1 EAGLETON NOTES: SID 43 Catching Up - That Was April

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Thursday, 30 April 2020

SID 43 Catching Up - That Was April

Is it really 11 days since I visited Blogland properly. I used the word 'properly' because I have made the occasional Covid-19 type skirmish there hoping that The Authorities would not notice that I was travelling further than strictly allowed when on gardening leave. We, on Lewis, have had one of the longest spells of constant sun that I can recall for a couple of years. We have had the occasional shower in the last few days and the wind has been very chilly from the North East but I have managed a great deal of garden and external house maintenance. Much, I have to say, to the detriment of my letter writing. My coffee's in The Woodlands have been replaced by virtual WhatsApp and Zoom coffees (or G & Ts depending on the time of day).  Well, everyone has to have coffee breaks.

I have discovered that it's easy to walk 4 miles in a day when gardening and add to that the 'hard labour' humping 100l bags of compost and removing small tree/shrub stumps etc and it's a good workout each day. Apart from trips to the local postbox and a trip to the medical practice for my Trial Review bloods and my 3-monthly bumjab I've not been off the property. 

Of course I miss the family (who are now out of quarantine but still subject to lockdown rules which are not quite as strict as my self-isolation) but I confess that the days are flying by at an alarming rate and I've hardly scratched any of the items off the 'To Do' lists. I am fortunate generally to sleep well but a day in the garden certainly leaves one pleasantly tired (I was going to say 'knackered' but that's not very polite). Apart from the news I've hardly even watched television.

However the birds have been enjoying the garden even with me working in it. 

Bird box in use. Note to self: clean it up next autumn.
Meadow Pipit: Bathing; Checking claws; Under wing clean?; Aren't I a pretty pipit?

 Blackbird. "These raisins are good." 

Golden Eagle exiting over the sea. 

Female sparrow looking for extra nourishment for egg laying in the form of delphinium leaves. 

Blackbird bathing in the waterfall.

51 comments:

  1. It is amazing just how many miles you can clock up in the garden, I was really surprised myself when I realised just how much mileage I did while working in mine. Lovely to see all the bird shots, I never tire of them. Coffee or tea (in my case) breaks are definitely a requirement for a good day!

    I hope the treatment is successful. Just had bad news about my Dad the other day, the reason his PSA kept rising was is he now has bone cancer. He has just started a new treatment, so really hoping it is successful. Really gutting.

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    1. Looking at your garden, Serenata, I'm not surprised that you clock up the miles.

      I'm so sorry to hear the news of your Dad. I hope that you get to see him when the current crisis is over or at least abated.

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  2. The photos are excellent! We have a block of seed in a cage by the window. very happy birds.

    Today is my husband's 70th b-day. Our daughter and family---incl. our teenage gr-daughters---are bringing a cake over. We will stand the required 6 feet apart and blow out candles. Quarantine is the rule of the day.

    Watching golden eagles makes me happy.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I hope that your husband has had a very good day. I love birds but birds of prey have a magnificence it is hard not to admire and love.

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  3. Those are great photos. I especially love the pipit - and that Eagle! Wonderful.
    We have a sparrow box on our wall too, just like yours but ours is a concrete monster, given to us by a friend. It is so heavy I am surprised it didn't bring the wall down when we attached it.
    We too, had an unusually long spell of warm, dry weather throughout April, but cool, damp conditions have now returned so more work indoors. It is better for my hay fever though as I was starting to really suffer.
    Take care.

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    1. Thank you, JayCee. We have continued with relatively dry sunny weather but there has been a strong, bitterly cold North wind which has made going into the garden a daunting task. I'm sorry to hear that you suffer from hay fever - most unpleasant.

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  4. Cute to see the birds bathing and looking quite refreshed afterward. Did you say 100 bags of compost, wow, I am not able to move even one bag. Happily my sons do that for me. They came over to celebrate my birthday and we all wore masks, see my post today. I am becoming quite an antique!

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    1. Terra, I meant 100 litre bags - I only had a dozen on them at that weight but plenty half that size.

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  5. Beautiful group of photos! Good to know you are busy and all right

    The first photo of the Meadow Pipit, I had to stare a bit to see the bird. At first glance I saw a deer drinking. The absence of a body is the clue.

