Spring at last.

What a dreadful few months this has been. Since before Christmas I have been back to fighting those darn demons again, but with spring on the horizon things are starting to look up a bit better once again. Through out these 3 months I just haven’t had it in me to write my blog, despite so much going on in my life.

The news that I was told in October that I would lose my new job, totally gutted, along with several other colleagues, it was a bolt out of the blue, and as the time is drawing ever so close to the finishing date (sometime during the first 2 to 3 weeks of April) it has become more and more difficult to comprehend what is going to happen job wise in the future. Already the job searching has begun, and last Thursday I had a job interview for what I do see as a perfect job and an added bonus it is very close to home. Just one thing, so many people have been interviewed for the position, I won’t know for a few more days yet but I doubt very much if I will get it, but at least I managed to get an interview and tried my best.

However, one thing is certain now in my mind, this current job I am in was not meant to be after all, and may be it’s for the best I am being made redundant. I wonder if anyone remembers the old saying, although we can’t see it at the time, things happen for a reason. I believe in this case it to be completely true. But it has given me several more months of very valid experience and knowledge in another specialized industry.

It was the first Christmas and New Year without my dad, and somehow we got through it, although it was very sad and strange not to see him Christmas morning, and then round the dinner table with my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews. It is also very strange to realize that next month, on my birthday, it will be the first anniversary of dads passing. I can’t believe where this past year has gone, it just does not seem real without him around.

The dark mornings and evenings with the dismal weekends throughout the winter months, travelling too and from work have taken its toll on my physical and mental well-being. In January I ended up with a virus that knocked me off my feet for a few days and then a severe bout of laryngitis in February. On top of all this I found out my diabetes has got worse and I am now on daily medication for this as well as new medication for a couple of other problems associated with the diabetes. Not really the best start to the year.

My daily routine starts when I get up between 5.45 to 6.00 am each morning and get ready for work to start a journey to work that takes about 1.1/2 hrs plus. This includes two bus journeys as well as waiting around time for connecting to the 2nd bus services and then a 15 to 20 mins walk down what has to be one of the dirtiest, and most dangerous roads in Birmingham which is a route to a major freight company in an industrial area. On the good side they say a brisk 20 min walk is good for you every day.  The road and footpaths are littered with rubbish that has been deliberately dumped, including large truck tyres, as well as the rubbish thrown out of the windows of speeding cars. The footpaths are blocked by trailer lorries which one has to walk into the road into oncoming, and sometimes speeding traffic in order to get around these parked vehicles. Normally I would be able to avoid this long walk and take a short cut, but unfortunately there is major bridge repair work going on which means the short cut is cordoned off until further notice. I’m guessing it will re-open the week after I’ve finished this job!

On arriving at work each day for an 8.30 am start I then have to deal with one particular male colleague who has to be the most arrogant, big-headed, loud mouthed and disrespectful person I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my entire working career. This has lowered my mood considerably over the past few months, but now I won’t have to work with him much longer which is a huge sigh of relief.  The rest of the team I work with are a fantastic bunch, and it is down to them that I have managed to survive and get through each day in this job, and the fact I have been able to learn so much about the concrete industry. Then, on finishing work between 5.30 to 6.00 pm I have to repeat the same journey back home, this time through a crowded city centre and finally manage to get home around 7.00 to 7.15 pm. feeling exhausted, but not able to get ready and go to bed because of having to have a light meal in order to have my evening medication and allowing the meal to digest before I can go to bed. If only life was so much more simpler.

This is a very long day with travelling and working in any ones book, and to do it through the winter months and through the dark mornings and nights has taken its toll on my health. Thankfully the past couple of weeks has been a big improvement, lighter in the morning when I leave home and of an evening when I leave work, which has made it more bearable and also a few warm mornings with some bright sunshine and blue skies.

The Saturday mornings I have had to work, which is one in every third Saturday, have usually been the better Saturdays regarding the weather, but because of having to be up at 5.00 am to be in work for 7.00 am by the time I finish around 10.30/11.00 am I am too exhausted to do anything, including going out with my camera. On my free Saturdays the weather has been dismal and so this has kept me indoors.

With all this going on I can understand why so many British love to go to warmer, sunnier climates during our winter months.

The last couple of Saturdays I did finally manage to get out and about with my camera, a trip to my nearest local zoo in Dudley and then last week-end to the Birmingham Nature Centre. Just pushing and willing myself to get out on both those days has helped me to start fighting back those demons. There is something about being around animals that does help to lift ones spirits. It means that with the better weather comes the chance to get out and about more, go on walks which in turn should help the diabetes and my blood pressure. I even have a couple of day trips planned. I also want to find time to relax and do some fishing in the summer months. I always used to find sitting on a river bank watching the fish rising to the surface and splashing, hearing the birds singing and the water rats and voles diving in and out, always made me smile and even gives me inspiration. In all honesty I think they all look forward to the spring as much as we humans do.

