Wildlife Wednesday – Looking for a New Home


Female Black Bird

Gentle Female Black Bird

Much has happened over the last 6 months. We have been on the house hunting roller coaster, drawing ever increasing circles on a map to find a new garden and a place we can call home. Leaving here is an easy decision, our children have their own homes now and our once rural outlook has changed – along with our little band of neighbours we fought and lost to a development ironically wanting the slice of rural life we have here. Sharing is hard sometimes.

Song Thrush eating the last of our Viburnahm berries

Declining Song Thrush enjoying the last of our Viburnham berries

The days of watching bats swoop across the house and listening to Owls call to each other have gone, as the field of wildflowers, damp ditches and pioneer trees are now turned over in the name of progress, I hope new hunting grounds have been found. Its time for a new family to live here, we have superb schools in our slice of commuter belt, our lovely village has an increasingly rare post office and thriving shop, great pubs and wonderful walks.

Blue Tit in a hurry

Busy little Blue Tit

But for us, we’d like something even more remote, maybe not a sensible decision in our mid fifties, a place with a huge pond, some wilderness, somewhere to grow trees, hedges and habitats for the wildlife we love and somewhere to create another garden from scratch. As for the house, we are really open minded. Somewhere for family and friends to visit would be lovely.

More Tea Vicar?

More Tea Vicar? (Our Summer table converted to bird table for the winter)

We’ve looked in Yorkshire,  the East Coast, the West Coast, the South Coast, South Wales, Mid Wales, over to France, The Cotswolds. We almost bought a house in Somerset, but our chain broke, then felt relieved we hadn’t.

Scarpering Magpie

Scarpering Magpie

Our ideal home would be away from intensively farmed land. But as 70% of land is farmed in the UK and we need access to parents and children, the search is still on.  Organic wild life friendly farms are few and far between. The impending detachment from EU legislation and the protection they gave our wildlife, is hopefully an opportunity for our government to commit to better or at the very least equal what we had. Farming although ‘rural’ does not mean more wildlife, often its the reverse, the trashing of our soils, the basis of life, the overload of chemicals at the expense of pollinators and the wider natural food chain, leaves us all poorer. Humans have food but laden with toxic pollutants, the natural world is in a desperate sharp decline.

Greater Spotted Woodpecker sharing sunflower hearts with a Great Tit

Greater Spotted Woodpecker sharing sunflower hearts with a Great Tit

Six months of headless chicken searching on top of a crazy work schedule, has been comical at times, less so at others. And our buyer’s fragile chain has been a blessing as its given a breathing space to sort through a life times possessions. Mice had made a shredded nest in a box of children’s painting age 5. I hope their babies are as talented as mine.

Tea for Two

Tea for Two

We shall probably be here till Spring, then take a rented house for a while. There is lots more still to sort, children’s paintings age 6 to start with. Decluttering and packing up for storage is very time consuming. Especially when there are birds to watch, walks to walk and stars to gaze at.

Thats not a turkey bone! Blue tit

That’s not a turkey bone! Blue Tit enjoying the remnants of a fat block.

Our visiting birds are less skittish now we are at home more, they seemed as unsettled as we did. Most species will happily carry about their business with me in the garden but quickly forgot we are friends not foe on our return.

Happy to sit near by, one of our friendly robins

Happy to sit near by, one of our friendly Robins

WordPress has changed since I last wrote a post, has anyone upgraded? I think I am nearly up to capacity on photo storage, with 31% remaining, I’ve reduced the photo quality on this post, is this the best way to deal with that? I’m linking with Tina today for her Wildlife Wednesday meme, it seemed the most appropriate way to explain my absence. I’ve asked Tina already, but she is not up for sale otherwise we would be moving there!

Happy Wildlife Watching!

88 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday – Looking for a New Home

  1. Your bird photos are beautiful. 🙂 Having moved after 30 years of accumulation was not a simple process. But, the funniest thing was when I kept asking family members if they wanted those beloved things I’d saved for so long, and the answer repeatedly was ‘no.’ 🙂 I finally came to grips with if they didn’t want all that stuff why move it. Good luck paring things down and finding that perfect piece of ground. Happy 2017.

