Sunday, 15 February 2015


Having just returned from our Sunday afternoon walk with Tess - just down the lane and back as it is a dull, misty and very cold day today - I thought I would just post a few observations.   Of course, sod's law, I didn;t think to take my camera, otherwise the observations could be accompanied by a few shots.

The bogged down tractor in the wet ploughed field has been pulled out and presumably taken back to the farm.   In that field there was a flock of at least three hundred plovers (lapwings) and strangely, as is usual, all were standing pointing in the same direction (east).
As we passed they rose into the air as one, circled round a couple of times and then landed again more or less where they were before.

Just opposite the field there is a barn conversion where friends live.   They run a 5-site caravan park, which is closed in Winter of course but in the hedge on the lane side are two tall holly bushes which were absolutely thick with bright red berries.   We have been watching these two bushes all winter and nothing has taken the berries.   Today we stop in amazement to find that every single berry has gone.   They were there two days ago, today they have all been eaten.   We suspect fieldfares or redwings - I shall look out for the owner of the site  in the hopes that she saw the culprits.  Now that winter begins to draw to a close I suspect that food is getting scarce, although we have found that blackbirds - who in a bad winter come to our bird table in huge numbers - are quite happy to forage in the hedge bottom for grubs this year.   The only thing that attracts them to the table is a handful of dried meal worms, and then they see who can eat the most while the robin dashes in for a quick mouthful at every opportunity.

Our fertiliser (20:10:10) has arrived and now the farmer is waiting for the ground to dry up enough for it to be spread.   Only a matter of around twelve weeks before we go on holiday and during that time there is the tidying up of all the  bits of wood that have fallen from the trees (several days job), the manure spreading, the harrowing, the rolling, the fertiliser spreading - a couple of weeks today it will be March and the first marsh marigolds should begin to appear (my favourites - I always watch for the first one in the beck).  I read in a book today that in Suffolk they are called Bull- Daisies; that's a name I haven't heard before.

The farmer picked up two large cones (from the tree identification book I am pretty sure they are pine cones of some kind) when he was out shooting the other week.   I have had them on the kitchen window sill and this morning five winged seeds have fallen out.   Now he intends to sow them in a pot and put them outside of course.
I suspect that it is not easy to grow them like this - does anyone have any tips (e.g. would they be better if we froze them overnight?). 


Joanne Noragon said...

We had a vile snow storm yesterday. Five or six inches, and heavy winds and blowing. I watched the birds and then wondered how they shelter. We have a lot of trees, but the branches and the brush below is bare. I watched a junco misjudge the snow crust and sink into a drift. He made several attempts before he could lift out. I'm ready for this weather to move on. I'm sure Boston is, too.

angryparsnip said...

My Pine seeds never grew but I sorta' forgot about them.

I use to plant them outdoors, but according to my gardener, your suppose to start them inside in a sunny place. Pointy seed part down, and water.
Good Luck !

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

We don't see lapwings any more down here but it always fascinated me the way they all seem to face the same way. There are many jobs waiting for my attention in the garden but it is too soggy to work on. I think if those seeds are planted in pots and just put outside the cold temperatures might do the trick.

Sue in Suffolk said...

I've not heard Marsh marigolds called Bull Daisies but I've only lived here for 59 and 10 twelfths years!
We used to always see lapwings on one field on our way to town but not for many years now. I wonder what happened to make them move away

Sheila said...

Don't know whether you use the
search site in the UK.
An entry of "grow pine cone seeds"
yielded some helpful information.
Soaking the seeds for a couple of
days in room temp water (refreshed
each day) seems to be a first step. followed by chilling for a
period of time. Sounds like there's definitely more to it than just sticking them in a pot.

Jay said...

We're finding the same thing with the birds this year: the blackbirds and robin only come for the mealworms, the rest of the time, they find their own food. I've been following a 'winter invertebrates' thread on a wildlife forum and there's an awful lot of creatures awake and busy, from snails and woodlice, to spiders and winter gnats - someone even found a couple of hoverflies!

Cro Magnon said...

Our woods around us a filled with pines. No-one ever plants them, they just self-sow; probably having been through some creatures digestive system first (like so many things).

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Why is it when I come to your posts, I always feel so good when I read them? Do you mind that I enjoy your life?

MorningAJ said...

Fieldfares can strip a tree very quickly. They're lovely birds. I've not seen any for a while though.

Gwil W said...

Power of observation is a great thing. A friend of mine sees things I miss. He points them out and I say: Where?

Clearly you hav it Pat.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the tips - I have told Gwil we may well have to have pine seed sandwiches for tea after his suggestion!