Spring Is Being Sprung – Newton’s Story So Far…


When we moved into our house in 1996, it was a new build with a barren “garden”. Foolishly, I purchased two pine trees (both under two feet tall), now one of them is taller than the house!

Embarrassing as that may be, it is a haven for wildlife. Last year, Wood Pigeons nested and raised two chicks (called “squabs” – an ugly word, I’ll carry on calling them chicks…), then the same nest was used by Collared Doves, another two chicks. This is a nest quite low in the tree – about 15 feet high – which offers a great view of the chicks as they develop.

This year, I discovered two Collared Dove eggs in January, it was mild, and the nest must have been further up the tree as we couldn’t see it. However, there was a cold snap in February and both chicks were discovered on the ground, unable to fly. I couldn’t get them back to the nest, so took them in and tried to feed them but sadly, both died within a couple of days. Maybe the cold got to them.

On the 1st of March, we discovered another egg – an obvious sign of a chick hatching, this time a Wood Pigeon who had re-used the original nest. Looked like just one egg this time, and sure enough, this bird has developed and as I write is 34 days old -basically the time it should fledge.

Further up the tree are more collared doves, another pair of Wood Pigeons building another nest (might even be the same parents of the current chick), Blackbirds and Magpies right at the top. The Magpies have obviously hatched, I have discovered one egg shell.

Newton at 28 days old

Anyway, back to our Wood Pigeon chick. He’s getting adventurous, and practicing flapping his wings. As the nest is now on its third brood and has never been repaired or extended since the first, it’s getting smaller. So as the chick gets bigger, what happens? He falls out.

Luckily for him, Alfie our cat doesn’t care, just sits there watching this daft bird on the ground, so I can go and collect him. With a ladder propped against the tree, and the bird in a bucket, I can get him back to the nest, with parents watching, who return to feed him after his ordeal.

That was Wednesday. He came out twice more on Thursday, once on Friday, and managed to stay in the nest over the weekend before falling to the ground again yesterday (Monday). I’m seriously thinking of installing a lift for this adventurous bird.

Newton at 33 days old, almost ready to fly!

In just those five days, it is amazing how much he has grown.

So, I’m hoping that today will be the time he finally works out how to defy gravity and learns how to fly.

Go Newton!


Five Things.


Well, this seems like a chain challenge, where Kavey challenged Bexxi, and I volunteered to write about five things that Bexxi thought represented me.  She chose :

1. Rugby

I’ve always preferred rugby as a sport, it’s more varied than football somehow. When there is pain, it’s genuine, unlike the annoying ‘professional’ fouls (or falling over) you get in football.  There’s great honour and spirit in rugby, everybody is part of the team, even the hangers on like myself, not just the players.

I got involved in February 2004 with my local team. I was just after a few pictures for competitions, so I found the local side, contacted them and asked if they’d mind me coming up and taking a few pictures. They could have some for their website if I got any that were any good I said.  That was five years, over a hundred games, probably 36,000 images ago. I was quickly adopted as their club photographer, and am now on the committee as press secretary. I’m even writing the reports for the games these days!

Did I get any competition pictures? – not really, only three notable images and those in the last year.  I’ve made lots of friends, got some commercial photography business, weddings and christenings. Voted clubman of the year last year as well!

2. Linguistic Pedantry

Its a shame. No, it’s a shame. The first thing my school did at age five was teach us to read. They maintained that you couldn’t learn to do anything else until you could do that. Consequently, I’m blessed with reasonable spelling and grammar abilities, but also an inherent intolerance of anyone who doesn’t have the same – especially when they think they do. So, I’m an irritating smart arse, and proud of it.

I don’t know about you, but those errors leap off of the page when I see them. Like signs in shops that say “DVD’s”.

3. Alfie

Alfie is a Ragdoll cat. We got her (yes, HER) as a kitten in January, 2007. She’s full of character, very vocal, and grumbles at me when I sneeze.  The breeder told us she was a boy, in fact, the vet confirmed this. We then took her for her castration, and the vet called to say they couldn’t perform the operation as she needed to be spayed! Oh, the trauma I experienced, was it a gay cat, sex change, what was going on???

We’ve had two cats for years, but Dennis, Rosie’s son, died aged six in September 2006 from complications with a urinary tract infection, leaving his mother behind and confused. Rosie was withdrawn, but as soon as Alfie appeared, she sprung back into life again.  Like many cats, life has settled down so that Alfie adores Rosie, but Rosie tolerates Alfie.

Alfie’s claim to fame is probably her modelling for the TFTTF weekly challenges. I just make life hard for myself by including her each week, in a photographic challenge with titles like “Broken”, “Cookies”, some are quite difficult.

4. France = South Kentishire

Thanks Bexxi. I’m going to have to explain my xenophobia. Maybe slightly tongue-in-cheek, maybe slightly for real, you decide.

The French are so incredibly nationalistic, but they are England’s old enemy. Forget the Germans. The French wave the white flag as soon as someone invades, then wait for us to rescue them. They produce cars like Citroen & Peugeot, when the rest of the world manages to make something decent.  They eat molluscs and reptiles for Christ’s sake. We should never have built the tunnel – you know they even argued about what sea level was, because theirs was different to ours? How Concorde ever flew I will never know.

I was once stuck on an Airbus on a Sunday night after someone had reversed some steps into it. The airline were trying to call Airbus engineers to check if the aircraft was safe to fly. Anyone in France working on a Sunday night? No. Get off the plane and onto another one.

As for South Kentishire, I just think this is an ideal name for France. It’s south of Kent, and would make a fine annexe to the UK. We could call the French “Kents”, because that’s actually quite similar to what we call them already.

34-10 is a great score too.

5. Weight Loss

After a routing blood test last year, my liver enzymes were elevated. So, I had more blood tests, stopped drinking, more blood tests, ultrasound, CT scan and finally after six blood tests in total, a liver biopsy. Very, very unpleasant.

Anyway, it turns out that I have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, or NAFLD for short. Emphasis on the non-alcoholic please!

The problem is that fatty deposits on the liver can cause scarring, and then cirrhosis, then liver failure. Meanwhile, the liver produces excess iron which can overload other organs in the body, causing lots of other nasty problems. Apparently, with the modern diet, one in five people have a fatty liver, and are at risk of getting NAFLD and complications.

The cure is to lose weight. Doctor’s orders are no red meat, no booze, no carbohydrates. So, what this means is a diet of chicken, fish and vegetables. No bread, no rice, no potatoes.

Join a gym and the weight falls off. I need to lose 2Kg a month for six months. So far, I have lost about seven kilos after as many weeks. I feel better, don’t get out of breath so easily, and my knees which have given me trouble for years, complain less now they don’t have to haul my lardy arse about quite so much.

So, Bexxi, that’s it for now. I bet I’ll read this tomorrow and think of a load more (and spot some typos).

If anyone reads this and would like to continue the challenge, let me know, and I’ll give you five things – as long as I know you well enough of course!