I probably say this every year, but I do love spring. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a colourful time of year, to see the carpets of  daffodils and crocuses rising from the ground, it warms the heart, and also allows our souls to breathe again. I realise I have a few  busy and uncertain months ahead of me, the stress of job searching, then starting a new job, working with new people, adapting to a different environment all over again, improving my diabetes, but I also intend to give myself some me time whilst out exploring with my camera, this is something I haven’t done properly for a few months.

 

Approaching Spring

Spring soon will be here
Away from the winter’s snow
Drying up every frosty tear
And causing the landscape to glow

But the shine of spring I need right now
I need all the help I can get
To wave goodbye to this past winter
In hopes that I can forget

I’ve lost all my real friends
And almost ever other friendship too
Right now I am just amazed
That I haven’t yet lost you

The approaching spring will hit restart
It’s something that we all need
The approaching spring will fix our hearts
And allow our souls to breathe

by Matt Burgett

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Walking with Alpacas.

Hands up if you have ever walked an animal, other than a domesticated pet such as a dog? What! None of you!

Oh dear, then you’re missing a real treat!

As my readers know I am a bit of an animal and nature lover, and I do love to explore places where there are different animals. All the better if the place I am visiting is somewhere other than a zoo or nature centre.

I love to do something a little different every now and then, and recently decided to try to tick another to do off my bucket list.

One of the most unusual creatures I have read about over more recent years, and only seen in zoos is the Alpaca. This is an animal related to the Camel and Llama family. I have always been fascinated by its lovely characteristics facial features and its temperament.

A couple of years ago I started to read articles and see advertisements about being able to ‘go for walks’ with these beautiful creatures. Earlier this year I came across a website and a particular story about a young lady called Sarah Booth.

In Sarah’s own words….

”I went on an alpaca walk and it turned out to be a life-changing experience…..
I’d just been diagnosed with a serious illness and my partner, Stuart took me on an alpaca walk as a treat to cheer me up. It was amazing, and I decided that I wanted to live and work with alpacas.”

I thought to myself, that sounds just like the sort of day out I would enjoy….an Alpaca walk, and this particular place it was not that very far away from where I live.

With a session booked online for mid morning  Sat 21st Nov, a couple of train and bus journeys planned, I found myself there, looking across this big 6 acre field and farm watching all these beautiful animals grazing and enjoying the November morning sunshine.

Prior to my walk with my chosen Alpaca, I was able to take a little walk around the farm, where there were free range chickens, ducks and turkeys all happily running around in a great big open space. Obviously  this was agreat photo opportunity for me. Camera….free roaming animals, what could be better. Oh, and I must not forget Stella!!

The other visitors arrived between 10.30 to 11.00 am and we all spent a bit of time listening to Sarah explain a bit about Alpacas in general, as well as about her own herd. Then we were all led out in to the yard where a group of male Alpacas were ready to be chosen and taken for a walk around the farms field.

One by one we were introduced to ‘her boys’ as Sarah affectionately called them. We were told their names, and a little bit about their characters and temperaments. If I had the choice I would have loved to have taken each and every one of them for a walk….alas, I was only allowed one. The little guy I chose was Dodge.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the next 40 plus minutes. It was an absolute joy to be able to take this little guy for a walk around the field, along with my other co walkers and their chosen Alpacas. We were also allowed to walk in the next field where all the girls were.

What is also wonderful about this experience is that because these are such gentle creatures, they love to be stroked and they allow you to cuddle them, and their fleeces are so soft and delicate. My whole experience with these animals left me feeling  soothed and relaxed, and wanting to go back there again very soon.

This is an experience that I really do highly recommend to any animal lover, especially if you want to try something different, and especially so to any one who wants to get up close and learn a bit more about these adorable animals.

 

Let me introduce to The Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm

Lucky Tails Alpacas is a small and friendly farm run by Sarah and Stuart. Its situated in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside on the borders of Birmingham, Staffordshire and Leicestershire. It is home to some of the very best alpacas in the country. We have genetics from all around the world including an award-winning stud imported from New Zealand-SILVERSTREAM FORERUNNER OF ANZAC. We invite you to come and see for yourself.

info@luckytailsalpacafarm.co.uk

Dexter lane
Hurley
Atherstone

CV9 2JQ

 

Let me introduce you to some of the Alpacas and other animals on the farm.alpacas-4 alpacas-12 alpacas-36 alpacas-63 alpacas-88 alpacas-102 alpacas-104 alpacas-117 alpacas-177 alpacas-183 alpacas-187 alpacas-195 alpacas-197 alpacas-204 alpacas-206 alpacas-209 alpacas-214 alpacas-220 alpacas-229 alpacas-237 alpacas-255 alpacas-262 alpacas-281

My companion for the walk 'Dodge'. Delightful little fella

My companion for the walk ‘Dodge’. Delightful little fella.

alpacas-315 alpacas-325

 

Some of the other charming little animals on the farm. all left to roam around free…. what a wonderful life they have.

chickens-11 chickens-16 chickens-25

 

Not forgetting Stella……

dog-1

Stella...part of Sarah and Stuarts family.

