Saturday, 23 March 2013

Cold comforts

It's a bit cold, isn’t it?

Aarghh.  Horrible, horrible cold.  Wind biting through your bones type cold.  Wearing thermal socks in bed type cold (I couldn't cope without them).  I’m so bored of it now.  

The only good thing about it as far as I’m concerned is the profusion of birds it brings into the garden.  For the first time we have a lot of  siskins here.  The huge number of sightings in gardens is a bit of a phenomenon this Winter, apparently.  If you’re a bird-nerd like me you may enjoy this time lapse film of the activity around some feeders (not mine)...  (Although, it has to be said that there isn't much of a plotline!)

...and some siskins viewed through my shedio window this morning.  Snow too.

Not as many siskins in our garden as in the film, but plenty of bluetits, one of which I’ve been keeping an eye on because he has an unusual deformity which has caused his beak to grow to a freakish length.  It’s about an inch long, maybe more.  (You can see/read more about this condition here.) Cyrano (I had to give him a name, of course) has adapted brilliantly by tilting his head on the side to pick up seed or fat fragments from the ground as he can’t use the feeder, he then takes them to an upright branch which he pins them against with his improbably long bill, meaning he can eat side-on too.  I’m impressed.

At least the birds stay outside, unlike the tiny baby bank vole which I found in the kitchen the other day.  I only knew he was there by a weird chattering, clicking sound – I had no idea what the noise was and followed it quizically like a sniffer dog following a scent, to find a rather exhausted looking ball of fur in a corner.  I don’t know how he got in although we’ve had mice getting trapped in the cavity wall before; we only knew about that when the whiff of roasted rodent wafted in from behind the radiator pipes.    This little vole did look pretty traumatised, probably from climbing over those old mouse remains behind the wall,  the horror of their fates petrified forever like the victims of Pompeii (or so I imagine).  Anyway, he didn’t move much so I was able to pick him up, then popped him under a plant outside and when I checked later he’d gone.   I like to think that Ma vole came and fetched him (aww), giving him a whiskery hug but then squeaking sternly, “I told you NOT to go off on your own!  Where’ve you been?” although I realise it’s possible that he may just have become elevenses for the neighbour’s podgy cat.

                                                              Not the same vole... but cute or what?

Then there are the even smaller intruders.  As I let the washing-up water drain away this morning I noticed something kinda leggy in the bottom of the sink…  you’ve guessed it, yes: a spider.  Well, I’m ok with spiders and this one was particularly clean as well (covered in Fairy Liquid bubbles) so I scooped her up on a piece of kitchen roll and took her outside too.  She looked limp and lifeless, and I didn’t hold out much hope but an hour or so later she started moving again and then crawled softly away (it seems that legs that do dishes can be soft as your face… I bet she smelt all fresh and lemony too).  That made me happy.

I was less happy, however, when I pulled back the duvet last night to get into bed.  (If you're easily  freaked out, you may want to skip this bit...) I like to entwine my legs with another’s as much as you probably do, but two legs will suffice.  Not eight.  He was on the underside of the duvet, if you please, and if a spider could look as if it had just been caught doing something it shouldn’t, then this one did.  I know it’s freezing out there but come on, they’re supposed to be used to this kind of thing – next you know they’ll be moaning about cold feet.  And that’s a lot of thermal bed socks to get.


  1. Now you've got me thinking. I've noticed an increase in what I assumed to be greenfinches round these parts, but it looks like I've made a schoolboy error and they are in fact siskins. We've also has pheasants, partridges and a really massive cockerel (we christened him Tyrannosaurus Cock, but perhaps need to work on that name a little more!) wandering around the garden at different times over the past couple of days.

    The most exciting sights for me (and I do get very excited!) during the last batch of snow a couple of weeks back, were the number of barn owls out over the marsh in the middle of the day. They really are magnificent birds. We saw at least one on every walk we took and on one occasion saw three, one of which just sat on a fence and watched us stroll by. Needless to say, I didn't have my camera on hand.

    It's only a week since the last of the previous snowfall melted away and the resulting local flooding subsided and here comes the next wave, though so far we seem to be getting off a lot more lightly than other parts of the country. It is bitingly cold though.

    1. Ah, it's lovely to read your nature notes! Brilliant that you see such large birds round your way - 'Tyrannosaurus Cock' made me hoot, I reckon you should keep the name (although how about 'Tyrannosaurus Pecks'? Or would that be better for a massive hen? Who then lays Tyrannosaurus Eggs?)

      The barn owl sightings sound amazing, I too would get v excited! I think you'd better take your camera with you every time you go out now...

      The number of siskins coming here seems to be increasing daily. I just went out to top up the feeder and they were all watching me from a nearby shrub, and making the most delightful sounds. Lovely birds. We also had regular visits from a couple of reed buntings a few weeks ago (I had to look that up) and a beautiful fieldfare to whom I fed apples for a week or so when we had that really heavy snow.
      For me all this is a big up-side to the down weather!

  2. I have always been an animal lover, when I was young I took anything in...Old Ma is even more than me. Our dogs go for her when in crisis, she loves parrots, I am scared of the bu****rs, that beak....I think I would find it hard to cope with these winters...I would end up having to go to Tesco Superstore, just to get out and go for a walk....great pics.

    1. Good on you, OPC - if we had more room I think I'd take anything in too, as it is I just lavish my attention on wild things (at least no vet's bills...!)
      I can understand about a parrot's beak! Mind you I've always had a hankering to have a pet crow, one that would sit on my shoulder. Now there's a beak....
      These winters are taking up far too much of the year (but you won't find me in Tesco Superstore if I can possibly help it, I have an aversion to shopping!)

  3. Our weather goes wacky this time of year. We almost got in the 80's last we're running the heat. In between we had tornado warnings and a hail storm. They had baseball sized hail in parts of town...but at least, we haven't had any snow.


    This should be our last bout with the chill.

    1. That does sound pretty wacky and I don't envy you tornadoes or mega hail stones at all - but this unrelenting coldness is feeling grim now. I did find some stunning icicles hanging from the back of my shedio roof, though!

  4. I have NEVER heard of 'siskins'. So thanks for that!

    Your sister-in-socks,


    1. If the gulls don't frighten them away you may get them too... and they are just as sweet as their name.

      Ah, those socks are life-savers, aren't they?


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