For the first time in 60 years Judy and I spent Christmas out of the island, and with our daughter Katie, and her husband Wynter in Winchester. I am one of those annoying people who really don't do Christmas, and while as a Christian I celebrate the reason for the season, and enjoy the carols, family get together's, I am never really sorry when it is all over for another year.
However this Christmas we had a lot to be excited about, as there were a number of firsts lined up for us. The first first was going to the Mayfair theatre in Southampton for a proper pantomime. Paul O'Grady was starring in it as Widow Twanky. This more than lived up to our expectations, and was on a par with any West End show we had been to. The scenery, lighting, effects, and sound were fabulous. The theatre held over 1000 people and we were sat in the front of the circle, and so had fabulous views.
That evening we had pre-booked to go for a traditional Christmas meal at The Old Forge. We don't really have any pubs in Guernsey with the sort of atmosphere that you find in this country pub. Driving there with sub zero temperatures, and the snow in the fields and on the hills, glistening in the darkness, I started having a feeling inside that Katie informed me could well be a Chrismassy feeling! Maybe she was right! There was a log fire burning, low ceilings, and the lovely smell of wood smoke. The food was delicious and we all agreed that this had to be one of the best meals we had ever eaten.
Christmas Eve came next, and I enjoyed the most wonderful morning walking through the surrounding countryside which was only a few hundred yards from Katie's flat. I took my large 500mm lens in the hope of photographic opportunities. Birds aways seem more approachable in cold weather. The fields has about 2 inches of snow in the and the temperature was about minus 2, yet with the absence of wind it was quite pleasant. I was out for about two hours and really enjoyed myself, as I did each day we were there, getting out every day.
Christmas Eve afternoon we had another first. We had checked to see what was going to be taking place at Winchester Cathedral while we were over there. This afternoon we were going to the special Christmas Eve family service. Knowing how popular this was likely to be, we walked from Katie's an hour before the start, and we were glad we did. We arrived half an hour before the service started, and the cathedral was already a third full. All the children came dressed in Nativity clothes; some as Mary and Joseph, others as you would expect as wisemen, shepherds and angels, What surprised me was the amount of different animals and even a few stars! it was a wonderful service, singing carols with 2000 people and a mighty pipe organ. It was so lovely walking back through the streets as it was getting dark, passing people's windows with all the different decorations in a variety of living rooms.
Christmas Day dawned with presents from under the tree, and a lovely frosty walk to Katie's church for really different for us Christmas Day service, again with loads of people and all my favourite carols. Then it was home for a turkey dinner just the four of us. Bearing in mind that most Christmas's I had known to have 20+ at my mother's for tea, to be just the four of us was quite a contrast, but lovely never the less.
All too soon our break was over, and with the memories of so many happy occasions to dwell on we felt that in many ways it had been the perfect Christmas, which with Katie and Wynter moving back to Guernsey in a month's time, would never likely to be repeated. It was lovely to be home though, and we were met at the airport by our two year old grandson Zach running along the arrivals hall with his Fireman Sam's helmet on, with arms outstretched for a belated Christmas hug. We are so grateful for the fantastic family we have, and all the many happy occasions we have shared together.
We came home, and within a couple of days the news was out that Waxwings had been seen in Guernsey. This had been a bird that had been on my wish list for years, and as if I hadn't been spoilt enough, not only saw them, but was also able to get some very pleasing shots of them.
After a Christmas like this how can next years ever measure up, or exceed such a wonderful one as this. Thank you for following this blog in the last year, and may I wish you all a blessed New Year.
From a bird watchers perspective, there good and bad points about living in Guernsey. The negative aspects are that:-
The positives are:-
Not that I am trying to get any sort of record. Indeed my best ever year has only reached 156 species; nowhere close to the 186 that one of my friends reached by chasing every species reported in the island. However it does give me a bit of a buzz when I can add a new bird to my year list, or even better my life list. Also it is interesting to see how big a gap there is between the sightings of a bird. This was the case this week when I caught up with a Goldeneye at the Grande Mare Golf course. It was a surprise to discover that this was the first one I had seen since 1997.
I always encourage my night class to keep lists, as I really feel this enhances the hobby, plus sightings reported online go towards painting the real picture of the status of all our birds in the island. This has already proved the species that are declining, and the ones which are increasing their range and population.