Stella…part of Sarah and Stuarts family.

ducks-3 goats-6 lucky-tails-alpaca-farm-347

 

 

turkeys-12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, this was an amazing couple of hours, and is something I do highly recommend doing if you get the opportunity. I do however also recommend wellies and old jeans.

Stella is adorable, as are the little goats they are all very friendly, they do however like a bit of fuss and the chance to leave some muddy footprints on you.

I’m looking forward to my next visit in a couple of months time.

 

Thanks for stopping by

 

 

 

Trust in nature…..meet my Buddy!

One of my ambitions for this year was to be able to become more involved  with nature and wildlife.

My readers may recall in my December posting that I wrote about a little Robin redbreast that had become friendly at the local nature reserve close by to where I am currently working. He had decided to come and settle near me to feed each day from a bench seat, and I believed that eventually I could entice him enough to have him feed out of my hand. I had to name him of course, and after a lot of thought because he has become my little buddy….I decided to call him just that ‘Buddy’

Since the beginning of this year with a little gentle encouragement, persuasion, perseverance and patience and building up that trust between us (and of course the correct choice of food) he has done just exactly that. I have to say that I feel very privileged that this little wild bird has grown up enough to trust me and feed directly out of my hand. When I was younger I had heard stories of such things happening with others, but never thought I could achieve the same thing. Making friends with nature this way is truly amazing. People walking past have been amazed and stop to chat with me and asking how I have managed this wonderful friendship with nature.

As I enter the reserve and approach ‘his territory’, I give a few little whistles and within a matter of 15 to 20 seconds he appears there on the one of the branches. Without fail, come wind, rain, snow or sunshine, in the morning before work and after work on my way home, he is there (as am I) I place a small amount of mixture of dried meal worms, suet pellets and seeds in my hand and before I have time to fully extend my arm out he flies onto my hand and pecks at the food. Sometimes he may sit on my hand for a while, other times he flies on grabs some food, flies back on to his branch, gobbles down the morsel of food, looks at me flies back on to my hand and repeats the process several times. Once he has had enough he will fly up to the top of  ‘his’ tree and sing his little heart out.

Seeing this little guy is a wonderful addition to my daily routine even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes a day. In recent weeks however I noticed he started to act ‘a little differently’. He was taking a little longer than usual to come when I whistled him, I’ve also seen him chase other different birds from his territory if they dare show up. That is except for one other little Robin who has started to appear regularly. By watching  Buddy’s behaviour during the past 5 to 6  weeks my suspicions have been confirmed….Buddy has taken a wife!!

The other little robin appeared several  weeks ago, and I have watched Buddy take food from my hand, fly off to her and feed her. he is very attentive towards her, and is also very protective of her and will keep an eye on any other approaching birds and chase them off. Over the past 3 weeks she has started to come closer towards me, she is obviously very nervous of coming on to my hand yet, but like Buddy, given a little bit of time I’m sure that will change. To encourage her, I have made a small green cup feeder to hang off one of the branches of  Buddy’s favourite trees. Once I put a bit of the feed in there and take a couple of steps backwards, she will fly down to it, perch on the edge and take a few morsels. I’ve watched him grapple with long worms in the soil, and then with the worm in his beak fly down to his partner and give the worm to her. When I see this happen for some reason it  reminds me of the Disney film Lady and the Tramp

The two of them are never very far apart and he will come and perch on my hand to feed whilst she feeds from the cup. I have watched him from a distance perform the typical male mating ritual…. sitting in front of her, his chest all puffed out, fluttering together in mid-air, serenading her with his sweet little voice. Of course, now that spring is upon us, I guess it will be time for them to build their new nest and hopefully may be the chance of starting his own little family. It will be even more important now to feed him over the coming weeks, to ensure he is able to fly food into the nest for his little wife, and then hopefully his babies.

Spring is my favourite time of the year….new life, fresh beginnings.

 

 

Meet Buddy….

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (16)

Buddy’s new wife

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (69)

My little Buddy

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (134)

Serenading his wife

 

 

Many thanks for stopping by. Have a great day.

Things always seem better when spring is coming!

 

February has not been the month I had hoped it to be!

 

So far this month apart from work, I have found myself having numerous doctors and hospital appointments, and with more screening and tests pending in the coming couple of months.

A couple of weeks ago I found out that after 16 weeks of very patient waiting, that surgery I had to have in October of last year, has not worked, and the surgeon has to do the operation all over again. What is worse is I have been told that this time it may not work either, and the probability is I may have to have the same surgery a third and possibly a fourth time over the next year or two, and if it still doesn’t work then the ‘contraption’ that I call it (which is a Seton cord being used to heal a fistula) may have to stay in place permanently. (All I can say is I now understand what a piece of cheese on a wire cutter feels like!!)  And all of this is preventative action to stop another abscess from forming.

