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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:34 pm

I should send this pic of one of my cherry trees in flower this week to my brother in Canada still with his lawn covered in snow, some snow white blossom to cheer him up!
This is a black sweet cherry called Early Rivers it's the first of my cherries to flower and ripen, early July usually up here in North Wales, it needs a pollinator though as it is not self fertile.
In hindsight though, it may be rubbing salt into a wound!
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:03 am

Walking our dog by the Elwy in St Asaph early Saturday morning we passed under the A525 stone road bridge and walked through the stand of huge, ancient and rare Black Poplars on The Common.
We were standing about opposite the back of Foxons admiring the dozens of beautiful tall mazzard cherry trees in a magnificent white froth of full bloom when we heard a loud quacking coming from a ring of mostly hawthorn bushes under one of these poplar giants. A mallard duck was standing under the bushes quacking and quacking fit to bust.
I thought at first it was caught up on something then I noticed it had a tiny duckling under it. Assuming it had a nest there I was about to quietly slip away and leave it when a duckling dropped from above and landed just in front of me and scurried to its mother, this was followed in rapid succession by another three, one of which got stuck in a hawthorn branch. I stepped forward to free the duckling and as I lifted it free I was struck on the left shoulder by another duckling missile, just as another bounced through the branches and landed in front of me. I looked up just about in time to see another duckling launch itself from a hole about forty feet up on this huge poplar. Meanwhile a very anxious mother mallard still calling continuously, rallied her offspring and gave us a wonderful sight as she set off to the river a hundred yards away with 8 tiny ducklings scurrying behind. A couple we meet regularly with a bulldog meanwhile had put their dog back on its lead and backed off to allow the new mother to cross the footpath with her precious charges, what a sight! with her brand new babies waddling along the path and down the steep bank into the river. We all stood and watched her swim off, marshalling her little flotilla to the far bank.
We went back to the poplar to see and marvel at where the tiny ducklings had leapt from, we saw a hole about 40ft up the tree in the centre of a limb of about 2ft that had been sawn off by the council and the centre was rotten and hollowed out.
This was certainly a des res for security from predators but more for owls and bats not ducks nesting this high up!
Come to think, the owls would not have liked it as these rare trees are beautifully floodlit of a night, the local bat population like it though as the powerful lights attracts lots of moths.
Just at the back of this huge black poplar tree is the tree with the giant wooden bat in, see below, you would not want to meet a live bat that size flitting around!
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby roselanekoi on Tue May 01, 2018 5:17 pm

I've never heard of mallards nesting in trees before. A BBC Earth programme in 2014 did show barnacle geese nesting on cliffs in Greenland, the goslings then had to jump around 120 metres to the ground when only a few days old.

When walking the dog up Moel Famau yesterday I heard my first cuckoo of the summer. They seem to be getting rarer though and I haven't heard around home for a few years.
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Wed May 02, 2018 5:23 pm

Hi Colin, we looked it up when we got home as we too were amazed at the mallard nesting in such a lofty site and apparently it is not uncommon.
As well as trees, often riverbank pollarded willows, Mallard have been found nesting on second floor window boxes, the balcony's of flats, flat roofs of office blocks and houses as well as trees and metal gantry's of electricity pylons. So long as it's near water and free from predators, it seems anywhere fits the bill (mallard bill that is)

I've seen the BBC programme about the geese nesting on the cliffs in Greenland. It was bad enough for the poor little beggars dropping short and bouncing off the rocks, the goslings also then ran the gauntlet of being picked up by prowling ever voracious Arctic Foxes before they got to the lake and safety, what a start to life!

I have not heard a cuckoo call anywhere locally here for years so you are lucky to hear one fairly locally Colin. I heard one call when I was fly fishing last year at Graiglwyd above Penmaenmawr, I also heard one calling earlier on last year at Penmaenpool near Dolgellau, on the Mawddach trail, the old railway line to Barmouth, now a nature trail.
The Cuckoo is also in serious decline according to the RSPB and others.
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Sun May 06, 2018 12:07 pm

The picture posted below is the 'Duck Tree' from last week when the tiny Mallard ducklings showered down from the Black Poplar pictured, one of the floodlight stanchions I mentioned is just visible to right of picture. The river Elwy is twenty feet to the right of the footpath which is on the right of picture and just visible. The ducklings jumped from the first huge limb on the right hand side of tree into the under storey of hawthorn bushes below. Our little dog standing with 'senior management' to right gives you an idea of scale, of how huge these trees are!


