Tuesday, April 29, 2008

a definite swallow

A swallow, with long tail streamers and a red chin. It is now clear that the swallows and martins arrived on the same bus yesterday. I had half a thought that I could see swallows and hear martins but they are very quick in flight and a bit blurred on the photos. Nevertheless is it is a joy to see them back.

million dollar view?

the view from Spot's kennel.

Monday, April 28, 2008

sky salute

and a special welcome from the sky

martin buzzard

and to prove the point, the common sight of a buzzard hanging around about to be mobbed by the Duchy rook gang, and below a newly arrived martin bombing about. Happy days.

editor's note: on closer inspection, Spot, it is a swallow although the martins are around as well (30/04/08)

campion and martins

campion is beginning to flourish again, turning a darker pink as the sun gets stronger during the year. The little white fur collar in the middle of the flower is characteristic.

And our house martins are back. I share that strange sense of anxiety at this time of the year that they will not return and that will be the beginning of the end (see Simon Barnes in the Times on Saturday) but hooray for optimism and the struggle for life.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Spot isn't naturally well informed but he reads a lot, and these are some of the reference books he has to hand in his very untidy study. Please feel free to borrow one.

wild garlic

and a sea of wild garlic, otherwise known as ramsons. Ramsons is derived from a german or swedish word (rams) meaning rank, ie a strong smell, imparted to milk when the plant is eaten by cattle.


deep in the woods now one can find a quintessential English scene. The air was heavy with the scent of lime and wild garlic, and the birds were in full voice. Every now and then there was the slap of water as if some large but secret animal was moving stealthily into the water but it was simply the sound of the river folding in on itself.

It is very difficult to capture the blueness of the bluebells, especially close up. This is our native slender bluebell. Be careful in the woods because the plant will die if the leaves are crushed.

if it moves, run for it

large visitor to the pond. Duck on right is saying "if it tries to get into the water run for it."


common, somewhat tattered, but exceptionally pretty, the peacock butterfly showing the deep abstraction so characteristic of Nature's painting. We saw orange tips, a brimstone, painted ladies and a fritillary of some sort all today so the butterfly season is well under way although it is not very easy to identify some (eg the fritillary) when the pack insist on pushing in to find out what it is that you are looking that can be so much more interesting than they.

greenfinch by magnolia

neatly combining two harbingers of real spring, the greenfinches are fighting each other and the magnolia is very slowly coming into flower.

Friday, April 25, 2008

bridge over untroubled water

the view looking downstream at Beals Mill. Nothing much changes around here (see link)

coming out

a hedge oak just on the verge of coming into leaf, and well before ash, so we are in for a splash

global wrapping

the new rural scene, away with green, let's have lots of polythene. Vincent eat your heart out.

St George's Day breakout

It's that time of year again. The Venterdon pond gang make a break for freedom, and review nesting places where no one can see them (except for the Orchard House mob who are watching every move). Spring is certainly springing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

pink purslane 2

Pink purslane is now naturalised to dark and shady places in the South West (? which must mean Cambourne). It is a native of North America and is closely related to Spring Beauty aka Indian lettuce, because it was used in salads and as a vegetable, or winter purslane and native Americans prized its bulbs as a food. PP is very common around here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

fields of silver

all of a sudden fields around here are being covered in acres of polythene. This is not natural. What happens to the polythene? And if it breaks down what does it break down to? Who has done research on the long term side effects? The only silver to come out of this will be that taken by agribusiness.


the striking stellar flower of wild garlic (aka ramsons). Normally ramsons are slightly ahead of bluebells but this year the relatively cold weather of the last few weeks seems to have held the ramsons and a lot of other wild flowers back, and they are all going to flower together in May. Watch this space.

mob rule

two buzzards are being bullied by one agressive rook. You can almost hear the buzzard in the bottom photo saying "oi! you let go of my wing"

Monday, April 14, 2008

sheep's sorrel

much smaller and more compact than common sorrel, sheep's sorrel grows on grassy and heathy places often on bare patches with acid soils. Sorrel is supposed to be derived from the old french word surele meaning sour; the leaves contain calcium oxalate which can be poisonous in excess. Of interest (to me) sorrel was used as a herbal remedy for kidney and bladder problems. Most kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate and one might think that eating sorrel might well have made them worse.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

green beetle

unidentified beetle on bed of moss with ivy leaf garnishing and drizzle of twigs

Tamar views 2

the Tamar in its valley, meandering eastwards, view towards Lamerhooe, Dartmoor in the far distance.

fighting sparrow

this house sparrow (grey cap on brown head) has caught his reflection in the window and is getting very cross at his doppelganger's assertive behaviour.

more marsh marigolds

a much better picture of this brilliant yellow flower. This is a large specimen with many stamens. For folklore see earlier page

Saturday, April 12, 2008

mayflowers are back

in the week that we have been away the first of the mayflowers or cuckoo flowers have appeared. This pretty little flower has many common names including cuckoo flower, milkmaid and Our Lady's smock. Its first full flowering is commonly regarded as an accurate predictor of the arrival of the cuckoo itself. Richard Mabey, in Flora Britannica, suggests smock may have been slang for "a bit of skirt" and was suggestive of what went on in Spring meadows. Locally there is a variant complex double flowered variety (see previous page for more pictures and discussion, and link for a Spring song). Apart from its association with ancient patterns of human fertility, it was also believed in some places that anyone who picked the plant would be bitten by an adder, or that your house would be struck by lightning if you brought it indoors (are these metaphors for pregnancy?).


the small village of Rezare, overlooking the Inny valley, just before a hail storm.

demolition works 2

More progress down at Beals Mill (see previous page)I am going to suggest to our parish council that it is renamed No Mill.

on the road to nowhere

early this morning a fit young female badger tried to cross a quiet country road. Cars and wildlife do not mix; drive slowly at night.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

violet rant

the dog violets have been out for several weeks but it is time for their annual photo. We are all off on our holidays for a week, so, although Spot is staying behind to guard the kennels he will not have the time to post any new pages for the next week.

He also wants to know why Microsoft have made Vista (Home Premium) so incredibly difficult to use; are they the worst most unthoughtful anti consumerist company on the planet? Answers on a postcard, please. Could we connect a projector to our laptop? It would have been easier to travel to Mars. If I buy a new car I expect it to work (that means move when I want it to), not to sit there asking me if I am appropriately networked to the rest of the automobile industry, or to tell me to contact my local garage dealer. Apologies to all the ladies of the Kelly Bray WI for a much circumscribed illustrated talk on the wonders of our local area.