Christmas 2020

We are now days away from Christmas 2020.

It has been a challenging year. We started the year cleaning, ‘re painting and building new beds for Folly View after a rather disruptive visit from some challenging guests.

We had a lovely visit in February from some regular visitors from Eire and very soon after their visit we were closing down because of the Covid pandemic. They helped restore my faith that we do the right things to keep guests comfortable and happy.

We unfortunately had to cancel and or rearrange guests stays. However we did reopen over the Summer, tightening up our cleaning regime, seeing new and regular customers. Catching up with what was happening to them and how they were trying to deal with Covid restrictions in their lives.

We are blessed to have so many lovely guests. Please keep yourselves safe over the next few months.

Thank you to those who have sent Christmas Cards.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing many of you in the near future.

Sparrowhawks

I can remember rarely seeing Sparrowhawks when I was growing up. One place we did occasionally see them was along motorway embankments.

Sparrowhawks are now found through out the United Kingdom, even up in Shetland.

We see them regularly around Folly View and down on Onny Meadows.

Many years ago one hit a window at Orchard House. I picked it up to put it somewhere safe, out of reach of cats and dogs. It had a Sparrow in its talons.

I was later told I was lucky not to have lost a finger as they are vicious when handled.

Adult Sparrowhawk With Prey

Adult Sparrowhawk With Prey

We have watched Sparrowhawks using the driveway as a bombing run, all the little birds disappear when this happens but I have learnt recently that this is what is called a rollercoaster flight which the males do to impress the females.

They are a small bird of prey. They are 28 -38 cms long with a wingspan of 55-70cms. The males weigh 110-196 grams while the females weigh 185-342grams making them significantly bigger than their male counterparts.

Their colouring is a creamy background with brown streaks and on the males they have significant amounts of grey. Sparrowhawks have yellow eyes which go darker with age turning orange to red in colour, their talons are also yellow in colour. They have a hooked Bill, good for plucking, which is pale grey with a black tip.

Juvenile Sparrohawk Eye

Juvenile Sparrowhawk Eye

Sparrowhawks swoop on their prey and because of their small size they can get into confined spaces to chase their prey. They catch small birds and have been known to eat pigeons and bats.

Nests are built from twigs and lined with bark shavings. Between May and July they lay four to five eggs which are shiny white with a pale blue tinge. The eggs take four weeks to hatch then the chicks take four weeks to fledged.

The photograph of the adult male Sparrowhawk feeding on it’s prey is from Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The photograph of the head and eye of a juvenile male Sparrowhawk is from Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Winter Walk

It’s December 1st and for me we are now into Wintertime.

Here it is a bright, sunny, frosty morning, the cheeks are glowing now I am back in the warmth of home.

The colours glowed on Onny Meadows, I could find all the colours I love, browns, pinks, purples, greens, golds and greys.

As children we draw tree trunks as brown but  I am always struck by how little brown is visible. Greys predominate for me, with tones of Brown, green and purples.

The mole hills of Brown rich earth pepper the meadows and Dillie Dot sticks her nose in then digs frantically to try and catch the elusive mole, Long gone.

As we near the  Onny river there is a low misty haze rising from the water, the ducks bright greens look muted in the mist.

I notice catkins are beginning to form on Alder and hazel. The Alder catkins are a purply, brown, while the hazel catkins are presently grey with a tinge of pale green.

From a distance white berries pop brilliantly against grey stems of snow berry. Dulux brilliant white doesn’t do this justice.

The lichens on the rocks and tree trunks are a zingy greygreen.

There are still trees with leaves of green but they are few now and look faded but somehow still have that dark summer green.

The beech trees cling onto their leaves which are rich golden russet. The keys hang still from the ash trees looking golden against the grey of the trunks.

I notice more Alder catkins but this time a reddy purple, glowing in the sun light.

As we finish our walk we walk past spindles with crimson red berries, the next one has bright pink berries. The pinks and red vary from shrub to shrub.