt you are enjoying it. Love the shot of the dogs in the muddy puddle. CJ xx

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    1. Thanks, CJ. He's not bad :o)

      The course is fascinating with enough challenge to get the grey cells working which is good. It's a subject I feel very strongly about and I'm just lucky I've been able to go back and study it (Ecology, not sure whether I mentioned that!).

      Hope your week is going well? xx

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  6. lovely post CT- glad to see i'm not the only one with a terrible twosome ;)

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    1. Can you imagine what would happen if we lived nearer and took all four out walking together at the same time?! :o)

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    2. It would be muddy carnage methinks!

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  7. Way too early!!! That radish thing is very odd isn't it, I definitely see things on your blog that I have never seen before! How great about the camera, that will be amazing for you and for recording the mothy folk! xx

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    1. I fell asleep on the sofa at 8!

      Very excited about the camera, he is such a dear xx

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  8. Shame you didn't see more after the valiant effort of getting up early. Sounds like a fun day anyway. I saw a sparrow with a mouthful of old man's beard today - nest making time I reckon. Trust the dogs to find a muddy puddle - it's what dogs do.

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    1. The irony is I see more birds and more species in my own garden! Oh well, that's part of the point in recording them and hopefully with the changes being made to farming practice things will start to improve.

      I've seen blue tits with feathers in their beaks so nests are definitely being constructed- roll on spring, eh? x

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  9. Love the adventures of Teddy and Poppy...it makes me smile! Good luck with your camera hunt...what a nice birthday present!!!!

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    1. They are a pair of scamps and definitely keep us all entertained here :o)

      I'm SO thrilled about the camera, just need to make sure I get the right one!

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    2. ps- hoping you pop back to read this because I'm having trouble accessing your blog- any thoughts? x

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  10. I behave like Poppy whenever I see a Chinook.
    WHAT! Students don't go for pink hair any more? What is the world coming to?
    Jane x

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    1. I'm a bit Poppy-esque in that department too Jane. I even wave at the pilots as they go overhead!

      Students are rather straightforward in their dress and hair sense these days I fear- but perhaps they're wiser than I was, because when I look at photos of the stuff we used to wear I'm caught between cringing and grinning! xx

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  11. Did you bath the pooches?! I've never seen an Oak Apple before and forgive my thickness but is it what it says it is?

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    1. No- I just left the mud to dry and fall off on the carpet :o) They will be getting baths and haircuts over the weekend though because Pop has dreadlocks for armpit hair!

      Oak apples are a type of Gall. A very small wasp creates the reaction in the tree and it grows these balls for the wasp babies to incubate in essentially. x

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  12. What a good idea to pack your banana on the outside. Thete' s nothing worse than a written brown narna! Love the doogies and their socks. Glad it's only mud, mine roll in sheep's poo, cow pats and virtually anything that's either dead or stinks or both. :-)

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    1. It is usually fox poo so they were doing well with mud, all things considered! :o)

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    2. Apologies for my spelling CT. I typed it quickly on my phone this morning and my eyes aren't working today. :-) It should say 'there's' and 'rotten.'

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    3. My eyes must be rubbish too because I didn't even notice the 'thete's' and I knew what you meant with the written :o) x

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  13. I was howling at Poppy barking at you..........still chuckling to myself after reading the rest of the post! lol x

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  14. Goodness what a day! It sounds so exciting and full. Of course I particularly enjoyed the bits about Poppy and Ted and their black socks. I will try the banana trick for sure! Lily x

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    1. The banana trick works well :o) It was a really interesting day, I learnt a lot that was very hopeful for the future in terms of wildlife-friendly farming xx

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  15. Hey CT,
    I was thinking of your Brimstone yesterday. I had just sat down with a cup of tea, and noticed a fluttering in the blinds. It was a small tortoiseshell getting rather stressed. I've no idea where she came from, unless she managed to fly in the front door as I was hauling in the shopping. I scooped her up and let her go outside, although I was sad to do so because it's so cold and she probably wouldn't survive.
    However, as Pops and I got back from school there she was fluttering and then resting on the wire mesh cover over our central heating outlet! This morning she was flitting around on the ivy flowers down the side of the house. I'm hoping she'll manage to get through these cold days in this manner. It would be wonderful if she did I think.
    Anyway just thought I'd share. I'd love to meet the territorial dragonfly.
    Leanne xx

