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28th March 2020 – Self-isolating in Bristol

I managed to get a short fix of nature this morning whilst self-isolating at home but I didn’t stay long outside as, with a strong north-easterly wind, the temperatures had plummeted.

The bird feeders in our garden continue to go down but I get little or no opportunity to photograph the birds on them because as soon as I go in to our small back garden the birds disappear. I can see them from the bathroom window  but that’s too geeky for even me to photograph them from there. Consequently I am restricted to photographing birds discretely with a long lens in neighbours’ gardens or on nearby rooftops.

The wood pigeons were easy to spot but I didn’t see any of the collared doves which have been around recently.

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There seemed  to be more house sparrows this morning. It is very encouraging to see them as, although once quite abundant locally, they had disappeared in recent years.

DSC05698Male sparrow

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I could hear goldfinches but didn’t see any today.

The dunnocks appeared again and instantly made for the car across the road to look at themselves in the wing mirrors or at their reflections in the car windows.

DSC05742Dunnock getting ready for the day ahead

On the same wall I also saw a robin.

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In a distant garden  there were a pair of blackbirds. I haven’t seen any locally recently but I have heard them. That’s the next thing – recording bird song!

DSC05715The best I could manage of this male blackbird

On the roof tops there were jackdaws, crows and magpies.

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Before going in I spotted a huge bee busy on a flowering red currant next to the back door.

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I made a mental note to myself to learn the names of different types of bees. As Simon Barnes writes in the Sunday Times today:

” I can’t kiss you. I can’t buy you a pint. I can’t invite you to drop by and watch the football. All I can offer is the best thing in the world. Nature”. He goes on to say:
“It all starts with noticing. The second stage is seeking the name, and that will give a greater intimacy, as names do.”

But enough was enough and I disappeared indoors to find some chores to do.

 

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26th March 2020 – Self-isolating in Bristol

We have been self-isolating at home all week. We had a 7 am walk in our local park last Saturday but didn’t feel safe as people, especially runners, came very close to us (even though I often pretended to be looking for a bird in the bushes).  On Sunday we travelled to the Forest of Dean where we managed some exercise in isolation. However, reading what NHS workers had to say, and pleading with us to stay at home, we have remained at home. Neighbours and friends have helped with shopping. It has seemed very strange because it has always been in our nature to help others and now we find we can only help by staying at home.

To some extent I have enjoyed painting fences, building garden storage, cleaning the patio and so on as the weather has been wonderful for this time of the year. However, I have missed my camera (and nature) and today I self-indulged by taking photos from in and around our tiny urban garden. If I can’t go to nature, I’ll have to let nature come to me. I could see a herring gull, goldfinches, sparrows, dunnocks, wood pigeons and collared doves, jackdaws, crows, starlings, blackbirds, a robin (only heard),  blue tits and great tits (only heard), bees and a peacock butterfly.

Unfortunately, all of the birds (except the blackbird on the washing line) were outside of the garden and I hope that neighbours don’t think I am being a voyeur with a long lens. I hope my photos are the proof of it.

DSC04597Goldfinch

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DSC04706-2Male sparrow

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DSC04946Female sparrow

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DSC05297Peacock butterfly

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22nd March 2020 – Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

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At the end of the first week of self-isolating due to the Covid-19 pandemic it was a sure delight to get out and about today. I have kept myself busy during the week doing jobs in and around the house but I have felt hemmed in (not surprisingly) and the lack of social contact was beginning to have an effect on my moral.

We were pleased to hear earlier in the week that the National Trust was keeping its outdoor spaces open but as people went there in their droves social distancing was clearly not possible and this decision was revoked. So we decided to give the Forest of Dean a go. We have been many times to the RSPB Reserve at Nags Head in the past and  never seen many people. Fortunately again today there were very few people around and we could keep a good distance from them.

The aim of our sortie was to get some exercise and not particularly to do bird watching, which was just as well as we didn’t see many birds at all (we avoided the bird hides even if they had been open). It was a lovely sunny day and the beauty of the forest certainly lifted our spirit.

Although we didn’t get many sightings of birds we did have a wonderful moment when a bat flitted around above us. A managed one rather poor shot which might enable anyone who knows about these things to identify it. – a pipistrelle perhaps?

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Right at the beginning of our walk a lone greylag goose mystically appeared from nowhere.

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There were a few blackbirds, some coal tits and frequent noisy robins.  We also heard woodpeckers, probably Great Spotted although Lesser Spotted are found here.

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16th March 2020 – Eastville Park, Bristol

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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get out and take photos and write a blog as its been very wet and I have also been sidelined with a poorly foot. As a septuagenarian the risk of Covid-19 will clearly limit my opportunities for a while. Hopefully I will manage a little exercise in the park and maintain social distancing.

It was truly beautiful this morning. The stars for me were a peacock butterfly, a wren, a chiffchaff , a couple of grey wagtails and a kingfisher but I also enjoyed photographing the ducks, geese and swans on the lake.

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