Friday, 15 June 2007

Refugee Springwatch 3

"I am just going outside and may be some time."

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Refugee Springwatch 2

We can’t claim to have seen hungry baby owls eating their siblings or hares copulating in fields or Bill Goodie being patronising to the lovely Kate at Refugee Towers, but……

……Our first 2 wren chicks have fledged their nest. Good luck to them. Where do they go? Probably not too far according to goodie old Bill. 2 gone, 4 to go.

……On Friday, the 4 blackbird eggs hatched to reveal 4 scrawny, featherless chicks with enormous gaping mouths and closed eyes. Unfortunately, by the time I snapped the brood this morning there were only 3 left. The mother remains attentive – keeping her brood warm when in the nest and returning regularly after feeding.

……Previously unmentioned is the vast sparrow colony living noisily in the ivy/Russian vine hedge and in a back wall in the cracks between the stones. We’ve added a bird-feeder and they have quickly adapted to feed from it, as well as making an almighty mess of the seed they drop on the ground beneath.

……It’s been difficult to discern just how many swallow chicks because we’re now not quite sure how many swallows have actually nested this year. IS and I spent an hour today checking out (and videoing) the swallows in the barn. As a result, we have to revise our swallow stats. There are 5 nests in the barn of which 3 are in use – 6 swallows fly in, out and around the inside of the barn at regular intervals. We have seen 4 chicks in one nest, 2 in another and we have heard 2 or 3 in a 3rd nest. Interestingly, the swallow chicks start to open their mouths when they hear their parents chirruping OUTSIDE the barn.
During our stay in the barn we discovered 3 chicks dead on the ground beneath one nest and 2 chicks dead on the ground beneath another nest. Once a chick falls from the 20 foot from the nest to the ground about 20+ feet below there is no way back. We were very sad to find the dead chicks and it may be that the nests were not constructed well enough or they may just have toppled out but perhaps the parents don’t seem to be unduly troubled – they still fly around happily – and they will soon produce a second summer brood.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

A llama in the cowpat

The Scene: The sofa. Refugee Towers
The Time: Last night.
The Players: All the Refugees
The Event: Watching the latest edition of Springwatch

The island of Isla and the presenter Simon is in a field of (gorgeous) highland cattle and choughs pecking at cowpats.

SIMON: …so here we have the symbiosis between these highland cattle and the chough. Let me just look at this cowpat (prodding the pat with a twig) and come back to me in 5 minutes.


SIMON: (turning over a handful of insects in the palm of his hand) This what I’ve removed from the pat…..a beetle…a worm…a pupa…2 stag beetles…a millipede…and a larva.

ES (from the sofa): A llama!?!

Laughter from all, especially an uncontrollable Mrs R, and then…

ALL REFUGEES: (to ES) Not a llama…a larva!!!!

LOGOrrhoea of Olympic proportions

Well, blistering athletes groin! What’s all this trash talk about our illustrious Olympic logo?
Take a migraine tablet, put on your 4-d specs and throw one more glance at the logo……

Though I have a hankering for this one in remembrance of soon-to-be lamented Emperor……

Good Lord this bloke needs a hug! Anyone?

Personally, I think he could have run this up with his Etch-a-Sketch and pocketed £399k......

And here’s one I would have been proud to design……

Cooool! Like a Roger Hilton painting.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

School is IN for the second half-term

After the busy half-term Home Educating break we have resumed school (at home). IS and ES continue to happily accede to our timetable of home schooling – we start promptly at 9.30, have a break for 30 minutes around 11 and then work on until 1.30. The afternoon is taken up with cycling, sibling rivalry and of course RefugeeSpringwatch.

In the barn this week, IS has been studying The Romans under the inexpert but enthusiastic tutelage of Mrs R. Today, IS completed an ‘aged’ scroll (tea infusion and matches) of a diary of her life as a girl in Rome. Her mother stays at home whilst her father, ME, is in charge of a Roman legion. Mr Refugee as Roman role model...ha!

In the kitchen, ES has been astounding me at Maths. For a 7½ year-old who had only learnt numbers at Steiner school up until April, ES can now regularly add 3 numbers together in her head…which even her 2 older sisters have trouble with. Fancy having a Maths star in the family!?

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Refugee Springwatch 1

Those damned miserable critters (TV critics) keep flogging the mantra that there’s no ‘family television’ these days. Well, guys…get your poisoned quills out and refill with cool green ink, because......

......Family Refugee have become entranced, entertained and mesmerised by Springwatch – mainly by the animals but also by the presenters..yes, even by Bill Goodie-Goodie. Our sofa is as squashed as a chough’s nest of 8 as all the refugees snuggle up to watch our hour of laughs, antics and sorrow.

Meanwhile, in the grounds of Refugee Towers, we have our very own RefugeeSpringWatch.
I’ve previously gabbled on about our glorious swallows –

4 nests in 3 locations: 2 nests in a derelict barn, 1 nest in a garage, 1 nest in a shed.
(Sorry, no pics so far as the nests are 20 foot above ground)
But yesterday, I saw a sight that I'd never seen before. A crow hovered at the window of the barn and then flew off....followed immediately by one of our swallows in demonic pursuit. The crow was clearly not prepared for a swallow (one-quarter its size) to duck and dive at the crow as it made its escape. For about 200 yards the swallow harried the crow relentlessly until it wheeled away and returned triumphantly and bravely home to its brood.

Last week the younger refugees have discovered a wren’s nest in the crack of a stone adjacent to a shed door – there are 6 young wren’s squeezed into the cosy nest. Whenever any refuge goes near the wrens there is a mass screeching for food. Meanwhile the parent wrens attend constantly with plenty of worms and grubs. and probably the odd peck on the cheek.

And a blackbird’s nest well camouflaged in a heavy rose bush beneath the wisteria – 4 eggs with a highly attentive but wary mother in Mona Lisa fashion.

Updates to follow as the action intensifies.