One of my favourite winter things is to go to the wetlands place and watch the sun sinking lower and lower in the sky at the end of the afternoon. All life's stresses seem to fade a little when I'm there watching the birds. Whatever life throws my way, they just continue going about their business, hunting for food, paddling and wading, settling into their roosts, oblivious to this complicated existence us humans have created for ourselves. I breathe a little deeper and try and fix the memory in my mind.
The Bewick's swans are back from the Arctic Tundra in Siberia bringing with them their new youngsters. I don't have a photo, the biggest boy had my lens. But it's lovely to see them return each year, these rare little swans who have flown so far to spend the winter in our neck of the woods. Their numbers are dropping, no-one knows exactly why. Maybe power lines and wind turbines, maybe lead shot, there could be lots of reasons. A reminder that we need to be careful with this planet of ours.
The biggest boy and I went on a birdwatching course last week to learn how to estimate bird numbers. Out on the estuary there are often hundreds of each species, even thousands on occasion. It involved a lot of standing in the freezing cold staring out over the river. I didn't have a telescope so I got to hold the clipboard. I'm glad we had the chance to do it, but I did reach the end of my endurance. A lot of the children's activities seem to involve me standing outside being slowly frozen. I'm sure it's the same for many of you. By Sunday evening I am glad to sit down in the warm, albeit with the scent of damp football boots wafting lightly about the place.
Look at this chap.
A common eider. He isn't cold at all. Stuffed with eider down you see. Apparently the females line their nests with down from their breasts, which is so toasty and warm that their chicks can happily survive in Iceland. The locals keep them safe from predators, then later on they gather up the eider down from the nests. Apparently the total annual harvest fits into one small truck. Precious stuff.
Round here we are working on our Christmas lists. FC does not want any last minute panics or surprises. The littlest boy has added lots of helpful instructions to his, "Pretty big please" and "Please make sure it is waterproof". One of his requests is a 3D pug jigsaw puzzle. At the bottom he has put "PS If you can't make a 3D pug jigsaw puzzle I will be fine you could just make it a 2D jigsaw puzzle pug". He has spent a lot of time telling us that FC makes everything himself. So you can basically ask for whatever you want as he will just make it and it won't cost any money. Considering this conviction he has been remarkably restrained. If it was me I would go large and request a greenhouse or a pony. What would you ask FC to make for you?
I know just what you mean about the wetlands place. We stopped there almost two years ago to the day on the way home from my mother's funeral. Geese flew off over our heads at sunset. In spite of everything a huge weight seemed to drop from my shoulders.ReplyDelete
I know some people with similar assumptions about Santa Claus and his ability to procure even the most expensive and lavish presents. Nobody believes me when I tell them that even Santa has to watch his pennies and that he can't make absolutely everything himself. I enjoyed seeing the wetlands. The sun is beautiful through the grasses and it looks like a very peaceful place. A birdwatching course sounds like a really interesting thing to do. I would enjoy that a lot but I would probably have trouble being quiet enough and they'd throw me out. :)ReplyDelete
If FC is reading this, can I give a belated thank you for the toaster I received last year. I think good will to all me will suffice this year. The colours reflected on the water are beautiful CJ. Perhaps we could meet here next year; I'll bring a thermos and a blanket.
Gorgeous pictures. The pluckiness of birds never ceases to amaze me. In the Arctic recently, we were lucky enough to observe Arctic terns, sea birds with the longest migration in the entire animal kingdom, flying between breeding grounds in the Arctic and their winter home in the Antarctic every single year. Amazing. We also encountered Father C himself (he lives up north, as you probably know) going about his daily business. I was too starstruck to speak but, if by chance he reads your blog, I'd still like that zither that was at the top of my list all those years ago.ReplyDelete
It's not just children's activities that involve standing around becoming frozen, We stood waiting for a starling murmuration the other day. The birds all gathered and then took off in small groups - very anticlimacticReplyDelete
We have received a rather restrained list of requirements from the youngest one. Helpfully split into categories. The last category is headed food and has 'chocolate' with 'lots of' next to it. It came via email! I think I would like some hands that stay warm from FC oh and some warm thighs too thank you very much xReplyDelete
Lovely wetlands talk and lovely photos too. I'm so pleased your lad continues his love of birds. And as for that Eider! Oh my. Smiling here at the little one's Christmas wishes. I love the idea of FC making everything from scratch. xxReplyDelete
A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures.ReplyDelete
I'm rather glad that I don't have to stand around getting frozen.
