Westport walk

Round the back of Westport Lake is a wilder area which is being looked after and tidied regularly so overhanging branches and growth is turned into little layered fences to improve the habitats. I thought it was being done by the local wildlife Trust but it turns out it’s being done by a couple of elderly volunteers, except its now down to one man as his friend has been ill. I had to thank him for all his hard work. It seems he’s not getting much support and that’s a shame. Anyway I thought I would say something.

Dawn Chorus

Despite it being the start of January I am listening to a beautiful dawn chorus. It is either a Robin or a Blackbird. That’s because I’m struggling to sleep again. But hearing the liquid notes and swirling tunes is fascinating and lovely. I’m just sitting quietly and I can hear strong birdsong despite having double glazing. Each tune or snippet of song only lasts for a little while, then there is a short gap and the music starts again. There is no other sound out there. It’s too early for traffic or footsteps. Just a high series of tweets and whistles cascading from a small bird.

The weather forecast is for lower temperatures and snow rain and ice to return over the next few days. I shall make sure the birds in our garden have food and water. They deserve it for creating such beautiful song. I could not get a photo so excuse my drawing of the garden. Its full of trees and bushes. Now other birds are joining in. Excuse me while I listen… X

Overgrown

A thicket, overgrown, a hedge tall and wide hiding the house behind it. Who lives there? No sign of movement. The gate locked shut. Curtains and boards up at the windows. Abandoned? Hidden, a haven for birds and wildlife. The smell and calls of foxes. But a house in need of care.

He looked through the hedge and wondered. Where had his family gone? Inheritance had finally happened and he was the only person found. He would start by cutting back the trees and hedges, but gently. He wanted to keep the wildness, but with some flowers and vegetables. It would take time.

He looked for a long time. Yes he could do it. Nature and garden would be in harmony. Life would be preserved and given its chance.

Swanning about

At this time of year wild birds need food. But sadly some of them are suffering from Bird Flu. It’s hard to know which ones are ill unless they display odd behaviour. I’m not sure what you should do, but we regularly go to our local Staffordshire Wildlife centre so I think it’s best to ask them for advice.

There are so many viruses around these days, including Swine Flu, Sars, Mers and other illnesses. I think if there is a vaccination against the ones that harm humans they should be used. Not just for rich countries, but for everyone. Rich or Poor. But we should also take care of wildlife. There is too much harm in the world. We need to find a balance.

Baby Coot

At least I think it’s a Coot dabbling away at the water. I always get Coots and Moorhens mixed up. One sort has a white patch on its head, the other a red patch. They look very similar except that Moorhens are slightly smaller? The weird thing about the chicks is that the have a slightly red patch of feathers above their beaks. The parent (not sure if it’s male of female) certainly seems to be keeping an eye on the chick.

Photo taken at Westport lake a couple of weeks ago during a walk round the nature reserve.

Blackthorn?

Flowers from a bush in our garden, tentatively matched in the Spring 2021 issue of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Magazine, page 13 in the Nature Spy section.

It says ‘Blackthorn is one of the first native shrubs to burst into flower around mid-Marsh.’ (I think it means March) ‘Its fluffy white flowers, tinged with pink, provide vital nectar for the first of the years butterflies, bees and flies. See how many different insects you can spot feeding on the blooms.’

In hedgehog news….

We have been seeing our hedgehogs for about a month and a half now. They either feed by the back door or in our shed late at night. My hubby goes out most nights to look for them and they will be on the aths round the garden eating worms they have grubbed up or in the shed. We’ve got sand on the shed floor so we’ve seen their paw prints. They were using it as a latrine but that seems to have stopped. When they eat and drink they often knock the bowls over. We put out hedgehog food but they much prefer the dry and wet cat food that the stray/abandoned cat has. (we are still trying to get him in the house). There was one big and one small hedgehog, but after over a month of nightly visits they are both big now! It’s great to have wildlife in the garden.

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Gardening

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I just read a really sad post on Facebook. A woman had friends round in her garden and someone said her garden was ugly. It was full of flower borders and a neatly cut lawn. There were pots on the lawn and it looked like a proper cottage garden with ox eye daisies.

Unbelievable how unkind people can be. I replied to her post:

“Looks amazing, if you have birds and small mammals you are doing the right thing. I’d rather your garden that something covered in decking! Ours is full of trees, squirrels, hedgehogs, the occasional fox. Loads of birds. Don’t let them get to you.”

I thought about it. We need to make more space for wildlife not less. Somehow patios and outdoor rooms have become the norm. How much money is spent on concrete? Lease think about making a small place in your garden for wildlife.

Short walk along the canal and Westport lake.

Long title…

We went for a walk along the Trent and Mersey canal, from the road up to Trubshaw Cross at Longport, Stoke-on-Trent, along the towpath, to the lakes at Westport. I was not at my best so we only walked round the small lake, then back along to our starting point.

The day was blustery, but I could feel some warmth from the sun. The old bottle oven round the back of Price and Kensington (facade allowed to crumble so much the council had to demolish part of it). It was sad to see all the rubbish and wood stacked up on the yard waiting to be burnt. The owners regularly light fires, not small ones, and cause a nuisance with smoke. I worry that the buildings may be irreversibly damaged by this behaviour. As you walk along the canal towpath the image improves, although there are places that are derelict and that made me wonder what would happen if the facade of a building were to fall into the canal.

We found the entry to Westport lake easily enough. We popped into the cafe to get some duck food, than a nice stroll round the lake. Stopping to chat with a photographer who had a really long lens to take pictures of the birds on the lake.

I need more exercise and this helped!

We have a frog!

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There is a frog in our pond. We had frogs several years ago, but they disappeared. Now they have come back. They are sharing the pond with some goldfish which seem to be OK. I wasn’t sure if they could co-exist? Do frogs eat fish? It’s funny seeing them breathe the water making tiny ripples with their movements. It’s a real wildlife garden and pond.