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    1. Thank you, Maywyn. It's unusual to see a photo of a bird in that position I have to admit.

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  6. And yet, you said it anyway..."knackered"! Hahahahaha! I don't think it's impolite, at all. :)

    The birds are beautiful. I love your photos. Fortunately, there are many birds around here where I live, too. The meat-eating ones appear on time every aftenoon to get their meat scraps after I've cut up Remy and Shama's dinner. They, the birds, diligently watch (I think they wear watche

    s) as they await my appearance. I love having them around. There is a wide variety, not all carnivores, of course. Since I've lived here in this area...which is 18 years now (time does fly by at a rapid rate of knots!)...I've not seen any sparrows.

    The temperature dropped considerably through the night...1st May has brought with it a touch of winter chill...and I love it! :)

    Take good care, Graham. :)

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    1. No sparrows, Lee! Good heavens. I thought that sparrows are everywhere. The most usual carnivores here are the Hooded Crows which, fortunately, rarely come into my garden these days. I really love all the birds that visit here too. Blackbirds have been infrequent in my garden until this year when I saw one and put out raisins for it. Now he and his good lady visit frequently during the day for their raisins.

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  7. It's good to see the birds are there to keep you company. I'm looking forward to seeing some photos of the garden. Miserable, grey, cooler day here today so I'm happy to be inside. Winter is creeping in.

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    1. Pauline, I'll have plenty of photos once the plants start flowering - so much more interesting. Bitter North wind here today stopped me planting anything else.

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  8. You're doing the best thing you can do...keep busy.

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    1. Absolutely, Red. Being busy keeps the mind from straying into dark places.

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  9. Lovely to see the bird photos. I tried to get a photo of a tui at our bird feeder earlier but it took off before I had a chance.

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    1. Thank you, Susan Heather. There are. few birds I love more than the Tui which is a bird I have rarely managed to photograph well. Indeed my favourite picture of a Tui was taken by Serenata, my first commenter on this post.

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  10. These photographs are beautiful. The eagle is so majestic but my favourite is the blackbird in the waterfall. I've also been sleeping so much better for all the fresh air I've been getting.

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    1. Thank you, Jules. I love watching the birds taking advantage of my pond and stream.

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  11. Great to hear you have been achieving so much in the garden, along with your feathered friends.
    I find it remarkable, when watching birds bathing, how each species seems to do it in a different way. Nature is so diverse :)

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    1. Margaret, working in the garden is a joy and the good weather is the icing on the cake. I love that birds have such different behaviour towards me when I'm in the garden from fleeing on sight (Blackbirds) to ignoring me until I'm a few metres away (Dunnock and Robin).

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  12. Great pictures, Graham, and good to know you are so,pleasantly busy with house and garden maintenance that it makes you knackered!
    I didn't know the expression is considered impolite; Steve used it a lot and I never questioned it, just adopted it from him. Now I shall be more careful in my choice of words.

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    1. Knackered is slang and I would certainly have never used it in front of my Mother, Librarian. It is not so much impolite, more uncouth slang.

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    2. Meike, knackered comes from the knacker who used to be the slaughterer of horses that had reached the end of their working life. Hence the Knacker's Yard. Then the Knackers got the job of castrating the horses so the word started being used for castration. However the general use now is simply very tired. Rhyming slang is 'cream crackered'. I agree with Rachel it's more uncouth slang than really impolite these days. It would not be used in polite society.

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    3. Dear, dear, dear and then some. I feel suitably chastened. I like the word "knackered". It sounds as it feels. I don't use it often, mainly because I don't like to exaggerate.

      Librarian, if you feel in need of an Elastoplast (Pflaster) take it from me, father-of-son (the very epitome of polite English society) never picked me up on my use of "knackered". And he'd be the first to pick you up on any of your feet put the wrong way in the morass that constitutes the English language. For heaven's sake, the man belongs to "The Apostrophe Society" (think Keith Waterhouse). One linguistic slip up and you'll know about it.

