ewein2412: (harriet writing (no text))
Apparently my OWN CHILD checks my blog hopefully for new posts and is always disappointed.

So I am going to try to rectify the situation by giving you a single week’s update. A Week, a typical one (last week). Because I kind of take these events for granted, but looking at them from the angle of Not Me, some of them are pretty cool.

Cut for long-windedness )

ewein2412: (Default)
last weekend Perth was invaded by waxwings. Mark and I first spotted them on Sat. 30 October, in a rowan tree in a garden a few doors down from us (apparently their preference is for rowan berries). We recognized them right away because they look so much like the cedar waxwings that we see all summer in the trees and shrubs around the Mt. Gretna Lake in Pennsylvania. We were actually in the process of working on a "nature diary" project for Mark so we took pictures:




And then we realized that there were about 100 of them all hanging out together. I'd seen about 3 waxwings in Perth several years ago, so it was kind of unusual, and we looked them up in the bird book--it turns out that usually about 100 or so are seen in Britain in a year. They breed in Scandinavia, but sometimes the population "erupts" because there is not enough food to sustain it, and then a thousand or more come foraging south. So that is what is going on this year! (The bird book also said there have been more "eruptions" in the past 20 years.)

The following morning there were easily 200 of them in the linden (lime, to you Brits) trees in our front garden, and they devoured our rowan berries, too.

These were taken through our bedroom window:



And this one was taken through Sara's window:




Having stripped bare every rowan tree in Perth, I think they have now moved on--they have to eat some ridiculous amount of food a day to keep going--10 times their own body weight or something like that (I made that number up, but you get the idea. It is some multiplication of their body weight. Maybe only 2 or 3 times, but there were a LOT of them).
ewein2412: (Default)
No, nothing dire has happened to me. Between March and September we had a very steady stream of guests—never more than ten days between them—and then of course we were in PA all of July, with limited internet access. So, just very busy. Also, getting a lot of work done—some work-for-hire, as well as the POLISHED and severely chopped (but still 101,000 words) ms. of The Sword Dance. Which I have now dared to send to my editor.

I finished that up on Friday, and now am hoping to have a bit of a lull. We are going to plant some apple trees.

Sara has been installed at Imperial Academy for the last month and is working hard. Actually, it is hard not to draw parallels to Hogwarts—the setting is incredibly beautiful, as the school is ringed by moor and mountain, and the buildings are all very sweepingly Victorian Gothic. Sara is not going out for quiddich, nor for the school's PIPE BAND (that's pipe as in bagpipe), who perform at local flying shows and the Edinburgh Tattoo, in full regalia.


sara in uniform, first day of school

(hmm, I notice looking at this picture how BIG her blazer is!)

What she has joined so far is the riding club, the kayaking club (which they practice in their itty bitty ancient swimming pool—the poor thing got lost trying to find it on the first day because the building is labelled "BATHS" not "Pool"), and the "French Cinema Club." This last just cracks me up: I picture a smoke-filled room full of twelve-year-olds in black berets. So far they have watched a live-action Asterix film.

-----------------

In bird world, the ospreys have all buggered off back to Africa. The chicks from the RSPB site at Loch Garten have been radio-tagged, and if you are as obsessed as me you can follow their migration progress here:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/tracking/lochgartenospreys/index.asp

I managed to watch the first chick fledge at Loch of the Lowes remotely from Pennsylvania and an hour later my wireless link packed up. I picked up the wildlife center's blog post the next day via my niece's Wii link, but she couldn't get the webcam pics, and I wept to think that it would be three more weeks before I got back to Scotland and could see them again. After four visits to the local Staples, each a 15 mile round trip from my grandmother's house, I finally got my laptop functional again in time to catch the second chick make its virgin flight.

But then my uncle took me osprey-spotting in his little boat in Great Egg Harbor Bay in New Jersey, and, well, my wounded spirit was mended. I actually lost count of the ospreys we saw. Lots of families sitting on nests, clearly females with not-quite-fledged chicks, with the male nearby (the nests are all on purpose-built pole platforms). The best view was of a male, female and 2 chicks all perched together and honestly no more than thirty feet away from us. The last one we saw was a male perched on a pole and clutching a gigantic fish—his family was on a nest rather further away kicking up a racket—and he flew over our heads and across the bay carrying the fish. They shift the fish round in their talons to head into the wind to reduce drag as they fly!




pictures by my uncle Craig... note bloody fish!

Well, I will stop there before I get too twitchery. The Raptor Show continues in our front garden, as we recently got to watch a female sparrowhawk devour a woodpigeon AS BIG AS HERSELF right outside the study window.

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EWein2412

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