Archive for August, 2011

For the three months we’ve been entranced by the housemartins who decided that the eaves outside our bedroom window were the perfect place to build their nest.

It took 3 days to build and they worked every daylight hour ferrying mud, hay and feathers from around the garden and surrounding fields in relay carefully weaving all the pieces together:

Housemartins peering out of the nest

We’ve been rudely awoken at first light for weeks by chirping and squabbling and even witnessed macabre scenes of nest stealing and murder at Balkissock Lodge when one housemartin was found dead but not sure if the deceased was the original builder or the usurper.   I’ve peered out of the window every morning and my gentle tapping on the glass has been responded to … the reciprocal peering at me from whatever occupants I’d disturbed.

We’ve even been saddened by the sight of broken eggs on the windowsill.

Yesterday we went out for the afternoon, a leisurely lunch at Wildings Restaurant then shopping and returned to see a very sad sight on the doorstep…a broken nest and a dead chick:

Looking up we saw that the nest had completely broken away from its housing and felt quite guilty that we’d  cursed the birds on departing for the amount of mess, and by mess I mean “bird poo”, on the window and sill.

The Bonny Lad

I’ve been reading “The BonnyLad” by Jonathan Tulloch whose wife I knew very well when I used to live in the North East of England (name dropping or what?!) a fact that my wonderful neighbour was unaware of when she gave me the book.  I digress because there’s a bit in the book about the old man using a broom to sweep away the housemartins nests from his home because of the mess they made thinking it rather cruel but after weeks of cleaning poo from the windows I’m beginning to empathise!!

We disposed of the nest and deceased chick and sadly set about unloading the car and storing the shopping when movement from behind the plant pot caught the eye of my beloved.  Parting the shrubbery we saw 3 pairs of frightened little eyes:

Shrieking with joy we jumped up and down … then wondered what to do with the little guys.   Watching through the kitchen window for some time we saw that no parents were in attendance so I scooped the youngsters up and put them and the remains of the nest that beloved retrieved from the compost heap (bless his little cotton socks) into a makeshift nest made from an ice cream tub and placed it into the shrubs next to the front door – at least they’d be warm and out of sight of next door’s cat!

Ice cream nest in the shrubs

Close up of the ice cream nest

As always these days when I need some information I sent a plea for advice on Twitter and as the sun was about to set, beloved and I went for a stroll to take a picture or two and saw the ISS making its way across the beautiful night sky:

Wonderful sunset taken by Beloved

Can’t miss Beloved

We hesitated on our return but could see no movement near the ice-cream tub nest.

Beloved made another cuppa and I began to read the advice given by the wonderful @Forfeng an absolute font of knowledge and wonderful lady who’d hand reared a “gazillion” (love that word Heather, thank you) baby birds in her time.  By this time it was dark, but undeterred I went out with shovel, tweasers, scissors, egg box and torch in hand to find grubs to feed my new family.

The worms and grubs had clearly heard that they were on the menu so were noticeable by their absence but I did find a couple of little slugs and an ailing crane fly so into the egg box they went (you were wondering what that was for now weren’t you?).

Collecting the ice cream box nest I began cutting up the hoard with scissors and trying to feed them to the chicks using the tweasers to no avail.  They refused it all…thankfully I’m not considering a career change to veterinary nurse!!

It was promising to be quite cold that night so I upgraded the ice cream tub nest by wrapping it in old sheeting and placing it in a huge plant pot in the porch hoping that the chicks would be warm enough for the night … the front door was left open until very late but I don’t think the parents returned.

You can imagine my trepidation the following morning when going into the porch … gingerly peeling back first of all the layers of sheeting and then the ice cream tub lid.  To my surprise all three chicks were alive and well but still refused to eat.

Leaving them in their new des res, I got the step ladders and put them on the porch roof – by that time there were house martins swooping through the garden and several inspecting the remains of the nest high up on the front of the house.

With fingers crossed I began the day’s cleaning – which would actually be quite difficult to do if it weren’t a figure of speech!!

There was an awful lot of tweeting from the nest so I left them to it, checking up on them a couple of hours later just to make sure that they weren’t too hot in the sun to find that one was missing from the nest! It was impossible to accidentally fall out of the new des res.  With a heavy heart and wondering what had eaten my wee chick I went back to the cleaning.

