Sunday, 21 March 2010

Halcyon Days

Not much time for intentional birding over the last two weekends as we have been visiting old friends and family.  However, as often seems the case, unintentional birding can really surprise you.

Mum and Dad's first floor flat is in the middle of a development in the middle of one of Grimsby's large connected villages.  We were having lunch in the kitchen and Rebecca chanced to look out of the window.  Someone had cut down the hedges and conifers that had blocked the view for so long and this let her see the pond in a neighbour's garden.  There were frogs, goldfish and a strange trellis structure, which looked like it was designed to keep herons away from the fish.

If that was the case, it wasn't saving the fish.

And a closer crop to show we weren't imagining it.

April's Bird Watching magazine is rather sniffy about "the usual rough and ready record shots found on most birding blogs".  Well, I'm very sorry Bird Watching, this is another of those.  But we were so excited to see the bird and I was so chuffed to get a record of it, you know what, I don't care.  And anyway, whilst I enjoy looking at the art of a cleverly composed, crisply focussed bird portrait, I vote for enthusiasm and excitement every time.  Even if it is a little rough about the edges.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Up The Junction (Part Two)

Sunday was too good a day to miss, so we went down to Potteric Carr.  The last time we were there, we'd been impressed by the place and thoroughly enjoyed our day.  That was despite being bitten mercilessly by the insects.  Its a good walk round, with a great place to eat lunch, Low Ellers Junction Cafe, in the middle and, oh yes, more than a few birds.  Here's the cafe, taken in September.  The clue is the lack of fleeces.  It was as bright on Sunday, but a good deal cooler.  I'd recommend the cheese and onion flan.

There was nothing to be seen as glamorous as the Bufflehead that was in Dorset this weekend, but I managed a list of 28, including Bullfinch, Long-tailled Tit, and a surprise pair of Redwing.  There were Great Crested Grebes in full breeding plumage on most patches of water - a sure sign of spring.

A really pleasing first for the year were some well camouflaged Snipe, bobbing in the reeds.

No matter  where we go at the moment there are so many noisy Black-headed Gulls.  I suppose their heads turning "black" is another sign of spring which we should be grateful for.  But it was a real relief to find one or two Common Gull to relieve the monotony.

Finally, there were a few Gadwall here and there.  Not a great picture, but a duck worth praising.  Neat, simple, but satisfying.  As I said, a day too good to miss.

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Saturday, 6 March 2010

Up The Junction (Part One)

Unusually for us, we were out late on a school night this week.  Tuesday, after work, saw us heading back to Barton.

From a previous blog, you'll see that last month we were in a foggy Barton on Humber for a long weekend, to visit Far Ings and Waters Edge.  We also went to Ropery Hall to see The Wiyos.  I came across the venue and the band by sheer chance, the sort of happy circumstance that encourages you to take more risks.

Just before Christmas I was channel surfing between programs, as you do.  Something with Seasick Steve sat at the side of a stage caught my eye and I stopped to watch.  The band that played next were in a category of their own.  Part blues, part country, part 30's vaudeville, wholely enjoyable.  Searching for them on Google, I found The Wiyos were playing in Barton.  We went, we liked.  Give them a listen.

Ropery Hall also suited us.  Part of the long, long Ropewalk building next to Waters Edge Visitor Centre, it's like a youth club for the over forties.  Run by an enthusiastic couple, the atmosphere is comfortable, friendly, intimate.  The sound excellent, the performers in touch with the audience and with a packed crowd of about 150 you get wrapped up in the music.  They even serve coffee, tea, beer and wine to be drunk whilst the band plays.  In your seats.  The alcohol is in real glasses.  They treat you like an adult!!!

We liked it so much we immediately booked to go back.  So on Tuesday, as I said, we were out late, seeing one of my heroes - Glenn Tilbrook.  Sounding even better than he does on record, Glenn sung all the Squeeze hits, lots of his solo stuff and some of the latest songs he's done with the Fluffers.  First half was just him and a guitar.  And can he play!  Second half he was joined by the Fluffers drummer, Simon Hanson.  If you get a chance, go see.

The only down side was that we didn't get home until nearly one.  We get up at six for work.  So Wednesday was murder.  But worth it.

As long as the weather holds, its Up The Junction (Part Two) tomorrow.