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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Signs of Spring?

Here are a few more sightings over the last week or so to make you feel that Spring may be around the corner.

I can't be certain but this ewe looks like she may have triplets as all three lambs stayed close by her as I passed by on a walk near Combe Wood Lane. I read of one ewe recently that had five lambs, quite unusual I would think?
Watch out for roe deer in the fields now. I saw this one near Betham, but there are at least two in the Woolhayes area.
The bucks are already sprouting their velvet covered antlers and the does will have their fawns in May / June
 Another bird  which likes to find a high perch to sing from (like the wren in the previous post)  is the Song Thrush. I have heard them singing already this month, with their loud repeated phrases, so keep your ears peeled.
Despite the cold weather recently a number of daffodils are already out, including these in Sunday School Wood, which I noticed earlier this week. Roll on Spring!

New Year resolution

In case you wondered why I uploaded a post about summer and autumn yesterday, I can confess that I made a resolution to try and do at least one blog post per month this year and realised I still  had a post in draft form from last year, so thought I'd publish it and then start afresh.

Now I am just in time to catch the end of the first month and keep my resolution going, so, here are some of my latest sightings!

Snowdrops have been out since at least the first week of January and although they are not perhaps as prolific as last year, they still make a welcome sight in the gloom of the depths of winter. I was particularly pleased to see them in Underway Meade, where some of you may know I am now involved in its future upkeep. (A separate blog post on the Meade will be uploaded soon.)

We have been doing some pruning of a small goat willow tree in the garden recently and I stacked the branches by the fence. It seems "Onky Donkey", in the neighbouring paddock, has a liking for the bark which he has stripped off every branch in a very efficient manner! Apparently it contains salicylic acid, the active component of willow extract which is used to make Aspirin, so perhaps he was self medicating!

Even though we still feel as though we are in the depths of winter with a very chilly wind blowing over the last few days the birds are already thinking about pairing up. The blue tits have been prospecting the bird boxes and the males of many species, including this lovely wren, find themselves a high perch to sing from and try to attract a mate. The rest of the time this one has been busy collecting spiders which have been dislodged when our windows and soffits were cleaned recently.

I did the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch last weekend but was a bit disappointed in how few birds visited in the hour I sat counting them. My usual Coal tit and Nuthatch remained elusive so, to cheer myself up on Monday I took myself for a walk around Nimmer. I was therefore delighted to see this chap, a Dipper, perched on a rock in the stream near the bridge next to the trout farm. A clever bird that lives by fast flowing streams and rivers and can swim underwater to catch its food of insect larvae and freshwater shrimps. Pity I don't have a stream in my garden so this bird is never likely to feature on my garden list either!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Summer progresses into autumn

The weeks in late May, June and July brought much hot sunny weather and the  local wildlife, including  insects and flowers seemed to flourish as a result.

Whilst weeding a border in my garden ( not something I do often enough!) I had to abruptly halt when I nearly speared this huge toad with my hand fork. A gardeners' friend, eating a diet of  slugs and snails, what an excellent excuse to stop for a cuppa! By the time I returned it had hopped off to find another shelter from the heat of the sun.
Toad in the undergrowth

Ringlet butterfly
Butterflies and moths  have seemed to do well this year too and I "captured" a few on film including the small tortoiseshell below which flew round the village hall one day in autumn looking for a warm spot to hibernate before alighting on the Shortmat bowls club's programme!
Small tortoiseshell