Saturday, 31 December 2011

Fat Cat rules

Kelham Island Museum as seen from the car park of The Fat Cat
We paid an overdue visit to The Fat Cat at lunchtime with Danuta and Ken. Everything was just as we remembered it. In the old days when it started in the  early 80s it had the only no-smoking room in a Sheffield pub and 8 guest beers. Now the old no-smoking room is our favourite room. It's a cosy lounge with a real fire and old photos adorning the wall. It was also good to be recognised by the landlady even though we haven't visited for two years. We had Kelham Island Bitter, brewed at the premises, a favourite of mine since they created it in the 90s. The steak pie was great and the apple crumble and custard excellent as always. It was more difficult to get to as the road system has completely changed, However, there are signs to the Kelham Island Museum so we followed those.
You can drool over the full range of beers here:
The Fat Cat - our favourite pub
New development by the museum
The nuthatch is the only bird visiting the feeder that isn't fazed by me standing a yard away behind a window. All the others fly in and do a mid-air about turn and fly off.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Milly and the Heron

Last night we were invited to dinner by Jim and Claire in Ranmoor (steak pie, mash, carrots, sprouts, green beans, cheeses - wonderful).
Today started with an interesting walk with Ollie in Endcliffe Park. We came across a heron which obligingly caught something large in the middle of the stream. We left for Hull at 10am and had a lovely lunch (chestnut casserole, parsnips, mashed potato, trifle, fruit salad and Polish cheesecake - delicious), We met Milly, Dan & Gabi's American Labrador pup.

who's a cutie then?

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Nuthatch and friends

The bird feeder has been moved very near the dining area window so we get wonderful views of the continuous activity. 

Yesterday we visited York to see Keith, Janet, Tom and Charlotte. Lovely food and met some interesting people at their mulled wine evening. This is their Ollie who would definitely not be a friend to the feathered ones.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Torben Larsen, master story teller

I have just finished reading Hazards of Butterfly Collecting. We were privileged to hear Torben Larsen give a talk recently at Sussex Butterfly Conservation's AGM. His subject was Butterfly diversity and conservation in tropical countries. This fascinating man has led a charmed and exciting existence travelling to some of the world's most exotic places when it was still safe to do so and some of the forests still existed. These short stories were originally published in The Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation and cover Torben's adventures from the 1960s through to around 2000. He has a good sense of humour and is a great story teller. If you enjoy reading Gerald Durrell, James Herriot and David Attenborough then I am sure you will enjoy this volume. It is still available from a few sellers. I got mine from Amazon (<£15).
Ken and I crept out of the house while lunch preparations were in process today. We ended up at The Sportsman at Redmires. A wonderful welcome from the landlord, a lovely pub and as we were in at early doors we got seats with a fabulous view. Timothy Taylor Landlord bitter was excellent too. We were back in time for lunch with guests Kathryn and Jennifer.

This is Scooter and she lives in the guest room we are occupying. She looks innocent enough but if your toes leave the protection of the duvet during the night she delights in sharpening her claws on them. She also makes an infernal racket using the cat flap in the the room in repeated, successful attempts to wake us up.

Monday, 26 December 2011

A new born babe

We were delighted to see our new grand niece Eleanor Margaret yesterday. Alex and Nadine are obviously pleased with their new family member. Champagne put us in the mood for the gluttony that followed.  It was great to see 13 family and friends round Danuta and Ken's table and the turkey and trimmings were enjoyed by all.
 Danuta joined me for Oliie's walk in Bingham Park


Since arriving in Sheffield Christmas eve I have resumed my Ollie walking duties. Our usual twice daily amble takes in Endcliffe Park with a few variations on the exact route in and out. Christmas morning we had the place pretty much to ourselves. On the first walk I heard a voice say "Hello Colin" and when I looked up saw Rachel with a beaming smile. So we chatted and I changed our route to maximise our exchange of news. Definitely not a hardship when you have a lovely young lady by your side.
a year ago there were icicles beside this waterfall

jogger with Santa hat

Ollie walking me

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Heyshott work party and Short-eared Owls

Yesterday morning I joined other Butterfly Conservation members for the last work party of the year at Heyshott  Escarpment. We outnumbered Murray Downland Trust members  for the first time. Cleared woodland was joined to the chalk pits higher up where large numbers of Duke of Burgundy butterflies have been counted. Hopefully the Primulas will show themselves next spring and entice the Dukes into new territory and encourage a population explosion.
Afterwards I visited Waltham Brooks and observed two Short-eared Owls hunting. I managed to get within 100 yards of one in flight and 50 yards from one on the ground. Still not the close views I want so I will have to continue visiting this lovely reserve. The sunset was outstanding.

James working hard
Mark (James' Dad) 
Neil and Roger in foreground
Neil pointing to the gap joining with the chalk pits
John is tireless
Billy and James
Neil tossing the caber
Dr Dan Hoare, BC Regional Officer, SE England
7 weeks work has cleared a huge area for the Duke of Burgundy to expand
looking the other way

This area may eventually host the Dukes

Short-eared Owls at Waltham Brooks
Short-eared Owl roosting
Two owls

What has it seen?
Casual close sighting by the car park - I walked some way for distant sightings!