Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Big Mow

Saturday was again another wonderful day at Long Lane Pastures in Finchley

The weather was stunning considering it’s coming up to the end of October, which helped the day pass with considerable pleasure despite all the hard work.

The kids were straight in with the usual eagerness for the weekly litter picking and whilst doing the rounds had the wonder of discovering a Frog not yet in hibernation, a small contingent of mice and a resting Red Admiral butterfly.

We were constantly flocked by some beautiful Long-Tailed Tits, and the starlings still practicing their flocking techniques, but alas, as always they were far to fast for my camera skills and I didn’t even end up getting a blur…just many empty trees…lol.

We once again helped to clear a small patch of bramble around some young trees on the south bank, but then we got on with the big mow and rake to tidy up the edges and banks ready for new growth and planting ready for next spring.

The kids really loved the hard work of raking up the grass and weeds into piles for composting and managed to do it for ages with out the smallest complaint.

At the end of the afternoon we came across a beautiful shield bug that had decided to make my eldest boys hand its temporary resting place.

The wonder of working in a beautiful space and being within nature is a wondrous experience and I recommend it to everyone.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bramble Success

What a great few days at Long Lane Pasture in Finchley.

Friday and Saturday were once again filled with the stabs and pricks of bramble clearing and I’m happy to announce that apart from a tiny bit of selective thinning we have cleared the south eastern bank of bramble (WOOOHOOO!!!) ready for some tree planting to supplement the wonderful collection of younglings which include service trees and wild pears.

Saturday was more of a family day and we all took part including the little-ones who excelled in helping to clear some excess reeds from around the main pond with gusto followed by one of the most important jobs on a small pastures like Long Lane pastures…. helping to clear away the various pieces of litter the careless and the hopeless have decided to leave behind rather than popping into one of the many bins we have in the local area, but at least it adds to the recycling.

Whilst there he had many visitors including a lovely bunch of Starlings, 2 of the noisiest Robins I’ve ever heard, around 6 Blue Tits and a flood of Goldfinches singing and flying overhead.

Later in the afternoon whilst we were checking the boundaries we came across a newt that hasn’t yet gone into hibernation and it was a beautiful and wriggly creature, I can’t emphasize how important it is for the young to get down and dirty and experience wildlife and nature up-close and personally…if you want a future with people that care about nature and wildlife this is what it will take to both inspire and motivate them to grow and be the next wave of eco warriors and environmentalist.

It’s been a great few days.

Be Happy,

Richard ‘RAGS’ Askew

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

New Bird Watching Bottoms

due to the weather most of my conservation plans were cancelled, but it did give me a chance to do something with my youngest kiddies.

I needed a new pair of bird watching bottoms and what I have is now either to brightly coloured or is to thin for this autumn weather.

I knew I had a pair of cream cargo bottoms and I knew I had some cheap pound shop acrylic paint and 2 eager helpers ready to get messy...the plan was forged and as you can see from the pic's...I now have a new pair of stylish bird watching bottoms...LOL.

I've always been a great fan of reusing and recycling and what a great opportunity for some messy family bonding.

Why not try it out for yourself.

Be Happy,

Richard 'RAGS' Askew

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Clearing Bramble Continued :-)>

Greetings all,

      Once again I had a wonderful time volunteering at Long Lane Pastures with my family. (

Even my youngest were eager to get involved and headed straight in with one of the most important volunteering jobs at such a site….the litter picking duties….plastic grabbers were a blur as they whizzed through picking up the waste of less caring people.

My eldest son and I were once again clearing Bramble to help make way for the youngling trees and to prevent them from being strangled out.

I tell you it’s better than any trip to the gym for shedding a few pounds and in no time at all we had made a significant head way through a pretty scratchy and stingy job pausing only to watch the many birds that passed our way.

We saw a wonderful flock of Starlings getting ready for their big journey and they were occasionally joined by Tits and even at one point Gold Finches.

Around 11:30am when they had all settled down on the local roof tops the Sparrow Hawk glided through and with one brief loop singled out a starling and went in for the kill….we don’t know if it was successful as the Starlings all went flocking mad and we couldn’t see where the Sparrow hawk ended up….. but. as we didn’t see it again I’m guessing one Starling isn’t going on holiday this year.

In our clearing duties we also came across a handsome Hawthorn Shield bug and this time I even managed to get a shot of it and of the beautiful Brown Banded Carder Bee which I must admit has hit the number one spot for my favourite bees.

We also found some tiny old nests and soon with help from some of the forums I’m hoping to know who made them.

It’s been a top day and tomorrow I’m going back for more….so my next blog will be tomorrow…LOL

Be Happy,
Richard 'RAGS' Askew

Friday, 7 October 2011

Magic Moments

I was sitting at home thinking about updating my blog and wondering what I should include…The walk to school with the children that gave threw up a Robin, Blackbird, Squirrel, 3 Crows, a flock of Parakeets and then the Sparrow Hawk  circled over head…that was a great start to the day.

But then some thing happened that threw me for a wobble; I was sitting in the garden doing a spot of bee and bird watching and had so far had a good day being buzzed by Starlings and Goldfinches and I had even seen the Sparrow Hawk at a distance and the garden was just Buzzing with Bees. I had just began to note the  ‘Brown Banded Carder Bee’ when something flapped past my face and landed on my leg and for a moment I was stunned!!.

I reached into my pocket for my camera and snapped this quick picture (which is why it’s blurry and I also forgot to switch the Macro on) of a Red Admiral just perched there on my right thigh.

I have never seen one this close before, I could see every hair on its body and it was posed with its chest puffed out looking very proud and noble.

This is one of those rare moments of wonder which drew me to watching nature in the first place.

I called my eldest son out to see and he tried to get a better shot, but alas as always it flew of before we could.

 The butterfly only stayed for seconds and the photo is blurry the memory will be with me much longer and the experience will be most treasured.

Be Happy

Richard ‘RAGS’ Askew

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Long Lane Pastures

Greetings all,
         what a wonderful day...Again!!! who can believe it....sunshine all day.

Anyway on with the blog, today was a productive day, I got to spend the morning helping my eldest son with his Saturday volunteering at Long Lane Pastures a true place of peace and natural beauty in the middle of Finchley.

Today we proudly sweated away whilst clearing bramble from around some young trees to help them along in their journey to gianthood.

It is always wonderful to get involved with local trusts and projects devoted to giving nature and wildlife a sanctuary in a time of cement and flat building and it is a great opportunity to help shad a few of the extra pounds I’ve been so good at collecting over the last few years and to prove that I CAN still be active even if I am some what limited.

We also had the pleasure of a cheeky Jay who keep flying over head calling at the top of its song just to let us know who really was in charge…LOL...and a Robin popped along to examine our work and steal the odd quick meal of a worm or two...and we found many a Newt looking for a comfy spot to hibernate was a glorious day all round.

Other visitors included a small flock of Gold Finches, around 20 Starlings and the resident female Mallard…I’m sure there was much much more, but I was focused with the task at hand and somewhat distracted by the many piercings and stabs I endured…lol

So if anyone else in Finchley is interested please visit the website for info and come along…volunteering begins every Saturday at 10am and there is loads for the kiddies to see…my youngest loved the newts and there are even beehives to visit and some lovely ponds. 

Well that’s all for today so Be Happy,