Anyway, here we are at nearly the end of 2010, I have seen 140 species, an average year for me. However in a few days time I start with a clean sheet, with all sorts of possibilities, opportunities, and always the chance to exceed this year’s total. Whatever the next year brings, one thing is sure, I will enjoy seeing every one of God’s amazing avian creatures. I will marvel at the way they are made, the things that they do, and the lessons we can learn from them.
As the Bible says..... “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds”!
A Blessed Christmas ,and a health filled New Year.....and start that list!
The Beauty...or The Beast?
The rain was pouring down in torrents as the faithful car park attendant guided me into my parking space at church today. Along the hedgerow surrounding the car park are silver beech trees now shedding their leaves. I had been keeping my eye on this bank over the last few weeks, as I knew that at this time of year with the damp conditions there was a good chance that they would produce the wonderfully photogenic fly agaric fungi. As the rain tipped down, and the service was about to start, I made a quick scout around the hedgerow. I soon came across what I was looking for. There was a beautiful example of the fungi hiding in a clump of grass.
I had put all my camera gear in the car before leaving home, and thought that if the rain could stop for a brief period, I might just be able to shoot a few frames and capture what to me is such a beautiful part of nature. This week of course was Remembrance Sunday, when we recognise the great sacrifice that many have made for our freedom over the past two world wars, and as we know all too well, are still making the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq today. It was a particularly moving service as a number of scouts played the Last Post prior to the two minutes silence, and was followed by a number of people sharing about the freedom and peace that they had found in following Jesus. It too was a wonderful opportunity to share in the Holy Communion, which is a demonstration of the sacrifice that Christ made by dying to set us free from our sin.
The rain had stopped when we exited church, and so I got my camera out and succeeded in taking the image that you see at the top of the page. It is in my eyes, a thing of great beauty, but sadly although beautiful to the eye, should you try eating it, it could render one at best, very ill, at worst dead! A beauty and a beast.
There are things in life which on the outside look beautiful, attractive, and sometimes seemingly irresistible, yet when we try tasting them, can all too quickly reveal their true identity as one that is beastly. This can be seen in the many broken marriages that there are today, where the grass appeared greener on the other side of the fence. How many, if they could, wish they could turn back the clock. There are those who have made choices that at the time seemed so attractive, and now are living a life of addiction, simply because the beauty that promised so much quickly showed itself to be the beast it was all the time.
On this Remembrance Sunday, I am so grateful that one of the reasons we have to celebrate today is that we can give all our wrong choices, all those things that on the face of it looked good, but for one reason or another have turned sour, over to Jesus. In the words of the well known hymn, O for a thousand tongues to sing, the following words bring to us the restorative power of the cross of Jesus.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
Just as there is an antidote for many poisons, there is an antidote for those things in life that looked so beautiful but have have turned into something beastly. Jesus doesn't turn back the clock, but He does promise strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow. In Isaiah ch 61 it says that to those who turn to the Lord He will give to them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
From this simple little fungi is a story so powerful it could change our lives forever, if only we take on board what Jesus has done for us...this could indeed be a Remembrance Sunday to remember!
I wonder if you have ever asked yourself, when you no longer walk this earth, what will you be remembered for?
This question came to me the other day as I was being wheeled into the operating theatre. It took me back to a moment a couple of years ago when I was walking in our High Street and I passed by a woman I hadn’t seen for a number of years. She doesn’t know me, and I don’t know her. In fact the only reason I recognised her was because a number of years ago she used to park her car in a place I often passed.
I can even remember what make and colour her car was. But the thing that makes me remember her more than anything else was the rather obscene sticker she had in the rear window of her car.
To look at her you would not think she would be the sort of woman that would have such a thing in her vehicle. It was her car, and due to the wording it was a female making the comment, not her boyfriend or husband.
How sad, I thought the other day, that as I saw her walk by, that the only memory that came back to me after all those years of not seeing her, was of that sticker in her rear window.
It got me thinking. What will I be remembered for? Indeed when people see me, what memory do I trigger in their minds?
In the work place am I known as the one that always has something negative to say? Am I known as the office gossip? Or is my name the first that comes to mind when a certain personality is being discussed?
We all have an idea of what we would like to be remembered for. Maybe it is for our sense of humour. Maybe we would like to think we are the first person people could come to if they had a problem, or had a need for a shoulder to cry on.
There could be any number of qualities that we would choose to have come to mind when our names crop in conversation. However the fact is that we will only be remembered by what people experienced when they were in our presence.
