Showing posts from March, 2016

Day of the Long Tails

Who amongst us doesn't regard long-tailed tits as charming little birds? They would, I imagine, be considered a common enough inhabitant of our woodlands and wayside, but just how numerous they really are was brought home to me on a visit to Strumpshaw Fen earlier this week. A stroll around the reserve on a dull day was brightened considerably by watching the nest building antics of several pairs of these perky little birds as they buzzed through the still bare trees looking for lichens and spiders webs with which to construct their well-hidden domed nurseries. My first encounter was of one rummaging around in the humus close to the woodland trail. Wondering what this innocent faced mite was doing, I approached closer to discover this bird plucking breast feathers from a dead woodpigeon. A little gruesome, but it was simply exploiting an easy source of nest liner; this soft down will insulate the structure from the rigours of spring’s wind, rain and chill. Further along I encounte…

The Yellow Gate

About 20 years ago I penned a short story for no other reason than I happened to be in the mood to do so one evening. It was simply meant as an account of the circular nature of life and successive generations; of childhood, fatherhood and the way that in an ever changing world some things (happily) remain constant.

By complete coincidence a letter appeared in the EDP a few days later asking for any memories/anecdotes/photographs relating to the tenure of Lightning interceptor aircraft at RAF Coltishall here in Norfolk. The chap requesting all of this was writing a book about this cold war beast and so I sent him my story. He happened to like it and used as an end piece which he thought perfect for documenting the transition from old to new. To date this is the only missive I've ever had published in a mainstream book......and I didn't receive a penny.

No matter. I'd pretty much forgotten about the piece, but found it lurking in a folder together with a few other well inte…


Picture the scene if you will: me lying in the bath cocooned in the enveloping warmth of a copious volume of soothing H²O, soap suds tickling my nose and the pleasant aroma of some pine scented gunk filling the air. Actually that may be too strong an image for those of you with a sensitive disposition, so you can substitute one of me lying on the sofa if you like. Or perhaps better still don't think of me at all and just read on.
Anyway, as I was on the verge of drifting off I realised I had been subconsciously listening to a robin whose fluting spring song drifted in through the open window. As I tuned in to this charmingly understated serenade, I thought that surely I could hear another bird answering our garden resident from a neighbouring territory. Yes, there it was again. Straining my ears further I'm pretty sure a third was joining the party, underscoring his right to a patch further along our suburban oasis. No doubt there were others out of immediate earshot singing to…


Urban foxes! Love or hate? For or against? A subject that seems to wind people up easier than Donald Trump's hairstyle.
For the past 7 years or so I've contributed a regular monthly wildlife article to my parish magazine. During this period I've only twice received formal feedback, on both occasions relating to my mention of urban foxes. In both instances I had the temerity to suggest having foxes in your garden should be regarded as something of a privilege and that people should consider themselves fortunate indeed to have these red coated canines sharing their lives. This upstart attitude to wildlife has not found favour with a certain lady, who on the first occasion wrote a letter to the magazine criticising my cavalier stance and on the second, a couple of weeks ago, telephoned my house to complain in person about my irresponsible remarks. Luckily (for all parties I feel) I was not home at the time and my wife suffered the tirade. She handled the situation with calm a…