Thursday, November 25, 2010


It's nice to have company for breakfast. While I was munching on a bacon butty, the friendly neighbourhood Sparrowhawk was demolishing a Collared Dove, right outside my back door. She's a greedy bitch, but at least she doesn't lust after my bacon butties.


It's not the most beautiful shrub in the garden, and its holly-like leaves are vicious if you brush against them, but my Mahonia has the merit that it is the only winter-flowering shrub in the garden. It's nice to have a splash of yellow at a time of year when everything is falling off the brass monkeys.
The name, which I always thought was from the first line of a music-hall song ("Mahonia a girl in a golden cage..."), is from a botanist called Mahon, who popularised the shrub from specimens brought back from the Lewis and Clark expedition. It has edible purple berries (the shrub, not the expedition), but I have never seen any wild creature noshing them.
There is no charge for this information. I got it from Wikipedia anyway.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Garden friend

He's getting bolder by the day, my friendly Muntjac. Here he is taking little notice of me when I opened the back door to take his photograph. Between you and me, I think he is a little vain.


Be honest, if you were a Waxwing, wouldn't you take your shoes and socks off and jump into this bush?

Friday, November 19, 2010


Hands up those who know what species this is. If it were in my backyard, it would be a Sparrowhawk....

St Nerses the Great

I knew there was something special about 19 November, and not just the fact that I am awaiting delivery of a new washing-machine. A propos, does anyone know the patron saint of Household Appliances?

Bishop and martyr, the father of St. Isaac the Great. A native of Armenia, Nerses studied in Cappadocia and wed a princess who gave birth to Isaac. After she died, he served as a chamberlain in the court of King Arshak of Armenia. In 353 he was made Catholicos of the Armenians. Nerses devoted much effort to reforming the Armenian Church, including convening a synod in 365 based on the principles he had studied under St. Basil at Caesarea. Though he established hospitals and monasteries, his reforms and denunciation of King Arshak’s murder of the queen led to his exile. He returned after Arshak’s death in battle, but relations were not much better with the new Armenian ruler, Pap, whose dissolute lifestyle caused Nerses to refuse him admission into church. Nerses was invited to a royal banquet at Khakh, on the Euphrates River, and was assassinated by poison.

And did you know there was a king called Pap, whose hometown was called Khakh? It makes Elizabeth and Windsor sound very tame.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Porcelain Unicorn

My thanks to Angit for drawing my attention to THIS. Watch it and give your faith in human nature a boost.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Where's my waxy?

My guelder rose is a mass of translucent berrries again. The last time this happened, I waited for the Waxwing invasion. I checked every morning, until one morning the berries had disappeared. What ate them, I do not know. This looks like being another Waxwing winter, so I am keeping an eye on the guelder rose berries again.
But whatever happens, I doubt if I shall have an experience like the following:
Taken on Fair Isle a day or two ago. Lucky beggars!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Not dead yet

No, I am not dead yet, folks! The summer has been hectic, and the autumn is looking to be just as frenzied - lots of Barn Owl boxes to repair, to make or to erect, lots of surveys to do. And on top of that, I am involved in a local project to build a "Swift Tower" on a small nature reserve on the edge of Cambridge.
And, on top of that, I am pursuing a wonderfully inspiring course called "Journey in Faith", about which I will tell you nothing unless you ask me.
So, with apologies for my recent silence, I leave you with this picture, courtesy of my lovely friend, Deborah, of a gorgeous Nightjar perching on something unspeakable. At least you can see that I am not ready to join the Choir Invisible just yet.