"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, 4 January 2018

A "Lifer" and some Recent Reading

Last Saturday we visited a couple of local country churchyards to look for Hawfinches. There were loads of yew trees but, as far, as I could see very few berries left and definitely no Hawfinches.

I was still seeing reports of up to 5 Hawfinches being spotted at Berkswell churchyard so on Monday D and I returned for our third attempt at spotting this species. On previous visits there were no other birders around but on Monday there were around a dozen. When we arrived a bird had just been spotted in one of the yew trees and, although I couldn't find it in my binoculars, a kind couple let us see it through their telescope. Later I got good views when it perched on another tree more in the open.

Record shots taken by D - I was too busy trying to get a view with the binoculars to use my camera!



I've wanted to see this species for many years so it was a relief to finally catch up with it although I have to say there is something a little unsatisfying about attending a twitch which is probably why we went off to search of our own a few days earlier! It was still a good start to the bird year list :)

There was a big flock of Jackdaws in the churchyard.



Recent Reading

I've been meaning to read this book for some time and it is without doubt a thought-provoking read and one of the best "nature" books I read over the course of the last year. The author argues that so far the ever threatened natural world has failed to be saved by the ideas of sustainable development and ecosystem services. He suggests instead we use our joy in nature to protect it. There are some beautiful descriptions of some of his wildlife encounters together with moving accounts of childhood trauma. Right at the end of the book he writes of his efforts to see all British butterflies in the course of a year and, if I can find a criticism of the book, it is that I would have liked this section to have been longer and more detailed.

I've recently taken an excellent course with Futurelearn on William Wordsworth and sections of the course covered the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. I do have an illustrated version of her journals which is a lovely book but I don't think it includes all of the journals so I purchased the book mentioned on the course for my Kindle.

I've loved every John Lewis-Stempel I have read so far and this was no exception although it is a very short book but it is packed with information on owls and their legend and history.

Now for some fiction - I enjoyed this book - the series I think is improving.

Another Maisie Dobbs - I really like these books - they have a charm all of their own and this was the best in the series so far.

I just loved this book - a young botanist's story of his quest to see every UK orchid in one year. His passion shines through and there is so much information on orchids. It certainly made me want to go out and search for some orchids of my own - a very inspiring writer.

A short essay on the joy of reading and giving books which I really liked.

The only PD James book I have read in the past was "The Children of Men" but I spotted this book of four short stories in Waterstones while Christmas shopping and couldn't resist buying it. Four super stories and I will read more of her full novels perhaps starting with Inspector Dalgleish.

I read the Ruth Galloway books really quickly as I just can't put them down! There is an interesting turn of events at the end of the book - I won't reveal what in case anyone is yet to read this book and I can't wait for the next one. Postscript I have just checked on Amazon and Book 10 is out - I am not sure how long I will be able to resist the urge to buy this although it is pretty expensive at present for the Kindle! Perhaps I will go along to the library and see how long the waiting list is!!
Edit - apologies - Have just revisited Amazon - the 10th book is only available for pre-order (it is not out until February!).

*D Photos taken by D with the Canon SX50 bridge camera.


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

THe car park at Rufford House near Newark seems to be where the local hawfinch hang out!

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - That is interesting Simon - have you seen one?

Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

At last! If anyone deserves to see a Hawfinch, you do! Well done on not giving up. Happy New Year!

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thanks so much :)

Rosie said...

What is the saying? 'Everything comes to those who wait' Your patience has paid off! I'm so glad you saw the Hawfinches, they have been reported around here at Keele churchyard and Kingsley churchyard. I've seen one or two photos on the Staffordshire Wildlife facebook page. Your phots are super. Great selection of books. I've reserved the new Elly Griffiths 'The Dark Angel' at the library, I'm number seven in the queue:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much :) With the influx of these birds this seems the best winter to see them! They do seem to like churchyards!

That is not too bad a position in the library queue - hope you don't have to wait too long. Our local library is closed at the moment but when it is open again will have to think about visiting. OH is keeping a close check on what I spend on kindle books! :( There must be a new Merrily Watkins due out too soon - something else to check :)

John Scurr said...

Always spectacular to see the Hawfinches. I used to have a regular site up here in Yorkshire but it's a long time since I last visited. I'm sure that even though it was a twitch you will be chuffed to have it on your list.

I suppose you are working your way theough the Martin Edwards Lake District series, I fear he has stopped writing them, the last was published in 2012. I have enjoyed the ones I have read so far.

There was a book published in 2010 by Patrick Barham called The Butterfly Isles. This was also the record of the author's attempt to see all the species of British Butterfly in a year. As with many of these books the story becomes somewhat entwined with his private life but is mainly about his visits to sites to see the butterflies. The story takes some 357 pages so it is a considerable read. I don't know if it is available for electronic readers but if you see a second hand copy I would recommend it.


Ragged Robin said...

John Scurr - Thank you so much and yes I am chuffed to bits - I have waited for more years than I care to remember to see this species! Closest I ever came was when we walked into a hide overlooking a pool at RSPB Nagshead only to be greeted with the words you should have been here a minute ago there was a Hawfinch bathing!!!

Yes I am working my way through the series - I didn't realise it was so long ago when he published the last one. I think he has written another series but I haven't tried those.

