There's no point moaning about it: it's here for a month [or so] and I am not going to risk going birding at the moment. We must hope the government can eventually tame the virus and give us back normality and the freedom to go birding! I hope they realise birding is very much on hold! [Although I'm still amazed when I look at my pager by the sheer number of reports that are still coming in from all parts of the country.]
In our own garden [and from bedroom windows looking across the fields] we've done quite well this year for species. 41 seen so far, the most recent being a rook: crows, jackdaws, magpies are very frequent but spotting a rook in our field across from the house is quite unusual. The highlights have been jay [first ever in the garden, on a feeder], a February waxwing from the bedroom window in a tree, blackcap and probably the best of the year a yellow wagtail on the grass verge outside the house. Birds of prey: kestrel [rare over the garden]; sparrowhawk [often seen flying through low and fast]; buzzards and one red kite sighting. I'll celebrate that with a few photos [none taken recently I'm afraid].
So what have we been up to? Sheila and I have been tidying the garden - using the mower to collect leaves off the lawns; getting leaves off the paths, waterfall and stream and the pond netting. We're currently in the middle of spreading one half of the compost heap on the garden - mainly onto the vegetable garden so far. Recent fog and damp weather has put that job on hold as the wet lawns get damaged by too many wheelbarrow loads trudging across them. And I'm glad of a break from pushing them and emptying them! I'm sure Sheila welcomes a rest from filling the barrows too!
On top of that I'm in the middle of moving a large metal cold frame and its breeze block base to a new location. It's something we do every few years.
When it's not too cold and miserable I work in the garage where I'm slowly making a model of a Tralee and Dingle Railway inspection car. This is the original photographed in 1961 by the railway writer J.I.C.Boyd in a wonderful autobiographical reminiscence book called Saga by Rail: Ireland.
This is the model so far! It's a bit further on than you might think as the chassis is largely hidden behind a jam jar of brush cleaner!
Sheila makes some wonderful things from pine cones. Some have been given to us by our grandson after a trip to Italy but most of the cones come from our own redwood tree [sequoia sempervirens]. It's the tallest thing in the neighbourhood [although a eucalyptus gunnii keeps pace with it as best it can!] We brought the tree as a youngster back from Bodnant Garden's specialist little nursery in North Wales. I don't know if the nursery is still there. We managed to get it into our Austin Montego estate about 30 years ago. Here it is now!
The bark is amazing. You can punch it hard with your fist and it doesn't hurt. The bark is like a sponge and helps protect the tree from fire. Our cat likes to charge up the tree but doesn't get further than the first 8 foot!
From such a large tree you might expect magnificent large pine cones but you'd be disappointed. The cones are quite small but beautifully structured.
Sheila has used them to make these decorative objects.
Her most recent project involved hundreds of the redwood cones mounted on a large board. When completed it was very heavy. I mounted it on the wall in our bedroom using steel wire and crimping sleeves. It looked really good on the wall. For about 10 seconds! The wire and crimping sleeve failed and the whole thing crashed to the floor frightening me to death! About half the cones came unstuck and many disappeared under our bed. Sheila has restored it but we're not trying again to mount it on a wall!
Something different: Sheila made this outdoor ''ladybirds and wasps'' noughts and crosses game from some offcuts and a few painted pebbles.
I love nerines - South African bulbs that can be grown in very sheltered spots outdoors in England. I have some more tender forms that need a bit of winter protection from the cold and damp. They're flowering now in a greenhouse although the pots do spend the summer outside.
Finally I spotted this moth on a planter near the house. it's called an Angle Shades and is common apparently. I think it's rather nice and, unlike butterflies, it stayed still for me!
[It was 201 but a collared flycatcher got demoted to ordinary pied!!]