Wintry Walks in the Woodlands

We’re approaching freezing temperatures now so it’s getting harder to spot wildlife as it is sensibly staying out of the open. I’ve put together a short collection of some photos I have managed to get in various woodlands in Norfolk.

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 Marsh tit

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Stag Sculpture

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Bluetits on the feeder

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It’s like Disney!

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A festive fave

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Ruddy shelduck

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Reeds on a grey day

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Bark and moss

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Fungi

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Another festive robin

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Wrapped up

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Winter Birds

It goes without saying that winter can be a tough time for wildlife, but when the leaves have fallen from the trees it becomes much easier to spot birds and follow the tracks and signs of other animals. We also do of course get to see different birds, those migrants who have come south for the warmer weather, so it’s an interesting time of year. If you’re just getting into birding, please don’t pack away your bins til spring, as there’s plenty to see if you can handle the cold weather.

Now I adore cosy nights in as much as any hygge-loving soul, but I also get fed up in winter with all the time I have to spend inside so I make a real effort to get out on dry days. Here’s the winter birds I’m looking out for in my local area this season.

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Hawfinch – a rare sight and normally a notoriously shy bird, in recent years we’re seeing flocks. There has been a large influx from eastern Europe and twitchers are understandably galvanized. They feed on the ground so you’re more likely to spot them in winter.

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Redwing – a countryside winter roamer, the redwing has a striking red flank and can team up in flocks with fieldfares.

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Fieldfares – A more colourful thrush, the fieldfare is a winter visitor and can arrive in flocks. Look out for them amongst the hawthorn bushes.

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Waxwings – surely the most glamorous winter bird, with its glossy, waxy coat and little tuft of feathers on the head. If you’re going to follow any of the links in this post, please follow this one to see a lovely video of a flock of gorgeous waxwings feeding on rowan berries.

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Brambling – annoyingly for a bird that looks remarkably like a chaffinch, it actually flocks with chaffinches, so can be difficult to spot!

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Snow Bunting – robins aside, is there a more festive bird? Snow buntings are buntings with white feathers on their underside and migrate from the Artic and Scandinavia in winter. Can be found in flocks along the coast.

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Robin – reliable robin, always present, but only really gets attention at Christmas, with good reason. The UK’s favourite bird.

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Goldcrest – an elusive garden bird, they join mixed flocks in the colder months and their tiny beak favours pine forests.

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Blackcap – quite dull looking and often overlooked, yet quite pleasing and fluffy. I saw one this morning as I drove through a very treed area.

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Shorelark – they like coastlines and sometimes wander into fields and are really quite rare in the UK.

Whats winter birds have you seen so far this season and what are you looking forward to searching for? 

 

FYI these are not my photos, just from the internet.

 

Pure Pet Food for my cat – a review

Pure Pet Food for my cat – a review

I had heard good things about Pure Pet Food‘s innovative dog food (they were featured on Dragon’s Den) so when they got in touch to ask me to review their new range of freeze-dried cat food, I was very excited.

First, let me introduce you to my cat: Lyra. We got her over a year ago from the Cat’s Protection and she had been living rough on the local allotments and bringing up her babies in such adversity. She’s the friendliest cat I’ve ever known (clearly a valuable skill on the allotments) and she integrated herself into our home very well. She’s always been a bit of a fussy eater – she’s so petite and only eats small amounts in one go, usually taking most of the day to get through her breakfast. So any new food type we are excited to try to see if it will encourage her to eat a bit more regularly.

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Pure Pet Food source their ingredients from human-grade farms – so you can eat it too, if you really want. The concept of freeze-drying pet food is that it retains and preserves more of the nutrients than wet food, and it lasts a hell of a lot longer because it comes in powder form and you just add warm water to re-hydrate it. I’m expecting that this will turn out to be really convenient for us as Lyra seems to have such a small stomach and only eats small amounts, meaning that a lot of wet food gets wasted; so, dry food that we re-hydrate will be less wasteful as we can choose the amount to feed her based on how much she tends to get through.

What’s it all about?