We can only give people one first impression, how important then that it is one that we would like to stick in their memory. It has been said that we may be the only gospel people read. I want people to see Jesus in my life. I am so aware that at times I can be such a poor reflection. John’s prayer in his letter was that he might decrease, so that Jesus might increase.
At the end of the day surely if we are to fill people with good memories of our life here on earth this can only be achieved if there is more of Jesus than me.
Today has been a milestone day in my life. Next week I arrive at the big “60” and I have today seen the beginning of a dream that started years ago.
The whole purpose behind me creating this website was to open up the availability of my poetry to a wider readership, and this has been successful to the extent that hundreds of people have logged on to the site from all around the globe. However my desire was always to publish them but knowing how expensive this could be, I never dreamt that this would ever become a reality.
However due to the amazing generosity of two wonderful friends, and the help of Authorhouse this dream is now in the process of becoming a reality. Having spent last year writing several new works, and this year drafting, preparing the text ,getting my daughter to design the cover, and me photographing images for the book, today has seen everything being submitted to the publishers.
Yes, this is a really exciting milestone in my life, and makes the start of my seventh decade that little less painful, and a whole lot more meaningful. Hopefully, there will soon be a facility on this site to order your copy of “The Two Hardest Words”, and maybe even get it signed by it’s author!
One of the many benefits of living on a small island community is, that the friends you make in life tend to live in close proximity to you, and get to know your interests. This is the case when it comes to bird watching, and even more so when you tutor on the subject.
This tends to pays dividends as this provides you with a circle of people who are looking out for the unusual and significant. This has enabled me to see birds that I wouldn't have otherwise got to see.
It was the case when one of my ex pupils, and friend, gave me a call one day to say that they had something unusual feeding on one of their bird feeders. After describing the bird to me I suggested that maybe they had a Linnet in the garden. They said that after looking at their bird book, (they had obviously been paying attention to something I had taught them), they were sure it wasn't. My next suggestion was a Redpoll, which seemed more unlikely as they are quite rare in Guernsey.
I said that I would pop round, as it was spending quite a bit of time in their garden. Well, it took three visits before my timing coincided with that of the bird, however when I did finally make contact with the bird, sure enough it was a Redpoll, but it looked different. Fortunately I was able to take a couple of photo's and e-mailed them to our island bird recorder.
After some lengthy deliberation the result turned out to be a Mealy Redpoll, which since this species had been recently been split from other Redpoll species made this a first for Guernsey, much to the delight of my friends.
Mealy Redpoll - St Sampsons, Guernsey
Last autumn the phone rang, this time from a friend who lived in our town centre. They said that a bird was feeding on their front lawn flying off, and returning frequently. Describing it to me I suggested that this might be a Wryneck, which would normally be feeding on ants. This bird belongs to the woodpecker family, and is an autumn migrant in Guernsey. As with my previous friend they had looked up the bird in their books, but this wasn't a Wryneck, they said.
Once again I popped round to see for myself, and as previously with the redpoll, it was absent by the time I arrived. Yet as they described the bird, all it did was confirm in my mind that yes, they were being visited by a Wryneck. Interestingly, I had the pleasure of having a Wryneck in my garden for a few days during the month January, which remains one of the few overwintering records of this species in the UK.
Well I decided to return the next day and see if I could pin down this elusive bird. Getting out the car I could clearly see the bird sat on the lawn, totally oblivious of my presence, as I fired off a few frames, one of them being the bird below....and yes, it was a Wryneck!
Wryneck - St Peter Port, Guernsey
Last weekend I was enjoying a day on the beach, one of my other favourite pastimes, when my mobile rang. This time it was a close friend who was ecstatic at the fact that in her garden was a family of Long-eared Owls. We had known in May that they had bred in the area, but without any recent sighting, thought they had moved on. She went on to say that not only were they in her garden, but even bathed in her paddling pool each morning!
Well this was an opportunity I didn't want to miss. Last Monday I arrived at 8 o'clock that evening armed with my camera. Within 10 minutes there was an owl perched in one of her trees. Furthermore, not only was it happily perched, it wasn't in the slightest bit bothered about me being there taking what for me were the most wonderful shots. It stayed there for at least 90 minutes before it moved off to look for supper.
Long-eared owl - Chouet, Guernsey.
I feel so blessed to have these wonderful friends, who in turn have provided me with these deeply life enriching experiences. I know first hand the pleasures that are found in sharing God's gifts to those you love, after all, that's what friends are for.
In my humble opinion, macro photography is one of the most challenging aspects of photography. In the macro world, the most challenging subjects has to be insects. For one thing, they are small, and in some cases minute. They hardly ever stay still, and when they do, they see you coming long before you even spot them.