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    1. She may well have been hibernating somewhere unseen in your house and has woken up because Spring is acoming. If she needs to go back to sleep again she will, once she's topped up on nectar. She should be fine- they regularly survive the winter in this way. Red Admirals, Peacocks and Brimstones are the other three British flutters who hibernate for the winter. If you have a look at Butterfly Conservation's website it should have the first sightings of flutters for this year on it- there have been quite a few out and about since Jan on and off :o) xx

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  16. The string radish is an excellent photo. I am sure not laughing about the banana - I have a soft mesh pouch on my pack just for fruit. It is wonderful to romp about early day and take a good look at all the wonders. I would love this. Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful day. Giggle at the end - Jack would do same.

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    1. Although I'm not a naturally early riser, the dawn is a lovely time to be up and about in. Dawn chorus kicked off and it was fab to listen to it :o) I usually only get the dusk version! x

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  17. Interesting post CT :) - never seen one of those stringy radishes thingies either! I am a "night owl" so 5.57 sounds horrendously early to me. In fact I can't remember when I last got up that early - probably when the children were little and waking up at crack of dawn to see what Father Christmas had brought!!

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    1. Apparently, they are a really good cover crop so you may start to see them more and more in fields where the farmer is part of environmental stewardship schemes or is having to reduce nitrate run off.

      I know what you mean re early mornings- it was a bit of a shock to the system and I was asleep on the sofa before nine! :o)

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  18. So so early! Mike gets up super early for work, he must be used to it as he never complains. I just roll over & stretch & go back to sleep. It sounds like you had a great day all round, the radish do look fun don't they! I'm with you on the banana I don't mind one that has just started to turn brown in the fruit bowl but not one that has been bashed around.

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    1. Perhaps his body clock has set itself to early bird stuff. Mine struggles! I think brown bananas are not many people's favourites, although my grandpa loved them like that :o)

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  19. I sympathise totally about the early start which is indeed RUDE! I am most impressed with all you managed to do. I know I used to get up early often not that long ago but since I gave up my job and my income to get a life instead even seven o' clock is early. Eight o' clock is getting up time and very civilised it is too!

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    1. 8 is a civilised time Elizabeth- if I was left to wake when I wanted to it would be between 7.30 and 8 :o)

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  20. Some lovely photos here and as usual I howl with laughter over your naughty doggies! It's dark here an hour later than you in the morning because of the time difference but I wouldn't have liked getting up that early to go out into the freezing cold. You are one brave lady. ;-)
    P.S. Fabrics are pretty and I admire what you do, but sewing is not my thang so I don't tend to comment on the crafty side of things as I don't know what to say! :-) xx

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    1. Brave or foolish :o) It was worth it, as it always is, once you're up and about.

      If I keep posting about sewing you might get the bug- you never know. It's a lovely thing to occupy those cold winter days when you're stuck indoors....

      I shall be thinking of you next week- is it next week? Good luck if so- healing coming your way from over here xx

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    2. Believe it or not, I got an A in my needlework O level! I used to make clothes when I was a teenager. But I never really enjoyed it like I love knitting. In fact I was thinking of getting my knitting out for when I am convalescing. It's not next week, it's the 24th, but I've got to start the boring low fibre diet on Tuesday, so scoffing chocolate and cake right now. :-)

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    3. Oh and thank you!!! Gosh I'm so rude! :D

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    4. Don't be daft woman you're not rude at all :o)

      Knitting is my winter occupation, love it. And an 'A' for needlework would put me to shame!! xx

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    5. I stopped knitting when I got really into photography, and often spend my winter organising my photos, getting all the bug species tagged so I can find them again (if I remember what they are called, lol). Back when I sewed I was very tidy (but slow) and used to hand sow all the loose threads back into the seams, as I was taught to do this at school, rather than just knotting and cutting off the threads. :-) Nowadays I don't even bother sewing buttons back on....:D

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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