Saturday, 28 February 2015

The last day of February

Tilly and I saw the month out by having a lovely walk at lunchtime today.  We saw four hares  in one field, and then a deer, struggling to find its way out of another field.  She finally took a huge, graceful leap over the fence, another leap over the burn and then bounded away, out of sight.  

I was already counting my lucky stars, having seen the hares and the deer, when about 50 or 60 chaffinches flew across in front of me.  They swooped up into the trees on my right, sat for a minute or two and then, with one accord, flew across the track and landed in the field, where they became completely invisible.  They flitted back and forth, from trees to field, wielding around together.  Not quite synchronised flying, but very nearly.  I have never seen so many chaffinches before, it was a wonderful sight.
I have heard of a charm of goldfinches and wondered what the collective noun would be for chaffinches.  It would seem that a charm applies to all finches, but then according to this lovely website http://www.britishbirdlovers.co.uk/articles/collective-nouns-for-birds#cbird, they can also be referred to as a trembling or a trimming of finches.  

At the furthest point of our walk I could see the sea,
and at the bottom of the hill a series of road signs which covers pretty well everything, except for dogs.  Tilly was not impressed to have been left out.
And before home, the remains of winter, bleached and blowing in the wind,
followed by the glorious glow of dogwood.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Be afraid, be very afraid ....


Dementor seen in the skies over East Lothian ...


I hope it's not heading your way!!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Birdsong

Unbowed by any cares this lovely song thrush may have, he sat in the top of the cherry tree and sung his heart out in the sunshine, yesterday morning.
If you would like to listen to his song, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2N9BN-mYrw


Sunday, 22 February 2015

In proud grandmother mode

My eldest granddaughter is a songbird.  She loves to sing and you can hear her, constantly singing away in her room, and everywhere else in the house!  Over the past weeks she has been rehearsing, with other children from her school, as part of the choir performing in 'Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat', which has just been staged at the Edinburgh Playhouse.  We went to see her last night, in the show's final performance, and her sixth of the week.  It was a great show, with a couple of past X Factor finalists in leading roles, and a good cast of singers and dancers.  
We all felt very proud to see our girl, up there on stage, singing away, knowing how numb her bum was getting, sitting for two hours on those hard steps!
  

Saturday, 21 February 2015

What better way to start the weekend ...

... than a walk on the beach at Belhaven!  A glorious sunny morning and with a selection of members of the family, Tilly and I went for a walk after breakfast.  It was low tide and that meant we could begin our walk by crossing over the bridge to nowhere.  If you get your tide timings all wrong, the bridge is surrounded by water, and its a long walk round! Today we had oodles of time.
The garden this morning was white with frost, and likewise the sand in the shadow of the marram grass, at the top of the beach.  But with some warmth in the sun now, the skylarks were singing of summer, high above the sand dunes  They were the first I have heard this year, and one of my favourite sounds.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Is this late winter or early spring?

I'm never quite sure when winter ends and spring begins.  I tend to use the wild plants as my guide.  I don't think that snowdrops can be considered a spring flower, but their arrival, apart from the pure joy of seeing them, brings an enormous sense of reassurance that spring is on its way.

