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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Wilts & Berks canal, Sparrow, Red Kite, Woodpigeon, Starling, Fungi, Hawthorne tree, Brier, Blackberry, Roe Deer, Oak, Wasp galls, Elder tree, Gull, Tawny Owl.

I took the chance to make the most of the day's fine weather, by taking a walk up the lane towards Drayton lock on the old disused Wilts & Berks canal (https://www.wbct.org.uk/). Officially abandoned in 1914.

There are Sparrows and lots of them, flocking in the hedges on the approach to the A34 bypass flyover. It's really nice to see a large population still in the Village. A Red Kite was flying overhead, it really annoys me that although they get really close I still can't get a good photo of one.

There are a number of Woodpigeons, this one was watching me closely as I crossed over the flyover.

Walking up the lane away from the A34, I passed under some electricity lines where some Starlings were having a sing song.

They must have been singing at full volume, as they were clearly audible above the noise of the traffic and for a change it was a very pleasant song.

Further up the lane bordered by a high wild hedge on the left and a manicured hedge on the right, are a number of fungi in the grass of the lane at the foot of the hedges. I'm not good at identifying fungi, my best guess is that these are Glistening Inkcaps.




There was this one as well, a Clouded Agaric perhaps?


Quite pretty in their own way. 

A fairly good crop of Haws on the Hawthorne this year.

The Briers did well this year, with their glossy red hips.

Some big sky going on today.

While looking for a suitable spot to sit and have something to eat, I discovered an expansive patch of what I think is The Prince mushroom.


They where scattered under the bushes and trees of the overgrown hedge that by now is on both sides of the lane forming a tall tunnel of branches and twigs.

Today's lunch was Baxters Royal Game soup with Marmite sandwiches, very nice.


My new Thermos food flask, kept the soup piping hot, very pleased with it.



The only problem is the very loud metal on metal scrape and clangs of the spoon when used in the flask, I'll have to pack a plastic or wooden spoon if I take it in a hide on a nature reserve.

Blackberries!


As the lane now reaches the canal, it opens up giving good views of the farmland either side.
A group of  Roe deer were grazing not that far from me, the cover of the lane meant they were unaware I was there. 







I could quite easily have stayed and took photos of the deer for the rest of the day.
This is an Oak tree with what I believe to be Wasp galls in the leaves.


More of that big sky.

Wending my way now along the line of the old canal, towards Abingdon. The air taking a chilly feel as the Sun starts to loose it's grip on the sky. There are a lot of tracks in the mud of the old towpath, people's feet, dogs and some nice deer tracks. I presume they belong to the Roe deer.


The leaves of the Elder trees are turning red for Autumn.

Really loosing the light now for good photography as the Sun slips away below the horizon.

The towpath now becomes a concrete track, this means I can get a stride on as it is getting late.

A flock of Gulls going home after a day gleaning the ploughed fields.


Getting closer to the A34 and the next flyover that allows me to cross back over the A34, the track starts a steep climb as the land rises off the floodplain.
I spotted two more Roe deer, it is getting too dark for my camera to focus properly.

They didn't notice me till I was fairly close to them, we stared at each other for a bit before they decided to leap off, in big jumps towards the nearby trees.

Almost at the end of my walk I spotted a Tawny Owl sat on a fence post, it was looking at me when I pressed the shutter button but by the time the camera took the photo it had spun it's head around. I didn't get another chance, it took off and glided over the field at no more than four feet above it.

As I reached the A34 I stood and watched the traffic while I had an apple and some water. It is getting colder now, the seasonal wheel turning towards winter.
Time to head home.




Friday, 6 September 2019

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum).

The Common Darter sits and scans the air, tracking every loop and turn of passing insects. With a deadly hunter's eye, it isolates and locks on to a potential pray. With a swift Cuban Eight or an Immelmann turn, a mastery of aerobatic maneuvers at its disposal, it will expertly pluck it's meal out of the firmament, then return to its perch, its patch which it will defend with expert mastery from other Dragonflies, their dog fights whirl up and down the river.




Sunday, 31 January 2016

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackcap, Gray Squirrel, Long-tailed Tit, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch.

10:00 Back Garden:
Well it’s time to do my garden Birdwatch, as part of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s an overcast day and a bit cold, but otherwise a nice day. I sit myself down by the back door and start my hour of observance. First up is the little Wren, one of my favourite songbirds. I watched as it did its familiar tour of the garden’s various nooks and crannies, presumably hunting for things to eat. 

A Robin has just turned up, having a look at the garden from the fence. A male Blackbird swoops onto the lawn, just stands still as if checking out the garden for Cats. The Robin flies into the hedge, this seems to activate the Blackbird into feeding mode. He goes around the lawn flicking over the dead leaves, tilting his head to one side to see what he uncovers, and then pouncing on anything edible.

A flash of blue draws my eyes towards the sunflower feeder, it’s a Blue Tit. It takes a seed and quickly flies off to the hedge, comes back for another seed and then flies back to the hedge. Two Great Tits now visit the feeders, one goes straight to the sunflower seeds, takes one and flies to the nearby shrub, using its perch as an anvil to peck open the seed husk. The other Great Tit investigates the mixed seed feeder; I can’t see what it is doing because it is the wrong side of the feeder. I assume it is eating seed. They both stay doing the same thing till the Blue Tit turns up again, the Blue Tit looked a bit miffed at the sight of the other Tits, it flies at the Great Tit feeding on the sunflower seed. The Great Tit doesn't stand its ground and flies off, the other Great Tit very quickly follows. The Blue Tit takes a sunflower seed and flies into the hedge, I suppose doing the same anvil trick as the Great Tit but being shy about it.

