Sunday, 24 February 2013

Cold Days

Over the last few cold winter nights I've been reading Bill Oddie's 'Gripping Yarns' (Tales of Birds and Birding) and have found it quite a revelation.  I never realized that some people went to such lengths to catch a glimpse of a bird they may need to add to their list of sightings.  I have to admit that at first I thought it was all a bit extreme but then, as I read on, it made me think how valuable it is to have people with such specialist knowledge keeping records of what they see.  I have a more eclectic interest in wildlife and enjoy spotting anything, even things that I see day after day, but because it isn't specialized in a particular area it is of little value other than the enjoyment it gives to me.

I do try to add something to wildlife conservation though by the voluntary work I do and, believe me, it is not always easy to leave the warmth and comfort of home to go out in all weathers to tend the conservation grazing livestock when one doesn't actually have too!!

This winter we haven't had the deep snow of the previous few years but we seem to have had more snowy or bitterly cold days but as much as it makes life difficult I can't help being amazed at the beauty that snow brings to the countryside.

One of the livestock tasks I've been involved in over the last month has been checking the City of London's cows that the Downlands Project are overwintering in their barn while they produce their calves. Unfortunately I haven't been there for any births and there are only two left to calve but thankfully, so far, all have arrived safely and it is very enjoyable seeing the little ones chasing each other around in the straw or braving the cold in the adjoining yard.

There have of course been lots of other livestock tasks. On New Years Eve there was another dog attack which left a sheep with bites to its muzzle that penetrated its nasal passages.  This sheep required several courses of antibiotics, so when the grazing officer was away on a course, I gave him his injection and bathed his wounds that were pouring out nasal discharge. Thankfully the sheep was very obliging even though he must have been very uncomfortable. It is still being treated but is now showing some signs of improvement.

It makes me so cross that, despite putting up plenty of warning signs telling people that there are sheep grazing and asking them to put their dogs on a lead, some people don't take any notice.  I think people with loving family pets can't believe that their lap dogs can turn into savage predators at the sight of sheep.  If only they had to treat the injured sheep maybe they would realize the damage their dogs can do:((

So what other things have I been up to?  Well mainly I have been trying  to sort out problems with regard to my mother and her Alzheimer's. It is awful, sad and very stressful so my husband and I have been trying to make sure we make time for some relaxing activities.

In January we begun our Thames Path walk.  It starts at the Thames Barrier and ends, 180 miles later, at its source. Unfortunately I injured my knee (torn meniscus) climbing over the hurdles carrying bales of hay during lambing last year (my own silly fault for trying to be stronger than I am) but as a consequence I can only manage a max of 3 miles at a time so it is going to be a long trip!!! :)))) Anyway on a cold, foggy, Sunday in January we started off from the Thames barrier for the two and a half miles walk to Greenwich. It was quite varied with some places being very attractive and landscaped with other areas being giant rubbish dumps.  In one of these derelict areas someone had gone around sewing on colourful knitted sleeves.  It was surprising what a difference this bit of colour made.

Other trips have been to the Chilterns, in the snow, where we visited College Lakes which, because of the weather, was deserted but sooo beautiful and full of wildlife.

And to the New Forest, one of my favourite places. Around every corner there is a creature of some sort or other to catch one's attention...

And when we have not been out and about at least we have our nice warm stove to snuggle in front off at home..

Lastly, living near to Bromley, where recently a child was attacked by a fox, several people have asked me if I think foxes should be culled. From my experience, when our neighboring farmer culled the foxes we were over run with mice and rats and I think these would pose more of a threat than a very rare fox attack.  Also if there is a food source the area will quickly become re-populated so I can't see that a cull would help at all.

Oh and just one more thing (if you've got the time and energy after this rather rambling post:)))  Check out this film. It really shows how damaging litter can be..