Sadly we haven’t seen too many of these visitors this year. Add that to the almost complete lack of Bees 🐝. Only a few years back our garden was mobbed by garden visitors but not anymore. Very worrying.
A few weeks back we had a day in the garden and we counted insects for a wildlife survey. You count the highest number of insects at any one time and the best we found was
2 Butterflies in the garden at any one time
0 Bees… ZERO, ZIP, we never saw one all day long
We have been doing this local survey for a few years now. The first time we did the survey, was before Covid, before a Trump President thing, we had the following scores
16 Butterflies at one time
14 Bees at one time
Not good, not good at all.
Sadly something which isn’t missing is the use of the death of a family member in TV and Movies, for dramatic effect. Fine, if it’s a drama movie but Kids stuff….. Two nights ago Hawklad was watching a random Disney type movie and without any warning the mum died. I could see the sadness in his eyes. Then today he’s watching a cartoon and guess what, the mum dies. He turned the TV off and went outside.
At least give some warning if the show is aimed at a young audience. Grief is tough enough without the likes of Disney adding to it.
A few minutes later, Hawklad came back in and quietly said “I’m probably going to stick to Tom & Jerry from now on”. I really can’t disagree with him on this one.
Another early trip to the coast. Early means tiredness but it is good. At that time it is quiet. That is perfect for Hawklad. Normally you also get to witness the beauty of first light. NOT THIS DAY….
It was dreadful. Heavy rain, Misty, Windy, Cold. Within minutes of standing in the cliff viewing platform the weather had made its way through our coats and clothes. Today birdwatching was going to be a trial. A few intrepid (bonkers mad) souls were hoping to catch sight of one of the rarest birds. An Albatross. The only Albatross in the Northern Hemisphere. Albert has decided to make the Yorkshire coast one of his pit stops. Last year he spent 3 days here. This year it’s been a month so far. Resting on one particular spot on a steep cliff.
This was our fifth visit to try and see him. We had been lucky on one trip. Seeing him through a telescope on the cliff. But no luck seeing the true spectacle of an Albatross flying. The other visits – no luck. Albert spends a lot of time at sea, or further down the coast or flying to an island off Northern Germany.
Today was not looking hopeful. No sign as he has been last seen flying off to sea. The weather was trying to drive us back to the warmth of the car. The other mad souls had given up. After an hour that was enough for Hawklad and we dragged our sudden bodies back to the car park. But then a couple of men ran back. He might have been spotted. So we headed back to the cliff. NOTHING.
Must have been an earlier sighting. After 30 minutes it was enough for Hawklad again. But for some reason I said ‘5 more minutes’. NOTHING. I started to pack away the drenched binoculars when suddenly a shout. ‘What’s that’.
Amongst the Gannets, one much larger bird with black wings.
Unbelievably Albert the Albatross was there. For 5 glorious minutes he performed close fly passes. Sometimes no more than 20 yards away. These photos don’t do him justice.
Finally Albert settled on the cliff and rested. One chap shouted over that this was like a bird spotters dream that could never happen.
So a very wet Hawklad had seen his first ever Albatross. As a toddler he had a soft toy just like Albert. He loved it and always said he wanted to one day see one. Who would have thought that one would come to him. Now let’s hope Albert somehow finds his way back home. But while he is here he will bring so much joy to many.
But it just goes to show that even when things are seemingly against you. When it’s looking grey and tough. Great things can just be around the corner. DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.
Another early start. This time a seriously early one. A perfect insomniac storm. 3am. Hawklad has woken and can’t sleep. I have not been to bed yet and sleep feels a million miles away.
Hawklad wonders if we can see the dawn brake. On the coast.
So a few moments later and after I had sampled the meanest of espressos, we are driving. Driving past badgers, foxes and owls. Before 4am we arrive at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It’s still pitch black and we have the site to ourselves. It’s such an eerie feeling walking in the complete absence of light and sound. Even to early for the thousands of seabirds perched precariously on the cliffs. No wind and even the sea was strangely becalmed.
In perfect time to watch dawn brake. No thoughts of an Albatross who was apparently out at sea. Who needs one bird when you get to watch all this unfold.
The dark was a challenge to my iPhone camera but it gave it a go.
By 7am a few people had started to arrive, mainly here to take up prime spots and wait. Hoping on catching sight of one particular bird. They had no idea what they had just missed. The deafening sound of seabirds hides the peace that existed just 2 hours ago.
We were back in the car and driving a few minutes later. The site had lost its appeal to Hawklad. Even a handful of strangers proving too much for him. But he had got to see a spectacular show first hand. Just the two of us so without his anxieties. He slept during the ride home.
Yes it was a ridiculously early start. Yes I went more than 24 hours without sleep. But it was worth it for those couple of hours when Hawklad felt that he had the world to himself. I suspect it won’t be the last time we do this. Yes there will be time for trips out to build those social bridges but those come with anxieties. We all need these times and places of sanctuary. Hawklad does. Yes even a worn down parent needs them.
I so remember this beautiful falcon. Happily settled on Hawklad’s glove. Calm and a definite trusting look in her eyes as she stared into Hawklad’s eyes. What was striking was the difference in the look she gave me. Think much less calm and at ease. Think much more, ‘you do know I am a bird of prey’……. The look this wonderful falcon gave me clearly had an underlying message. But what was it. Maybe……
That’s one uglychubby pigeon, how on earth is that thing going to fly.
Or maybe it was
That’s some kill. That will feed me and my family for about 100 years. But how on earth am I going to carry it. Might need to hire a troop carrying helicopter…..