It’s about half way through the hour now, nothing happening much now apart from the Blue Tit flitting back and forth. A movement in the Ivy catches my eyes, can’t quite see what it is but it is making its way towards the millet feeder. The mystery finally reveals itself as a female Blackcap, she flies onto the millet feeder but only uses it as a stepping stone to the peanut feeder. She stays quite awhile pecking out large chunks of peanut, till finally making her way back to the hedge via the Ivy.
The arrival of one of two Grey Squirrels that regularly visit the garden flushes out the Blackbird from behind my pond and he settles on the lawn. The Squirrel bounds across the lawn to the lawn feeder, it picks out whole peanuts and stuffs them in its mouth then goes around the garden burying them, each time puddling the ground with its hands like a baker needing dough. 

A small flock of four Long-tailed Tits descend on to the half coconut shell filled with fat. They swoop and flutter about, taking turns at having a feed, like overgrown fairies. They soon depart, I wish they’d stay longer but they never do stay for long. The Squirrel is now digging in one of the daffodil tubs, it looks funny because all I can see is its back legs and its tail bobbing up and down. The Woodpigeon crashes on to the food tray in the corner of the garden, startling the Squirrel and itself. It feeds for a while before frightening itself and flying off.    

Getting near the end of my hour, a flock of four Goldfinches descend onto the nyjer seed feeders, always nice to see them in the Garden, their gold wing bands showing up very brightly and illuminating even the dullest of days, a very nice end to my hour. 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Cockerel/Brambles/Bee/Meadow Brown/White Clover/Red Clover/Feverfew/Lesser Dung Fly/Hogweed Bonking Beetle/Hoverfly/Woody Nightshade/Pied Wagtail/Spiny Rush/Creeping Thistle/Hazel/Oak/Flag Iris/Dog Rose/Damselfly/Yellow Water-lily/Magpie.

11: 49 Haye Farm.
I'm at Haye Farm (http://haye-farm.co.uk/) just outside Bewdley,  I'm staying on the Caravan site. It’s a fluffy grey cloudy sky today with some patches of blue. There is a chilly breeze; I can hear the clucking of hens and the loud Cock-a-doodle-doo from the Cockerel in the nearby chicken pen. The Cockerel sometimes has a crowing contest with another Cockerel that roams the farm.

There is also a bird singing very loudly but I can’t see it, I’m not very good at recognising bird songs so I don’t know what it is. I can hear a Blackbird and the odd chattering of Magpie with the slight roar of traffic from the nearby A456, not as loud as the A34 back home but very much noticeable, some other sounds are Cows mooing, Sheep baa-ing and a Horse naying.
White-tailed Bumblebees are searching the nearby Brambles for the last remaining flowers.



Looks like the Bees have done a good job pollinating because there seems to be a lot of Blackberries this year.

The variegated Holly of whom there is a number planted in the hedges on the farm, are full of berries too.
16:33 Haye Farm.
Completely different day now, pale blue sky with wispy white clouds and the wind is picking up, quite gusty. A Woodpigeon is singing and a Chiffchaff, the wind is rustling the leaves of the trees.

The odd Meadow Brown Butterfly battling the wind. Lots of White Clover in the grass, the flowers being visited by White-tailed Bumblebees,


I found one Bee just sat in the grass, sunbathing perhaps?

There is the odd Red Clover flower poking up but the Bees don’t seem to have noticed.


Walking along the stock fence that marks the end of the Caravan site I found a Feverfew plant, its Daisy like flowers being visited by many Insects,


a Lesser Dung Fly,

Hogweed Bonking Beetle



and a Hover Fly (Syrphus torvus I think)




are just a few I could photograph. The Hogweed Bonking Beetles are scurrying over the flowers, occasionally bumping into one another and having a tussle.

Defiantly going to be a lot of fruit this year, the Apple trees are loaded.

Back by the Bramble bush, there are at least three species of bee here, the White-tailed Bumblebee,

Honeybee



and I think the Hairy-footed Flower Bee.




Woody Nightshade making an appearance in the hedge, its green unripe fruits hanging like baubles.



A Pied Wagtail has just landed, first having a preen and then a stretch before chasing after flying insects, running and twisting as if it’s beak was being pulled about by an invisible tormentor.




This is the Cockerel that roams the Farm, he has three hens.


17:44 Haye Farm.
A Blackbird nearby has started his evening song, beautiful rich fruity notes that takes me back to childhood days with my Mum & Dad on the allotment, the memory of the weed bonfire, that smell and the sound of the Church clock sounding out the hours. I really do miss those days.

18:42 Haye Farm.
Walking down to the fishing lakes,

there are two lakes, a small one called the Curtis Pool and a larger one called the Dexter Pool.

I walked around the Curtis Pool; clumps of Spiny Rushes are dotted about the banks,

with Creeping Thistle.

Hazel trees form a hedge at the far end of the lake, their white unripe nuts arranged in tempting clusters.


There is one or two Pendunculate Oaks in the hedge,

their Acorns just emerging.

The Flag Iris, its seed pods are swelling nicely.

A well established Dog Rose dominates part of the returning hedge.


Walking back towards my starting point I came across a gathering of Common Blue Damselflies, not really interested in flying and it looks as if it was some kind of roosting patch.

Now almost back where I started, I walked past a Yellow Water-lily.


19:43 Haye Farm.
Now back at the Caravan I can hear a Magpie chattering, it was sat on top of a dead Cork Oak.

Well I think it is time to pack up for a cup of tea.