Saturday, 30 July 2011

While the Sun Shines...

...make hay.

Most of this week was dull and grey - some of it was almost like winter apart from being warm. Thursday was one of those oppressive leaden grey skies, with enough drizzly rain to make you wet but not enough to warrant an umbrella.
But Wednesday, which was one of my days off, was a beautiful sunny summer's morning. I went to the park, where they were busy making hay while the sun shone. Apart from the dust making me sneeze a bit, I really enjoyed watching them, along with the feel of the grass beneath my feet and the lovely smell. And if we have another hard winter, it looks as if there's plenty of feed for the deer.

Poor C was bitterly disappointed because by the time he got home from work it was back to being grey and cloudy - at least he got a little sunshine this morning.

(Well, that's strange. There are two embedded videos, but only one is showing in Preview. I'll just have to post and see what happens. If Making Hay 2 is AWOL I'll put it in another post.)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Ducks galore

A few other ducks from the park on Monday...

Female Mandarin duck - smaller and daintier than the mallards

Female tufted duck

Adolescent mallard - you can see the green just starting in on the head, but there's still some soft, downy baby fluff on the back

Duckling duo

Blue flash

These are two more wildflowers that have appeared from my Californian section. This is the one that I thought was going to be some sort of escholtzia. I guess it bears as much relation to the ones I grew before as the little heartsease does to full-blown cultivated pansies. I tried to take a picture of the foliage but I need to go back and try again. This isn't much bigger than a buttercup!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Ducklings revisited.

 I had a lovely walk in Farmleigh and the park yesterday, although it was horribly heavy and muggy. I went to Farmleigh first, and started feeding the ducks the heel of a loaf of bread - and along came the little ducklings scooting at high speed. Then it was time to hop out onto the tree trunk, have a little groom and then a nap. It certainly made it easier to get some good photos when they weren't zooming around in the water. I love the little chittering noise they make, too.

Even though they were just napping, it was hard to move on and leave them, I wars really enjoying watching them. I've always liked the way the ducks use that curved branch to stand on and groom themselves - it makes for great reflection photos.

When I walked over to Quarry Lake I saw a lovely female mandarin duck, and several female tufted ducks who came up much closer than normal - more photos tomorrow, and the recipe for the Mississippi Mud Pie I made for the weekend.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Farmleigh Ducklings

These little chicks are so much later than the ones on the canal or even in the park, but apart from the solitary singleton I saw way back, they're the only ones I've seen there, so I don't even think they're a second brood. First I saw one, then two, and in the end I think we counted nine fearless little things. I'm glad we got to Farmleigh this morning - I had a lot of cooking to do today, but after I'd given 4lb of kidney beans their rapid boil for ten minutes, I reckoned there was time to go for a walk and call in to the butcher to get some mince while they simmered away.

Playful chick

Intrepid chick

Up close chick

I'll have to go back on Monday, weather permitting, and hope that they are still there! I've never been so near little ducklings before.

The funny flapping and splashing in the background is a moorhen.
Listen to all the funny little squeaks and cheeps - and see those stubby little wings!!

Poor Mrs Robin is moulting and has lost her tail .(I hope that's what it is, it's the most likely at this time of year). I hope it grows back soon. She looks funny in her truncated form.

I'd hoped to have a recipe to share but time isn't on my side time.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Two flashes of gold

On the whole it's been a pretty grey and gloomy week.
Here are two flashes of colour which brightened it up.
We've had goldfinches (including a juvenile) at the feeder for a couple of days this week.
And this little heart's ease has popped up in my pot of Californian wildflowers.

I'm busy trying to winnow down my 1300+ photos from June to a manageable amount before I run a backup. It's all those baby birds!!

