"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

Saturday 6 April 2024

This and That


Recent Reading

I have a horrid feeling this is the last in the Mitchell and Markby series which is a shame as I have really enjoyed these books.

I am persevering with this series although its not one of my favourites!


I made a simnel cake for Easter.  B made Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday and E made these chocolate cup cakes which were rather tasty :) 

I always try and pick a little posy of flowers from the garden to put on the table for Easter.

In the Garden

The garlic David planted last Autumn is growing well. It will be harvested later in the year.  We've made just a small start on sowing seeds.  D has planted some tomato and wildflower seeds and B some foxgloves to take to the caravan.

Violets are starting to flower - the plants pop up everywhere in borders, pots and on the patio.

Primroses and snowdrops seem to have finished flowering but now we have Cowslip flowers. Last year they had really spread in the wildflower meadow area and we had dozens.

Some years ago we had the eucalpytus tree in the garden greatly reduced in height as it was getting rather out of control!!  Some of the stumps removed we placed round the garden and they soon attracted fungi including Turkey Tail. Now we have a new species to add to the garden list as this huge fungus has appeared on the main tree. Its about the size of a small washbasin with a smaller one appearing above it.  There are two similar species Artist's Bracket and  Southern Bracket (Ganoderma australe) and I think it is the latter - thanks to Dean on Twitter for confirmation. 

Nesting Activity

The female Blue Tit has nested in the nest box which has a camera and the first egg was laid on 4th April which seems early to me so I have checked my nature diaries and listed, where I can,  the dates Blue Tit eggs have laid the first egg in previous years since we had a camera in the nest box and going back to 2010.  

2010: 28th April
201125th April
2012: 25th April
2013: 27th April
2014: 14th April
2015: 16th May this was a very late attempt and the young failed to reach fledging.
2016: 25th April
2017: No webcam this year as it had stopped working. So not sure when first egg laid. The young fledged week commencing 3rd June. Food seen being taken into nest box 18th May. Suspect eggs laid end of April?
2018: No nesting attempts this year although birds did investigate nest box around the 5th May.
2019: 23rd April
2020: 28th April
2021: 19th April
2022: 13th April
2023: 7th April
2024: 4th April

Unfortunately I do not have dates for all years due to having no working camera in the nest box one year and another year Blue Tits did not nest. In 2015 the birds nested very late although it had been a cool Spring.  Sometimes also it is difficult to be sure of the exact date as the female does not incubate until most of the eggs are laid. She tends to cover the eggs  with feathers in the daytime after she has left the nest so the first egg can be missed for a few days.   Overall, however, it  does appear that the date the first egg has been laid has got earlier since I started recording dates.  

I know there has been  research into how climate change may be affecting the seasons and how this may affect species in Spring.  Nesting of some bird species, the flowering of certain plants and emergence of leaves are occurring earlier. 

Research has suggested that birds such as Blue and Great Tits are overall now nesting around two weeks earlier earlier than they did two decades ago as a result of climate change causing earlier and warmer Springs and seasonal changes.  The concern here of course is that the caterpillars the birds feed their young on will not follow suit and also appear earlier.  I know we have had some years which have been distressing as the chicks have died one after the other which appears to have been due to the lack of food being brought in.  Phenology is a fascinating subject and I am sure there is a great deal more research being put into it. The Woodland Trust's Nature's  Calendar asks people to submit certain first dates of seasonal events in the autumn and winter to use to investigate the way climate and weather affect wildlife.


We popped to Coleshill last week mainly to visit the monthly Farmers' market.

There are some nice independent shops in Coleshill. 

D popped into Books Revisited for a short while as I wandered around taking photos.

The farmers'  market is held at The Croft which is right by the church.  

There were quite a few stalls there selling bread, fish, meat, honey, etc etc - not too many photos as there were too many people milling around!

Plants in Walls/Pavement Plants -

Ivy Leaved Toadflax and Herb Robert.

Its Dandelion Season.  Each year it reminds me of my father's Dandelion Wine - it was delicious!

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 camera (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one of mine or my son's I would appreciate an email first - thanks).


Rustic Pumpkin said...

