Friday, October 01, 2010

One Month On

I've now been retired for one month.
My favourite month next - October. But it's started badly weatherwise, so an indoors day to catch up with blogging etc. is in order. It's been over a week, so I'll work backwards to my last blog. Yesterday, we had a trip out to RSPB Old Moor. The weather was lovely through the morning - clear blue skies. As always, I let myself be distracted by dragonflies, and to my surprise, there were more around than ever - mainly migrant hawkers and common darters, and I managed to get a couple of nice shots See Flickr). There were also quite a few fungi around, but I managed to keep my observations to a passing glance. After the feeders which were busy with greenfinch, chaffinch, great tits, blue tits and a bullfinch, we visited the reed beds. We saw little grebe, great crested grebe, tufted ducks and the arrival and departure of a couple of cormorants. As we went to lunch in the excellent Gannets Cafe, I ran into an old friend and colleague who is also retired, and doing some volunteering at Old Moor, and as we left, we ran into another couple of friends just arriving. The walk through to Wath Ings, punctuated by hide stops was fairly uneventful. We saw herons, BH gulls, more cormorants, teal and plenty of wigeon. At Wath Ings, there were lots of lapwing and golden plover, but fewer waders that when I was last there. We did pick out a couple of godwits, but most of the birds were even further away than usual, so I'm doubly handicapped when it comes to identifying them. I suppose I will have to get myself a scope if I'm going to make any progress. Once the dragonflies have disappeared and the fungi diminished in numbers, the birds will still be there to see me through the winter. Just to cheer me up, as we were about to set off back from Wath Ings, I saw a kingfisher flying along the bank. Bless them for being so spectacular, and as a consequence, so easy to identify.
On Wednesday, I stayed at home. The weather was a bit dull and drizzly, but I was able to take advantage of the renewed interest in my bird feeders. Currently, our most regular visitors are a family of coal tits, and we also have the ever-reliable great tits and blue tits. There was the first appearance for a while by a robin, and we also had a couple of dunnock. It was very reassuring to see them back after a quiet time.
As well as fungi, I've decided to record dragonflies, but it's a laborious process as I have to keep checking, but at least there are far fewer of them than fungi.
On Tuesday, I got round to seeing the Mervyn Peake illustrations for Alice, which were exhibited at the University Library. I'm already pretty familiar with them as a devotee of both Peake and Alice, but to see the originals, and some of the preparatory drawings was a bit special. A quick trip into town and a whizz round Graves gallery was followed up by an unpremeditated walk to Meadowhall via the 5 Weirs Walk along the River Don. I tried to focus on birds, but my only real sightings were a few solitary grey wagtails, and a small group of noisy and colourful goldfinches. Even the photo I attempted of the latter didn't turn out. The walk included a visit to the tiny Sheffield Wildlife Trust Reserve at Salmon Pastures, a "tick" for me as I am intending to visit them all over the coming months. It was full of little birds, but they disappeared into the trees too quickly for me to be able to ID them.  The walk finished at a coffee shop at Meadowhall with a very welcome cup of tea, piece of cake and sit down.
Last weekend was a two-foray weekend. On Sunday, I went out with the Sorby Group to Limb Valley and Rough Standhills. We found a huge variety of stuff, including a few items of real interest, and I enjoyed being the dedicated photographer whilst Steve and Ziggy do all the hard work of IDing stuff. My photos from this are on my photostream, and also in the Sorby Flickr group, were Steve adds his really useful comments.
Saturday was the annual Foray-gossip-and-bacon-butty event out at Hope Cross.  It's a chance to catch up on some serious gossip from (former) M'colleague, collect some yummies (although the sloes were a no-show this year) and indulge in a pint of tea and a bacon buttie at the legendary Grindleford Caff.
So, two more forays lined up this weekend. I think the weather could be mixed, but my boots are freshly dubbined, and the last few weeks of BST need to be grasped.

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