Wednesday, 23 April 2008

And a Nightingale sang on St George's Day

Well actually it didn't, but it gave a splendid view. Usual day off today, so car in for service and MOT, best make use of the courtesy car then before I get the bill!!... so as management was at work in the morning, a trip to Lydlinch Common in Dorset. This open access area is managed predominantly for Butterflies, although today only saw one Peacock. More of that later.

The common is basically neutral wet woodland with open clearings. I like it because being like a swamp underfoot, not many people venture out there. Many old trees though, such as this dilapidated oak which had a Jackdaw nest round the other side. The woods though are alive with birds. Apart from the Nightingale (128) and Whitethroat (129), also had a Spotted Flycatcher pair (130) Bullfinch, numerous Great and Blue tit, 2 Blackcap, Jay, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Wren, at least 11 Chiffchaffs, slightly less Willow Warblers, Kestrel and Buzzard flying over and in the field next to the Common I startled into action 2 Hares... at last a proper sighting of my nemesis this spring.

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.

Below are a selection of photos, click to enlarge. As I'm adding a fair few photos this posting, made them smaller to fit on the page. Bluebell woods (how St George's is that), Cowslips, tree rings (note how the tree was actually 2 trees - often caused by deer grazing on the sapling) ..... and if you go down to the woods today..... this toy bear was obviously lost and placed in the tree. Hope he's okay and someones found him!!

Completely unconnected with today, below, photographs from afternoon at Lyme Regis on Monday. Too tired to write the blog then. Gawd I've travelled about a bit this week, with being in Bristol for work on Tuesday as well. Anyway some of you may know that about 10 years ago the pleasure gardens were obviously not that happy, and during a land slip the whole lot landed on the beach. Millions of pounds later the gardens are finally open. I'll be there for Candles on the Cobb in August, a fabulous night when 1000's of candles are lit on Lyme's famous harbour. Presumably without Meryl Streep prancing about in a storm, looking for a Frenchman.

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

Anyway back to St Georges Day. Picked Thelma up after work and in the afternoon popped down to Beaminster to visit Horn Park. It was open for the National Garden Scheme, and is a garden I've wanted to visit for years but only open 2 times a year for NGS. The wildflower meadow has a reputed 164 varieties of orchid. However after last night rain is was a bit marshy over there so we stayed on the sun terrace and took in the view over a slice of lemon drizzle cake. There is a reason for this in a bird blog (mind you maybe I should have a seperate blog for my gardening posts to make this sort of posting more relevant - watch this space).

No back to the wildlife. Ponds awash with tadpoles, whirligig beetles, pond skaters and the like. Couple of orange tip butterflies also fluttered by, Swallows swooping through the undercroft. Glorious summers day. But I've fallen in love with this place for one single reason. Behind the house - Ravens. I'd heard them when we arrived but couldn't quite find where they were.

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.

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