25 January 2013

Counting robins (and other birds)

For several years we've had multiple robins in the garden, in the last 'big snow' in 2010 we had five individuals who carefully took it in turns to visit the feeding station. Each robin had its own 'sector' and would stay there until the no-robins-land of the feeding station was available and then they would dart for the buggy nibbles, occasionally feathers would fly as two would arrive together and one would eventually back down.  There were obviously two pairs, who would tolerate each other but none of the other three, and one singleton who was definitely the last to arrive and was always the last to venture forward waiting until the other four were well out of range.  How things change this year we have just one robin who virtually lives under the feeders, hopping up into the herb bed and hiding in the shrubbery to avoid the worst of the weather.  Sunday is our day for the Big Garden Birdwatch, usually done whilst listening to Desert Islands discs (I hope it's someone good this week) and it may prove more than a little difficult this year. Although robins will be easy (one) blackbirds are numbering into the dozen, long-tailed tits are heading towards 20 and as for finches - well I know which species (chaf, green, gold and brambling too) but trying to count them could turn out to be impossible.  Added to which it is currently blizzarding (once again) and only part of the garden is visible the rest is lost in a swirling white miasma of flakes. 

The village has been officially cut off for several days this past week and a police presence was required to stop people trying to use it as an alternative route, photo here by reporter on the local paper. Villagers and those with legitimate reasons were allowed past the gatekeeper but grudgingly.
SubEd HB's husband drives a wagon delivering agricultural feed and has been one of the few allowed past the barriers, he's been all over the moors ploughing his own way through drifts, sliding across the ice but the feed has to get through, one morning after delivering in the village he called in at home for a cup of tea and managed to get his wagon stuck! HB was "in a kink" and we've all had a good giggle too (sorry, Dave).

So unsurprisingly our post has been somewhat erratic but one of the few items that made it to us was a missive from Royal Mail letting us know that it is their "intention to publish new prices in early March.  These prices will come into effect 30 days after publication."  We are assuming that it's going to be another significant price increase, should this be the case we will have to pass that on to readers of the postal copies.  We have absorbed a 10% increase in printing costs and a 7% increase in paper costs but there's no further room for manoeuvre in the current subscriptions prices so we will have to increase your rates.  As soon as we receive notification from Royal Mail on the new prices we'll work out the new rates and let you know.  Don't worry we change rates over night, we have a standard four week notice period.

We don't forsee any reason to change digital subscription rates, the one exception being a change in VAT rates which is possible in the next Budget speech from the Chancellor to be delivered on 20 March.

Which all leads to this week's vital numbers, there are 56 adverts for jobs, 50 of which came direct to CJS, a further 20 adverts for volunteers, just over a page of Work Days happening during February and lots of news all in Monday's 18 page edition of CJS Weekly which has now gone to print and digital editions will be live soon.  As if that's enough we've added details of 106 new short courses to the online Training Directory.

We're trying to send AW home, she drove today and we've just received this photo in by tweet, that's the main road in, just below where the barricade was earlier in the week.  She won't go, so if she ends up walking again....