Herefordshire Week 057: Tuesday 26 January – Monday 01 February 2021

More spring flowers. First lambs. RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

Lessons in lighting the log stove: Sometimes it only needs 1 match, but sometimes it takes 10. Or more…

Trees trimmed – and a delay in publishing this week’s post due to spending a dry Tuesday morning stacking the hazelnut’s bigger branches for firewood and moving the prunings to the quarry.

After starting off the day with a sleety walk to Kerrys Gate to catch the post, I spent a frustrating morning on Tuesday trying to work out how to complete Scottish Power’s “correct form” (not the one they link to from the FAQs and tell you to complete, Oh no.) for transferring the payments for the solar panels on the roof to us.

Finished the work week on Thursday a bit too frazzled, cursing those American colleagues who seem oblivious to time zones and part time work patterns.

Friday – morning blues, despite the sun. Felt a bit better after walking to Kerrys Gate and back. Spent the rest of the morning confined to barracks waiting for a GP phone appointment, so cleared the rose bed. A good morning’s work. Very therapeutic.

Spring flowering continues: cyclamen, double snow drops, aconites, daffs – with a hint of yellow at the bud, bluebell leaves in the orchard dell, catkins on the hazelnut trees, camellia bud – the first hint of pink!

Daffs - with a hint of yellow at the bud....
Daffs – with a hint of yellow at the bud….

Did the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch over lunch, results were as follows:

Long tailed tit – 7
Blue tit – 4
Great tit – 4
Coal tit – 2
Robin – 1
Chaffinch – 1
Blackbird – 1
Nuthatch – 1
Greater spotted woodpecker – 1
Pheasant – 1

We usually see more chaffinches and blackbirds, and 2 woodpeckers isn’t uncommon, ditto for robins. Totally forgot to include the rooks in the trees in the sheep field.

So yes, we’ve won over the long tailed tits… it took them a year to discover the bird feeders, but now there is No Stopping Them! They do bully the blue tits though.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Results
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Results

Dad called round just after lunch for a socially distanced drop off of more bags of sand for the greenhouse base, and to unearth some chainsaw “things” from the garage. Spent the rest of the afternoon reading in the lounge, with an early evening FaceTime with Friends.

Bargain M&S pizza for dinner – Phil got a week off.

Managed to log into the LED facebook account surprisingly easily on Saturday morning, which meant I was able to catch up on posts and to announce “Val’s Huayhuash Circuit Challenge”, the sponsored walk and climb LED is running to in February and March. A good call with Carl rounded off the morning, and I spent the afternoon reading in the lounge, after finally managing to light the log stove.

Cold overnight and wet first thing on Sunday – we had a buzzard rootling around in the garden down by the willow stump. It seemed to be keen on the worms surfacing after all that rain. They roost / live in the woods over the road, and we see them flying quite often. But it’s the first time I’ve seen one spend this long in the garden. Amazing!

Spent the morning by the log stove (lit with only 1 match) accompanied by coffee and the LRB, and then a lovely Zoom with Emma. Lots to catch up on.

Early afternoon we did the Bacton Square in the snow then back to the log stove and reading.

Out on our walk, I’d spotted the first wild garlic leaves coming up alongside the road in Bacton, which is where we picked loads last year. I remember it being one of those occasions when I realised I was starting to feel we’d got past The Move and we’re starting to actually live here.

Monday. Grey day and cold, but fine for a long morning walk to Ewyas Harold and back: Abbey Dore – Cwm Hill – Tremorithic Road – Mill Lane – the Old Trout Inn – Dulas. Two Spring 2021 firsts en route: lambs and primroses. Narcissi coming up in the Dulas churchyard, but no buds yet.

No sign of Hatterall's Ridge today
No sign of Hatterall’s Ridge today
Lambs - alphabetically paired...
Lambs – alphabetically paired…

Richard, who does the bigger jobs in the garden, came for most of the day and cut back / pruned some of the trees, reducing the height of the walnut the gets in the way of the Skirrid view (although it stayed too grey to be able to check that!), removing the smaller main branch of the big tree down by mower turn, pruning the apple trees and the pear tree, and taking the last of the bigger branches off the still nameless “green shrub”. He also coppiced the hazelnut bush.

Hazelnut coppiced
Hazelnut coppiced

So I’ve now got even more wood to bonfire. Looking forward to that when we get a dry spell, maybe this weekend.

TV: Finished off The Newsroom, series 3, and started The Serpent. Much darker fare. Another Friday night Grand Designs but still lacking This Farming Life.

Podcasts: The History of England, History Extra, Witness History and The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Photos: Herefordshire week 57 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-01-31.