One wouldn’t imagine what a haven our garden has become for birds, particularly being so close to Norcross.

Last year we were privileged during February to have several pre-dusk visits from a Long Eared Owl. Both last year and again this year we have had several sightings of a Great Spotted Woodpecker working its way around and upwards on the sycamores. The highlight for me this autumn was a brief visit of a cock Jay – I have never before seen one before on the Fylde coast. A shy and cruel member of the Crow family, yet so handsome, I could have watched him all day.

The Kingfisher is another handsome spectacle to behold and there is no shortage of them on my local river in France, the Charente. I sit for hours watching them shimmering translucent turquoise up and downstream.

Last year whilst our intrepid Francophiles were seeking monster carp I was sharing a mooring adjacent to Hennessey’s chateau, downstream of Cognac, with a somewhat aggrieved Kingfisher. He was perched at one end and from time to time plunged in with a plop to extract his share of juvenile chub whilst I struggled for a bite from anything a little larger.

It doesn’t matter which country you visit, have you noticed how fisherman always seem to share the same language? As the grubby hands extended further and further apart the guttural voice uttered the magic words, “Quarante Kilos!” The farmhand was telling me that the Carp in the Charente went up to forty kilos. As we carried on chatting I watched him take his three carp – about 1 Kilo apiece – out of his small bucket where they had lain gasping and stuck headfirst in a few inches of water, smartly bop them on the head, descaled them with his knife and promptly slitted them open and gutted them. The 12 ounce roach fared no better.

Anything and everything goes into the bucket in France including at our local ‘lake’ provided by the Commune no doubt by your contribution to the E.U. budget.

Here it is a case of flabby 12 inch rainbow trout being delivered at 7am and placed into a holding tank. Fishing, like at Horns Dam, is split into a morning session 08.00 to noon when the picnic tables come out together with the baguettes, cheeses and hams and almost simultaneously there is a barrage of corks being drawn. Then after lunch there is a further fishing and snooze session until its time to go home to the wife. Before both the morning and afternoon sessions the self appointed Club Secretary walks to and from the fish tank with a bucket of trout which he evenly distributes on a basis of one for you and two for me. He always asks each individual where they would like the fish emptying – I usually plump for a metre to my left.

There appear to be no rules apparently except for anything and everything goes. I suppose they wouldn’t mind hand grenades dangling from an 02 Aberdeen as long as they all had one!

Anyway, its not my scene at all, but, you have to join in with the locals and it’s a hell of a lot better than going shopping and then of course you can always stop on the way back to the cottage to while away and savour precious moments with the hen harriers and the buzzards before the daily chore of lighting the barbeque and opening yet another bottle of wine. My Consultant tells me that I must avoid all stress – perhaps I should ask Paula to pour my wine for me….

(Winter 2010)


It was most distinguishable, a trilling like twitter, in fact almost canary like and once heard never to be forgotten.

Today is the second day of 2011 and my garden is blessed with that rare winter visitor the Waxwing. I had thought we had seen the last of them mid afternoon but it has now just gone 4pm, and as dusk is settling in, a pair have reappeared in our Hawthorns.

We have missed our regular visiting Great Spotted Woodpecker though all our daily Wrens, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Starlings, Tree Sparrows, Great Tits, Wood Pigeons, Ring Doves, Magpies and the Robin have all been present.

Almost as to confirm in my mind that we are in for an early Spring the Doves had started to build their nest in the Spruce on 30th December and in fact this lunchtime Mr Dove was doing his duty so to speak.

The carp in my pond are more active now than I recall from previous winters and are taking the little food that I throw in each afternoon. Another sign perhaps that Spring will be early?

As you probably know I do not get to go fishing much nowadays as I am supposed to be accompanied ( I get the shakes, legs go weak, plus dizzy spells) and its difficult to plan ahead not knowing if tomorrow will be a ‘good day’ or a ‘bad day’. I do miss keeping in contact with the club, its members and its activities. Can we not all make more of this website newsletter, keeping it updated on a monthly basis.

Best wishes to all in 2011.