My Favourite Christmas Present

Friday’s walk was a stunner, and may have to be split over several posts – we’ll see how it goes. Regular readers (hah!) may have noticed that I managed to get out for far more longer walks last year than I did the year before, although that activity dwindled in the second half of the year. There have been many reasons for that, but to try to ensure that I get out regularly, TBH has penciled in dates on our 2010 calendar, one a month, set aside for me (or sometimes both of us) to get out for  a longer leg-stretcher. The first of these was meant to be on Saturday, but with the weather perfect on Friday morning, I decided to strike whilst the iron was hot and set off then. With the roads still dodgy, and having not started as early as I might have, it seemed sensible to walk locally. And since I am off work recuperating something moderate, with plenty of gawking as well as walking seemed appropriate. I’m conscious of the fact that I haven’t continued my exploration of the Kent recently, and with one nearby stretch not walked since I declared my intent to walk it all from sea to source, I decided to head that way.

I didn’t take long for a first distraction to appear – setting the tone for the rest of the walk. A solitary Fieldfare on a shrub in a garden on Elmslack Lane. I got some photos, but only after the bird had unhelpfully moved from a nearby perch to one at the far end of the garden. Elmslack Lane becomes Castle Bank, a cul-de-sac which climbs steeply with houses on the left and Eaves Wood on the right. In a fairly open part of the wood I stopped to watch quite a number of Fieldfares hopping about in the grass, flying from tree to tree and generally entertaining me, whilst consistently evading my camera. After a while however four of them settled in a tree across the road in a garden. This time it was the garden of a good friend so I decided that it would be OK to intrude a little to get a little closer for photographs.


Two of the birds were perched together, initially both facing away from me. Note also how puffed up and spherical they are. I waited and….

…one of the birds both turned and, for want of a better term, ‘deflated’…

Here,their shapes are so different that they could be different species!

Castle Bank took me into Eaves Wood and through a stile to Holgates Caravan Park. The park has lots of woodland. There are information boards up about thinning and clearing of the trees. I could hear chainsaws and the air was full of the rather sharp smell of green wood burning. I could see neat piles of birch logs, but not where the felling was taking place.

I took a photo of Arnside Tower with a dog walker passing, mainly for Evelyn, the Castle Lady. Who wanted to see people with it.


The sprinkling of dots in the sky to the right of the tower are the Jackdaws which always seem to be about.

In the fields the farmers have been busy muck-spreading…

I passed Arnside Tower Farm and climbed into the woods on Arnside Knot on Saul’s Drive…

The woods here were absolutely thronging with birds in a way which I haven’t quite seen before. In the patches of exposed leaf litter, some of which you can see here, birds were busy fussing about, searching for titbits, occasionally squabbling. I tried to get photos. Against the leaves the birds – Fieldfares, Redwings, Balckbirds, I even saw a Wren looking dwarfed by the others – were incredibly well disguised, but the longer I looked the more I became aware of just how many there were.

None of the pictures were particularly good – the best being this Blackbird…


…and this Redwing glimpsed through branches, apparently with snow on its beak…

… – but I enjoyed taking them enormously. Eventually another walker arrived from the opposite direction and the spell was broken – the birds made themselves scarce. The walker was carrying binoculars and guessed what I was about – ‘They’re fabulous aren’t they? The woods are full of them.’ Which turned out to be spot on.

Climbing up towards the Knot I saw a couple of Bullfinches and a solitary Long-Tailed Tit (there must surely have been others, but I only saw the one). I was over-hauled by a couple of other walkers, one of whom turned out to be an old colleague. Then on open ground close to the top, I encountered more Redwings…

Doesn’t leap out does it?

Here’s a cropped version of another photo…

From the top I could see large pieces of ice floating in the Kent near New Barns. I also had some pretty fabulous views. At this moment, my camera informed me that its batteries were low. I’d only changed them two days before so I can only assume that the batteries were effected by the extremely cold weather we were having. I did manage to take a few views…

Looking South to the Bay.

East to the Howgills.

North to Dow Crag, Coniston Old Man, Swirl How and Wetherlam.

Whilst I was taking these photos something flew close over my shoulder and landed at my feet. Another tame robin, Somebody had put food out on the wall around the topograph, but this bird seemed to expect something of me. Sadly I had nothing to give it. None the less it followed me down the hill, repeatedly swooping close to my shoulder and landing on bushes or trees nearby. On one occasion it landed on a tree almost directly in front of my face. This photo was taken on the widest angle of my zoom…

I considered heading down to New Barns, but decided to go more directly into the village to enable me to get new batteries. I saw more bullfinches on the way down into the village. From the promenade…

I watched a curlew poking about on the margins of the river…

…and then found a cafe for a pasty, some tiffin and a pot of tea for lunch.

And now TBH wants the computer, so there ends part I. To find out what happened after lunch….same bat time, same bat channel….

My Favourite Christmas Present

5 thoughts on “My Favourite Christmas Present

  1. warren sanders says:

    your posts have made me look around me and stop more on my walks. i have been a pro photographer and a ranger and yet your work has a gentle beauty that i can not equal.

  2. beatingthebounds says:

    Martin – I’ve heard several reports now of people feeding Robins from their hand. I’m thinking that I should try the same myself whilst the cold snap lasts.
    Someone more knowledgable than me explained their theory – that the birds might be Scandavian visitors and that their fear of men is less than that of our native birds.

    Warren – how very kind of you to say so. Thanks.

  3. “Regular Readers Hah!”

    What’s up with that? You casting aspersions on your flock?

    A wonderful journey with you, as always. You didn’t whine or snivel but it looked a bit on the chilly side!!

  4. beatingthebounds says:

    No aspersions intended Ron. Sometimes I wonder whether there is a ‘flock’, but in retrospect that ‘Hah!’ was completely unjustified. Somewhere in the last couple of days I passed 30000 page views so somebody is dropping by and I’m counting down to my 1000th comment (excluding spam which would more than double that figure!) – although probably about half of those are my own!
    Yes – it was, and has been, very chilly! But to be honest, I love it, especially when the sun shines too.

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