    • Judy, thats funny, we’ve been through the exact same here with our children they look horrified when I ask that they might like these things. Thanks for your good wishes, I hope 2017 is happy for you too.

  2. Wonderful pictures Julie, and I hope the new year will bring you a new home 🙂 I can’t imagine how moving after many years, from a large place would be….

    I’ve upgraded the wordpress and is OK. I have no choice, my website/shop needs to integrate well with all the others features.
    Re pictures – I always re-size them and the resolution is good enough for what gets displayed on the blog. Of course it’s extra work.

    • Hello, I hope you do not mind me asking but are you paying the $24.95 a month? Or is there another way to upgrade for less? I should of resized from the beginning, but shall from now on and do not want to trash any posts as I like looking back sometimes, more evidence of my hoarding I fear! 😉

      • Do you have to pay on wordpress.com right now? I am not using my old blog anymore, and it was free when I did.

        My website now is on wordpress.org and I pay more than 25$ but it’s justified since I have my own server and control over administration.
        Sorry, maybe I don’t understand well what you are actually paying?

      • Sorry that was me in a muddle/panic yesterday, I’ve found all of the options to upgrade now. WordPress.com has limited ‘free’ gb storage, which I use now and will upgrade to premium for 13gb storage at $8.25 a month. I can see why for your business you need much more than that. Thanks for replying.

      • OK, that makes sense.
        Still, if you downsize your images probably would be able to use it free. There is no difference for an image posted on the blog – if it’s good (and yours are excellent:) they will show as such, no matter the size they are uploaded (is the quality and resolution that count).

  3. It is always hard throwing ‘the past’ away; I had to be ruthless when we moved to Italy but in the 13 years since that happened we seem to have collected a whole lot more! With memory sticks being so cheap now, why not take photographs of the children’s pictures and then throw most away. It is lovely to see a post from you again, welcome back.

  4. So nice to “see” you back in the blogosphere, you and your gorgeous photos! I feel your angst about moving and the attempt to capture some wild. I will tell you that I’m in a decidedly urban spot though, certainly not near any real green-space–plus, you’d HATE our summers! 🙂 All that said, I wish you well in your house hunting, we’re contemplating the same, only a possible move far across the country. Your bird shots are stunning and that little robin at the end is a perfect way to end your post as he looks cheery and hopeful and we all need to hang on to that!! Thanks for joining in today–so nice!

    • I have madly just got the map book out, trying to imagine where you could be thinking of, too many choices of course. I would be hopeless in the heat! But maybe one day we will get to visit Texas, your wildlife is very enticing. Thanks for hosting Tina. x

  5. It is such a relief to read your post and catch up on your life, unsettled as it may be right now. Your post is remarkable: an anthem to leaving home and searching for a new one. Development is a strange thing: it pushes up property values, while reducing the true value of the natural things we hold dear. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the last best place in the country– and now you will have to find your own. Interesting too, how as we mourn the things that will no longer be, a new buyer coming in — having never known those things — will cherish the things that still are. You may remember the Blue House from my first book A Good Home. The new owners absolutely love it.

    Julie, I love your post for the bittersweet reality of it, the telling details of what you and your family have treasured while living there. And I’m thankful that you have shared with us the changes that you are experiencing. To quote Julian of Norwich: All shall be well.

    • Cynthia, I’m not sure you know this well enough, but you really have the very best way of expressing things. And yes, I remember the Blue House. Thanks so much for your kindness, my friend. x

  6. Well how nice to have you back, I missed you. I hope you find your dream house in your dream location, somewhere you can create your own paradise. And I hope you will share some photos when you find it. As usual, some stunning photos here.

  7. Nice to have you back. 🙂 I hope you find that nice little ideal spot somewhere – such a difficult thing to do. I think you’re right in waiting for spring, it’s always a fresh start with new horizons and sometimes a better outlook! 🙂

    Fingers crossed for you. 🙂

    • Hi Kate, thanks for Susan’s link, I’ve just read her post. When you upgraded did you pay the $24.95 a month or is this a new charge? I’d like to be able to post without restriction, so can see I may have to bite the bullet.