      Rachel citing "uncouth" and her mother is rich considering the first words Rachel used (many years ago) in a third party's comment box, addressing me by way of "welcome"; two words precisely. Mothers don't come into it. I wouldn't address, and never have, anyone, not even Rachel, like that.

      Librarian, your English is impeccable. And the English who probably can't cobble together more than "Bitte ein Bier" in a foreign language shouldn't play with pebbles.

      U

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    4. Ursula, I'm rather enjoying the mild furore my comment caused. Firstly your father-of-son would, of course, never have picked you up because that would have been very impolite. To some extent I jest. However there are a great many with the view "As a word, knackered is not for polite use, but not offensive either. It's the sort of thing you'd say to a friend in a bar after a hard day, rather than to a lady on your first date." which I think rather sums it up. (Well I would given that I've just said it.).

      Meike's English is probably more grammatical than mine and I, too, am a devoted member of The Apostrophe Society as you would know if you'd been following my blog for as long as I've been writing it.

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    5. Sorry to correct you, Graham. FOS DID pick me up on even the slightest mistake. Mercilessly. Being polite or "im" didn't come into it. And for that I am grateful to him. He sure kicked my English into shape.

      By way of light hearted anecdote: The first time I came to England, to meet his parents and attend one of his friend's weddings (Army, Surrey, titles, uniforms, clipped accents, you get the drift - I didn't; only that for some reason I had to wear a hat at said wedding which, kindly, my future sister-in-law provided; not that it [the hat] went with my dress; never mind, worse things befall the unaware on these isles). Yes, so there we were - my future in-laws picking up his son and as yet not intended bride from the airport. Future father-in-law made up for my then deficiency in colloquial English by not only repeating himself but speaking loudly. LOUDLY. "She isn't deaf", his son, as casual as the English can be, casually pointed out to him.

      Other than that, I didn't feel chastened by you, Graham, what's a bit of castration here or there? Bulls carry it well. Oh no, one of your commentators saw to the chastising. And yes, as you say, and it's amusing and touching my heart at the same time, Librarian's English is grammatical, careful, considered and, well, perfect.

      U

      PS "Apostrophe Society"? Better read your back catalogue.

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    6. Nit picking, and by way of correction and perfection: "my future in-laws picking up THEIR son".

      U

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  13. Your knackered comment reminds me of a time when my British mother asked an overnight house guest--a visiting American colonel, "What time would you like to be knocked up?" His astonished look had my (military) father quickly translating the statement to "What time would you like to be woken up?" The colonel's look of relief was comical.

    Happy your weather has been so delightful. Not quite so here (below average temps, above average wind and rain) but the wildlife aren't bothered. In the past week the hummingbirds, some Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, an Indigo Bunting, a Brown Thrasher have shown up, joining the usual assortment of woodpeckers, cardinals, sparrows, doves, blackbirds and so on. All have been gorging themselves on our feeders and splashing about in the birdbath.

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    1. Mary, I love your story which so well illustrates the difference between the understanding of the same word in different cultures. You certainly have a much greater variety of birds visiting you than I have.


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  14. Good to see you blogging again Graham, I was beginning to get worried although I did see you leave a comment somewhere the other day and thought, ah, he is still around. I am not missing anything really and can easily live alone like this but, of course, like everybody else, would like to see the country up and running again and the virus die down.

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. I have been reading the occasional blog and leaving a very occasional comment as you said. It's usually at a mealtime and I've discovered that trying to type a comment and wield a soup spoon or other cutlery isn't ideal. I am enjoying myself and getting lots done. I can't see the old normal returning for a long time yet.

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  15. It's good you've been busy with your garden and coffee of course, gotta have that. I wondered what you'd been up to, as for the flu jab it's good to keep up with that, I order flu vaccine in oral form online that I take every 3 months - it works very well.

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    1. Gos, Amy, a fly jab every three months? We get ours annually. My bumjab happened to be the drug they use to suppress my cancer.

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    2. oh the medication I take is not a jab it's in tablet form and in order for it to be effective I take it every 3 months, I've found the jab doesn't seem to be as good strangely enough.

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  16. We have one Great Tit in amongst the stones of the front wall of the house. The two parents are so busy taking mouthfuls of worms etc back to the nest, that they totally ignore us. I haven't spotted any other nests, other than a Magpie right at the top of our biggest Oak tree.