The other challenges with a macro lens are, a very shallow depth of field, (area in focus). This sometimes can be only a matter of 4 or 5mm. Because of the magnification involved, every slight movement is exaggerated, so this means you need a rock solid tripod. There must not be any wind, as this blows a leaf or flower all over the place. How many days in Guernsey is there no wind?
So you creep along at grasshopper level, through stinging nettles, brambles, ( it seems these are the favourite plants for insects). You spot a likely creature and approach it slowly. Quietly get your tripod set up as close as you can, although I do have a sliding rail to inch closer when near.
You kneel in the nettles, look through the viewfinder and focus in....to a empty leaf. The blighter saw me coming and pushed off. This is par for the course, or the sun goes behind a cloud and the butterfly closes it's wings, or a hundred and one other things could happen, like my remote release goes into sleep mode just as I was going to press the shutter, or the tripod angle isn't quite right.
But when everything come together, oh my, the feeling of satisfaction is wonderful. Below are a few of this weeks images in the orchard at the bottom of my garden. Thankfully the Lord always ensures that dock leaves are never very far away from nettles. You see He knew there would be macro photographers out there needing soothing after chasing some of His amazing creatures.
Now where shall i look next...
These were the words that were the main thrust of this morning’s service, by Andy Shilling.This was something that rang true to me and made me look back at the major turning point in recent years.For me my low point was being an outpatient for a year at our local mental hospital being treated for clinical depression. Yet out of this low point came a turning point.
Yesterday morning found me up at Pleinmont just after 7 o’clock with my neighbour. We were out birding, and wonderful it was too. No specifically amazing birds, but a wonderful sunny morning, with stunning scenery, just walking and chatting.Later in the morning saw me and Judy in Candie Gardens, her sitting in the sunshine reading, me walking around doing a bit of macro photography enjoying God’s creation in miniature. After a leisurely lunch at the cafe there, it was home to do a bit of gardening in the sunshine.
Prior to my period of depression I would have be labouring in the garden from dawn till dusk, and still not satisfied with my days work.
My low point was a turning point. I took to birdwatching like a duck to water (pun intended), as a means of relaxation. Also if you have clicked a few tabs on this site, you will see the poems I have written. These are treasures that came out of dark places, and certainly would not have come about without having gone through this low point.
I have put the bud of the rhododendron as an illustration. This was an image I took in Candie yesterday. Here was a shrub that had been through a dark cold winter. At that time there was no sign of new life, it was simply hanging on till the warmth of spring brought life and energy, new growth, and beauty. Here it was, a demonstration of perseverance, and the reality that spring follows winter.
There are seasons of the soul, we all have them. Just as the southern hemisphere experiences winter in the height of our summer, so too with us, we may be in the winter of the soul surrounded by people enjoying the summer, and this can be hard.
Yet it is encouraging to know that winter never lasts forever, and sooner or later, the sun will shine again. If you are at a low point in life at this moment, can I encourage you by restating this truth?
A low point can indeed be a turning point.
Today has been a really exceptional day with the weather being its most spring like to date. Having had a beautiful time of worship this morning, we headed west for lunch. This was as good as the menu promised, and after coffee we were fuller than was good for us, so the plan was to park the car somewhere in the sun and have a siesta while the lunch was sufficiently digested.
Heading down past Perelle I thought I would just pop into the Claire Mare to see if an early Swallow was about. Within five minutes a male Swallow dipped down into the water for a quick drink taken on the wing, in only the way that a hirundine seems to be able to do. This was quickly followed by a flypast of a beautiful male Marsh Harrier with upswept wings looking for all the world like a cold war Vulcan bomber. Several minutes passed and the thought crossed my mind that the tide might be just right for a walk across to Lihou Island in the hope of a sight of the newly arrived Snowy Owl.
As we drove to the headland I could quickly see that my timing was perfect. The causeway was within five minutes of surfacing from the falling tide. Also I could see that I was going to be only the third person to cross over today, so the likelihood of disturbance was minimal. As I was crossing the causeway, looking up I saw a Buzzard flying over the island heading towards Pleinmont. This was starting to look like a good day for birds of prey, confirmed by a hovering Kestrel just ahead of me. Within two minutes of being ashore I had a fleeting glimpse of a Black Redstart, recognisable by the flash of its rufus tail. This had all the makings of one of those days that promised that whatever you could think of, was going to pop up in front of me.