      • Hi Kate, I had been looking under the new SEO tab on the front page, where the only option is ‘free’ or ‘business’. I’ve just found premium for $8.25 a month, under the old Admin tab with 13gb, so will go for that.

  8. So good to see a post from you again Julie! I haven’t had the time to post much this last year and we aren’t moving unlike you! Best of luck with the packing and the search for a new home.
    Our house is in the middle of intensively farmed land and certainly I have noticed that during the past 10 years there are fewer and fewer insects about. But that is a nation-wide problem, isn’t it? I have no idea whether this coincides with the use of a new insecticide – it probably does. However, our local farmer is interested in preserving the local wildlife and though he has to make a living from his farm he also does all he can to encourage wild flowers, insects, birds and animals. We have made our garden a nearly insecticide/herbicide-free area. It would be totally free if I was in charge of the whole garden but my husband uses herbicide in a couple of places. 😦 Over the past decade, though we have fewer and fewer insects generally as already stated, we have noticed that many wild flowers are arriving and staying in the garden. We have three types of orchid here for example. We now have a visiting kingfisher and three types of deer (though they are more trouble than they are worth, to be honest!)
    What I am trying to say is, many areas may look unpromising initially, but they could have real potential for the kind of garden/sanctuary you are planning. Find out about local land-owners and whether they are likely to sell/build on adjacent land to the property you are interested in; are they interested in green issues?
    Your photos are so good! I was able to afford to up-grade my WP account so I have no trouble at the moment with storage space. I do re-size my photos, which I don’t like doing for obvious reasons, but they load much faster onto my posts. My daughter tells me that if you transfer all your photos onto a Flickr account you can then copy/paste them into a post without using the WP library. I haven’t tried this but she is probably right.
    Best wishes to you and your family and have a wonderful 2017!
    Clare xx

    • Hi Clare, in my mind, your garden is also my ideal especially your huge pond. I had my very first encounter with a Kingfisher in the wild only last September, you are so fortunate to have one visit your garden! And you are so right to point out insect loss is across the country, The Big Butterfly count reported numbers were considerably lower in 2016, despite a very warm summer. I hear what you are saying about new areas too, having this winter break has been a blessing, we’ve realised that we had not explored lots of places and some right under our noses.
      I remember looking previously into upgrading and there was a yearly fee, is it now $24.95 a month, or have I misunderstood?
      I shall try to explore Flickr too, thanks for that suggestion.
      My very best wishes for 2017 to you and yours too Clare. xx

      • I had the money to pay for a year’s upgrade and did it rather than spend ages finding other ways of dealing with dwindling space in my photo storage. Laziness really! I paid £85 for a year – rather a lot of money I’m afraid but not as much as I think you mention. I think the higher rate is for a business site – there is a lower rate you can opt for. WP do all the money conversion stuff and present you with a bill which I paid through Paypal.
        I think I said cut and paste instead of copy and paste in my comment. I have been helping Elinor mount some pictures on A2 paper and cutting and pasting are on my mind all the time! It’s good you are now taking your time to search for the right place. I’m sure it will turn up – best to be sure rather than rush into things xx

      • Thanks Clare, on the new front page under SEO, only two options are given ‘Free or ‘Business’, I’ve found the premium option now and shall go for that one.
        Many moons ago I worked in a graphics studio, I remember mounting pictures to be so absorbing it became therapeutic. Thanks again. x

  9. Nice to see a post from you Julie. Sounds like you’ve been very busy. Downsizing is no picnic. We’ve been slowly tackling different areas the past couple of years – closets, books, to try to pare down, but we still have lots. I hope we never have to move!
    I pay $100USD to WP/yr. for 13GB. It might be different in the UK?

