Monday, June 29, 2009

down at Downderry 2

Spot and Max under the soft cliffs at Downderry that are fast eroding into the sea, watching the gulls body surf, dreaming of being Jonathan Livingston SG himself. These days most gulls seem to hang out on farmland or close to take-away fast food outlets. I guess these are the nostalgic ones who like the occasional dip by the shore, the lonely sea and the sky.... and a star to steer them by.

down at Downderry

the red flower at the heart of the head of a wild carrot. It is not always very easy to see with a casual glance.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

woodpecker lunchbar

one of our favourite garden visitors. This one looks like a juvenile, and there may well be a woodpecker nest in one of the larger trees in the garden. He was pecking away happily for some time at insects in the wood It is one reason why we like to keep dead wood in the garden. As I type (Spot's paws are too big for him to do his own typing) the sun is breaking through the clouds and we are set for another lovely sunny day ... apologies to all our faraway cousins for harping on about the good weather but it is very unusual down here in the South Wet.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

river crossing

the Tamar, above Endsleigh, standing on a bar where the Inny comes out. The water levels are very low.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

summer is here

Above ... A patch of slender St John's wort mixed in with foxgloves, and below a newly minted marbled white fuelling on some bramble juice.

more good things

it is that time of year again with Wimbledon, strawberries and Pimms. These wild strawberries may not be as big as their cultivated cousins, but they are incredibly intensely flavoured and sweet. As a general rule the beginning of Wimbledon, and the Glastonbury festival herald prolonged periods of dull wet weather. Just for once it is warm and sunny. We will have to install a hammock and chill out, watch the tennis (Spot would like to be a ball dog) and eat wild strawberries.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

great pleasures in life

great pleasures in life, a little BBQ, hot dogs, very old armagnac (the oldest thing in the house) and vin rose. The armagnac has been decanted into a superior brandy bottle because the cork had given up the struggle. Spot has always wanted to post a letter from the place where the armagnac was bottled.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

more from the meadowsweet

meadowsweet is coming out everywhere now, and with valerian and honeysuckle, fills the byways with the heavy scent of summer. Do you long for the times when the only air freshener was a stack of meadowsweet, and a hot dog?

at the valerian

a horse fly, refuelling for a day's torment and biting

Thursday, June 18, 2009

foxglove lane

It has been a very good year for foxgloves. The hedgerows are full of them. We have moved on from blue to purple and mauve.
not much is happening this side of the Atlantic. At least it is not raining. So here are some geraniums (ii? ia?) and a goldfinch on a peony in our garden jungle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

tufted vetch and flea beetles

the tufted vetch in close up and the flower showing clearly that it is in the pea family. I love the light blue of the lower lip of the petals. And below some flea beetles (species uncertain) procreating on an appropriately named dock leaf.

ps maybe dead nettle leaf beetle chrysolina fastuosa, found thanks to the wonders of Google image

Monday, June 15, 2009


navelwort (also know as wall pennywort) is something of an abundant local speciality. It gets its name from the rounded leaves with a central dimple where the stalk is attached. Valerian (below) and hedge woundwort (at the bottom) are also out which means summer has arrived. From now on the hedgerows tend to become overgrown with ferns and grasses, and much of the colour drains away. And of course it starts raining.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

star struck

a patch of marsh (probably as this is wet grassland) or lesser stitchwort looking like the stars they are named for (stellaria). With a few blue stars

brown brushstrokes

only (!) a meadow brown, but they are very frisky and getting close when surrounded by inquisitive canines requires patience and dogged determination

Saturday, June 13, 2009

green brushstrokes

somewhere in this green dream there is a grey wagtail

keeping one's head above water

a young heron in a sea of grass, and Chairwoman Mao crossing the Devon Yangtse

Venterdon Red Sox

a touch of red in the pollen basket; this bee is obviously a dedicated follower of fashion.

two yellow brush strokes

we saw a pair of grey (but yellow) wagtails flying around the rough patch of water at this spot on the Tamar catching insects, and this newly emerged golden ringed dragonfly in the meadows.

four new things

one female chaffinch, slightly stunned, the perfect English rose, clematis, and the head of borage about to flower, the leaves of which with Pimms, strawberries and tennis minus rain will go to make a perfect English summer.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

long horn moth

this is a female long horn moth (species Nemophora degeerella). I only know this because there is a wonderful site full of British moths at this link. What I like is that you can type in colours and a feature (eg brown yellow bar) and up pops some likely candidates. Common in the South of England apparently. And below (so I can give the equivalent butterfly link) one of the many speckled wood butterflies flying around today.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spot's pink peony spot

the peonies are lovely this year

and the view

It was a very clear day, and this photo shows the Tamar valley (very flattened by the perspective), and in view are the villages of Luckett, Sydenham Damerel, Milton Abbot, Horsebridge, Townlake and Tutwell, and in the far distance the hills of Dartmoor looking towards Okehampton.

more orchids

nearby and for the first time on Kit Hill, we found some orchids. They look like southern marsh orchids (having no spots on the leaves and two sepals that look like bird's wings) but these orchids often hybridise with heath spotted and common spotted orchid. However, they were by a marsh!

egg and bacon

bird's foot trefoil, showing why it is sometimes called eggs and bacon, and below a vigorous clump of eyebright, possibly nemorosa anglica (but who can tell??), growing in the marshes at the entrance to Kit Hill quarry.

Friday, June 05, 2009

shepherd's purse

as my reference book states, shepherd's purse is a remarkably successful weed, only notable for its seed pod which was likened to the bag or wallet wherein shepherds carried their lunch into the field. Also known as mother's heart. The Latin name is capsella bursa pastoris, a straight translation from the vernacular name.

fallen to earth

a blackbird chick, barely visible in foliage of Christmas box; it looks too immature to have fledged and it may be that it has simply fallen out of the nest which lies deeper in the bush. Both parents continue to feed it on the ground and we will try to leave well alone and not allow him to become a morsel on Harriet's lunch menu. At least cats, the main predators of small animals in rural Britain, are not common in our garden for fear of being Harriet's main course.

Monday, June 01, 2009

more moth eaten

and a much less gaudy moth extremely well disguised as a leaf.It is very difficult to identify but it could be a common rustic or a pale mottled willow moth (on the grounds that common things are common).

painted ladies

a rather faded painted lady ... apparently they have been arriving in great clouds blown in from North Africa on warm winds from the South. No wonder they look a bit jaded. Once again they have arrived at the same time as ragged robin is out (see link from 2006). There are hundreds of them around. How do they get back to Africa?