Meeting up with another couple of birders, and getting the news that neither had caught sight of the owl, I began to wonder if this was going to be a trip like last year, when I had to make three trips to the island before striking gold. I continued around the island, checking every reef and gully looking for this three foot mound of white. On the northern side another Black Redstart showed itself, this time a male, when my attention was drawn to a few gulls mobbing a bird. This was looking more promising. However as I quickly brought my bins to my eyes, what I saw being mobbed was only a Peregrine Falcon! “What do you mean ONLY a Peregrine”, I hear you shouting at me.
True on any other day this would have been the highlight..but not today; not even with it perching on a rock looking down at me, nor doing a low level flypast over my head. Yet this was not to be the day that snowy was going show up. I crossed back to the mainland a little deflated, but knowing that in that brief hour I had been spoilt by what I had just seen.
We then drove up to Pleinmont to finish the afternoon, with a quick wander around the scramble track. It was here that for me, the highlight of the day occurred. More than the wonderful lunch, more that the Peregrine, more possibly than even a sight of the elusive Snowy Owl. What was it? It was the photo below this narrative. I saw this single Daffodil growing through a forest of bramble, and it screamed a tremendous message to me.
It told me that we can go through some very dark places in life. We can feel that everything is conspiring against us.
It can seem that life is just one enormous battle, but this daffodil was shouting something to me, and I was listening.
It was telling me, no matter how bleak my surroundings, no matter how difficult my circumstances, no matter how cold the wind may blow, if I just allow the Son to shine on me, hang on in there, then He promises to make something beautiful to shine out of that place of trial and testing.
Not only that though, but He uses this to bring a blessing to those who come into our circle. They too can share in this simple beauty. Are we dwelling on the thorns that surround us, or are we willing to allow these thorns to make us into something beautiful?
I have just enjoyed a wonderful weekend being a Grandfather. Zach is now 18 months old and is such a joy to be with. Just starting to speak a few words, running everywhere with a haste and energy that I can only envy. He is already a creature of habit, displaying the need to go straight in the lounge to check if the TV is on, pointing to which lights should be lit. Then it is on to the computer desk where he needs to spin on the office chair, pretend to type on the keyboard, check if the mouse is working. Following this, it is necessary to go to the sun lounge and press all the buttons on Grandad’s weather station, clearing the history in one press of a finger!
Life is just one big exciting adventure. So it was with eager anticipation that we had him to sleep on Friday, and then to occupy him Saturday and Sunday, while mum and dad were on a photo shoot.
The beach seemed a good option as there is so much scope to run and play, and do boy things, and I did love every minute of it. In fact I loved the whole weekend. The walking, playing, eating out, getting the naps when required (Zach- not me), playtime, bath time, and bed time.
In fact all the things that I never seemed to have enough time for when my children were that age. I was getting up at 04:30 every morning for work 6 days a week, working 12 hour days, and all that earning a living entailed. So not at all that surprising when I stopped I invariably fell asleep. Once to Judy’s disgust, in the middle of Katie’s birthday party with about 12 kids running around me!
One of the greatest benefits of all, is at the end of the day, you can hand him over to his parents and say...he’s all yours now!
They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and I believe there is quite a bit of truth in this statement. We do tend to take things for granted when they are always around us. I know that even if we are off island for a couple of weeks, it is always good to come back to sea views if we have been land locked while during our time away.
The same can be true of bird watching. we get quite blase about common birds, and sometimes can be guilty of taking them for granted, or not giving them a second look. Yes we might be pleased when we see a male Bullfinch in all his finery, or a prolonged look at a Kingfisher can yield a warm glow inside. However the chance of seeing a Dunnock wouldn't register at all on the birdwatchers scale of must see birds. I am currently taking 11 adults through a "Getting started Birdwatching course". Each week they troop into the classroom with their pens and pads with a heart warming enthusiasm. It really does make a difference I find, if people are paying to be taught! They are there because they want to be, not because they have to be.
I shared with them last week that I am really quite envious of them, as in the days and weeks ahead, there are so many species they can look forward to seeing for the very first time. A time that I can look back on with fondness as I got to grips with the bewildering number of LBJ's (Little Brown Jobs!) that seemed to cross my path.
