Sunday, 30 June 2013

10 Reasons you should LOVE Puffins

Richard and I got the chance to go to Bempton Cliffs, a sea bird sanctuary, a couple weeks ago. This is a trip I have looked forward to since before I moved to England. Why you may ask? Every year from May to July, puffins take to the cliffs to breed before heading back out to sea. We got to see the puffins fishing during our cruise on Saturday and got to see them flying in and out of their burrows from atop the cliffs on Sunday. Puffins are definitely one of the coolest birds and in true BuzzFeed fashion, I will try to convince you to think so too!

1. Puffins are expressive little clown birds of the sea, penguin at the bottom and parrot at the top. Just look at their faces and little orange feet. What's not to love?

2. When they aren't breeding at the cliffs during the summer, puffins live at sea and rest by floating atop the water when they're not fishing.

3. Baby puffins are called pufflings.

4. Puffins rock at swimming and can dive down to 200 feet to nab some fish, using their wings to swim like penguins do.

5. Unlike penguins, puffins are great in the air too, flying up to 55 mph!

6. Pufflings live their first 3-5 years of life at sea before they start breeding on shore.

7. Puffins mate for life.

8. Puffins can hold a dozen fish in their beaks at one time.

9. They're quite loud and talkative during breeding time, but when they go back to sea, they're silent for months.

10. Puffins believe in joint parenting and working households. The male puffin builds the nest for his mate. The female lays one egg a year and she and the male take turns sitting on the egg while the other goes fishing.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Under the Northwest England Sun

There are some events in life that are too rare to miss. Studying abroad. Solar eclipses. The Colorado Rockies making it to the World Series. Last weekend, it was the coincidence of Richard being off work, the weekend, and sunny weather in Northwest England.

So, naturally, on Saturday we took the train to Kendal in the Lake District to go for a wander. Keeping with tradition, Richard and I got lost trying to find the beginning of our hike. We decided to hike up the hill to see Kendal Castle, a 12th Century Castle that was once home to the family of Queen Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. So we had a casual picnic lunch in a castle. Just another day in England...

After lunch, we found a walking path along a river outside Kendal. We found blankets of wildflowers and beautiful scenery. I'd say the pictures speak for themselves!

Sunday was a gorgeous day as well and I competed in an unaffiliated show where I take lessons. I was lucky enough to ride Rose, the sweetest mare I've met. Unfortunately for her, I wasn't quite used to her tiny stature, short stride, and tendency to squeeze one extra stride in before every jump. We only knocked down one pole in the competition. For a horse I had never ridden until the day of the competition, I'd say we did really well.

Quite the fun weekend, and a sunny start to a rare sunny week in Manchester.