I could at least clean all the bird poo off the window and sill now knowing that I wasn’t going to disturb the birds!!  Approaching the window I saw a few adult birds scooting past so peered at the des res on the porch roof just in time to see one of the chicks climb to the edge of the plant pot and fly away (well by that I mean flap a few times then land on the ground next to the front door – again!!).  I ran for the camera and by the time I got back to the window just managed to catch the second:

I think I can fly

Running down the stairs (believe me this is the only time I’ve ran in 30 years) I was so excited trying to tell beloved the news that he couldn’t understand so I had to show him the picture on the camera.  We went to the front door and found this wee guy hiding under the hydrangea:

Another ahhhhh moment

As yet, no sign of the other two but still a lot of tweeting going on outside the kitchen window so all must be well.

And I’m trying not to be put out that they obviously prefer the hydrangea to my upgraded ice cream tub nest 😉

Fingers still crossed for a happy ending.

Thank you also to @rachelgillon @Auntywainright @Poorjim6060 @hatsbybilly @weeburd1 and @PamSSaunders all Twitter friends for their help and advice during the wee bird crisis.

Copyright © 2011 by Cordelia

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Beloved and I took a day off from the day jobs and after a lovely lunch at Peggy’s Tea Rooms in Kirkoswald, a long walk on the beach at Maidens and a drive past Turnberry golf course we did something that we’ve promised ourselves we’d do since moving here three years ago…sail on the last ocean going paddle steamer in the world:

Waverley heading into Girvan harbour


The Waverley sails the Ayrshire shores from June to August calling in at a number of ports and cruises the lochs and isles.

We took one of the shortest cruises (due to our own time restraints) leaving Girvan harbour at 4pm and heading out to circumnavigate Ailsa Craig, the plug of an ancient volcano from which the granite to make curling stones comes from.

The steamer has been restored to it’s 1940’s glory and I wish I’d taken a few more pictures of the boat itself:

Name plate

Reversing out of the harbour gave us a great view of Girvan itself.

The weather was overcast so the photos are not brilliant and as you’ll see it stayed dry but visibility deteriorated during the journey which was disappointing but the journey itself was amazing.

We first of all got up close to the lighthouse on Ailsa Craig that we can see flashing away at night from home and sheer cliff to the north of the isle:

The sheer cliff to the north side of Ailsa Craig

Although I knew that the stone from the isle was mined I hadn’t realised that we’d see evidence of it.

There are an estimated 37,000 birds nesting on Ailsa Craig which is an RSPB reserve…that’s a lot of bird poop and a terrific noise as we passed.

We then headed off to explore the boat and found the engine room which was quite a sight to behold (handy tip: if you’re cold, then go down to the engine room!!).

Leaving Ailsa Craig behind we journeyed across the water heading up the South Ayrshire coast towards the town of Ayr taking in a number of sights on the way.

We were saddened to see that the search and rescue team from HMS Gannet had been called out to this accident.  Having searched the news in the evening, I couldn’t find any information but hope that the casualty is making a good recovery.

View towards Androssan and Largs taken from Ayr harbour

From Ayr harbour we were taken by coach back to Girvan to collect our cars…and as it was after 8pm by then and we were having a day off we went straight to the Chinese Takeaway for dinner :O)

Hope you’ve enjoyed my photo journey on the Waverley.

The Waverley operates on the Firth of Clyde coast in the summer months.

Copyright © 2011 by Cordelia

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I’ve never done this before (re-blogging that is) so hope that it works … the most wonderful guests you could ever wish for have posted a blog about their short break at Balkissock Lodge … thank you so much. Howard and I look forward to seeing you both again soon.

This post is quite overdue, but I wanted to tell you about a fantastic place that Mark and I stayed at for our 4th wedding anniversary. It’s called Balkissock Lodge and it’s a 4 star bed and breakfast situated on the South West coast of Scotland. I’ve been following Cordelia for quite a while on Twitter and love Howard’s photographs of the local wildlife and breathtaking sunsets on Facebook. We were given a very warm welcome.  Afternoon tea was s … Read More

via Lakes and Pebbles

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