How Animals Perceive The World: Sound And Sight

If you have a pet, you may want to watch this short film. It examines how various animals, insects, and birds (including cats and dogs) hear and see the world that surrounds them, in a very different way to human perception. There is some science to listen to, but even I could understand it.

My friend Antony sent me the You Tube clip, and I think many of you will find it fascinating.

Avian Alarm Clock

I recently wrote about feeling unusually tired. It could have been the sudden onset of a heatwave, or possibly that I was taking Hay Fever tablets. Over the weekend, I managed to feel a little livelier, stopped taking the tablets, and got back into a decent sleep routine.

However, starting on Monday, some local crows decided I needed to be awake early, much earlier than was good for me. At 4:10am, they started their racket close to the bedroom window. Having windows open overnight because of the warm weather didn’t help, and I jumped up, conviced some crows were actually in the room, it was so loud.

A few minutes later, they stopped completely, as if they had been ‘switched off’.

On Tuesday, they let me sleep until 4:20am, and this morning they waited until 4:26am. As I lay there, unable to get back to sleep, I started to wonder why crows seem to take weekends off, then get busy with their cacophony bright and early at the start of the working week.

They are up to something!

Very Tired

I suspect it is the hot weather recently, or the birds waking me up at first light. But lately I have been very tired by 10pm, and going to bed even earlier than that.

This means that I might miss some of your posts because of time differences, but I will catch up when I can, promise.

It is only 7pm here, and I have not even eaten dinner. But it already feels like midnight, so I will be offline soon, and preparing for bed before it even gets dark.

I hope it is just the season, and nothing sinister.

Pensthorpe: Part Two

These are the rest of the photos I am posting from my visit to Pensthorpe last Friday.

(All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them, which will take you to a Flickr link.)

A pair of Swans with a huge area all to themselves.

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A quiet spot to sit.

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This sleeping duck was well-camouflaged.

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Birds squabbling over the best dry spot in the lake.

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A water feature and some nice daffodils.

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Canada Geese running away from me, honking their displeasure.

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Two other geese nearby, not at all concerned by my presence.

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This idyllic spot didn’t have a single bird choosing to use it.

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That’s all for this visit to Pensthorpe, but I am sure I will go back again one day.

Musings On A March Sunday

The Blue Tits are back, preparing the interior of the nest box on the Oak tree. When I have been watching all the bad stuff on the news, and Julie is still worried about a nuclear war, watching the innocent routine of nature calms me down completely. Those tiny birds have never heard of Putin, Ukraine, or BBC NEWS 24. Life for them goes on untroubled.

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Better weather, bulb flowers in bloom, children playing in the refurbished playground over on Beetley Meadows, all signs of Spring.

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Just as Ollie’s fur started to look decent again, he has started his Spring moult. Any contact with him leaves small brown hairs on our clothes, and very soon the new vacuum cleaner will be having to cope with the full tufts that fall out as he shakes.

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My fiction serial has concluded now. I will have a pause before the next one, which is already started in drafts.

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Still no news about my driving licence renewal. As from midnight Tuesday, I am no longer allowed to drive. That will feel very strange, after 53 years behind the wheel.

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Next week sees the start of my ‘Birthday Week’. Although my actual birthday is on Wednesday, I am going to try to make the best of the whole week. Weather permitting, that means some days out, taking Ollie to some of his old haunts, and eating in restaurants more than once. I get a few days off from cooking, and Julie has also left the week free from work to accompany me on whatever we decide to do. With the temperature set to rise to 16C by Wednesday, I have a feeling I will be wearing shorts midweek.

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I hope you all have a marvellous Sunday. Think of Spring, turn off the news, and connect with whatever makes you feel good.

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Confused Birds

Yesterday morning, as I was making tea in the kitchen, I could hear loud cheeping coming from the direction of the Oak tree in the back garden. I leaned across the sink to look out of the window, and saw a colourful Blue Tit fly across from the fence and land on the nest-box that is fixed to the tree. It was bobbing its head in and out of the hole, before flying off again.

Ever since we have lived here, we have had Blue Tits using the nest-box every Spring, but never before in late December.

I can only conclude that the birds are confused by the change in the weather brought about by global warming.

Now I am hoping that the chicks can survive a potentially harsh Winter.

The Beetley Pigeon: An Update

I recently wrote about a pigeon that had injured its wing, after flying into the kitchen window.

The Beetley Pigeon

Many of you were very concerned about the pigeon, so I thought an update was in order.