This was borne out yesterday as I took them out on a field trip around the reservoir. You have in your mind the birds that you are likely to see, and the rather special ones that might just be possible if everything drops into place. I have to admit though, that my expectations were rather low given that the forecast, and as it turned out, the reality, was for +3 degrees max. Wind force 5-6 with snow showers
We ventured out never the less, wrapped up and ready. It was gratifying to find the previously predicted Grey Wagtail feeding at the base of the reservoir overflow. as was the 15 or so Fieldfare hopping around on the adjacent ploughed field, with a couple of Redwing thrown in for good measure. Tufted Duck were on the water, and hearing several calls, we did finally mange to locate a Little Grebe. Oh, yes, and in the bushes about 50 yards away was a very active Firecrest, which proved too elusive for some of my class.
With these exceptions though, everything else was very run of the mill kind of stuff, like 21 Blackbirds, 7 Song Thrushes, a couple of Robins, and a total of some 25 or so species in our two hour walk. As we arrived back to the cars, and were bidding each other farewell, I found myself apologising that we hadn't seen anything special.
The humble Dunnock
Yet their response was, "no need to apologise, it was fantastic!". For most of them they had seen a number of birds for the very first time. I was taken back to the same feeling I had when learning and seeing the basic garden birds those 15 or so years ago. It does me good to be with a crowd like this, as it causes me to see things with their eyes, and then every encounter with a bird is a source of excitement again. Thank you pupils, for once again teaching your teacher a valuable lesson!
This continuing cold weather has prompted me today to pop into B&Q and buy some additional insulation for our loft. It took a couple of trips in the car to get it all home, but in no time at all the large rolls were up the ladder and in the loft. That was the easy bit. The last time I had done this job was 30 years ago, and of course I was 30 years younger! As I had floored the centre of the loft previously, it was just the eves that needed the top up. However with only 30 inches at the highest point it tested my youthful, supple joints and ligaments to the limit.
What with itching skin, body pouring with perspiration in my overalls, my head sore from the constant knocks on the low rafters, my knees skinned from the sharp corners of the beams, and my back killing me form being bent double for three hours, come late afternoon I had had enough of it.
A quick refreshing shower, and I informed Judy I was off to see what was on the high tide roosts. The sun was setting, and at Fort Hoummet were a few dozen waders wave jumping. Nothing earth shattering, but nice to see never the less. I took off for Chouet with twilight quickly setting in, and there was just enough light to pick out 40 odd Sanderling on the waters edge, busy feeding in their clockwork toy like action.
I had parked my car in the playground carpark, and in the fast approaching dusk, I realised with a skip of my heart, that perched on a low wall not 20 feet away, was a beautiful Barn Owl looking straight at me with it's large wonderful eyes. After about a full minute, which is a long time in the birding world, it took off and began quartering the golf course hunting for it's supper. Imagine my surprise, when, whilst still following this bird with my binoculars, another bird flew into my field of view. Another Barn Owl. It was a wonderful sight to behold, these two magnificent birds giving me my own private display.
(This is a captive bird I photographed last year...still a brilliant bird though)
Darkness finally won the day, but as I climbed back into my car to head for home, I was filled with such a warm glow of pleasure at what I had just witnessed. The aching limbs, sore head, and swollen knees were a distant memory. I am sure too that as I stepped through the front door, I could have sworn the house felt warmer too.
We have been subjected to what for Guernsey has been extreme temperatures this week. Unlike the UK we have remained by and large snow free. There has been about 3 millimeters of snow in total. However it did succeed in bringing the airport to a standstill for nearly three days, the bus service for two, and the schools closed for a couple of days. The most noticeable aspect of the weather has been the wind chill. This has seen the equivalent minus 6 - 7 degrees, which for us is cold.
The other significant noticeable effect we have seen, has been the large number of birds seeking temporary shelter from the snow covered countryside in both the UK and the continent. Once snow covers grassland it renders any food gathering impossible to ground feeding birds. So we have seen what for us are large numbers of Lapwing, Redwing, Fieldfare, and other members of the thrush family landing wherever there is a possibility of food. If as forecast, we have a significant covering of snow, they will be forced once again to head further south to seek snow free countryside.
With the extent of snow cover that exists over Northern Europe at present, this could prove fatal for many of them. We are often unaware of the daily life and death struggle that goes on under our noses during this weather. We can play our part, at least in a small way, in making available whatever food we can to supplement the little that they can find during our short winter days. Below are a few images taken today of some of those visitors, including a beautiful Avocet that was at L'Eree on ice free water.
Suitable food is available at Garden centres, although food, such as grated cheese, raisins, sultanas, porridge oats, cut up apples are also greatly appreciated. It all helps...