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Andy Roberts
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830 followers
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December and January are special months on the Yar, when the numbers of winter visitor birds are swollen to the maximum. The 8 or 9 black tailed Godwits that hang around feeding near the Causeway bridge during September and October were joined by about seventy or so in from Siberia for the duration. Brent geese start arriving and then build up in numbers to about three hundred grazing on the farm field at low tide or sitting on the water and flying around in great circles at high tide. When the tide is in its highest Spring phase, and there is a storm surge up the Solent as well, the briny water overtops at the bridge and spills into the mostly freshwater reed beds and stream. There's a one way valve flap under the bridge which normally allows the freshwater river to flow into the estuary without salt water coming the other way, but a few times a year this is bypassed by floodwater and the road is closed to vehicles even though only a couple of inches deep or so. Another bird that entertains in great numbers is the lapwing, which roost on the bank opposite the landing stage and fly up in great flocks when disturbed by a peregrine falcon or for some other reason. A flock of lapwing in flight is an awesome sight, flashing black and white as they turn, bank and tumble, in murmurations. 

The other thing about the walk along the bank of the Yar, the old railway track, is not just the large numbers of bird - Wigeon must exceed 500 regularly - but how close you can get to them. A Lapwing at about ten or twenty feet is a beautiful metallic green crested plover and the wild ducks - teal and wigeon can be viewed from an unusually close vantage point too. 

The star of this winter so far has probably been the female Hen Harrier that has taken up residence around the Causeway area. We've seen it perched in a large tree at the edge of a pony field a couple of times and one young lad has waited around for days in order to take some stunning photographs of her quartering over the reed bed. The reed bed, by the way, is still looking great, rippling golden yellow in the late afternoon sun. I has wondered if it would all get flattened by the series of gales that swept across the island during November and December but the reed stems are flexible enough to just bounce back up again it seems, unlike man made crop plants. 

As January comes to a close, some of the birds are coming into breeding plumage, and others must be starting to think about migrating back to the North and the East again, but not quite yet. There should be an interesting period coming up soon when the winter migrants are still here, and some of the early spring migrants start to arrive overlapping with their cousins from globally opposing continents.

And this yarbirder will be wondering about upgrading to a new fangled exchangeable lens but not SLR camera in order to add some better illustrations to my writing.  

http://yarbirds.co.uk/yar/december-and-january/

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New Garden Project

Last year I moved house, leaving behind my old urban wildlife friendly garden with the small pond at the front and another at the back both created by myself in the 1990s. I also left behind the bog garden and the log-pile, the rockery, standing stone, micro meadow and the French walnut tree, Frankie's champion conker tree and the famous rowan tree that had a song written for it. That's all gone, left behind for the new owners to do whatever they will with.

The new house is quite different. It's in a rural location with more land around it, and a slightly different climate. I'm actually on the Isle of Wight, across the Solent water off the south coast of England, just between the south east and the south west. The new garden doesn't have a pond either large or small, so I shall probably end up installing one sooner or later but that won't be my first priority.  My main aim with the new larger garden is to put it into productive use. There are some old apple trees left over from when the land was an orchard, and I'm hoping to rescue some of them, the apples are good.  There is also a beautiful Chilean Myrtle tree  Luma apiculata which would be a crime to mess about with but everything else will be up for review once I've seem what's there and how it all works together.

Lawns are not really very practical things so one of the first jobs will be to turn some of the prime positioned lawn area over to food production. There are two discernible vegetable patches already in existence and to these will be added a number of raised beds for easy access and to provide a depth of soil that can ensure plentiful crops of tasty vegetables without digging. To make the first raised bed, I'm hoping to experiment with a block building system, a bit like lego for grown up gardeners, called Woodblocx. They also do wooden block planter frames for garden ponds, so this could well be of interest to readers of the smallpond site here, since 2001.

There is a large established pond next door by the way, so the aquatic wild life is already in situ, I'm told there are frogs, toads, newts and slow worms present.

http://smallpond.org.uk/69/new-garden-project/

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Andy Roberts was tagged in Andy Roberts's album.
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I put it back in the box, (with a little help from youTube). 

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4 live songs
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