© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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What's this?

Today I decided to visit Swanhurst Park for a change. Scamp loves a change of venue as much as I, and bounded along eagerly by my side. It was good to see some Coots there, as Moorhens seem to be far more common in this area – certainly I never see Coots in Highbury Park. I was walking with a friend and commented on this, and he immediately asked what the difference was. There is a size difference, but the easiest way to tell one from the other is that Coots have a white shield above their beaks, while Moorhens have a red one. “I always tell myself that Moorhens have MORE colour, that way it is easy to remember,” I explained. There were any number of Canada Geese on the lake, too, as well as

Sarehole - not run of the mill

The sun was shiny, and despite the nip still in the air, it was a glorious day for walking. So I popped on my backpack, and Scamp and I set off for Sarehole Mill, resisting the temptation to visit Moseley Bog on the way – I had other plans instead. Sarehole was looking particularly beautiful in the sunshine, and I had only been there a matter of minutes when I was given a royal welcome: a fly by, courtesy of a Kingfisher. Inevitably, it was that flash of blue that caught my eye initially, as it sped upstream. I caught it just in time to see it momentarily pause on a branch before zooming past me again in the opposite direction, this time rolling to give me a view of its rusty pink breast. Of

Weird & wonderful

It seems the odd goings-on at Highbury Park are not just limited to the mystery machete man clearing paths and removing undergrowth - the birds are acting bizarrely too. This morning I saw a Magpie acting in very amorous fashion around a Crow, which was tolerating it until the male tried to hop onto her back to actually mate. He wouldn't take no for an answer though, continuing to call to her (presumably the bird equivalent of sweet nothings) and hop around her with hopes of a liaison. Every time he was rebuffed only at the very last moment. This went on for about twenty minutes before he finally gave up and flew away.

Part 2: Stop clearing Highbury Park!

I have an update following yesterday’s post on over-zealous clearing and path creation in Highbury Park. It turns out that much of the work is being done by someone working without authorisation and therefore illegally. A large part of yesterday was spent on Twitter, Facebook, and emailing people, all to get to the bottom of what was happening. It was through this that the Chief Park Ranger, Alf, informed me that the work was not approved, and that he would be looking into it as a matter of urgency. The day concluded with a chance meeting between myself, Alf, and the chairman of Highbury Park Friends, David (who is also a key player in the orchard community project). I showed them a couple o

Stop clearing Highbury Park!

I don’t really want to write this post. It makes me sad, and a little bit angry. As you all know, I love Highbury Park, but today I am going to criticise it… Let me start by saying what is fabulous about Highbury. It is has something for everyone. There is plenty of wide open grassland for people to kick a football about, and children to run around having fun in. It has a designated play area for kids too, plus plenty of wilder, more enclosed areas for people to lose themselves in. It is also a mini-nature reserve, boasting a number of different habitats in its relatively compact area, and a rich array of wildlife for such an urban area. The benefits to the well-being of park visitors to be

An intimate moment

The Crows were looking particularly murderous today, as there was a huge gathering of them all in one place. I often see them in loose groups scattered across the park, but this morning it looked as if pretty much every Crow in the place had gathered for a big conference beneath the horse chestnut trees by the path. The big news for today is that the older parakeet couple are definitely breeding again this year – I felt slightly voyeuristic as I captured this intimate moment between them! Across the other side of the park, the younger adult female came out of her little nest and sunned herself on a branch. Sadly, she appears to be on her own. I haven’t seen a male with her at all yet. Her on

Familiar faces, fond farewells

The pair of Nuthatch that I saw on Saturday are definitely nesting in the same hole as a pair bred in last year. I saw one of them going into the hole this morning. Then a little tell-tale flake of bark once more fluttered down from on-high - it was the other half of the partnership. Confirmation of nesting is my big news of the day! Aside from that, it’s been a good haul today. Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long-Tailed Tits, Robins, a lot of Blackbird activity in the undergrowth, Crows, of course, and Magpies again flying overheard with big twigs in their beaks. The long-established pair of Parakeets snuggled together on their favourite tree on this chilly day, and in the distance I heard another

Smell, hear & see nature...

What glorious weather we had today! I felt like a different person as I strolled out without a hat, gloves, or even coat. I initially went for a wander around Moseley with Scamp, but the lure of the park was too great, and we soon found ourselves in Canon Hill Park, where Canada Geese are making themselves as at home as the Mallards. We made our way along the lovely Rea Valley walk (I looked out eagerly for Kingfisher and Grey Heron, but sadly to no avail) then into Highbury Park, the sunlight warming my skin and putting a spring in my step. As soon as I stepped into the wooded section of the park, I could smell rising sap in the air: a wonderful aroma. I closed my eyes and breathed in deepl

Back to life

The first daffodils in the park have opened up their blooms in Highbury Park. The sight of their sunshine yellow trumpets means spring has officially arrived as far as I am concerned. And it seems the birds agree with me: the near-silence of winter has been replaced by constant song as I walk through the different habitats in the park. Stand by Henbury Pond and you will hear the Parakeets calling, and if you are really lucky, the high pirriping of the Kingfisher (hopefully accompanied by a flash of cobalt as it dives into the water. It had been absent for a week or so, but was back for a couple of days this week. The sight of it always lifts my heart.) In the open, grassy sections, Crows are