It has been a very busy week. I feel like the thousands of worker bees flying about, flower hopping and dancing in the sun, in search of nectar. There were just too many things to do, not enough hours in the day and not enough days in a week.
“We're all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey day and night, aren't we honey?”
Bette Davis (American actress, 1908-1989)
The escapee was still out and about, minding his own business. I was so pleased to see him again and Babe took a video of the adorable parakeet feeding on the ground. We thought that the magpies might have attacked him but they seemed to leave him alone. Babe sent e-mail and a photograph to the Parrot Society’s lost and found page. It is an Amazon parrot. We hoped that his owner will be found ASAP. My department had a meeting to brainstorm ideas for the next Staff Open Day gathering. We had to give a presentation about what we do, AGAIN!!! I was thinking of doing a demonstration of what happened if we don’t do anything. That will really shock everybody as no one will be able to find anything. Hmm… that sounds fun, but I guess I have to tone things down a bit :-)
All my colleagues contributed, throwing fantastic ideas and it was a hard to pick one. Finally, we agreed upon the title “Finding Tom Jones”!!! What, why, who??? Well, Tom Jones can be the Welsh singer, a title of a film, an author by that name or perhaps the book written by Henry Fielding. We provide a class number for the books so that users can find it on the shelf or in the catalogue. Do users want the latest edition or a translation? Is the book available or on loan?
We do the magic stuff behind the scene so that users can get their hands on the right book as quickly as possible. Just imagine if we switch off the catalogue. How on earth can anyone locate anything? Yes, you can browse the shelves but we have 5 floors with 1million books. Good luck with that. We continued our discussions by using the hi-tech facilities of the Teaching Grid. The only problem was we’d to pin our presentations on a board!!!
It had been quite stressful at work that Babe and I decided to release some steam at our favourite playground. And we weren’t alone. The car-park was nearly full. There must be a function or an evening talk going on. Why aren’t we invited??? The natives were beginning to settle down for the night. It was quite quiet and we headed straight to Carlton Hide where Babe had a lovely view of the Barn Owl outside its box and also of it quartering over the golf course. I was so jealous and hoping to see him again. As usual it was a no-show. This was the elusive owl that failed to appear.
At least, the Cuckoo made an appearance. We could hear the call echoing through the reserve and was very excited as it got closer. It settled on its favourite perch and continued calling. They will be flying back to Africa in July and August. Their youngsters would be leaving a month or so later and the reserve will be silent again.
Apart from the Cuckoo, a Redshank and a Common Sandpiper flew in for a late supper. They were continuously chasing each other as they were feeding on the mudbanks. The whitethroats with their jerky display flights and urgent chatter were also out and about, hunting something juicy for supper. We left when it was too dark to take any photographs. Bonn nuit and sweet dreams.
HR and I planned to have lunch at Fusion Bar to celebrate her birthday. I’d to cancel it and we planned to have a belated lunch in July, after she returned from her holiday. I’d to take the afternoon off to check out a house that our landlord wants us to move in. He owns 10 houses in the cul-de-sac and he was selling all of them, one at a time. Two have been sold, one has a for sale sign and our casa will be next. He wanted us, as we were brilliant tenants, to move to another house, in another estate that he owned.
We went into the city centre to get the keys. Babe waited in the car while I rushed in to the estate agent’s office. There was a communication breakdown somewhere where the estate agent had to call my landlord to confirm that I was to collect the keys. We went to collect the keys from another staff and he wasn’t there!!! He has the key to the keys. WTF…I told them that I couldn’t wait as it was my lunch break and Babe’s parked on double yellow lines. We will be in touch.
What a waste of our time. I was thinking of getting back to work but Babe persuaded me to chill out and enjoy the day. We’d a serunding sandwich and changed into our camouflaged gear. We were going to check out another playground, Ufton Fields, a nature reserve near Leamington Spa. We don’t know why our chatty tree frog aka sat. nav. took us through Kenilworth instead of using the the M40. Then we drove through Leamington Spa road-works during the lunch hour. It was really challenging but we finally made it.
The reserve car-park was full of mums pushing push-chairs. It must be a mum-and-toddler day. We were greeted with the mewing cry of a buzzard but we were sheltered by the lush vegetation. It was a lovely oasis, created from an old limestone quarry with a glorious diversity of grassland, scrub, woodland and wetland with large and small pools. We followed the mostly, flat circular, way-marked surfaced footpath, accompanied by a symphony of bird-songs, heard but not seen.
We walked through woodlands that contained hybrid poplar, grey alder and conifers, with small numbers of native species such as oak and elm. It was very dark as we passed under the canopy of trees. Ufton Fields was noted for its calcareous, species-rich grassland that produces colourful displays of meadow flowers. We didn’t walk through the meadows because the weather was turning and we didn’t want to get our camera wet. But I managed to get photographs of the Common Spotted Orchids. There were hundreds of them.