I'm with you and would ask FC to make me a greenhouse. Flighty xx
He's letting you off easy with just a 2-D pug - I thought he was going to ask for the real thing! Love that first photo, beautiful light.ReplyDelete
You make me smile my friend. I could use a nice spell of sitting on that bench watching the sun set and taking long deep breaths. I would say your littlest boy is very astute and restrained. Our little one wants Paw Patrol everything, not that he hasn't got enough of all that. Oh and a red wagon, with a black handle he can pull all by himself.ReplyDelete
So many birds seem to migrate from Siberia. Here in the southwest corner of BC we get thousands of Snow Geese migrating from Siberia. It is an incredible thing to see them fly up from the marshes and fields, filling the sky with a wall of white and black. The bird counting course sounds great, except for the part about being cold.ReplyDelete
It must be a wonderful to watch the sun go down on the wetlands, your images are fantastic! I feel for you getting so cold standing around, they will come a time when they don't want you with them and you can then snuggle up in the warm instead. Sarah xReplyDelete
Funnily, i was just thinking (while i was in the shower....as you do) that i quite fancy a greenhouse. And pony was always at the top of my list for years.ReplyDelete
Oh, the swans! Six of them flew over last evening while I was out rambling with the Emma-dog...I thought they might stop over on the pond but it apparently was too full of geese and ducks as they circled and then carried on. It's amazing to me, the distances the migratory birds travel...it's a true marvel. And upsetting to think the numbers are dropping.
What a gorgeous place to find yourself, those wetlands. Literally and figuratively.
What a lovely collection of photos. I'd go to big too and ask FC to make me a house. A big one, with a big library ;)ReplyDelete
I am surprised your little boy didn't suggest a real pug to FC if a 3D puzzle was not easy to be made... I just heard that waxwings have arrived in the Botanics from Siberia, no doubt dozens of birdwatchers with chilblains on their toes. I haven't had a chance to go and see them but hopefully they remain for a while. One day I am going to visit your wetlands, it sounds like the most blissful place in the world. xReplyDelete
those pictures make me feel calmer too. what a wonderful place to retreat to.ReplyDelete
and i had no idea that is where eiderdown came from. truly amazing.
i would actually ask FC to send me an elf to help out with those dull chores like mowing the lawn, putting the bins up, vacuuming ... that would make it christmas every day!
I think I might ask for a greenhouse too. Since FC is making it, I'm sure it would be very fancy indeed.ReplyDelete
Your photos, as usual, are absolute beautiful. I love the photo of the resting eider duck.
Your Father Christmas is definitely an innovative and magical man. I love that ?duck? in black that looks like he has two rouge circles of white feathers on his cheeks. The photos are full of lovely gold colors. It looks crisp and cold in the best of ways. Enjoy the magic.ReplyDelete
I told our children years ago that we had to send FC the £ for the presents, even if he makes them you have to buy all the parts you know....... I'm thinking of asking him if he has any spare elves that could come and do my housework for me once they've finished making all the presents.....ReplyDelete
Oh, FC could build me a studio in the garden. That would be amazing.ReplyDelete
Loved your photos and interesting bird facts CJ
CJ, I love your posts. Angus's Christmas list says "books...toys...games..." That's it. No detail, no hints, nothing. Bloody nightmare. I would ask FC for a self cleaning house.ReplyDelete
Your late afternoon photos are beautiful. I love the light at that time of day. xx