Second picture taken walking our dog across the Pont Begard footbridge early this morning to beat the heat, I spotted this chap fly fishing in the Elwy below me, blissfully unaware of me and totally engrossed in his casting.
He would need to with this many riverbank trees to snag up on.
What a beautiful start to an absolutely beautiful day.

We have the wonderfully unique situation in St Asaph of having this much wild life within just yards of the city centre, for everyone to enjoy.
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Early bird!.jpg
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Thu May 10, 2018 10:19 am

We have a nice new wooden carving in St Asaph for the start of May, a pheasant. It appeared last week on The Common, all shiny copper and new wood set on a log the opposite side of viewing platform to the 5ft wooden otter on the Elwy riverbank, see picture below.
The two ladies standing on the new flood defence embankment to the right called down to us that it was placed there in memory of a local gamekeepers daughter!
We have no idea who she was though so I asked the ladies with the dogs who we know, "was she a famous local pheasant plucker" to which the old lady on the right with the white hair replied, "From what I've heard about her, she seemed nice enough"
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, here is a poem dedicated to our nice new carving on the riverbank;


The Pheasant Plucker.
I'm not a pheasant plucker I'm a pheasant plucker's son,
I'm only plucking pheasant coz the plucker couldn't come,
But he's not a pheasant plucker, he's a pheasant plucker's mate,
And he's only plucking pheasant coz the pheasant plucker's late!
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby roselanekoi on Mon May 14, 2018 6:20 pm

The club held it's 2018 G&S selection day at Quality Nishikigoi yesterday where Tim Waddington had sourced us some excellent Kohaku from Hiroi Seiji.
There were 10 members taking part in this year's competition but unfortunately, when the draw was made for the selection order, I was drawn last. Still, I can't say I'm too disappointed to be left with this 25cm Kohaku, Tim did say it was his favourite.

G&S kohaku 2018.jpg
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I took the dog for a walk around Llandegla Forest this morning and heard another cuckoo, maybe even two. Although generally getting rarer It would appear they are still about on the North Wales moorland. Llandegla Forest has a number of signposted walks but it seems to be an excellent venue for mountain biking. Car parking is a bit pricey at £4.50 although the attendant was off sick today so it was free parking.
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Fri May 25, 2018 10:19 am

Couldn't leave May behind without a picture of the last of the cherries in flower, this huge Mazzard or Gean cherry was in flower on the Common St Asaph earlier in month, it was just slightly past it's best but still pretty.
The larger Gean or sweet wild cherry tree to left had just finished flowering, sadly I missed catching it in full flower with a camera.
Come July, these trees and dozens more cherry trees on the Common will be laden with masses of cherries, varying from quite large dark red sweet cherries on the tree in flower to smaller brighter red and yellow cherries that are not so sweet. You can see why they are also called bird cherries ( Prunus Avium) as they are stripped in no time by our feathered (and furry) friends!
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:51 pm

Saturday we had a trip up Snowdon by steam train, that was a first!
It's many years since I was last up there and it was all changed beyond recognition. A huge café and gift shop greets the weary walkers and there are steps, yes stone steps up to the final pinnacle.
Even at 10.00am there were dozens of people up there despite the thick mist! See pic's below.
Last time I was up there it was up from the miners path in the opposite direction where we were camping.
Surprise surprise! the sun was cracking the flags when we came back down.
For those who know it, there is a climbers café in Llanberis that has been going some time called 'Pete's Eats' 40 High St. Llanberis where we had an excellent lunch.
You would certainly have some appetite after 6 hrs. of climbing Snowdon, be careful what you ask for though as the portions are pretty enormous.
My brother Ken who was into climbing took me there quite some years ago as it was generally the climbers and walkers first stop coming down. The second stop was Joe Browns famous climbers shop (still there!) or the pub!
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:24 pm

Don't forget to be at Keith's before 8.00am on Sunday 24th June for our trip to the BKKS National Koi Show at Coventry.
The mini-bus leaves at 8.00am as it is a fair trip to Coventry from here in North Wales so be on time.
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