For over 4 years now I have been having regular blood tests and monitoring to keep track of  a condition known as being a ‘pre diabetic’. In real terms this means one who is pre diabetic has a much higher risk of developing the disease diabetes at some point in their lives.  With changes in my diet and lifestyle over these last four years it means that I have been able to stave off the disease and keep it at arm’s length for as long as possible. One of  my hobbies, photography,  has helped me to benefit from this  because  it encourages me to do a lot of walking in parks and nature reserves with my camera, and in general it is good to get out in the fresh air, this is of course more difficult over the winter months because of the weather conditions and the lack of light especially in the early evening, but it has not prevented me from carrying on with it when I have been able to. A brisk 20 minute walk through the nature reserve or park of a morning and then again of an evening after work, is a great way to keep fit without over exerting yourself. Just one problem it can be a little muddy at this time of the year, and I have noticed some funny looks off other passengers of an evening when I get on the bus with muddy shoes. However, to get to see some of the birds that I enjoy watching it does mean having to go a little deeper into the woods, where all the soft mud is! If it’s good enough for the birds and wildlife, then it’s good enough for me.

Over these last 4 years I have watched a lot more closely what I eat and have tried very hard to eat a higher intake of such food as fruit and veg, more chicken and fish instead of red meat, more wholemeal and granary bread instead of white and so on. However due to other issues such as a severe acid reflux problem it actually complicates things more, this effectively means I am restricted to what fruits I can eat due to acid content, despite daily prescribed medication for this condition sometimes it doesn’t always work. It is a little awkward when you have to explain this to people, as some people tend to get the impression that one simply does not want to eat fruit and veg, or don’t like it and this is a way of not having to eat healthy. If only that was so simple and true. One thing I do have to openly admit, and am now feeling a bit guilty about, but lets face it we have all done it and that is to skip meals. For what ever reason, too busy at work, too busy a lifestyle, no time to prepare and cook food, too late in the evening and so it goes on. But I have now been told this is something I can no longer afford to do and take chances with. (note to self…must try much harder)

Over the past couple of months I have noticed I have been feeling a lot more tired and lethargic than usual, more headaches, more thirst, more trips to the loo, but I suppose like any one my age you do tend to put it down to just that…..one’s age! And in addition to that there was all the stress and upset with my father’s health just prior to Christmas which has spilled over into the new year. Thankfully he is a lot better now. But in addition to all that there were other symptoms that surfaced, and in all fairness I have to hold up my hand and say I ignored some of these symptoms, and realistically I suppose I was in denial, because I did not want to believe there was another health problem that I would have to deal with. Unfortunately following my last blood test, it appears that I have to face the fact that I am now a diabetic. Not the best start to the year I have to say. I am now having to learn about the condition and  understand how I have to live with it, and how it is going to affect my life now and in the future.

I am learning to understand that  this disease is going to have a huge impact on my life…for the rest of my life in fact.  The disease can be controlled, but there is no cure. But with continued perseverance on my dietary needs and help from the doctors and diabetic nursing team I hope to keep it under control and try to ‘live as normal life as possible’ and prevent or at least minimize the problems that can occur with this disease.  My GP was explaining to me the other day that a simple cut for most people will heal in no time at all, but for a diabetic if it is not dealt with properly it can lead to other problems, that in turn can be life threatening. Another thing she pointed out is how more prone to sight problems diabetics are. As a result of this I have to have an annual eye scan. I know that I can’t allow  all of this to get me down mentally, if I do then I know the depression will have won, and the last few years of dealing with that illness will have all been for nothing. The one important factor I have learnt recently is that I have to be the one to control the progression of the disease, it is up to me to do everything possible, especially dietary wise to keep it under control. The strange thing is I don’t smoke, I very rarely drink alcohol, except when I socialize with family or friends and even then it is minimal, so an occasional Guinness or Cider, and more rarely an occasional drop of very respectable and fine Malt Whisky. And in recent years I have watched what I eat. I don’t drive or rely on a car and so I end up doing a lot of walking as regular exercise (knee pain due to arthritis allowing me to)  So the question is…..Why me? Why has my body stopped producing sufficient insulin?

Once February is out-of-the-way I do have something to look forward to next month, and Spring is just round the corner, so before my next bout of surgery in April, its time to enjoy March. Again it is about trying to live a normal a life as is possible, and to do the things I want to do.  One of the places  for  a few years I have been wanting to visit is Bristol Zoo & Gardens. Last year for my 50th birthday my family bought me a special ticket for an Animal Experience Day….the chance to meet and greet animals behind the scenes (something of course not every visitor can do) Having finally managed to get some time off work I have booked the Experience day with the Zoo for the 18th March and am very much looking forward to spending a little bit of time behind the scenes with their Lemurs, and the chance to visit a Zoo I have never been to before, or for that matter I have never been to Bristol, so that will be a new and interesting experience for me, getting lost between the coach station and the Zoo 😉

The following week, as a bird and nature lover, I also have the opportunity to visit the Wetlands Centre in London. Hopefully a relaxing coach trip, and a just as relaxing walk around the centre to see and photograph all the different bird species and some additional wildlife.

