I could happily say 'Don't come back', to this one! I was late getting going this morning and dressing by the upstairs window I spotted this bird on the path, eyeing up the goldfish. But the heron deterrent and the tangle of soft netting (put round the pond in the summer to stop the young cat across the road fishing for his supper and flattened somewhat by the heavy snow) put the kybosh on that idea!
I pattered downstairs to get the camera and puffed up again by which time he'd walked this far down the path and was about to disappear behind the trellis, so only one chance for a shot.Then he flew onto the fence, sitting in the sun, warming his feathers and keeping an eye on the world. He was there for some time gazing around. I went down, hoping to make him fly away, which he duly did, but low down so no chance of getting a flying shot.
I have an interesting book by Francesca Greenoak called 'All the Birds of the Air - The names, lore and literature of British Birds.' It came from a charity shop for next to nothing because it's one of those paperbacks which 'breaks' into sections the minute you use it so lives with an elastic band round its middle.
The piece on herons says they have been with us since well before historical times, maybe about 400,000 years. The word Heron is Norman French and they were considered as prey for hawking. The birds were also used at banquets in the Middle Ages. Interestingly the local names for a heron seem to be in counties from the Midlands 'up' and plenty in Scotland. Only two 'southern' names, Ern in Somerset and Jack Hern in Sussex.
Bernard has put a piece on his blog about snowdrops in Great Missenden churchyard last year so I looked to see how Stone's snowdrops were doing this year. Nothing like the amount in Missenden's churchyard but enough. Like so many churchyardsours is much higher inside than the ground outside but there's a special reason for ours being like this apart from hundreds of years of burials.
A Lunatic Asylum was built in Stone, opening in 1853 and meant to serve the whole county. With the mental health knowledge of the time it was expected that patients would stay for a few weeks, be 'cured' and go home. As the patients died they were brought to the village churchyard to be buried - there was nowhere else to take them, unless relatives took them home. In 18 years almost 400 patients had been buried in the village's ground and there had been some unease
for some years that there wouldn't be room for the villagers when their time came.
Eventually, in 1871, an Asylum cemetery was opened, for patients and workers, if the latter wished. It was across a large field opposite the Asylum gates to a small space which is now surrounded by trees; it was enlarged in later years. No headstones were allowed and records are closed under a 100 Year Rule though earlier information can be found in the Record Office. One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Bucks Family History Open Day is - Do you have any information on so-and-so who died in the Hospital in the 1920s (or1930s)?.You can get an idea of the height of the ground from the road in this photo. Why are snowdrops en masse so hard to photograph effectively. They seem to melt away and end up like a layer of frost!