So where's the snow?

Muddling through life from Austria to Wales; God, life and a small black dog


Odd autumn

October 14th

Like last year, we’re having a wonderful October with high pressure giving us foggy mornings, blue skies when it clears and cold nights. The larches are going golden on the hills, colours are spectacular and my camera figure is twitching to get up there.  We have had some great walks, but there are odd things all around us.

I was looking for an acorn – there are a few oak trees here, but found none, so went for hazelnuts, and found none, but the catkins ready on the branches -I thought these were produced in late spring. It probably just a result of the badly timed frosts here. What will this mean for all the squirrels and birds?

Then the siren went off the other day, and I didn’t think anything till I read the report in the paper.  One pine tree all on its own on Platchenalm had caught light.  The firemen had to fell it and cut out the root to put it out.  Makes you wonder about these forest fires.Just follow the link the pictures are amazing!,371301.html

The longtailed tits have been through earlier than ever, but the Sparrow population is completely down, there’s only three here, even when it snowed the other day. There’s a huge group of the bickering families.

I’ve also never seen Rosebaywillowherb go quite this red, but it was at the end of the slag heap of the old silver mine.

Maybe I’m reading too much into all this………..

Of course, since I wrote this, we’ve had nearly a foot of snow in three goes, the Sparrows are all here, stuffing their faces, and one mouse is still visiting the bird table, I think we can live with that!  But then so much so so early?

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Garden time – Apples and Plums, Jam and Wine

It was when I was out to photo the apple trees, I noticed that the Plum trees have next to no flowers on them at all. I had to check back at my photos over the past few years and there are definitely less flowers than in earlier years and they look scraggy, not full blooms, just a couple of petals.  Another effect of last year, or just the trees having one of their rest years?  We’ve had so many plums the past two years we’ve got sick of the sight of them!  The cherry trees locally have had a great flowering, missing the Ice man, unlike the apples which did get zapped, but with so many flowers I guess it’ll still be a great crop.  My ornamental cherry has also had a pathetic flowering this year, nature’s cycle?

Especially with the fiasco of Paggy’s plum jam making. I’ve never managed to get it to set properly, as he wont let me add enough sugar as he’s a diabetic, but even with the gel zucker – it has extra gelatine and pectin in it I understand, it wont set. Then it goes moldy!  It seems we need to reduce it at least by half before adding the sugar, which  will do this year, if we get any fruit!

Very few people make home-made wine here, which is a surprise, Schnapps and jam yes. Maybe it’s because wine is so cheap! I can’t think why as there are so many soft fruits in  any garden, and jam making or cordial uses maybe more sugar.  Maybe its due to the beer drinking!   I’ve also got at last my own elderberries going, so now its do I make juice and then maybe jam from th flowers, or wait to make jam from the fruit??? Such dilemmas!  We’ve also just planted our first Blackberry, they seem not to be Lungau hard, which is a shame as they are like weeds in the UK.

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Cuckoo in the nest?

We’ve just had a wonderful hot phase here, practically every blade of grass cut for hay by the farmers (ok, that’s an exaggeration!)  and wonderful weather for when Dave’s lot came.  They finally understand our decision to move here when we took them up into the mountains and showed them around. They left vowing to return when there was snow!

This Sunday, when we went out into the garden we were assailed by loud chirping (for want of a better word) from a tree in the garden, right by the swing seat.  This conical conifer is called Wizbit after a kids programme we used to watch.  Anyway, the cacophony was still going on in the evening, and it quickly began to shred my nerves.  Is it I’m getting older and can’t stand noise?  Maybe.  But the noise was distress.  Had a clutch of birds lost both parents and were starving to death?  We looked into the tree but couldn’t see them.  Dave firmly shut the door on them.  Overnight it rained and they were quieter.  However by the evening they were yelling again and no sign of visiting parents.  I was in a dilemma.  I could get a ladder and rescue them, to hand rear them.  But such birds are often not thrifty and become too reliant on humans.  The thought of them slowly dying of hunger was equally abhorent.So I left them guiltily on Sunday night.  The chirps were still going as I left for work and when I got back.  Now I was really upset.  I tried again to see them in the tree but they are too high.  Dave said I was just being daft, the noise wasn’t jangling in his nerves, it was just birds singing to him ( oaf!).  I didn’t know what was the best to do.I prayed to God to show me and common sense was saying leave them be.  How could I neglect a so obvious call for help? It was tearing me apart this helplessness.

 Then later I stood at the front door and in flew a brown bird obviously into the nest to feed.  I’ve never felt such a sudden lift in my spirits.  There was a lot of row from the tree and the bird flew off.  Had it attacked the babies, or was it just another bird?  I was so silly at what was so apparent. I wanted to see the bird again but didn’t last night.  Then this morning a sparrow flew to the top of Wizbit and stared at me as I hung out the washing.  and stayed there till I went, and a few moments after, then it flew into the nest and was obviously feeding the babies.  Alleluyah!  It’s still a bit odd, nestlings aren’t usually so darn loud.  That’s what had alerted me.  Maybe it really was a rescue by another bird after the parent’s death?  They are quieter today, maybe as its now rained there’s more insects about.  Three weeks or more of this racket to come but now I hear it was joy!  I can’t help feeling this has some import on my life, there’s a lesson here that will become clear soon.  We have a meeting this weekend about starting housegroups in the area, which could be one of the purposes of God in bringing us here. It will become clear.    I’ve just read on the internet that cuckoos often choose sparrows nests to lay their eggs and the nestlings have a ferocious appetite, that sparrow did look a bit ragged….

Update: The fledgeling flew the next day, I could hear it sqwawking all around the garden and at one stage it was in the hedge.  Still don’t know if it was a cuckoo!