Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Sunday, 27 April 2008
On a visit today to Springhead Gardens, more detail on the garden blog, a real surprise was a Yellow Wagtail (132) by the mill race. At first I thought it was a Grey Wagtail given the setting, but no, on closer inspection a Yellow, sadly no photo though.
Superb garden surrounded by farmland, so bird life was everywhere. Mallard and Coot chicks already hatched and this fella, guarding his missus on a nest in the lake.
On way home Little Egret in a field by West Orchard, a couple of Kestrels, and swallows everywhere, including one skimming the Stour at Kings Mill.
Today felt like summer at last, first day I've been out just in short sleeves. Bliss.
Saturday, 26 April 2008
Countryside here isn't that spectacular, mixed farmland, with old hedgerow trees, but I like it, as did one Thomas Hardy, who called this area the Vale of the Little Dairies. Maybe the 9 Pied wagtails I saw were pretending to be Fresian's. Sadly though no Cuckoo yet.
For me listening to Blackbirds, Robins, Chaffinches Great and Blue Tits, Chiffchaffs and of course the much neglected House Sparrow as the light fades in the west is one of life's great pleasures. I also watched a House Sparrow pair for five minutes as the male did his best to woe the lady of his choice. I'm glad to report he will sleep a happy man tonight.
As long as I can remember I've sat in the garden as dusk gathers, cup of tea in hand and just empty the mind of the day's events while listening to male Blackbirds proclaiming their spot around me. Many say Nightingales are the top vocalist, but a Blackbird in the evening can gladden any weary soul. I was so pleased Kate Bush's album Aerial of 2005 included Blackbird songs. If you've not heard it and partial to a bit of Blackbird melody, check it out.
Actually this reminds me, I've not noticed any bats yet this year over the garden in the evening. Finally, on the migration front, reports of 7 Bee-Eaters heading north from Exmoor area today. Keep an eye out.
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Also following from yesterdays posting, I've created a new "gardening" blog. Link left. As summer's here, I tend to slow down with the birding, increase the painting (it's the morning light you know) and gardening activities (constant battle with the weeds).
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
And this Peacock Butterfly. Photo isn't great (cropped) as couldn't get that close, but watched some fascinating behaviour. The Peacock was sunning itself, but a pair of solitary bees (one top right of photo) kept buzzing it's "eyes". I've heard of this behaviour before, which from memory is a mimicking response to the eye, but never witnessed it. The Butterfly didn't move, just flapped it's wings, bee left, then the other one had a go. This lasted for a minute or so, then the butterfly was off. Great stuff.
Cobb from Gazebo in new pleasure gardens, Arty shot of Cobb Museum, arty shot of Thelma contemplating a fish supper, and Herring Gull contemplating Thelma's fish supper
In the photo above, your author, Border Reiver Esq is watching a frog or some such other nonsense, but above him on the skyline is where the Raven's were. What better than to sit of an evening supping Pimms, maybe a spot of something smoked and watch Ravens overhead. Mind you they were making one heck of a racket, almost as much as the Chifchaffs, which seem omnipresent these days.
Anyway 4 views of Horn Park. Pond in formal garden, stream in woodland garden, Herself entering Dingly Dell, and Beaminster from the sun terrace.
Sunday, 20 April 2008
Having watched a female Sparrowhawk last night using the garden fence as a hunting perch, I thought, it's about time I got some veg into the garden. Strange segway I know.
So Sunday morning saw me out with the larks to sort out the top raised bed. Yesterday we bought a few seed potatoes for a future supper. I'm not trying to take over the Golden Wonder crisp empire, just a few home grown spuds. Nothing better than potatoes out the ground and eaten in half an hour. Remiss of me, I've completely forgotten the varieties, but think 3 Pentland Javelin and 6 Arran Pilot.
Anyway a bit of hard graft and a bit of luck.....
..... got the bed in order, the potatoes planted, a row of Carrots, a row of Beetroot, and the runner bean canes in-situ ready for the plants in a few weeks time. Phew, after all that work, what I need is a goodly luncheon at some Dorset Hostillity......
Which we just happened to find. Actually we'd booked a 12.15 appointment with the Carvery. Her indoors had been there last Sunday with a girlfriend, so this time it was my turn. Plumping for turkey over venison, pork, beef or lamb, the boy Reiver was filled to bursting. It was fabulous. If any of you are down Dorset way, Sunday Carvery at the Green Man, King Stag, is recommended.