And a very brief display of robin rivalry: Fatso (my new name for him now his tail has grown) is trying to muscle in on Mrs Robin's territory. So as I heard the babies chirping to be fed I put some worms and grain on some bricks on the wall where she could easily get at them. But even there Fatso flew in.
Mind you, yesterday I saw one of the babies trying to chase Fatso away, so maybe his takeover bid will fail!!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

For the birds

There are no flies on this little baby robin - he knows just where Momma flies to to pick up those tasty titbits she brings back. Actually, I'm interested to see that when there's a variety of stuff on the doorstep for her to choose from, she seems to like to bring a variety back to the little ones. Even though mealworms seem to be her favourite she'll bring grains and seeds and fruit back to the babies too.

Much of yesterday was rainy and not so warm - time to put the duvet back on the bed tonight, I think. But in between, C and the birds both enjoyed the sunny spells.

Mrs Robin on the trunk of a tree that came down in the snow two winters ago

I never picked a favourite card from June to share, because I was feeling flat and uncreative and didn't really have a favourite that stood out. This month I have several favourites, so I think Woodstock can settle in with the flock of birds in this post. Thanks for the twine, Lorraine!

We were sort of expecting a friend of C's to call yesterday, and we only had about three biscuits in the house. Since I knew Jorges likes peanut butter I went looking for a recipe for a bar cookie (for convenience) with peanut butter. This is what I found:

Oh Henry Bars: (approx 40)
2/3 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tblsp vanilla (I thought this was a lot, and would cut it back to not more than 2 tsp another time)
1/2 cup corn syrup (golden syrup over here)
4 cups porridge oats
6 ounces chocolate chips
2/3 cup chunky peanut butter.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add vanilla, corn syrup and oats. Press into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 350F, 180C for 15 - 16 minutes.

While it bakes, melt the chocolate chips (I just used chocolate) and peanut butter together over a low heat. When the cookies have cooled slightly, spread this over and allow to set.

We don't have Oh Henry bars here, so I did a bit of googling to find out more about them - and the cookies. This recipe is from The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook, with a note that it came from the Boston Globe. But pretty much any recipe I looked at was almost identical. They all stress not to overcook!! One suggested using a 10" x 15" jelly roll pan with a reduced cooking time, although she notes that the original recipe was the size I used. That would give a thinner coating of peanut butter and chocolate on a thinner oatmeal base - I think I like the sound of that.

Friday, 15 July 2011

In the garden

I've seen the new robin fledglings briefly - scurrying across the shed roof, and hopping around in the bushes.
This little one must be from the first brood. Mostly, though, I just hear them cheeping in the bushes, and making that funny kissing sound when they're being fed.

Mrs Robin enjoying a pause in the sunshine after some intensive food-foraging.

Just as well she had that sunshine earlier - not so much fun having to forage in the rain.

Young blue tit - you can see more blue coming in.

Young coal tit

Dunnock on the wall

I planted two packs of mixed  wildflower seeds a bit late, in May. I think this must be from the Californian selection, as I'm pretty sure I recognise some escholtzia foliage coming along nicely, but I'm not sure what this one is called.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

On the Way to Work

Two separate mornings, just gathering a few pictures together. The swans were yesterday, in Phoenix Park. My sister was up again (a video editing software interface is no longer Terra Incognita), so I got an earlier bus than my normal one with her, and then went for a walk in the park before work.

The wall is beside Heuston Station. It's looking down onto the river, and I no longer have a good head for heights so taking a photo at all was somewhat precarious, but I loved the sight of all those daisies growing vertically (reminds me of a vertical garden we saw in Paris, only these were prettier), and the fact that because you were seeing them from underneath you could see all the pink.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A few birds...

C had an extra birthday present last week. I was working up here and heard what I was pretty sure were long-tailed tits, so I went down to see if I could see any. I saw two in the trees, but then had to come in to make dinner. As he stood and watched he saw four of them in the mahonia - he was so pleased.
He'd been talking about seeing a wren - I was never 100% sure that it wasn't a young dunnock, but look here - I'm pretty sure this is a little wren. Had to take the picture through the spare bedroom window - lucky I cleaned it recently.

This is definitely a dunnock - young and mother. The juvenile is still getting fed a bit, although he's well able to forage for himself.

Mrs. Robin in pensive mood...

Baby blue!