Thanks so much for the info re: the Patrick Barkham book. Actually I bought it and read it some years ago - it is one of my favourite books and I really enjoyed it. His books are very good - I also have the Badgerlands one and will buy Islander when it comes down in price!!! To be honest I far prefer real books to e-books especially for nature writing or non-fiction but I really have run out of room for new books (aLthough I do still occasionally buy them!!) which is why I use my Kindle so much. Although I have to say it is good for fiction especially the books you might not read again as you can just send them back to the cloud!

Matthew Oates has written some good books on butterflies too :)

Thanks again.

Pam said...

How fantastic to see the Hawfinch, i'm pleased for you :) And thank you for the books too, i'm adding some of them to my list. I haven't read a PD James since I was a teenager when I was in the process of trying to read the whole of my local library, I remember enjoying them though!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks so much.
lol re: trying to read the whole of your local library - I can remember getting a lot of books out of mine too when I was younger. I remember when I was about 7 and first got tickets for the library and Dad would only let me have one not three and you might know I had read that one book in a few hours!

Margaret Adamson said...

Congratualtions on getting a lifer

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson -Thank you Margaret.

SeagullSuzie said...

Oh I've never seen a hawfinch, how lovely they are. At the moment my bedtime reading is the books of James Herriot and the stories and the writing is delightful.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thank you - they are lovely birds :)

I loved the James Herriot stories - still have the omnibus. I bought the tv series on dvd last year which I am looking forward to watching :) It may be a bit outdated but I am sure it will be enjoyable.

Toffeeapple said...

You must be so pleased about the Hawfinch, well done.

Thank you for listing your books, I have some of the nature ones and the MacFarlane one but will follow up on some of the others you have listed. I must group my nature books together because I forget what I have read and sometimes end up with duplicates.

CherryPie said...

I am glad you managed to find some hawfinches.

Pam said...

I can imaging, I was the same! I was allowed 6 tickets and went every single Thursday evening and replaced all my books every week, I went with my Dad, I get my speed reading skills from him, my daughter has them too, we go through some books between us!

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. I've bought duplicates at times too!! I bought a Richard Fortey for the Kindle and when I came to read it thought this seems familiar and there it was in the bookcase! although the title had been changed for some unknown reason!

CherryPie - Thank you.

Pam - I even remember the first book I had out - it was the Hollow Oak Tree House by Enid Blyton - I loved re-reading all her books with my kids when they were little (brought back so many memories!). Yes, I can do what I call "scan reading" with some fiction - in fact i have a very naughty habit of scan reading ahead to see what is happening and when I re-read it more slowly it is amazing that you have actually taken it all in!! When I read nature writing though i have to force myself to slow down as you don't appreciate it quite so much when read at speed!!

Pam said...

I don't remember that but I did read every Blyton book I could get my hands on but my daughter never really got into her books unfortunately! Oh now I can't read ahead and then go back it wouldn't seem right :0 but I know what you mean about the not appreciating things when you speed through!

Ragged Robin said...

My daughter was never keen either - I tried to get her to read the Malory Towers books and St Clare? without success. It was my son who loved them so I got to relive the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Faraway Tree, Wishing Chair and those adventure ones with Kiki the cockatoo and many others! I tend to read ahead late at night when I know I have to finish reading and go to bed but I want to know what happens next but yes it does ruin things!

Pam said...

I loved those series, I still have some of the books in my loft!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - They made me want to go to Boarding School! Did you ever read the Chalet School books - can't remember the author.

I have very few of my childhood books left - just a few famous five. Having battle at moment with OH over our children's books. Son has kept nearly all his but daughter not sentimental and has only kept a few but there are some I can't bring myself to take to charity shop so am going to have smuggle a few away somewhere!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - just checked the Chalet School books were by Elinor Brent-Dyer. Just seeing the covers after I googled it brought back memories :)

amanda peters said...

So pleased you got to see the finch, good photos of the one (3) I have been trying to catch at Ilkley on Facebook again today !!!! weather not looking good next week, I would like to try one more time.

Gosh you have done a lot of reading, still not managing to read even a few pages at the moment..

Been out with the camera today, saw some Fieldfare, which you had in the garden. Few more birds but it was so cold had a coffee and came home.
Amanda X

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thank you - I do hope you strike lucky at Ilkley. Really is I think a matter of luck - do you remember the churchyard at Lea Marston I checked our earlier this year? - they have been spotted there too now. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Unless there is something on tv I do tend to spend most evenings reading and with the cold weather and not going out so much have read more in the day too!

Sounds like you had a good day out :) Always good to go out with the camera for a while.

Bovey Belle said...

I'm so pleased you got to see one in the end. My friend has a female on her bird feeders daily. I think they are on her land because she has a big yew tree at the back of the house, and good cover for them.

What a wonderful array of books. I've just been to check and my Dorothy Wordsworth book is just entitled "Home at Grasmere" which I bought back in the 1970s when I began to educate myself (reading what interested ME and not what the school had been teaching in the 60s!)

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thank you - envious of your friend! :) They do seem to like yews!

My illustrated version is called Dorothy Wordsworth : The Grasmere Journal - mum and dad bought it for me when my first child was born. I've also got a second hand paperback called The Journals of DW. The Kindle version was good as I hadn't read the Alfoxden journals - but the problem with having it on the Kindle is that it wasn't easy to keep checking the very comprehensive notes at the back of the book - I ended up reading them separately!I am reading Kilvert's Diary at the moment - what a superb book! He writes in such an entertaining way :)