Oh that look. Ok it’s telling me that I’m moving down the food chain league table but it’s utterly mesmerising. It’s exhilarating. It’s what life should be about. Memorable……
It’s been too long. Far too long since Hawklad got to do his favourite ever activity. Handling birds of prey.
He’s done this a few times. Sadly not enough. Hawklad is someone who struggles with social encounters. He finds it difficult to build up trust in others. It takes time and patience. But he can and does. He forms really close bonds with those he develops trust with. Real lasting friendships.
It’s so different with Birds of Prey. Instantly establishing a bond. Complete confidence and trust. Even getting to stroke the chest of one raptor who the falconer said that it had taken him months of effort to build up the same level of trust.
That’s why in an ideal world Hawklad will get to fulfil his dream of having his own falconry and rescue centre. And we all know dreams can come true. There is always hope.
Here is a regular nighttime visitor to our garden. Will come to within a couple of feet of the front door. The badger is surprisingly big and muscular. A few times we have had standoffs in the garden. Stopping a badger attack on a hedgehog or when the badger has decided to try and dismantle the bird feeder. The badger stands his or her ground. Definitely chased me off a couple of times. Clearly no regard is given to vegetarians. In my defence I am a city boy and a massive coward. Wasps send me scurrying for cover.
But now I find the The Badger has no musical taste. Last night I forgot that I had left a delivery outside. Our son likes deliveries to air outside for at least a few hours as part of our pandemic protocols. Anyway I had bought myself a really cheap second hand cd and a brush. I was in the kitchen cleaning up when I heard a right racket outside. Had to be the badger. I assumed the bird feeder had been destroyed again. But no. The delivery packaging was strewn all over the lawn. No sign of the brush but near the bird feeder was my cd. Clearly The Badger had no interest in taking my music.
A brief moment of colour before the next band of rain arrives. And yes it’s still two jumper (sweater) weather.
As a child my Dad created a reasonably large pond in the garden. He filled it with little goldfish. It was a haven for wildlife. A protected haven. It had its very own guard dog. Our large family dog called Mick. Mick was lovely but he had issues. He took his guarding the ‘family and the garden’ role very seriously. He bit a postman. He then bit a policeman. It’s amazing how quickly some people learn to understand the meaning of a garden gate sign. Do not enter – Dog who will bite strangers beyond this gate……So he was not a chap to be messed with. And the garden pond fell under his care. Fish, small creatures and small birds were most welcome. He would even let the small birds drink from his water bowl. Unfortunately the same privileges were not granted to larger creatures and large birds. So strangely they quickly learnt that Darwin might have a point and they had better quickly adapt. Adapt meaning give that particular garden a wide berth. A policy which was also observed by the postal and police services.
That garden pond is a long time ago. Since then I have never had a pond. That is until last week. Bad weather interrupted a garden tidy up session. So the wheelbarrow contained a few pulled up weeds. However the rain has transformed the scene. The weeds are doing rather well in the slightly damp conditions. I’m calling that a pond. Just lacking some goldfish and a guard dog called Mick.
Let’s get the rant quickly out of the way. The UK’s School Minister has opened his mouth again. Remember him. The chap who wants to test kids from the age of 4. The chap who described kids taking time off for bereavement as – an extended holiday. The chap who introduced changes to the teaching of English which severely disadvantaged dyslexic kids – against the advice of health professionals and dyslexia groups. The chap who on several interviews refused to answer any of the questions he was expecting kids to answer. Well now he has told schools and parents what to do in terms of the Coronavirus. Even if the school gets a suspected case then parents should send their kids to school as normal. Schools should remain open. This contrasted with the Chief Medical Officer who yesterday was talking about the potential of closing schools for two months if the virus started to spread in the UK. Well the Schools Minister can take a running jump. He is the last person I would trust my child’s wellbeingwith. If it comes to this decision then I will make the call not this over promoted pompous twat. Rant over….
I’ve just been bullied by a squirrel…..
I went out to feed the wildlife in the garden. The usual collection of birds and a squirrel waited not so patiently to be fed. I had a couple of uneaten pancakes to add to the usual menu. As I kneeled down to tear the pancakes up into little pieces the squirrel moved in. He grabbed both pancakes out of my grasp. He wasn’t waiting or sharing these goodies. I did try to have words with the bushy tailed one. But clearly somebody wasn’t listening today. At least somebody likes my pancakes.
It’s been several years since we fed the ducks. It’s back to a time before our world changed. A family of 3. Every Sunday we would go to the lake armed with food left overs from the week. Often our son would be surrounded by hundreds of ducks and swans. He would carefully try to ensure all those impatiently waiting received a share of the food parcel. Then we would go to the local cafe for a freshly baked cheese scone. So many great moments sadly stopped one August three years ago.
Maybe this weekend will be a good time to rectify our absence. It wasn’t the birds fault that the bad stuff happened. Maybe we can rekindle some of those feelings. Maybe we will create new feelings. We won’t know until we try. I suspect the ducks won’t mind us trying.
So I’ve started filling a large bucket with out of date oats, some cheap tinned sweet corn, seed and of course a little bit of bread. Even ducks need a balanced diet.
While trying to find the old duck feed bucket I came across a couple of old concert T-shirt’s and ticket stubs. Days of hair, tight trousers and Thunderbird Cider. Looking at the names on the shirts it was very sobering. Many of those I went to see are sadly not with us anymore. So while I worked this afternoon I listened to a music from these fallen heroes. I tried to recall seeing that person on stage – in their prime. How they should be remembered. The roll call included
Ronnie James Dio
The more I think about it the more heroes I can add to the list. That’s really sobering. As you get older more and more of your heroes depart. But they have left so many lasting memories for us to enjoy. They left a positive mark on this world. That’s a life well lived. I will leave the last words to Lemmy.
“Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good“