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    1. Cro, there was a colony of Great Tits in the Stornoway Woods some years ago but when last recorded in the late '80s I think they were down to 6 pairs. Whether there are any now I'm not sure.

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  17. This morning, walking along the street, I came across two dead birds. Side by side. Almost in a heart formation. I am not very good with dead animals (dead humans are fine) so I walked past without examining the evidence in detail. One glance told me that two males had, probably, fought to the death. Both succumbing. As results go nil points.

    I am very fond of birds though often pity them for their lack of arms/hands. I suppose their ever busy beaks make up for it. The seagulls round here sure attest to that. They will take a bin bag apart in two seconds flat. Pigeons on the other hand go the way of least resistance. They will pick on someone's sick left on a street corner the night before. Don't dwell on it. Spoils one's lunch.

    Thanks for that excursion into your wild life, Graham. The other day a fly visited. How exciting. And irritating. I gave it all the chances to escape. And it did. Only took two days of my patience being tested.

    U

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    1. Oddly, Ursula, I was sitting at my desk/breakfast bar the other day when a bird smashed into the window a metre from my head. I went outside and one male sparrow was pecking at another which was, in any case, dead from the collision. I had to dispose of the poor chap.

      I'm afraid when it comes to flies I give them the opportunity to exit and if they don't I'm afraid that I despatch them.

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  18. Glad you've been able to enjoy the outdoors (and the birds!) in your garden, Graham :) We've been having a lot of sunny weather as well - until the last couple of days, which have been a bit chillier again with a bit of rain added. Just as well really, considering the corona situation. Normally, 30th April/1st May is a time when lots of people tend to get together outdoors to celebrate spring, but just now, that kind of gatherings are not allowed. Rainy weather has probably helped keeping that in check a bit (making it less tempting to break the rules).

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    1. Monica, your rules are a lot less strict than ours. All our eateries (apart from takeaway shops) are closed as well as any shops other than food, pharmacies and essential supplies. Another glorious, if chilly, day today.

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    2. Yes, there is no total lock-down here, but there are restrictions about keeping distance etc, both in shops and eateries and other places. Myself I've basically been keeping away from other places than grocery shops and pharmacies, though. (And as I order most of my groceries with home delivery, my visits to grocery shops have been few and brief as well.)

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  19. "Bumjab", "Knackered" and bathing birds... This blog is becoming quite racy. Fortunately, I am broadminded and tolerant of indiscretion so as Arnold Schwarzenegger said in your favourite blockbuster film, "I'll be back!"

    P.S. Have you seen Gaz, his wife and Brodie since they got back?

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    1. Indeed I have thank you, YP. They were out shopping and going for a walk and drove out to deliver stuff to me. We had a chat at a good social distance with Brodie asleep in the car and Carol staying inside it because the wind was Baltic. We speak most days using a video chat.

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    2. That's nice. Do they live in Stornoway or further afield? How far away from you?

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    3. YP, they live 8 miles on the other side of Stornoway so 15 miles from me. In normal circumstances that's nothing and we drive to each others a lot or meet at Carol's parents in Stornoway.

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  20. Very beautiful birds Graham. Im happy you are safe :)

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    1. Thank you, Ruby. I hope that you are as well.

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  21. Hi Graham, I will admit that your lack of recent blog posts had not been noticed by me as I have been lax in reading and commenting. And, so to correct that situation I will ad your blog to my sidebar to "remind" myself to check more often. Your gardening sounds like it would be tiring after a full day as it used to leave us (dare I say it) knackered as well. And, I admit to having been amused by the comments about its use, which I realize were all in jest. The bird photos were lovely and the meadow pipit did a fine job of tidying itself up perhaps for a liaison with a female?

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    1. Beatrice, it's coffee break. 4pm. I actually enjoy the tiredness that comes from physical labour. It is immeasurably better, in my opinion, than the tiredness that comes from mental labour. It also gives me a feeling that I have achieved something. I'm glad you liked the photos. Today it was a Wheatear sampling the delights of the stream. The Sparrows use it all the time because they live in the garden.

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