We left as the rain got heavier. Will we come again? I don’t think so. It was a very small reserve, and it took us less than 2 hours to walk around it. There were several bird-hides overlooking tiny pools but nobody was at home. But it was a tick on our list of nature reserves in Warwickshire. We made a pit stop at Leamington Spa because babe wanted to get a water-proof cover for our camera. I waited in the car and was entertained by this juvenile Song Thrush fighting with its meal.
On Thursday, Babe gave me a lift to my Zumba classes. I’d missed 2 classes and I knew I’m going to play follow the leader. It was raining and not many were present. Apart from the usual routines, the instructor introduced us to a new routine. We’d a good laugh because we looked like dancing chickens. After an hour of good fun, it was a long painful dawdle back to the casa. My legs were like jelly
We ended the week with another evening trip to Brandon Marsh. The car-park was blissfully empty. We checked out the bird-feeder beside the visitor centre and was greeted by a juvenile woodpecker. We spotted another one flying nearby. It was lovely to see them enjoying a late supper.
We continued our walk and stopped at Baldwin Hide. As usual, the natives were getting ready for the evening. A Moorhen was still sitting on her nest and all the terns were making use of the nesting pontoons. On the main island, the Oystercatcher, Little-Ringed Plover and Lapwing chicks were out and about, still feeding on the mudbanks. It was lovely to see them reaching adulthood. Along the path towards East Marsh Hide, we saw this Peacock caterpillars feeding on the nettle bushes.
We dashed quickly to Carlton Hide as it began to drizzle. We’d a good time observing a juvenile heron practising hunting for food. Then the piece de resistance, a kingfisher, flew in and perched on the stick right in front of the hide. All you could hear was our cameras rattling away. I was ventilating with excitement as this was my first sighting in Brandon this year. The handsome bird didn’t disappoint us as he gave a few poses. Thank you.
On Saturday, I attended a day-school at the university. I know, I know…I should be chilling out but it was too good to miss. I attended a module on “Butterflies and Moths of Open Grassland” and the tutor was David Brown, the Warwickshire County Moth Recorder. I had it for free because as university staff, we were given learning vouchers which we could use for courses conducted by the Centre of Lifelong Studies. I’d taken attended quite a few day-schools so far.
I attended the class to learn to identify the species reliant on grassland habitat and gain knowledge of their specific food-plants, life histories and habitat requirements. As a nature lover, I took a lot of photographs of Lepidoptera and a better understanding of them will be a bonus. The field visit to a calcareous grassland site won me over, too:-). We were supposed to visit the site after lunch, but the tutor decided to do it early in the day as the weatherman predicted a rainy afternoon.
We drove through the lovely countryside under sunny blue skies and sudden cloud bursts. Our destination was Yellow Land Nature Reserve at Bishops Ichington and like the name, the sun came out and everything was yellow. This was because the site of a former limestone quarry supports the Kidney vetch which was the sole food for the rare and declining Small Blue (Cupido minimus) butterfly.
This butterfly is Britain’s smallest resident butterfly. It was often overlooked due to its diminutive size and its choice of habitat. The Kidney Vetch was its only sole food plant and were only found on calcareous grasslands and well-drained chalky soils. The larvae live only in the flower heads whey they fed on developing anthers and seed. This nature reserve therefore carries a high conservation status.
Here we learnt about the habitat and as we treaded carefully among the meadow, our tutor went fishing. It was amazing to see him swish and swash his net and he always managed to catch something. He put his catch into a container and explained to us how to identify the butterflies. We were introduced to the Meadow Brown, Meadow White, Small Heath, Common Blue, Small Blue, Large Skipper, Ringlet, Cinnabar, Yellow Shell, Narrow-Bordered 5-Spot Burnett and Pyransta Aurata (micro). We were amazed to see such a huge haul in such a small place. After about 2 hours, it was time to get back to the classroom.
When we arrived, a picnic await us. After a wonderful lunch of sandwiches, fruits, crisps and cupcakes, we continued our lessons. We watched slides of key grasslands in Warwickshire for Lepidoptera and learnt to identify significant species and gain knowledge of their specific food-plants, life histories and habitat requirements. After being exposed to all these, I couldn’t wait to be out and about and test my new-found skills. I would also like to thank Jo for giving me a lift home.
Sunday was spent chilling out at home. But I did nipped into Next to see if my black shoes was in stock. Guess what??? I was hunting for the perfect black court shoes for a long time, and today there was 3 different type available. The worst thing was that I like all of them. I sashayed on the carpet trying them on. I managed to narrow down to 2. and finally chose the 5 cm ‘safe and boring’ leather shoe, perfect for work for £28. But I think, I’ll be returning soon to get the very sexy 7cm heels which costs £26. I guess better start saving for that :-)
It was also Fathers Day. I called my father to wish him a wonderful Father’s Day. I count my blessings that my parents are still with me. I wished that we lived closer so that I could do more for them. I had always thought I would be able to look after them in their twilight years, but alas…I do the best that I can from 3k away. These Paul’s Scarlet Roses, now blooming gloriously from the garden, are for you Abah.
"I'm so lucky as can be, the world's greatest Dad belongs to me."
It had been a busy week for me and I hoped that life is as sweet as honey for you.