    • Hi Eliza, Thank you that sheds some light, I’ve now realised I’ve been looking at the business option, under the new SEO tab, – In the Admin section, of the old layout the premium option with 13gb is $8.25 a month, so the same as for you. I shall go for that one. Thanks for your help. 🙂

  10. You are right, Cynthia has a way with words but so do you. And your bird portraits are so beautiful. The birds will all miss you when you go, and I hope whom ever buys your house continues to feed them! I am sorry to hear about the development, it seems to never stop. I hope you find what you are looking for – not easy in this day and age. But I get the impression you will be creating your own bit of wildlife paradise where ever you go. Happy new year 🙂

  11. Your photos are lovely Julie, and I certainly did not notice any loss in quality. I upgraded recently when my storage space ran low, paying for more capacity and a dotcom address. It is lovely to hear from you after such a long absence, and so interesting to hear about your house searching. We are in a very similar situation, with development possible just beyond our garden gate. This year could be a positive upheaval for us both! Good luck with the search for a new home and garden, and a very Happy New Year!

    • Hi Cathy, thank you, sorry to hear about the proposed development. I really like your phrase ‘Positive upheaval’, that’s the way forward. My sister pointed out that we were not rooted like trees and could move which made me feel back in control of my life. Its forced us to be less complacent and take stock too. Good luck to you Cathy and a very Happy New Year!

  12. Hello Julie,
    Fabulous photos and a fascinating review of your circumstances. I’m sure that you”ll find the move and decluttering hugely positive once it completes. I’m just reading John Lewis-Stempel’s second book (The Running Hare) which is a heart felt rail against modern farming and what it has done to our countryside …and this from fairly backward Herefordshire. So I understand your desire to move on. There are still pockets of unspoiled countryside in the UK, and I wish you well in finding a home in one of these, You’ll love it!
    Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2017,

    • Hi Julian, against the odds, I struggled a wee bit with Meadowland, and finally decided its because I wanted to know more about JL-S. I shall try The Running Hare. I love what you and Fiona have and how you have created both an inspiring home and garden. Best wishes to you both, I hope 2017 is happy and healthy for you too.

      • Thanks Julie …actually I’m not finding I like The Running Hare as much as Meadowland, though in some ways there are more insights into JLS childhood and what makes him tick, so maybe you would enjoy it.
        I forgot to say that re WP, I’ve always resized my pics down to about 850 max for uploading. In spite of this I recently exhausted my data allowance so paid for an upgrade, but we still only (? I think this is fair for what I get) pay about $99 a year for our customised option) As indeed Fiona does for the site for cothigardeners. I wasn’t aware of a change – though WP do seem to regularly fiddle with layouts/formats which I find a pain. My biggest very recent change after finally upgrading my camera to a bridge Lumix, is to ditch recording in RAW. I always did this with the justification that if I ever wanted to do anything else with the image, I’d have better quality. But this meant every image had to be converted from RAW to Jpeg, then resized and then refiled into a “blog” folder before uploading. With the Lumix, I just take loads more jpegs, sift thro’ and then resize and upload – still at about 850 max. I don’t know whether the pics are as high quality as yours, but I think they’re perfectly adequate. Don’t know whether this is of any interest, but the $28 per month did seem a lot for you to have to pay,
        best wishes

      • Hello Julian, I’ve been given a selection of wildlife books for Christmas, so far The Running Sky by Tim Dee is a good read.
        I have now found the premium option for upgrading – that’s the one you have.
        The new layout threw me as – on the front page of the new layout under SEO only two are given, ‘free’ and the pricey ‘business’ at $24.95. So I am going for the option you have.
        Your photos are always beautiful, Can I ask what programme do you use when manipulating the image?
        I have been economical for some time knowing the limit was near, so upgrading will hopefully be liberating too.
        Many thanks,

      • Julie, How interesting…I was given a Time Dee book years ago and just couldn’t get on with his style! Personal preferences in authors…Re my pics, historically we’ve used very old Jasc software to resize images after coverting from RAW with teh sigma software. Now I’m still going to use this – Jasc has now been acquired by Corel…and their Corel Paint Shop Pro X is quite cheap to buy, and we find it simpler to use than Adobe which we also have. With the new Lumix, I’m still learning the camera’s foibles but its focus response time is so goos compared with the Sigma plus a really good zoom, that I don’t think I’ll regret switching. Plus hopefully being a fixed lens like my Camcorder, a much reduced risk of sensor grot and spots,
        Best wishes

  13. Oh a move to a new place is such a stressful process particularly if you don’t know where you’re going. We moved from an urban environment to a rural one that couldn’t have been more different from what I was used to (though my husband was brought up in the country). We did the same as you and rented til we found the place we wanted. The only thing we knew was that we wanted to move to mid-Wales, which is where we are now. And of course the seemingly-endless sorting through of, and dispersal of, possessions.