All of this has been planned for a while, and I am determined to not let my diabetes overshadow these two experiences. I have always believed in Spring being a new beginning. I love this particular time of the year, there is always something to look forward to. Over the last couple of weeks I have been noticing the snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses all starting to bloom. In many ways this is a reassuring sight, in the knowledge that better weather is on the way and therefore the chance to get out and about more often, enjoy the walks and fresh air…and any excuse to go out with my camera. 🙂

 

February will give way

First came the cold,
	a temperature drop so fast and low
	the body could not adapt.

Then came the snow followed by ice and rain
	flooding the yard, creating new ponds,
	as ice still lay in a thick sheet on the surface.

Gradually, the wind and rain passed
	and the sky revealed a glint of blue
	but the clouds  rolled in gray and dark.

It inched out the brief staggered light of the sun
	and once again,
	the world lay chilled and frozen in its wake.

Yet still, somehow in the clearing away
	the wind blown leaf debris
	revealed life pushing forward.

In the confines of the once bloom filled garden
	were tattered iris fronds bent low
	with light green shoots waiting to come forth.

In the protected leaf cover rose
	pointed glimmers of dark green
	barely two inches tinged with white, crocus.

Leaning toward the sunlight, brief as it was
	clinging to the short warmth provided
	with promise of more to come.

Taller still, off to the side, green clumps
	with yellow bases stretching four inches up 
	penetrating frozen, solid ground.

Through the ominous darkness of smoky clouds
	appears an opening edged in puffy white
	and blue sky beaming with the sun.

February will give way,
	allowing winter to take a bow and leave
	as spring anticipates with new life.

Now at last, the cold will pass
	and sunrise and sunset will breathe
	with the promise of hope and life
of a new generation.
	and God’s everlasting love.

                              Poem by D M Babbit

Bring on the Spring!

Many thanks for stopping by, and  have a great weekend everybody.

The woods are alive with the sound of bird song.

Over this past three of months since starting my new job, I have been very fortunate to be able to visit almost every single working day the local nature reserve in Kings Norton, Birmingham, which is situated a mere 4 to 5 minutes walk from my office.

This place has really amazed me. I love nature, and over the last couple of years I have become more and more interested in bird watching. Being a little restricted on where I can travel to on public transport has been somewhat awkward and in some ways a little frustrating but it hasn’t prevented me from pursuing my love and interest of our British Wildlife.

There are several entrances in and out of different section of the reserve and to see a couple of the entrances from the busy main roads into this local reserve, you wouldn’t think much of it, but once you are a couple of minutes walking into the reserve then you start to get that feel good factor happening. It’s also an ideal place to spend an hour or so after finishing work, before going home, which means as an added bonus, especially during these summer months, I get to avoid the traffic congestion through Birmingham city centre.

Each morning, because of having to time my bus connections into work, it means I am sometimes about 30 to 40 early and so getting off my bus I pop along into the nature reserve with my camera. Each morning I have been greeted by the various different sounds and songs of the array of different species of our British birds, some of which are hard to see, but you can sometimes make out from the distinctive sounds what species they are. When ever I walk through this one area of woods in the reserve it literally is alive with the sound of bird song. And if you watch closely, you can see the birds darting in and out of the trees and bushes, as well as feeding in the long meadow grass.  Other days on the leafless branches of higher trees you can spot a bird sitting their singing his little heart out. I’m afraid to say this, but the boys are by far better at singing than the girls when it comes to birds, as is the colour of their plumage. This may well have something to do with the fact boys need to show off more in order to try and prove they are the more dominant of the species 😉

I’m no expert when it comes to bird watching, neither am I an expert at bird sounds, far from it in fact, I am just a mere beginner, but I have been able to see a bird hear its song or just simply the type of noise it makes, photograph it, identify it and know from that when I next hear it I will know what it is. It’s a great way of learning about bird watching.

What I also love about this place is that apart from the usual Blackbirds, Robins, Blue Tits, Starlings, Sparrows, Pigeons and Magpies that we tend to see every day, I am now discovering more different birds that I wouldn’t normally get to see near home. I have always had a deep interest in our garden birds, but like a lot of other things in life, these little creatures are always about and I suppose what many of us see on a day-to-day basis is what we take for granted and think that a bird is just a bird.  But I love to walk through there and listen to all the bird chatter and singing, and I swear they are sometimes conversing which each other. A couple of weeks ago I saw a Buzzard circling overhead, but to far a way to get a clear photo. The river Rhea runs along side the reserve, although in many area it is overgrown, with tree’s heavily laden with berries, and tons of different insects, it is an ideal home for many of our British birds and wildlife, it offers them good protection and an endless supply of natural food.

In recent weeks I have discovered Wrens, Nuthatches, various different Tits and Finches, Goldcrests,  Jays, Great Spotted Woodpeckers,  Green Woodpeckers,  Warblers, Thrushes. Treecreepers and close by at the adjoining Wychall Reservoir  a Grey Heron, and on two days I have caught a short glimpse of a Kingfisher, but alas, way far too quick for me to photograph……..(as yet anyway!) This is a big challenge I am setting myself.

