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Sunday, January 25, 2015

RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch

It's that cold and dismal time of January that is designated for the RSPB Birdwatch. I always find my avian friends don't rise to the occasion as much as they might, although at least this year was only cold (not also wet or snowing).

I took two shots at the hour allotted to count birds in... just before lunch yesterday and today. Both days had their own challenges; yesterday my next-door neighbours disrupted proceedings getting their gutters cleaned, today the bottom of the garden neighbours were doing building works.

Saturday was pigeon invasion - for once Casper (who insists that the same few birds flying on and off the roof are an invasion) wouldn't have been far short of the mark; these were taken from the spare room window looking to the roof over our bedroom.

There were at least 16 feral and rock pigeons and one rather stand-offish wood pigeon!

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 24, 2015
© All rights reserved

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 24, 2015
© All rights reserved

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 24, 2015
© All rights reserved

Sunday saw rather less birds as the pigeons were boycotting the feeder as the easy access tray was empty - this allowed a lot more variety to visit. There was the chaffinch, two blue-tits and and a great-tit, a trio of starlings, a collared dove and the wood pigeon, one bold pigeon, Mr & Mrs Blackbird and another Mrs Blackbird, the little brown bird (I think it's a dunnock) and two robins (tennis ball on wings and slimmer friend).

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 25, 2015
© All rights reserved

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 25, 2015
© All rights reserved

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 25, 2015
© All rights reserved

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 25, 2015
© All rights reserved

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 25, 2015
© All rights reserved

Birdwatch 15

Uploaded by TheMrsNatG on January 25, 2015
© All rights reserved

The squirrel came to get in on the action too! One of the Mrs Blackbird's chased the other off... and the pigeon (all alone today) stayed up the other end of the path out of the melee!

You can see all the pictures from both days in the Flickr album.

Birdwatch 15

An album by TheMrsNatG
Birdwatch 15Birdwatch 15Birdwatch 15
Birdwatch 15Birdwatch 15
Birdwatch 15Birdwatch 15
Birdwatch 15Birdwatch 15

Friday, January 23, 2015

Skywatch Friday (68)

Winter Sunset
There are two sorts of weather at the moment, grey and gloomy or bright and clear. Bright and clear gives some lovely sunsets (and sunrises); grey and gloomy doesn't generally even manage a good cloud-scape!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What we've been watching... (2014 - Part 2)

I used to be quite efficient with reviews of our weekly movie night -  but it has come to my attention that I've not  posted what we've been watching in the best part of a year! So, as before, films in grey were switched off (or I slept through) so I can't really comment; films in red I can find nothing to recommend and the rest - well it depends what you want from a film!
  1. The Family - an unlikely mix of cast but it leads to a fun, fast paced movie which is well worth watching.
  2. Twixt - did not watch this one, Husband only fare.
  3. Parkland - though it might be an epic piece of history type movie about the assassination of JFK, turned out to be dull as dishwater and was switched off.
  4. Cloud Atlas - sounded like an interesting plot with a great cast; turned out to be disjointed, hard to follow and really not very interesting.
  5. RIPD - after a low point in movie rentals this picked things up a bit. A cross between Dead Like Me and Men in Black with a cast who managed to get some moments of humour in just the right places.
  6. Gravity - an incredibly long wait for this to finally come to rental and it was SO not worth it. Oscars are no guarantee for a good film it goes to show. I'm never one for films that are essentially carried by one actor and to be honest, apart from the special effects there was nothing to recommend this film. Not their best performances from competent actors and very little in terms of story line.
  7. Home Front - Optimism of a good action movie because Jason Statham was heading up the cast; however so failed to catch the imagination it was switched off after 10 minutes.
  8. Anchorman 2 - not in the same league as the original (which I don't remember but apparently I liked). Switched off after about 20 minutes.
  9. American Hustle - if you're hoping for something up with 'The Sting' or 'Hu$tle' then you'll be disappointed. Fun enough but not the best bunch of grifters to grace the screen.
  10. Saving Mr Banks - better than Husband was expecting, not as good as I was hoping... the fact that we both watched the whole film tells you it can't have been that bad.
  11. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - a good story, well told; just read the book first because the book is better.
  12. Nebraska - sent by error by the movie rental people. Never came out of the sleeve.
  13. The Cat Returns - a delightful animation from Studio Ghibli, always going to be a hit in this house due to the whole 'kingdom of cats' bit. 
  14. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - I was in two minds about this film, but it turned out to be a reasonably written and acted spy movie.
  15. Struck by Lightning - a quirky cast for a quirky film... it felt like Douglas Coupland mixed with a sit-com; a decent enough film.
  16. Delivery Man - this household as a chequered history with Vince Vaughn films but this was well conceived (pun intentional), well written and well acted. An enjoyable diversion.
  17. Out of the Furnace - chosen purely because the cast featured the lovely Christian Bale this got switched off after 10 minutes.
  18. The Machine - I have only vague recollections of this film, I think I fell asleep - no reflection on the film, merely my ability to stay awake!
  19. Reasonable Doubt - Good cast, disappointing film. Could have been so much more than it was. Having said that we did watch the whole film, so there's been worse - you just expect excellence in a movie starring Samuel L Jackson.
  20. Non-stop - quite a reasonable action movie... despite the somewhat far-fetched (at times) plot; it is always a good way to contain a movie by setting it in a plane.
  21. All is Lost - the most remarkable thing about this film was that we watched the entire thing. Robert Redford is the entire cast and nothing really happens whilst he's on his boat in the storm. We were utterly disappointed with the ending too.
  22. The Fifth Estate - I did not expect to make it to the end of this movie. I think because I hadn't really kept up with the news story the plot was vaguely interesting and Benedict Cumberbatch's acting was without fault. The film did go on a bit though, and was let down by the lack of characters with whom you could empathize.
So that was part 2 - you can catch up with part 1 here or go on to part 3 here.

