"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 28 December 2017

A Wintry Walk and a new Garden "tick"

Yesterday it was time for a stroll to walk away some of the Christmas excesses. The only problem was I was keen to return to Berkswell church where Hawfinches were still being seen - 3 on Boxing Day still feeding on yew berries. So I got out the OS Map and worked out a two mile circular route starting at the churchyard (!!) with half the walk on public footpaths and half along lanes.

We had had some snow the night before and it was very icy in the countryside with a sprinkling of snow remaining.

We parked by the Green and


and walked the short distance to the church.

These are the yew trees where the Hawfinches are often seen feeding but surprise surprise they didn't make an appearance when we were there (although I have to say it was that cold the family were not prepared to linger long). I suspect that Hawfinch will long remain as my "bogey" bird or one of my "bogey" birds - add Bearded Tit and Brambling to the list.

Leading off the rear of the churchyard is the "Heart of England" Way. In the distance you can see Berkswell Hall which has been converted into luxurious apartments (goodness knows how much they cost!).

Parts of the footpath were very very muddy but this boardwalk across the field was just very icy and slippery.

After passing a lake and through some trees you continue on the footpath that bears to the left along an area called "The Roughs".

Not too many pictures on this stage of the walk as we were walking directly into the sun but here are a few taken by D.




Finally, we reached a lane to start the second half of the walk. Have to admit it was much easier walking on the road rather than squelching through mud or slithering on ice!

Finally, back to Berkswell.

This is the delightfully named Beehive Cottage :)


Although it was cold it was a lovely walk in the late afternoon sunshine only marred by gunshots in the distance and a group of silly little men carrying red flags and shotguns who appeared to be trying to flush an animal or birds nearby and on the perimeter of the churchyard. I suspect it was a pheasant shoot and it was a relief to see at least one fly past us having escaped the bullets.

It is completely beyond me why anyone can get pleasure from shooting an animal or bird. And as for the illegal persecution of birds of prey on grouse moors well I had better not start on that subject otherwise I shall go into complete rant mode.

We then stopped off at The Bear - an opportunity too for Timothy to make an appearance! - for a quick drink and to try and warm up.

New Garden Bird "Tick"

I had the shock of my life on Christmas Eve when I walked into the kitchen to see a pair of Ring-necked Parakeets on the bird feeders! I knew some had been spotted 4 or 5 miles away but I certainly never expected to see them in the garden! Not only is this is a new garden "tick" but also a "lifer" as I have never seen these birds before in the wild. It was a rather lovely early Christmas present and they have been back most days since.

A few record shots taken by me and D - must admit I was that excited I could hardly hold the camera steady!



The Berkswell walk I will certainly do again next year - perhaps when the shooting season is over.

*D photos taken by D with the Canon SX 50 bridge camera

The rest were taken by me still experimenting with the Panasonic 330.


Toffeeapple said...

We too have had snow and ice but I have seen no birds other than my usual callers. I would not be thrilled to see the parakeets though, they seem to be taking over the British Isles!

I likes seeing Timothy at the Bear Inn.

Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

Well, I am so sorry the Hawfinch still continues to elude you. Maybe soon, I do hope for you. Still, there was a lovely quality of light for all the pictures you took on your walk. Agree, after living in Iceland, you quickly learn that wood, water, and freezing temperatures do not make a safe combination! Lovely to see Timothy guarding your drink {I do hope it wasn't his!}

Pam said...

It looks like a lovely walk despite the ice! I've yet to see a Hawfinch too, though I must admit I haven't had chance to go actively looking! Shame about the shooting :/ certainly mars the day doesn't it :(

On a brighter note, what a cracking garden tick, they are beautiful birds!! They have made their way this far north but not in great numbers......yet!

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. So pleased you enjoyed seeing Timothy :)

I think large numbers of parakeets can be a problem in some parts of the country with crops and there seems to be a fear that they may displace native birds when looking for nesting sites. But it was a thrill for me just to see a pair!

Deborah RusticPumpin - Thank you so much - it was a very lovely walk but as you say the boardwalk could have been a trifle dangerous without taking care! Timothy had a sip of son's lemonade :)

Pam - Thanks so much. There seems to be such an influx of Hawfinches that it does seem the best time to try and see one! Really need to spend more time there waiting and looking. Shooting wildlife makes me so very very angry - there were many not very ladylike phrases issued in their direction!

It was unbelievable to see the birds - I really could hardly believe my eyes they are so exotic. It does sound as though they are spreading. Have since found out there is a roost of about 40 of them about 4 to 5 miles from here. Someone told me on Twitter he is planning (or is already?) putting up nest boxes for them and ringing. I am not sure how much of a problem they might be for native birds though - most of the google links on the subject look years old although I think one of the Birdwatching mags did an article on it once??

Rosie said...

Gosh, your walk does look very cold and icy but I bet it blew all the cobwebs away. Those Hawfinches are so very elusive aren't they? I do hope you get to see them one day. Like you I don't like to hear guns when out walking (even clay pigeon shoots)and hate the thought of animals and birds being hunted and killed. How wonderful to see the parakeets on the feeders in your garden:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you and yes it certainly did blow any the cobwebs! When it goes a bit milder will go back to Berkswell for Hawfinches- they were still there yesterday.

It is so depressing to hear those gunshots and think of what they are killing :(

Still so thrilled about parakeets.