In addition to all the birds, I have spotted an array of other wildlife such as Butterflies, Dragonflies, Crickets, and a quick glimpse of a Shrew, Fox and of course what woodland would not be complete without our comical little grey Squirrel. And although I am not 100% sure yet, one evening I am certain I spotted a Pipistrelle Bat. And in addition to all of this there are also many different wildflowers and trees. This place is just so magical for me, especially in these summer months. For me it is a little bit of England’s green and pleasant land.

But I am also looking forward to the coming months as the seasons are changing, the leaves will be falling off the trees and the birds that remain will be hopefully easier to spot and photograph.

Each day has been a little bit different to the last one, the weather condition dictate what birds are out and about on certain days and clearly visible to those that prefer to stay hidden. But this nature reserve really amazes me, the sounds of the birds singing can be so soothing at the end of a challenging day at work.

I have been fortunate to get right up close to several Robins in different parts of the reserve, who one minute are making a chattering noise and then with a little bit of enticement with bird grain they start to sing their little hearts out for me and will very confidently perch themselves on a lower branch, or tree trunks and show off their beautiful red breast strutting around ready for the camera.

The reserve is also a very popular place for local dog walkers, joggers and especially as a short cut for people on their way to and from work. Several locals have now got used to seeing me with my camera, we stop and chat, and they let me know if they have spotted something unusual and where about they have spotted it. This gives me the chance to further investigate and add even more photos to my collection.

When you cross over from the main section of the reserve that I visit, on to Wychall Lane, there is another very large part of the reserve which I have yet to visit properly. Problem being is that for people who like myself love nature and photography, there is just so much to see in the one area of the reserve that I get little time to go across Wychall Lane to the other section.

I am so looking forward to the changes to be seen in this coming Autumn season, for me it is just as appealing as Summer. So many wonderful and  colourful changes take place, so many different birds and creatures change their habits.                     

           

Natures Way.                  

Upon a nice mid-spring day,
Let’s take a look at Nature’s way,
Breathe the scent of nice fresh air,
Feel the breeze within your hair.
The grass will poke between your toes,
Smell the flowers with your nose,
Clouds form shapes within the skies,
And light will glisten from your eyes.
Hear the buzzing of the bees,
Climb the tallest willow trees,
Look across the meadow way,
And you shall see a young deer play.
Pick the daisies as they grow,
Watch a gentle cold stream flow,
Know the sounds of water splash,
Catch its glimmer in a flash.
When altogether all seems sound,
Lay yourself upon the ground,
Take a moment to inhale,
And listen to Nature tell her tale…

    Heidi Campbell       

Nat

Heidi Campbell sums up nature in the best way possible, by allowing your senses to understand nature and what it has to offer.

 Breathe the scent of nice fresh air – Feel the breeze within your hair – Smell the flowers with your nose – Hear the buzzing of the bees – Watch a gentle cold stream flow

 

Below are a selection of a few of my favourite photos I have taken in the reserve these past three months, I hope you enjoy them.

KNNR - JULY 2015 (2188) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1803) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1767)KNNR - JULY 2015 (1756) KNNR - JULY 2015 (598)KNNR - JULY 2015 (357)KNNR - JULY 2015 (1682) KNNR - JULY 2015 (538) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1267) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1332) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1554) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1567) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1631) KNNR - JULY 2015 (292) KNNR - JULY 2015 (166) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (423) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (396) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (352) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (222) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (280) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (289) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (325) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (349) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (341) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (208)Although I hate spiders, i have to marvel at the intricacy of the details within their webs. I spotted a few on my walk one morning last week after we had a fog and dew.KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (172)KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (349)

KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (166) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (159) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (345) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (12) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (182) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (175) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (171) KNNR - BEES - SEPT 2015 (19) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (51) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (124) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (136) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1931) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1478) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1393) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1404) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1373) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1342) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1329) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1304) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1194) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (803) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (765) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (726) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (698) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (612) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (580) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (575) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (294) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (90) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (41)      KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (276)        KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1404)

KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (259) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (247) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (203) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (51) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (484) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (479) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (468) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (467) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (480)

All photos are the copyrights of Sue Westwood Photography 2015.

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

The week from hell!!

It’s so true in the saying that we all have our week from hell. I think mine has been during this past week  or so.

Following on from my last blog about my cousin Janice, tomorrow  (5th November) we will be paying our respects and saying our final farewells to her at the funeral, but hopefully later in the day going over some wonderful memories as we shall also be celebrating her life. It is never easy to accept the death of a very dearly loved family member or close friend, but somehow we do learn to cope and  get on with our lives. It is way difficult for some than others. I know that tomorrow for many family and friends it is going to be a very difficult and emotional day.

