Sunday, 28 April 2013

New Header

I've been wanting to do this for ages, and now it's done. I've changed the title & header from Chine Cats to Coastal Cats and rural ramblings from the Isle of Wight.
I've done it because it isn't just a cat blog, in fact it's mostly not a cat blog, and also every time I want to quickly show someone a photo on the blog & just google Chine Cats I get all sorts of upsetting items about the appalling treatment of cats and all other animals in China.

Chickens?

I've always wanted to keep a couple of bantams. My neighbours have free range chickens, and very occassionally a brave one will range as far as my garden, but if my landlady spots them she will shoo them back to the stables, so I know it's not worth asking her if I can keep chickens in the garden.
My landlady used to keep a couple of cockatiels in an aviary just next to my house, and it became easier for me to clean them out and feed them, so that's what I did for ten years until one of them died and I found a good home for the remaining bird.
Since then nature has tried to hide the aviary beneath a blanket of ivy.







Then I had this idea.

I would ask my landlady if I could restore the aviary to it's former glory, and get a couple of pekin bantams.

Well, the first part of the idea went OK. She readily agreed that I could do what I liked with the aviary.

Second plan, just pull off all the ivy like removing a blanket from a bed. Only, the roof is corrugated and the ivy has been there so long it has created it's own brand of compost and is deeply rooted into it.




The only thing I can do to attack this medusa of twisted branches is to saw off small sections and keep pulling bits out. It's very slow progress, and I still don't know how I'm going to clear the roof.

I've been working a bit at a time, feebly stopping when my arms ache and there's bits of ivy in my hair, eyes and down my bra!
"When are you going to start?" asked my landlady yesterday, a sign of the progress I have made.




It has all given me time to think. Instead of bantams from a local breeder up the road, I'm now thinking of two rescued cage hens (used to be battery hens but now in a slightly larger cage).  There's a hen welfare group here that acquire these hens regulary, re-homing them and giving them a chance to enjoy their lives for the first time instead of ending up in soup.

My other half is not keen on the idea, because we can see the lucky free range birds roaming the paddock from our window, and he thinks the aviary is too small. (He is trying to get me to have guinea pigs instead!)


It has an indoor section, divided into two halves each about 5ft by 3ft, and an outdoor section about 10ft square. I had visions of a cosy, straw lined bed and a dust bath, and bark chippings for foraging in the outdoor section. I know if I go for bantams they will have more room per bird, plus the fact that the breeder keeps them in tiny arcs so it's not like they will be deprived of room to run about.
So I'm still undecided. Surely a caged hen would be happy in this safe, dry and warm space?


Meanwhile, a rather sandy coloured red squirrel, who happily waited while I took his picture.



OK, that's enough for one day!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Beach Visit

The beach is just over the road, and down a cliff. The trouble is, the cliff moves due to constant slippage, and as a result the path or steps down the cliff have to move as well.
A farmer just up the road from me creates a new path for his caravan visitors every year.......by driving his digger over the top and gouging out a new path as he goes. It has to be seen to be believed.

The council adopt a health & safety approach. Close the steps at first sign of movement, and keep them closed all winter and right up until last week, just in case we get more downpours, which result in further slippage.

On Sunday the steps opened. Hurray! That and the fact that the tide was out at the right time, for a change, meant a nice walk down the beach.



We haven't been down here since last year, and the cliff has changed a lot. There used to be inlets and coves. Now it's more like an open, curved bay. The sea has smoothed the edges of the fragile cliffs. 

 
Last year the cliff touched these dark rocks, creating a cut-off point at high tide. Now there is plenty of room to walk between the cliff and the rocks.




Last year this beach was shingle. In fact, in the twenty years I have lived here, it has always been a sloping, shingle beach, quite difficult to walk along.

Now it's sand, right the way along as far as the eye can see. Has it come from the battered cliffs, or just been pushed from somewhere else by strong tides?

Either way, it was lovely to walk on, and with thecliff steps only just opened there was hardly any other people down there.

Before we went down, we had a snack in a cafe. It was warm enough to sit outside and admire the view, as well as the signs!


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Swallows

The swallows are back! We have a few pairs here, what with having outbuildings and barns. I hope they can find enough insects to get their strength back after their long journey here. There doesn't seem to be many about.
The photo is pretty bad, it was taken from my kitchen window on full zoom.


Our two fat blackcaps were joined this week by ten others, but only two females amongst them. The flock stayed for a few days, but now they seem to have moved on, just leaving two fat males again!


Monday, 1 April 2013

Blackcap

I have to add more photos of our funny little Blackcap. We've had them every year, just the odd pair flying in and out again on route to somewhere else, but this year we have two males. They spent the first couple of days deep in the thick hedges, pecking about and keeping out of the wind.
Then one of them discovered the bread we put out for the blackbirds, pheasants and everything else first thing in the morning.
We noticed that when the other birds fly off when we come out of the house, the Blackcap stays. He eats and eats and eats, until I had to tell the other half to hold back on the bread, as it can't be good for him.

The pheasants come round early morning and late evening. In the evening we sometimes just throw a couple of slices out for them to peck at, but Blackcap laid claim to one whole slice, and stood on it. The pheasants and blackbirds tried to get it off him, and he ended up being pulled across the lawn on top of the slice!

Now he has discovered something even better than bread! The fat balls hanging at the back of the house now belong to him, and he's getting through them like nobodies business. He is so comical, not bothered at all by my camera. What a shame he won't stay here all year round!



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Talking of comical birds, the BBC have put an April Fools Day film of flying penguins!