  • No wheat, corn, or soya, sweeteners or other unnecessary additives.
  • Higher nutrient value than wet food
  • 6 wholesome natural ingredients
  • Good for improving skin condition
  • Good for digestion
  • Suitable for fussy eaters

The ingredients

Surf & Turf: *

  • Chicken & chicken liver (75%)
  • White fish (10%)
  • Carrot
  • Minerals
  • Apple
  • Celery
  • Salmon oil

Whisker Lickin’ Chicken: *

  • Chicken & chicken liver (85%)
  • Egg (5%)
  • Carrot
  • Minerals
  • Salmon Oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Spinach

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The verdict: As soon as I added the warm water to the dried food, Lyra must have caught a whiff of it and was extremely eager to try it. But I had to keep her waiting for up to 5 minutes for the food to soak up the water and re-hydrate and expand, which sadly I could not explain to my hungry, pestering kitty.

When I finally put the bowl down, she gobbled it up like it was a roast dinner. Clearly, this food was a winner and we will certainly be looking at stocking up. It’s good to introduce your cat to this type of food gradually as it’s a change in diet, so the advice is to try a little bit in her normal wet food and increase it gradually. The only off-putting aspect of this product is that it seems expensive; howeverwhen you consider that this 200g pack of dried food equates to 800g of fresh food when you re-hydrate it, the price seems much more reasonable and affordable, considering all the benefits.

* I was gifted these products but all opinions are my own and I always give honest reviews.

Alternative vegetarian & vegan Christmas dinners

I don’t want to lecture or rant.* You’ll do what you want, regardless. But maybe just consider that the seasonal slaughter of turkeys and ducks is not completely necessary? There are some alternative meals you could be enjoying instead.

Scouring Pinterest for some veggie Christmas dinners for this post has been mouth-watering stuff, and actually all the recipes I’ve found seem quite easy. No defrosting the bird in the bath overnight only to find it’s too big for your oven. And what with Sainsbury’s vegan cheeseboard, procuring affordable non-meat and non-diary food stuffs is actually starting to be feasible.

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Here’s my top 5 suggestions for veggie mains that I’ve narrowed it down to. What should I choose?

  1. Beetroot & squash wellington
  2. Squash, chickpea and spinach filo pie
  3. Vegetable, almond & brazil nut roast
  4. Stuffed roasted squash
  5. Chestnut, port & thyme strudel

I’m also hosting a small Christmas party and looking for ideas for veggie canapes and snacks – does anyone have any ideas?

And if all else fails, Yotam Ottelengi will save me from a meaty Christmas.

*But it would be remiss of me not to provide a few Christmas turkey facts for you to consider.

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Cute Vegan Organic Skincare – Christmas Gift Set

Fair Squared are one of my favourite organic, natural skincare and beauty brands, and their products are all vegan and Fair Trade. They never test their products on animals – so they are right up my street. Fair Squared are one of those companies that have so many certifications that they can barely fit them all on the packaging; Vegan Society, Fair Trade, Peta, Natrue, and Fair Rubber.

They sent me this lovely Christmas gift set to try out.

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Fair Squared Christmas Gift Set *

4 cute mini skincare essentials, all certified vegan and Fair Trade, using natural ingredients. At £8.95 this is a really good idea as a Christmas gift set for a friend or family member who likes organic, natural, vegan, cruelty-free products, and a good introduction for someone looking to get to know an organic brand like this but doesn’t know where to start. I really love the simple packaging on these bottles.

  • Green Tea Body Lotion: containing the finest Fair Trade green tea from India. I love body lotions as I do get very dry skin, especially in winter. This bitesize bottle is perfect for handbags or leaving by the kitchen sink.
  • Vanilla Shower Gel: contains Fair Trade olive oil from Palestine. A cute sample of a classic in their range and convenient for taking to the gym for the post-workout shower.
  • Apricot Shampoo: contains Fair Trade apricot kernel oil from Pakistan. A lovely lather and a beautiful smell of apricots, which is not an ingredient I would immediately think to put on my hair, but the smell is so good that I would definitely use this again.
  • Olive Hand Soap: contains Fair Trade olive oil from Palestine. A really nice and supple soap, left my hands very soft.

 

You can buy more of Fair Squared’s range here.

 

* Denotes a gift I received. My opinions are nevertheless my own and I always give honest reviews.

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