    The birds will take a little while to get used to you again after an absence – they get into a bit of a huff with us if we’re away even for a few hours!

    As for WordPress, it is always changing, that’s the nature of this site. Photos – well, if you can resize them, do (copies, not the originals), otherwise you might need to upgrade. But an alternative is to host your photos elsewhere (like Flickr) and then just embed them here via links to them. I used to do that: it means maintaining both sites, but at least you don’t have to shell out money for extra space here.

    I love your photos – particularly the bluetits. Welcome back!

    • Hi Val, Thank you for your kind comment and advice. You are living in a beautiful part of the country, the Brecon Beacons have featured on our search list and we looked at a house near Hay. It didn’t work out but our children are really fond of this area and holidayed in Abergavenny. Great walking country too. Happy New Year!

  14. Hey Julie, nice to see you posting again with ever bolder and clearer photos too. They are fantastic! Sorry to hear about the housing situation. It must be exhausting casting your net so wide. Good luck in your continuing search. Hope that you find your piece of heaven.

  15. Wonderful photos, I always enjoy seeing the birds and animals in other people’s backyards around the world. Your magpie looks quite different to our magpies here in Australia. Do yours have a lovely carolling birdsong too?

    • Hi Sue, no quite the reverse, a chattering cackle. Our Magpie is often viewed dimly, as they arrogantly predate our smaller birds young, not a favourite but very striking.

  16. So nice to here from you again. So many choices and places of beauty to go to, you will make the RIGHT choice Jules , your heart will tell you this is it. So good luck , my tiny garden is full of the same birds, living local in the trees and cemetery opposite. My lovely JAY is still very much a visitor, loving the peanuts, also 2 collared doves, and so much more. take care from paula mcquoid

    • Hi Paula, for the first time we had Nuthatches visit this winter, so I’m still hopefully of Jays, but none yet. They are beautiful, it must be lovely to watch one in your own garden. I hope 2017 brings even more birds to your garden too.

  17. Hi Jules,

    Sounds like your predicament is a similar tale to that I’ve heard from a significant number of others of late. To that end, I want to make your readers aware of a couple of pages shares I’ve had brought to my attention over on my Facebook page at naturestimeline StandUp4Nature. The link to which is as stated below. I hope all’s well that ends well and that all our nature-loving people continually fight their battles as and where they feel appropriate.


    Best Wishes

    Tony Powell and naturestimeline

    • Hi Tony, I’m not on FB, but followed your link – I’m not familiar with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, this seems at odds with it self, how can the two be compatible?

      • Hi Julie,

        I had worked for the GWCT for some years as a seasonal bird surveyor/researcher, I’m now an independent contractor. If you’re referring to the game and wildlife link up, it wasn’t always easy for me to understand that aspect. When you come to realise as an organisation they actively work with farmers (broadly 85% of UK landmass is farmed) and land managers etc. wildlife had to also be at the heart of what they do. Ultimately, they are a charity of forward thinking scientists, researchers, advisors and in general, damn good naturalists. Of course, not all will agree with my sentiments on them, which is fine by me.

        Best Wishes

        Tony Powell and naturestimeline

    • Thanks Marian, I have missed so much on here and loved catching up with some of your eye opening and beautiful visits yesterday – places almost on our doorstep, that you travel thousands of miles for. Thank you!

  18. Wonderful bird photos with charming captions. Our rural areas are decreasing quickly here as well. I’m just over an hour’s drive south of Tina and also live in an urban setting with a surprising wildlife population.

  19. Good luck with the new chapter in your life, I am sure it will be full of lots of adventures! As for wordpress capacity, after eating up my reserve dramatically I reduced my photo size significantly, it doesn’t seem to affect the quality on screen and takes up so much less space. xxx

  20. Happy new year Julie, good luck with the house search, finding a wildlife sanctuary is difficult with all the development that is demanded in the name of progress (HS2)? Leaving the EU will give us the opportunity to encourage more mixed farming, which would benefit wildlife. See Countryside Restoration Trust. I have found when moving to a new garden, when you start to feed the birds the wild life will find you.