Since publishing that post, I have been looking after the pigeon as best as I can. I place a decent portion of bird seed in a container for it, with a similar dish of water next to it. Every day, the seed is eaten, and some of the water has gone. I keep this away from the other feeding area on the small table, where the other birds fly up to eat it.

Supplies for the injured pigeon are placed on the grass, very close to the dense shrub that he/she now calls home. On a couple of occasions, I have seen it emerge to eat and drink, and sometimes added a chunk of granary bread so it can fill itself up away from the other avian diners.

This afternoon, I got a good look at it. When I went out with Ollie, all the other birds flew away, as they usually do. But the injured pigeon is still unable to fly, and walked quickly back to the safety of the shrub. The good news is that the wing is no longer hanging down, and dragging on the the grass. The bird is able to hold it against its body now, even though it is obviously not healed enough for it to fly even a short distance.

It can never be classed as a pet, but I will continue to look after it for as long as is needed.

More Birds Than Ever

We have always been lucky to have a variety of birds in the back garden. I put bread out for them, and in the past I have also added various seeds and fat balls on the feeders. However, this year I bought a huge sack of specialist bird seed, and we decided to put some out in a small bowl on a glass-topped side table that sits on the grass next to the patio area.

Whether it was the ease of access to the seed, the lockdown making the birds feel safer, or the recent change in the weather conditions, I don’t know. But the bird life in the garden has exploded, with birds arriving in numbers and varieties never seen before.

As well as the usual Wood Pigeons, Robins, nesting Blue Tits, and Blackbirds, there are some days when the grass is literally covered in birds of all sizes. Sparrows, Wrens, Starlings, Greenfinches, Collared Doves, Thrushes, Long-Tailed Tits, Jays, Magpies, and even on one occasion, two large Seagulls. Some noisy Crows like to visit early in the morning, and I could do without them waking me up.

It is a real delight to see them all though, even if I need to refill the bowl at least three times a day. Many have become so used to me being out there, they no longer fly away when I appear. And they all tolerate Ollie as he patrols around, knowing he will not chase them or harm them.

With the weather set to stay warm for a while, I really hope this influx of bird visitors continues.

Squirrels In The Garden

Despite having large Oak trees front and back, we never had any squirrels visiting our garden. For nine years there were only birds seen on the grass, or on the shrubs. I used to think it was because of Ollie, and that he might have chased them away. Then next door got Alfie Cat, and he was often seen prowling under our large hedges.

There were many squirrels to be seen nearby on Beetley Meadows, so I wondered if they were reluctant to cross the road to our house, though it is hardly a ‘busy’ road.

Then one day recently, Julie spotted one sitting in the garden, eating a chunk of bread I had thrown out for the birds. He/she started to visit on a daily basis, so Julie bought some peanuts in shells for him/her.

When the squirrel started to sit on the fence separating our garden from our neighbour’s, the lady who lives next door went out and bought squirrel food. She placed it in small pots on top of the fence posts, and watched as the squirrel enjoyed a feast.

Recently, I began to leave a dish of bird seed out on a small garden table. That proved to be a big hit with the birds, and increased the numbers visiting our garden. Then I saw another squirrel picking up seeds that had fallen onto the grass and eating them, at the same time as the original (larger) squirrel was eating more bread six feet away.

Yesterday, a third squirrel appeared, and we had three feeding at the same time.

I have no way of knowing if the first two are a pair, and the new arrival a youngster they have reared. They could be unrelated, just taking advantage of the easy pickings.

But it is nice to finally have squirrels in the garden.

The Dawn Chorus

This is an online definition of the dawn chorus.

The dawn chorus occurs when birds sing at the start of a new day. In temperate countries this is most noticeable in spring when the birds are either defending a breeding territory, trying to attract a mate, or calling in the flock. In a given location, it is common for different species to do their dawn singing at different times

The reality for me in Beetley is that for the last ten days or so, the birds in the garden have started this while it is still dark. The noise increases in intensity as different birds join in, then comes the cooing of the pigeons, and the squawking of the crows to cap it off.

It goes on for at least an hour until they calm down, by which time I am wide awake, far too early for my liking. On a good day, I might be able to get back to sleep for a couple of hours, but most days I am left awake, knowing it is too early to get up.

No point complaining. It is a delightful thing to have, especially as it is the only sound, and not accompanied by sirens, traffic, trains, or helicopters.

I just wish those birds would have a lie-in occasionally.