I feel your pain over the book, possibly being the last one in the series. I think many of us get tied into a trilogy or a series of books. and at some point it is inevitable that the last one in the series be written. I suppose it would be easy to think of it as an opportunity to find something new to read but on the other hand, we do get so immersed with the characters. It's very difficult to move on.
I agree with you completely over climate change and the changes to wildlife breeding habits, plants flowering early etc The last few years, we traded on the boats we? noticed a lot of changes then in the sea conditions, general weather conditions, plant margins on the back of the island and so on. This year, the {now infamous Pembrokeshire Penguins} AKA Puffins have returned a good couple of weeks earlier than they normally do. In case you're wondering why I called them the infamous Pembrokeshire Penguins it is because the National Trust for N Pembs put out a statement where they inadvertently referred to the Puffins as Penguins a few of us picked this error up and have run with it. What a faux pas!
Coleshill looks a lovely little place. I'm pleased to see Books Revisited appears to be doing well now.

hart said...

Those egg laying dates certainly tell us something about global warming.

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thanks so much. I hate coming to the end of a really good series as you say you get to know the characters really well. Sometimes is the real end but sometimes you just have to wait for the next book to come out. I don't like the new series I've started recently as much as the old ones!!

It is worrying the effect climate change is having on species and they have to adapt so quickly. Interesting about the sea where you are. lol re the Pembrokeshire Penguins - what a mistake to make!!!
Coleshill is close so a good place to visit for a look round. They have now started the window repair work I think on Books Revisited - so glad that bookshop survived thanks to donations as it came very very close to closing.

Hart - Thanks so much and sadly I think too the dates do illustrate climate change and the effects on wildlife.

Billy Blue Eyes said...

I have a few nest boxes around and do have blue tits nesting in some though I have never set up a camera in any of them. Also have a robin in one as well.

Ragged Robin said...

Billy Blue Eyes - Thanks so much. It is really interesting to have a nest box with a camera and watching the eggs hatch and young being fed and growing although it does get upsetting if young die. We have a robin nesting in the laurel this year :)

Rosie said...

What a lovely post so full of interest. I read the Ann Granger M&M book last year, it would be sad if it was the last but I expect writers want to move on to new ideas and characters as with Elly Griffiths and the Ruth Galloway books. Fascinating about the blue tits and their nesting times over the years that really does show a change. Your Easter posy is lovely and the buns look tasty, I made some similar ones with three little eggs on each bun. I didn't make a Simnel cake this year. Coleshill always looks fascinating. independent shops and a farmer's market must make it very popular:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much - it started out as a short post and just grew!!!
It is a shame when a good series ends - I really miss Ruth Galloway as she was one of my favourite characters. Some of the new authors I am trying just don't match up to some of the series I have enjoyed in the past. I must check some authors again though as I think for example there may be more Vera books I haven't read.
I was surprised when I dug out all the old Blue Tit laying dates that it had become much earlier in last few years. It is a fascinating subject.
I nearly didn't make a simnel cake this year tbh mainly due to tiredness but in the end my son helped me.
Coleshill is a good local place to visit when you want to get out for a while but not go far!

CherryPie said...

Coleshill looks like a lovely place to visit.

The cup cakes look delicious :-)

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thanks so much. We enjoyed the cakes and Coleshill is a nice place for a wander.

Millymollymandy said...

The Easter baking sounds good and I love your posy. I much prefer Cowslips to Primroses - is that your own little wildflower meadow?

The fungi is amazing! I've never seen anything like that before. What a nice surprise!

Certainly seems like the Blue Tits are nesting earlier but presumably the leaves are coming out earlier on the trees for the hatching caterpillars to eat - you would think all three would go hand in hand. Maybe there might be a fail some years but there has got to be an overall tendance towards earlier in the year for all, surely?

Ragged Robin said...

MillyMollyMandy - Thanks so much. The cowslips are in the wildflower meadow - I'll post more photos off it later in the year although I think I have done photos before probably in the distant past! It is years old now.

8 Blue Tit eggs now! We think she has started incubating today. I am sure overall dates are getting earlier here and from research it suggests elsewhere too.

The Quacks of Life said...

Pies .. !!!

The last Mitchell and markby came after 18 years. But always a shame when a series ends, have you read Andrew Taylors Lydmouth books. They're set in the 1950s,

I guess with warmer winters the bird are starting earlier. It seems to be a trend based on a site I watch.

Ragged Robin said...

The Quacks of Life - Indeed! I think they are quite well known.
I haven't read Andrew Taylor so thanks and I wll go in search.
I think you are right about warmer winters (and Springs) re egg laying dates.