10 August 2020

An early morning cup of tea on the patio. Swallows, assorted garden finches and tits. Jackdaws chaking above the field.

Suddenly, a small bird flits out of the shrubs, then flits back in again. I know instantly it’s something different. Something about its jizz. I nip inside to grab my camera in case it returns. It does indeed, shooting up into the cherry tree. Even before I manage to focus on it, I’m thinking willow warbler. There was definitely a hint of olive green as it flew. Or perhaps it’s a chiffchaff. Very hard to tell apart, especially if you can’t see the legs—which, as seems nearly always to be the case, I can’t.

Willow warbler

I’m hanging out for willow warbler. A common enough bird, but rare in our garden. Only my second, in fact.

A nice start to the day.

26 July 2020

An excited call from Jen from our landing: there was a roe deer on the back lawn. I grabbed my camera, but it had already gone. So I sneaked outside to see if I could find it. Suddenly, two deer-heads raised from the long grass in the back field. A male and a female. They bounded off through the grass in the general direction of Nutclough Wood.

I ran to the field-gate to see if I could get a photo. Thoughtfully, the male decided to stop and observe me for a few seconds.

Roe buck

Badger sighting reported at the Farm again. One of these days I’ll see it!

20 July 2020

My self-imposed embargo is lifted. Episode 16 of Melissa Harrison’s delightful podcast, The Stubborn Light of Things, went out this morning, and I appear on it, talking about the bats in our garden. Producing it turned out to be something of a fiasco. To keep to the three-minute limit, I had to trim almost half from the original edit.

Saw the comet again this evening. Harder to see than last night. Saturn and Jupiter shone brightly, close to each other, to the south. Jupiter is particularly bright at the moment. Even through my unimpressive binoculars, I could make out a couple of its moons. I tried to take a photograph, but the new LED street lights conspired against me. When I am king, the cat-free streets will be dark at night. Light pollution aside, the long exposures required to capture the moons meant there was too much blurring as the earth rotated on its axis beneath me.

19 July 2020

Performed my annual hour’s weeding. I’m beginning to think I might never get on top of the garden.‬ So many different types of weeds taking over the rockery: nettles, ferns, goose-grass, willowherb, bindweed, thistles, brambles, stonecrop, ragwort, assorted grasses, and even a couple of silver birch saplings.

Demoralising. But it did give me a great idea for the next chapter of my book!

Outside at 22:45, looking for Comet Neowise. Still too much light in the sky. Enough light to silhouette the barn owl as it flew past, utterly silent, about five metres away.

Outside again, at midnight on the dot, looking once again for the comet. And there it was, hanging in the sky above Old Town Mill!

Comet Neowise over Old Town Mill, Hebden Bridge
Comet Neowise over Old Town Mill, Hebden Bridge.

17 July 2020

A walk down into Hebden Bridge and back home again through the woods.

The tiny pool in the stream at the edge of the wood was teeming with pond skaters. There must have been over a hundred of them rowing back and forth across the surface. So much life and activity in such a small space. There’s hope for the world yet!


16 July 2020

Returning home after a pre-breakfast trip into Hebden Bridge for fish from the market, I spotted the barn owl flying past the end of our garden towards the front field. I shot upstairs to grab my camera. Sadly, the owl had already checked out the front field by the time I returned to the garden, but I spent a thrilling ten minutes watching it quartering the other nearby fields before heading off towards the Farm.

Despite the owl never coming particularly close, I was pretty pleased with the photographs I took.

Barn owl