    • Thank you for the link to CRT Brian, I have just been reading their website, I hadn’t heard of them.
      This is an opportunity to deal with many anomalies – CAP funding to grouse shoot owners is one area and more funding for small farmers, esp organic and wildlife friendly rather than to large wealthy owners and big conglomerates.

  21. I loved this post full of wonderful pics. I know what you mean about sharing .. we have the urban sprawl chasing us now, it fills me with dread for a host of reasons. We also had to share some of my fathers slides with some four legged critters. I couldn’t agree more about farm land either ..

  22. (J) Your photos are wonderful! Especially the Robin! We self-host , which gives maximum possibilities, but requires a geek in the family (me) and it costs quite a lot in charges with hosting firm eg 1&1. The WP upgrade is v good value and what you are used to. If you are not very tech-minded, upgrade your WordPress account. Not all agriculture is intensive. You might like living at the line where agriculture gives way to the moors, and places are to be found all across the N and W.

    • Hi Louise, thank you, hoping for a positive outcome this year plus my husband had laser treatment on his foot, and we are back walking again, nothing as fantastic as your trip, but some lovely decent very long walks at last.

  23. Hello..I had used most of my space on my 13gb wordpress blog when I contacted wordpress and they suggested that I upload photos no bigger than 1200 x 900 because that is about what anybody can view on their monitor. So I found I had huge size photos and used PSE to make many smaller and regained lots of space, but it takes time to make them smaller and to delete the old and replace those in the blog post….Michelle

      • Julie..it is Adobe PhotoShop Elements, an editing software but there are probably other options that could make your photos smaller in size yet not loose the impact. I have gotten 4 GB of my 13 GB space back and this blog is 10 years old.

  24. Hello Julie lovely to see your pictures again. House hunting is an all consuming business, I know, it took us nearly five years to find this place and we knew what area we needed to be in. Have you been to this part of Buckinghamshire close to the reservoirs, the bird life is great.

  25. Your photographs are superb. I do not understandwhy but reducing the size does not seem to affect the quality of the published photo on WordPress. Looking for a new home is very difficult so try not to compromise, the right one will turn up. Amelia

  26. It was so lovely to read a post from you Julie and to see your beautiful photos again. Oh goodness I read this with a measure of sadness though because I hate to think of you having to leave your lovely home and garden because of urban sprawl. I firmly believe that the right property is out there somewhere for you though, even if it takes a while to find it. I am excited to see what you find. It will be interesting to see how the exit from the EU will impact farming and the environment there. I am very concerned about how things will be impacted here especially as we now have a president who believes climate change is a myth and appears to have no regard for the environment. It’s all very worrying. Wishing you lots of luck in your search. Hope you will keep us posted. xx

    • Yes, its all extremely alarming. Maybe/hopefully the very justified concern will translate into positive action and a better balance with how we manage our diminishing natural world and the need to provide food and jobs. We need forward joined up global thinking. But currently its hard to feel that positive, dismissing Climate change is a short term way of creating jobs at the expense of the planet.
      Thank you for your good wishes Kate. x

  27. I know the feeling, all is being lost to this god called progress and growth. Some day they’ll realize that this wasn’t the right god to follow and then it’ll be too late. I wanted to live in a place like you describe and I do now. If you want any advice on which way to go, get in touch. All the best xx

  28. Beautiful photos! It took a friend of mine eight years to find her perfect home, but it was worth waiting for because she is so content now! I hope you find what you’re looking for soon. I still have at least ten boxes full of my son’s drawings, school and uni work, rugby tops, blazers, concert programmes, it’s all still here. I know I have to go through it all!

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful words, it is hard to declutter your own children things, they’ve left home and its the memories associated that I hang onto. Christina another blogger, suggested taking photos of everything especially artwork which I am starting to do, that way I can keep the memories.

    • Thanks Susie, we are heading into rented now, as we haven’t found the house we would really like to buy and settle in. I haven’t sown any seeds this year and its an odd feeling not to be planning my own garden, but hopefully all will fall into place by the end of the year!

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