Having heard that particular news about my Cousins death the other week, our family have been hit with another huge blow. On Thursday of last week we received  the news out of the blue that my Mom’s only remaining sister Aunty Ethel (or Aunty Titch as she has been affectionately called by family for many years) has been diagnosed with breast cancer. There are only three options available to treat my aunt and her life threatening illness, and one of those is unquestionably not an option, however at the tender age of 86 and suffering heart problems, we have to grasp at that little thing called hope and try to remain positive and hope that she comes through this with the removal of the tumor and two weeks of intensive radiography treatment.  And yet the strange thing is, over a number of years, I have noticed as a general rule, when we go through this type of situation, we tend to have more hope for others than for ourselves if we were facing the same problem. I wonder why that is the case? I wonder what it is with that element of humanity that we feel that way?

Having been somewhat under the weather myself last week, and especially so throughout the latter part of the week and weekend, on Sunday morning I found myself wondering whether I should or should not attend my local A&E dept, hoping they could discover why and put a stop to some very heavy rectal bleeding which had been going on for about 3 days and nights  on and off. I decided that with modern medical technology the way it is, there would be a simple answer and a simple solution, deal with it and be able to send me happily on my way back home….job done.

On reporting the A&E reception, explaining my problem and being seen within 30 mins, I found myself being sent by ambulance from my local Solihull A&E over to the Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham as an emergency admission, on route my BP fell uncomfortably low enough for the ambulance  team  to have to stop the ambulance in order to monitor me and administer IV fluids and oxygen and get my BP back up and of course the good old-fashioned raised legs posture works very effectively for blood loss and shock.  I do remember very suddenly my eyes went very blurred and I couldn’t focus and felt like I was going to pass out,  I have to say the whole experience has been very frightening.

I was duly seen  by the ward doctor shortly after my arrival there, who did his initial assessment, examination on the ward where a bed had already been booked for me, but I then had to wait to see the Consultant Surgeon on call who was already in theatre doing emergency surgery, before a decision could be made as to whether I would need to be operated on to discover the cause and site of the bleed and put a stop to it.  Or whether they would do a camera investigation, the first instance was to see if the bleeding would settle on its own.  As a result of the uncertainty I was not allowed to eat or drink anything until very late Sunday night….. a roast beef salad sandwich at 11.30 at night. Over 24 hours without food or water, despite what people say about hospital food…. it was the best sandwich I had tasted in ages.

Fortunately I was able to avoid emergency surgery , but I was kept in for 2 days and overnight until the bleeding had decided to stop of its own accord  Sunday night.  Further investigation, blood tests, poking and prodding believes at this stage  to be a nasty little polyp in the bowel, but since the bleeding had stopped they did not want to disturb me any more and start the bleeding off again by putting a long tube and camera inside me. Although my hemoglobin level was very slightly low it was within normal acceptable range, and come Monday another test also showed a very slight dip but still within a safe range. I was finally released home Monday night, pending further investigations via an outpatients appointment in the coming weeks via a Sygmoidoscopy procedure.  However I have been given instruction if it happens again before going in for the camera test, I have been told to call an ambulance or get myself straight back to A&E.

Just when you think things can’t get any worse, I returned to work today only to find termination of my contract waiting for me for the Friday of this week rather than 25th  November. Now that the lady whose job I was covering has returned almost 2 weeks, I am now surplus to requirements. So come next Monday, yet again I will be going through all the turmoil of trying to find another new job. There are two more temporary contracts at the place I do currently work, one which I have applied for and am waiting for an interview date, and one which I will be applying for when it becomes advertised, and my manager who knows both of the dept managers/team leaders has promised me a glowing reference.

I think I can say in all honesty his has been my week from hell….and I can only hope it does get better.

It is when you get weeks like this it is so vitally important to try and remain positive and focused. And I do have to question myself, just how much can any individual take in such a sport space of time? And despite all the various emotions I have been experiencing over this past week, I do think I have learned to ‘deal’ with it better than I thought I ever could. So there is a lot to be said for thinking positive, and trying to remain that way.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Wonder and romance in nature!

With The Wonders Of Nature

With the wonders of Nature nothing to compare
And the Goddess of Nature she lives everywhere
And the secrets of Nature not for humans to know
At the magic of Nature our wonder does grow.

The beauty of Nature is for all to see
It is all around you and it is all around me
The cold winds of Winter blow up from the sea
But how lovely the pink flowers bloom on the camellia tree.

The music of Nature an amazing thing
On trees and on bushes the birds chirp and sing
I feel that to Nature us humans too belong
Though in saying that some may say I have got it wrong.

The beauty of Nature I see every day
And I marvel at her is all I can say
The passing of her Seasons have left me looking gray
And in her dark earthy bosom my remains will lay.

 

 

 

As my regular followers are aware, my passion for photography gives me the opportunity to visit a variety of  places in and around near  to where I live. For those who don’t already know this, I live very close to an area that is a well-known as a historically industrialized city, although I live on the outskirts of Birmingham  in a town called Solihull, this gives me the advantage of major transport networks across most of the Midlands and the  UK in general. However, I don’t always find that I really have to travel too far outside of this area in general to be able to visit places of natural beauty or of historic interest, and be able to see a wide range of species of birds, and other wild animals in their natural habitat as well as at Zoo’s or Wildlife Reserves.

