3rd and 4th March – Derby and Hampshire   Leave a comment

At the end of last week I received the sad news that my mother’s health is declining rapidly, she can no longer communicate and doesn’t want to eat. Plans for this weekend were quickly dropped and Margaret and I headed up to Derby on Saturday morning. Along with my brother Simon, we visited the nursing home where we spent some time with her and were able to discuss her ongoing care with the staff.

We try to look happy for the photo but in reality it is very sad to see Mum's mental and physical decline.

Simon has finally managed to clear Mum’s old house and has a whole lot of old paperwork to sort through. Amongst the old photos, recipes and receipts Simon found my school report, comments like ‘disgraceful French result’, ‘easily satisfied with 2nd and 3rd rate’ and ‘only works on subjects that he likes’  demonstrates that nothing has changed over the past 45 years!

Disgraceful French mark! but I did get some better comments for my science subjects as I got older. Click on the image to enlarge if you wish to read it.

Simon and Viv had other commitments so Margaret and I headed for Carsington reservoir a few miles north of Mum’s nursing home. We didn’t have long, but we saw Tree Sparrows at the feeders and best of all, a pair of Willow Tits nearby.

Carsington reservoir on a cold but sunny afternoon.

Chaffinches are expected on a bird table.......

..... but Moorhens are not!

But it was these Tree Sparrows that we had come to see. No longer a regular breeder in Dorset, Tree Sparrows have declined by 90% since their peak population in the 70s..

Reed Buntings fed in the nearby scrub.

Willow Tits were regular in Dorset when I moved here in the late seventies but now are extinct. For me the most accessible birds are at Carsington north of Derby and Attenborough near Nottingham. Willow Tits are very like Marsh Tits but differ structurally, in plumage and in particularly in vocalisations.

During the evening we went to Derby’s main hospital to visit Dennis, my sister-in-law’s father who is recovering from abdominal surgery. As always Dennis was jolly with lots of witty observations on life and his stay in hospital.

Simon and Viv were busy on Sunday so we left early and after visiting Viv’s mother, Ida, we set off home. It turned out to be an awful journey, heavy rain and spray was replaced by snow as we headed south. As we reached Ringwood the weather cleared so we opted to detour to Hordle near New Milton to see a Rosy Starling that had been reported there. It took a while to locate the small close that the bird was frequenting and even longer to locate the bird, but eventually we got good views.

A rare visitor from the steppes of central Asia, most Rosy Starlings seen in the UK are sandy-brown juveniles, this bird is almost in full breeding plumage.

In full plumage Rosy Starlings are very beautiful birds. Photographed by Dave Farrow on my 2006 Kazakhstan tour.

Posted March 5, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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