Earth Notes: About Our Greenish Home aka 16WW, with Bonus Bats and Sparrows

Updated 2019-11-07 20:15 GMT.
Learn more about our council-house turned SuperHome, that this site is based on! #podcast #greenLiving
solar PV panels on roof
"about 16WW" Uploaded . Duration 219 seconds. Download MP3 clip 2555kB (may not be available in data-saver/lite mode), download low-bandwidth MP3 clip 1033kB, download very-low-bandwidth MP3 clip 510kB, hi-fi FLAC clip 9795kB.
Transcript:
solar panels light snow solar PV being installed at home pumpkin homegrown over 4kg Sept 2018 amongst strawberry leaves superinsulating bedrooms with aerogel drylining dry lining with rigid insulating board for timber framed house in Kingston London England 1101 DHD front entrance after

Hi, I'm Damon Hart-Davis.

I was asked to describe Something about your sustainable home. Something about the nature visiting the garden and how you feel about your neighbourhood. Anything at all in fact.

Our house is in its 50s like me. It's timber-framed with a concrete-tile roof, end-terrace with hanging tiles on the side walls, and has a small garden front and back. It is on the Cambridge Road Estate in Kingston-upon-Thames, very close to a cemetery and the Hogsmill river. And not so far away from us, though usually downwind, is the local sewage works!

I have for one reason or another in the past run quite a few computers. I ran an early Internet Service Provider from home. It was pointed out to me that I was probably wasting a lot of energy with them — I was having to run air-con in summer to keep them cool! I took that as an energy-efficiency challenge to do more with less. My Earth Notes Web site at Earth.Org.UK is one outcome. A house that uses less than half of the electricity and gas of those around it is another. Indeed, the house is about net-zero-carbon for those two, given the solar panels on the roof.

We have small gardens, front and back. Both have lawns, but somehow in the back garden we also manage to squeeze [in] herbs, pumpkins, blueberries, beans, tomatoes, and some of radish, rhubarb, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and courgettes. Never mind lots of flowers and some trees! Our apple tree struggled with the heat and lack of rain last year and dropped all its fruit early, but this year I'm hopeful that we may end up with something to taste. The pumpkins try to take over the garden, and they finish up in autumn and the nasturtium then tries to out-do them!

The variety of birds we get is astonishing. From pigeons (wood and feral) and magpies, to more exotic green and spotted woodpeckers and jays. Parakeets swarm up to seven or eight at a time on our feeders, hanging from our washing lines, coming from nearby Richmond Park and the cemetery I think. We also get hordes of smaller birds: robins, blue tits, coal tits, great tits, goldfinches, and more rarely chaffinches, greenfinches, dunnocks and wrens. Noisily, sparrows are swarming and squawking again recently in a way I don't remember since I was a child. Occasionally, starlings murmurate overhead!

There also seems to be a thriving bat population, and at dusk you can see them whooshing past just above head height it seems.

In the cemetery I think that crows are still probably top of the pile, though the parakeets may be muscling in. And some of the loudest sounds are from the squirrels by day! At night the foxes bark and squeal and whine, and make other noises that I don't have words for.

We also have had excitements, such as boys apparently lighting a fire behind our back wall and setting fire to our ornamental tree, and things that maybe I shouldn't air publicly!

Our house stands out a bit with the solar panels on top, and at least one nearby house has followed suit. Our walls are lined with the same stuff that the Space Shuttle used to survive the heat of re-entry, called aerogel, to keep us warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The triple glazing helps too, and helps keep out noise.

We have a warm and efficient home, with rather more nature on our doorstep than I'd realised. I hope that our energy saving is also nature saving, taking a little heat out of climate change.

(2019-09-09: this year we got about 1.5 apples, ie two didn't drop but bits of them were damaged!)

Sounds of the Suburbs

Sparrows (house sparrow, Passer domesticus) raucously tweeting their version of social media in the hedge at the front of the house December 2018:

"16WW front garden Pyracantha sparrows AF" Created/encoded . Uploaded . Duration 57 seconds. Download M4A clip 448kB.

Some small ambient sounds from a quiet sunny June afternoon in the back garden:

"20190616T1305 16WW back garden ambient" Uploaded . Duration 51 seconds. Download MP3 clip 1190kB, hi-fi FLAC clip 1105kB.

A dull morning a few days later, at the front of the house, sparrow, pigeon, and more:

"20190626T0550Z 16WW dawn chorus sparrow pigeon other" Uploaded . Duration 33 seconds. Download MP3 clip 355kB (i) (may not be available in data-saver/lite mode), download low-bandwidth MP3 clip 131kB, hi-fi FLAC clip 1134kB.

Sights

A partially-erected "MotorWind" turbine on the garden wall, from before the solar panels:

"MotorWind" (poster) Uploaded . Duration 3 seconds. Download MP4 clip 674kB (may not be available in data-saver/lite mode), download low-bandwidth MP4 clip 113kB.

February snow at the front:

"snow falling in suburban front garden on hedge and metal railings fence in February cold snap in Kingston London England video 1 DHD" (poster) Uploaded . Duration 4 seconds. Download MP4 clip 2385kB (i) (may not be available in data-saver/lite mode), download low-bandwidth MP4 clip 110kB.
"pollination of poppy flower purple by bees bumblebees frantic buzzing video closeup 1 DHD" (poster) Uploaded . Duration 8 seconds. Download MP4 clip 812kB (may not be available in data-saver/lite mode), download low-bandwidth MP4 clip 130kB, hi-fi/original MPEG clip 2670kB (Gallery page).

In these shots and others You have white-tailed bumblebees and buff-tailed bumblebees, according to Professor Dave Goulson, University of Stirling.

"bee bumblebee bumble bee pollinating pollination of lavender purple flowers from bush flowering in July in London England video 12 DHD" (poster) Uploaded . Duration 18 seconds. Download MP4 clip 4300kB (may not be available in data-saver/lite mode), download low-bandwidth MP4 clip 413kB, hi-fi/original MPEG clip 6269kB (Gallery page).
Transcript:
Buzzzzzz, buzzzzz, buzzzzz!
"bee bumblebee bumble bee pollinating pollination of lavender purple flowers from bush flowering in July in London England video 13 DHD" (poster) Uploaded . Duration 12 seconds. Download MP4 clip 2517kB (may not be available in data-saver/lite mode), download low-bandwidth MP4 clip 325kB, hi-fi/original MPEG clip 4084kB (Gallery page).

Batty!

Local bat survey October 2018, c/o Alison Fure
October 2018 survey of bats in the 'hood, c/o Alison Fure.