I  appreciate and love nature, and I always have done. There is something about nature and wildlife that intrigues me. But what fascinates me even more is being able to watch and capture wildlife, animals, and insects on camera and being able to try to understand  for instance why any of these creatures do what they do and why they do it. Everything they do must have some significance or as many believe some consequence in our lives as well as their own.

There are various other elements involved, for instance seeing the elegance and beauty of a swan gliding its way across a river or lake. But what also opens my mind is seeing and understanding why a pair of swans will be so very protective of their youngsters, or even why a cob will stand on water with fully outstretched wings proving its dominance to other male swans in the surrounding territory, and yet they can still live in harmony in such a large flock, (or to give it the correct technical name a Wedge of Swans) as well as being surrounded by other numerous water birds such as geese, ducks, coots, moorhens and even sometimes huge flocks of seagulls and pigeons. I sometimes can’t help but  think that most birds are more wary of any one human standing or sitting by them at any one time than of  any groups of other species of animals or birds in their immediate vicinity.

WORCESTER - MAY 2014 (474)

Mute Swan, such an elegant and graceful creature to watch. (C) Sue Westwood Photography 2014

WORCESTER - MAY 2014 (673)

A cob, proving his dominance to other cobs in the area. (C) Sue Westwood Photography 2014

SANDWELL VALLEY - JULY 2014 (839)

A  mute swan being very protective, keeping an ever watchful eye on her young. (C) Sue Westwood Photography 2014

 

It isn’t just the beauty of a brightly coloured flower on camera that appeals to me. We all understand that a bee goes from flower to flower in order to collect pollen and the end result is for us a jar of  satisfying and delicious honey, but it is also important to remember that pollination of all of these species of flowers continue, and in effect that is also what bees do, by cross-pollination they are doing their bit in order for these species of flowers to survive and continue for thousands of more years, and namely for our benefit.

HIGHBURY PARK KINGS HEATH AUGUST 2013 (103)

A humble-bee, collecting pollen from flowers to produce honey, as well as ensuring the continuation of the survival of different species of flowers in the future. (C) Sue Westwood Photography 2014

I’ve watched ladybirds and ants climbing the stalks of roses and various other plants, seeing them feed and keep in check colonies of green-fly and black-fly, and thus protecting the plant at the same time. Ive seen so many different species of flowers and plants survive such harsh weather conditions, and thrive the following season.

Having said all this, I do often wonder just how many people out there, give only a simple  casual glance at these wonderful things in nature taking place, and take it for granted, simply because they are there, and people have always noticed  they were there and will believe that they will always be there in the future. In recent months I have begun to realise more people than I originally thought do this. If they see something funny or unusual happening with animal, such as birds or other animals mating in public, they will  normally laugh it off and make a bit of a crude rude joke about it.  Others like myself are amazed what habits other creatures get up to.

A few weeks ago I went to Jephson Park in Leamington with my camera. I have often seen flocks of pigeons, around parks, shopping centres and basically almost every where  and although I do watch them for a few minutes at a time, I have never really had time to ‘study’ them or understand their habits.

I think most people see pigeons as a bit of  nuisance and vermin, I have often heard them referred to as ‘rats with wings’. On the other hand in some foreign cultures they are treated with a huge amount of respect, and have religious significance, and are an important part of many culture.

Over many  years these birds have been bred as messengers, pets, as well as a source of food. Charles Darwin was himself a pigeon fancier, used the pigeon in the opening chapter of his book The Origin of Species to demonstrate the principles of natural selection. There have been recorded finding of pigeons as far back as 3000 BC.  I found out more recently that during the first and second world wars, they were involved in a  major way in their use as messengers by gathering intelligence, and have been responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives, including at the D-Day landings. The first biblical reference to a pigeon was in the old testament. It was the Sumerians in Mesopotamia that first started to breed white doves from the wild pigeon that we see in our towns and cities today and this undoubtedly accounts, certainly in part, for the amazing variety of colours that are commonly found in the average flock of urban pigeons.

I could go on and on about these incredible little creatures, but instead what I want to do is show you a sequence of photos that I took at Jephson Park a few weeks ago, I had to smile when I saw the behaviour of one particular pair, and I do remember thinking to myself at the time that romance is still alive and kicking. I was watching a male pigeon ‘strutting his stuff’ so to speak, showing off and attracting a female, by puffing up his plumage, standing tall with chest out, chasing the female and ‘courting’ her before she finally agreed to accept him as her partner.

Hope you like the selection of photos, which tell a story. All photos Sue Westwood Photography (C) 2014

 

JEPHSON PARK - JUNE 2014 (707) JEPHSON PARK - JUNE 2014 (719) JEPHSON PARK - JUNE 2014 (723) JEPHSON PARK - JUNE 2014 (725)

 

Thanks for stopping by.