December Begins

Random Things

Calends, Nones, and Ides

We all know that Julius Cesar was stabbed to death on the Ides of March but what are, or is, the Ides?

The Roman calendar highlighted a number of days in each month:

  • Calends were the first days of each month. The name is derived from the Greek word καλειν, to announce, which may initially have been used in the ancient lunar calendar to “announce” the day of the New Moon (or the first sliver of the Waxing Crescent Moon).
  • Ides (Idus) occurred one day before the middle of each month. Depending on the month’s length, it fell on the 13th or 15th day. In the lunar calendar, the Ides marked the day of the Full Moon.
  • Nones (Nonae) fell on the 7th day of 31-day months and on the 5th day of 29-day months, marking the day of the First Quarter Moon.

These markers were used to number the days in each month, counting backward from the upcoming Calends, Ides, or Nones. The count always included the day of the marker. For example, the 11th day of Martius (March) would be known as “Five Ides” to the Romans because it is the fifth day before the Ides of Martius, which fell on the 15th day.

Friday December the Second

Robins are here all year but their numbers are swollen in winter by incomers from colder points North and East. Robins are incredibly territorial whether for mates or food.

A robin’s lifespan is just 13 months on average due to high mortality among robins in their first year. Once they’ve passed that barrier, they stand a much better chance of surviving for quite a while – the record currently stands at 19 years.

Robins are very territorial birds and will viciously attack other robins on their patch. A dispute starts with males singing at each other, trying to get a higher perch in order to show off their breast most effectively. This usually ends the challenge, with one individual deferring to the other.

Sometimes it can escalate to a fight, which can result in injury or death.

In some populations, up to 10% of adult mortality is due to clashes over territory. Robins are born without a red breast, and don’t acquire it until their first moult.

*mostly from here.

Over the fence in the school field are five enormous leylandii. One of them is apparently flowering- I don’t know if it’s male or female.

Saturday the Third

Bark of an oak

Hazel catkins getting ready for next year.

Those tiny ‘shrooms are still on the mossy tree.

I always check this tree ’cause until recently it hosted Judas’ Ear fungus despite its not being an elder.

I noticed a little clump of small mushrooms in a crack in the bark.

Willow turning golden.

Monday Fifth December

Random Things

On the fifth of December in 1872 the American brigantine Mary Celeste was found abandoned some 400 nautical miles (740 km) from the Azores, Portugal; the fate of the 10 people aboard remains a mystery.

That view of the pond … again!

Morse Lock and the canal below it.

The mossy willow.

Tuesday Sixth December

Lichen is really showing now.

A new, to me, candlesnuff fungus.

I like umbellifers, can you tell?

Flying to the sunset!

Tat tree – again!

Moon above St. John’s Church.


Random Fact

On this day in 1941, Japanese bombers launched a surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, precipitating the entry of the United States into World War II.

Only the one pic ’cause I didn’t go out:

Thursday 8th December

Random Things

On the eighth of December in 1980, John Lennon was fatally shot by Mark David Chapman in New York City.

The Pond

Still my favourite view of the Pond.

Chubby robin.

Silver birches glowing golden in the evening sun.

After a cold day there’s still frost othe fungus on a fallen tree.

This dunnock’s hunger overcame its fear as it almost touched my feet.

Even at three o’clock the frost was still covering where the sun hadn’t reached all day.

Kestrel hovering over the rugby field.

The low sun catching the top of the willow and the poplar over the darkling canal.

November Ends

Just a very short one for the last November post

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one, Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear, and twenty-nine in each leap y

Those with November birthdays have two beautiful birthstones to choose from: topaz and citrine. Topaz comes in a rainbow of colors; citrine is prized for its charming yellow and orange hues. Both November birthstones are known to have calming energies while bringing fortune and warmth to the wearer. Most topaz and citrine birthstones are affordably priced, as good-quality gems are not as rare as for many of their counterparts. This means that those born in November have many options to choose from. Your challenge will be deciding which one to pick.