Tilly and I had a lovely walk from home today.  Come with me and share in those small, but important, signs of early spring.  In amongst the lifeless, grey-brown undergrowth at the side of the drive, there was this little burst of delicate crocus-colour.
We walked on, and basking, quietly in the late morning sunshine, was a group of deer.  A buck, with impressive antlers, and his harem of about fourteen does. As we walked along the track, they slowly got to their feet, watching us every inch of the way.  I don't blame them for their suspicion. The loathsome local shoot have been culling the deer this weekend - a lot of very unpleasant activity in and around the wood yesterday.  However, today the animals stayed where they were, and I felt relieved that Tilly and I hadn't completely ruined their bit of peace and quiet. 
The trees along the edge of the next field are beginning to show some gentle colour, as their leaf buds swell, ready for springtime.
And look, there it is - sitting at the top of the hill, taunting me, the now ever-present shepherd's hut.  
Moving swiftly on, we walked towards Binning Wood.  It's not a wood I enjoy.  I find it dark, threatening and uncomfortable.  Add to that the memorial wood - a green burial ground - and I enjoy it even less.  It's a lovely idea, and I can understand that it is an infinitely preferable place to spend eternity, as opposed to a conventional cemetery, but give me a bit of coastline any day!  We walked into the wood a little way, and there were one or two people sitting quietly on benches sited in amongst the leafy mounds. It all seemed terribly sad, and I felt as though I was intruding, so we left.  
We walked on, enjoying the snowdrops before setting off up the hill and away from the wood.
And then of course we had to walk back along passed the shepherd's hut, because it has been sited bang in the middle of the route home.  The lucky owner turned up at the same time as we did, so I able to exchange a few words, before he started banging bits of wood into the ground. I discovered that it came from Cornwall, and they will be using it just for chilling out, and enjoying the fabulous views to the south. I carried on with our walk as though I didn't have a care in the world.  But once again the green-eyed monster had laid his fingers delicately upon my shoulder!
So I am just going to have to get used to it - it's not going anywhere.  It will always be sitting up there on the hill (top left), but looking back on our route, as we were nearly home, I was very happy to see that the deer were still in one piece, relaxing in the field.  That was much more important!


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Green

Happily driving along this afternoon, on our way to explore a new walk, and I was unexpectedly accosted by the green eyed monster.  This is why :
A shepherd's caravan, recently sited at the top of a field, looking south. I want one. I've always wanted one.  When I was a little girl, my cousin and I used to play in an original, old one, on my uncle's farm.  So now, every time I go along that road I am going to be tinged with green.  It's even got a woodburning stove.  It's all a bit of a blow.

We enjoyed our walk.  It wasn't quite as interesting as I thought it was going to be, but Traprain Law, to the south, was looking moody and marvellous.  And I found a green cabbage on the side of the road, which had fallen off the back of a tractor, so that was a bonus!
Back in the wood, the snowdrops are looking beautiful, and probably at their best.  Once the flowers have gone over, I will transplant a few, while they are "in the green".

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sunny Sunday afternoon walk

Another lovely sunny February Sunday.  A good day for a walk, following the same route as a couple of weekends ago.  The same trees, the same rocks, the same sea - all the same component parts, but always seen differently.
Here, looking across to the surf rolling in on to the beach at Belhaven, and to Dunbar beyond.
There is a great place to sit on the small headland on this piece of coastline.  Today we sat and watched the waves building, out to sea, working their way towards the rocks where they crashed and threw their spume into the air.
Walking back from the beach, in the wood, there are the remains of old iron fencing and kissing gates, which would have been part of the Tyninghame estate.  I expect ladies and gentlemen, elegantly dressed would have strolled, or ridden, along these ways, passing through these gates.


Red sky last night

Apart from being blown away by the intensity of the colour, when I see a sunrise, sunset, and especially a vivid rainbow, I often wonder what stone age man made of it all.  I can't believe he just took it for granted.  I am not sure what ancient man worshipped back then, but the beauty of that pure colour must have left them wondering about things a bit?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Feathered friends

Mr Gaucho is having a hell of a job keeping up with the voracious appetite of the garden birds.  He is filling the bird feeders every day.  It's hardly surprising.  The weather is bitterly cold and the poor little mites have to, more or less, eat their body weight every day to survive.  
The birds are such a joy to watch.  Yesterday I melted some lard and loaded up a couple of empty coconut shells with bird seed and set it with the fat.  I've hung one just outside our dining room window and the coal tits and long-tailed tits have just discovered it. 
The long tailed tits are one of my favourites.  They usually come in little groups of four or five.  I love their colouring - soft browny-pink, charcoal grey and white.
Here is Mr Robin, doing his hummingbird impersonation in his desperate effort to do what the other birds do, and in the end he managed it!  His perseverance was rewarded!
And finally, one of the goldfinches, sitting in the sun on a witch hazel branch.  It's a blurred image but I love the colours.
My cousin refers to the birds as little miracles - and they are!