What we've been watching... (2014 Part 1)

I used to be quite efficient with reviews of our weekly movie night -  but it has come to my attention that I've not  posted what we've been watching in the best part of a year! So, as before, films in grey were switched off (or I slept through) so I can't really comment; films in red I can find nothing to recommend and the rest - well it depends what you want from a film!
  1. The Frozen Ground - I'm pretty sure that we rented this film because it starred Nicholas Cage and John Cusak. A dark and gritty movie; it was interesting to watch these two together being dark and serious.
  2. Elysium - the big seller for this was Neill Blomkamp, we'd absolutely loved District 9. This isn't quite the same level... a solid idea, and parts of it well realised, but overall the ending somehow left me feeling that there should be more.
  3. Snitch - quite a lot of this film left me feeling that I needed to suspend my disbelief somewhat. The plot was a bit loose, although the actors generally gave good performances.
  4. Movie 43 - switched off. An all star cast isn't everything.
  5. Deadfall - a film of ups and downs. Every time I thought "this isn't so bad" something would happen and I'd be back to "Huh?"
  6. Rush - if you like F1 you'll love this film... the epic tale of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. If you're not a racing fan you might still like this film as it is well made and tells a good story.
  7. Man of Steel - time for DC Comics to square off against the Marvel juggernaut by re-booting Superman, I'd rather take the lighter 70s version over the gritty 21st Century 'Man of Steel'.
  8. Despicable Me 2 - there were an awful lot of sequels around this year, and very few of them lived up to the movie they were following - this one included.
  9. Kick-ass 2 - didn't watch as didn't like the original
  10. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - another sequel, but this one was just a great fun adventure film... a great family film
  11. The Croods - a delightful animation set back in the stone age - charmingly naive but with a great story. We liked Belt's "ta-da" it is used as a notification sound on electronics in this house.
  12. Thor: Dark World - back to the Marvel Universe, another super film with the characters we have come to know and love.
  13. White House Down - pretty much the same film as Olympus has fallen, but a little bit more serious.
  14. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - sadly not a patch on the original.
  15. Safety Not Guaranteed - putting aside the possibility of time-travel messing with my head this was a slightly off-the-wall fun little movie with a cast that you genuinely came to care about.
  16. Prisoners - slightly dark, sometimes a little confusing but an interesting film.
  17. Stuck in Love - should have been a 'rom-com' but was really rather tedious.
  18. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - part two of the Hunger Games; despite the seemingly self-contained nature of the first film this turned out to be an excellent film and a worthy sequel.
  19. Ender's Game - one of those super sci-fi adventures which is not only a great film but makes you want to go out and read the books.
  20. Turbo - a snail who wants to be a racing car? It's like a superhero wandered into 'Cars'. Odd little film but still quite fun.
  21. The Way Way Back - no recollection of this at all. May have fallen asleep or switched it off.
  22. Escape Plan - fabulous fun action movie with two of the great stars of the genre. The plot is sometimes a little predictable but there are some great lines and the end is a great twist!
Reviews (etc.) continue in Part 2