On the seventh of November I created a ‘Mastodon’ account as Twitter was showing signs of becoming a right wing hangout when Elon Musk took over.

I joined the Scottish instance. Many others have jumped to various Mastodon servers and I’ve managed to keep in touch with quite a few. There are people that I’ll miss: chiefest among them being a Slovenian teacher. See you around Barbara.

Why Scottish?

I love Scotland and its people and would move there like a shot if I had the wherewithal. My first choice would be Edinburgh (of course) with Inverness running a close second. I’ve never stopped in Glasgow but would like to visit. I try to visit north o’ the border every year – assuming covid doesn’t interfere. For some years I roamed Scotland in a motor home with my then cat. I covered the whole of the country North to South and East to West and Edinburgh wins!

Wednesday the Thirtieth

Not sure if this cherry blossom is late for spring this year or early for next.

These white, pink and purple blobs are tiny Judas’ Ear fungi. As is common they are ensconced in an elder tree.

More of those titchy mushrooms on the moss and lichen covered willow.

Another of those umbellifer seed heads against a grey sky.

So architectural …

Back Soon With The Start of December

Still November

It seems that the links to my pages are in fact there. At the extreme bottom of the page there’s lots of stuff I didn’t realise existed.

Thursday 24th November

Pretty birds but noisy and rather evil methinks. They are called seagulls, but by far the majority we see round here – miles from the nearest sea – will rarely have cast an eye on the sea.

The Judas’ ear fungus looking more earlike by the day.

More moss on a decaying elder.

When I was a nipper we had an elder tree or two at the bottom of our garden. I always, and still occasionally do, referred to them as ‘elderberry trees’.

More elder moss.

Incidentally we had a wartime Anderson Shelter in our garden. It was there until I was seven or eight.

One of my favourite pics and incidentally one of my most liked on Twitter. Just floating Autumn debris on the canal.

The obligatory Pond vid. Birch trees becoming more skeletal. and the willows on the bank have lost all their leaves.

Robin. Not easiest to focus on among the branches and twigs in the blackthorn bushes.

Friday 25th November

Looking up to the silver birches on the hillside above the pond.

Again my fave bit of lichen. Still a few haws clinging to the twigs.

Someone – I think I know who – has left a feeder above the canal milestone.

She fills it quite often and it’s emptied within a day.

Canal looking down (East) to Morse Lock

Moss and tiny, tiny mushrooms on a prone willow tree. There’s a bit of green lichen too.

More of the same

or similar.


Silhouetted tree against the setting sun


Saturday the Twenty-sixth of November

Very unusual to see more than one cormorant at a time on the pond – here’s three!

Parent and child great crested grebes eying the competition.

Robin eying the seed that I’ve just dropped on the milestone.

Autumnal oak over the canal

Stret Lock top gate is still leaking despite the remedial work carried out a couple of months ago.

A burr.

Facts of interest:

dandelion and burdock derives from the roots of this plant;

VelcroTM (hook and loop) was created in imitation of the hooks on these burrs.

Dog rose arching beautifully over the path. numerous haws and one bud.

Here’s the bud from the previous dog rose pic. Isn’t it lovely?

Mossy oak branch with a smidgen of lichen.

Oak leaf ready to fall.

I do like umbellifer flower/seed heads. If you look, you’ll see that the individual flower heads mimic the whole thing.

Alder trees are beginning to sport catkins. Not dropping pollen yet.

I played with a picture of Shireoaks top lock.

What this bird was, I wasn’t too sure and it flew off before I could get near.

I suspect it was a little egret (which I didn’t realise was in fact a type of heron).

At the side of the canal towpath there are patches of tiny mushrooms that repeat at irregular intervals.

The parent Great Crested Grebe.

Monday 28th November

Grebes are on the pond still

Cormorant – anglers like ’em not!

Nature takes over.

Ragged thistles against a grey sky

As leaves fall nests become visible in the hedgerows.

Autumn leaves floating on the canal.

Approaching …