On the passerine front, loads of Chiffchaff, few Willow Warblers, 2 Green Woodpecker, smattering of Swallows and House Martins, plus the usual suspects up there. I thought I heard a Whitethroat, but couldn't find it, so that doesn't count.
Dorset generally is fabulous for insects, and today I took this, a very common "micro" bee which I think is Lasioglossum calcaetum on a dandelion. But below is a caterpillar I can't identify. Someone will no doubt get back to me and say this is a common species, but as my insect key is up in the other house, I'm a bit stumped. Any suggestions welcome.
Not wishing to be outdone, came home and cut the grass. And a conundrum. I could cut grass all day, in fact when I retire my perfect voluntary job would be cutting grass in a churchyard, wildlife, gardening, and locate a nice sunny area for the future of course. But here's my thought. Lawn has daisies, I like daisies, but obviously cutting the grass means the daises are removed. Question to the gardening floor then..... in the photograph below what do you prefer? cut stripes? or slightly messy but colourful daisies?
Friday, 18 April 2008
Took a different day off today than normal, long story. Anyway after everything I had been through in the morning a pleasant 2 hour stroll along the whole of Sand Bay, each side of high tide at 6.30pm was what the Doctor ordered. Didn't really expect to see much wildlife, as loads of dog walkers and joggers out and a couple of people having BBQ in the drift wood. Really just a relaxing walk to empty my mind of the day's stuff (If any of you say why did this take as long as 2 hours, there'll be trouble !!!)
Then lo and behold, 2 Ring Plover and 3 Dunlin flew off from the tide line. Quite unusual to get Ring Plover at all in the Bay, not that suitable, not much for them to flick over. But in passage, can get some good numbers. Which explains why on the way back, I disturbed another 8 Ring Plover and 5 Dunlin from some shingle, 4 of the latter with their black tummies. Before I disturbed these, I'd spied a Wheatear flying onto a rock. In the space of 5 minutes another 8 were flying about the driftwood, right next to a family who were having the BBQ. The family never once noticed these.
Good numbers too of Goldfinch, one flock of 18 and another seperate one of 11 flitted and jingle-twittered their "charming"way past. Nice numbers of Linnet too which are now in full finery. Other than that dozen or so Curlew, few more Shelduck, and a Swallow flew over the carpark.
Just a lovely way to end a stressful day....... (think I was drunk, the horizon is skew wiff)
Monday, 14 April 2008
And this fella. I thought I'd show this as an example of how when using a scope, the direction the scope is pointing makes all the difference. Viewed about 100 feet away through binoculars I initially I thought it was a non-bobbing Common Sandpiper because of the white "shoulder". But when looked at through the scope, it was a Dunlin in breeding plumage. But viewed facing the sun it just shows how the light makes the image dull (plus I was hand holding the camera against mates scope which doesn't help). Why it was on it's own in a muddy lagoon is anyone's guess.
And this is Duncan, my mates cat, who would love to meet this Dunlin one fine day and have a chat about the effects of global warming on the environment!!
The Pyracantha is no more. For those of you who are garden bloggers, the shame of my garden weeds prevents my posting any photographs this time. EXCEPT...... nice Chiffchaff which spent 20 minutes faffing about in the Betula, AND last night, a Hedgehog. I knew the Hogs were active as one of them had left a message next to the pond a few days ago. Popped out to switch the pond pump off and there this chap was, bold as brass on the lawn. More about the hogs no doubt in future postings.
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
Bit like the Holy Grail for me, these rare warblers have eluded me every time I've been in Dorset heathland. Today there it was, just below a viewpoint carpark (I'll not say exactly where but if you wish to know, e-mail me), the same viewpoint that 4 years ago produced a plethora of Crossbills out of nowhere. Good spot for Nightjars too, so out with the white hankie and ready to attract them one summers evening.
Back to the Dartford Warbler. We'd stopped at this viewpoint, really just to have a look at the err....view! Quite a few Linnet were whooping back n forth so wiled away a few moments watching then. Then out of the corner of my eye, a bird flew from some gorse. A weak waffly flight, long tail small body. Something told me to follow. And there it was. 20 feet away. I didn't have the camera so walked back to the car hoping it would be with me on my return. And it was, both male and female... I think, certainly these 2 were slightly different. One cracking view in the bins I could see insects in it's beak... surely not feeding young already. Anyway fired off 20 or so photos in the hope some would at least show the bird, proof, if proof were needed. I've cropped and added the best 2 below. Not marvelous, but for hand held in the heat of the moment, they serve their purpose. Even managed a 10 second video on the compact. I'll treasure that, and I hope you like these.