Sunday, January 31, 2010

bird counting day

It is the RSPB's bird counting day today. You spend one hour watching the birds in the garden and record the maximum number at any one time. Of course, everyone puts out lots of bird food and as a result our garden is unusually empty. I am not sure whether or not we can count the buzzard sitting on the roof of Kitt's Cottage as in our garden. I have never before seen a buzzard sitting like this in the middle of our village, they usually avoid people at all costs; it is another sign I think that their behaviour is changing because of the cold, or else they were aware that it was bird watch day and decided to join in.

snow drops and snowdrops

some pictures from our walk today. The snowdrops are very nearly out, and the snow was falling once again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

pet twig returns to life


it is that time of year again. Cold and still conditions have induced our pet twig to start flowering again (see link). I am not convinced that I understand this process.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

first signs

It is always interesting, and up-lifting, to see the first signs of the new year's resurgence. Frog spawn appeared on 21/01 which is about a week earlier than last year despite the cold weather

Saturday, January 23, 2010

my lane, goodnight, my lane

I'll see you in my dreams

Cornish cattle egrets

and on the way back, there was a little group of cattle egrets standing around in a field (full of cattle). These egrets used to be quite rare but are seen increasingly often in the South West (although probably still quite unusual, see link). They have distinctly yellow beaks, and yellow legs (except in the breeding season when they go red). The last time we saw cattle egrets was in Borneo a year ago in the blazing equatorial sun!

Trenant woods

we were gifted some trees planted in Trenant Wood, a woodland trust wood near Looe so we went for a walk there today to visit them. It is hard going at first but the views are spectacular, down the river Looe to the Looe and the sea. The picture is badly over exposed at the top (it was a very sunny day today) but gives a good impression of the tidal flats above Looe, with the wooded valley on either side.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cadsonbury Hill 2

to get to Cadsonbury one can walk along the bank of the Lynher. This is a smaller, narrower river than the Tamar and the flowing water has a distinctly different sound. It has been very cold recently but the trees are full of birds, including one of my favourites, the long tailed tit making its characteristic 'si si' call. These are sociable birds which fly around in small flocks and chatter away incessantly to each other. (also see this previous page from the blog).

Cadsonbury Hill

Cadsonbury Hill is an iron age hill fort and compound that stands over the Lynher river just southwest of New bridge (so called when it was built in the fifteenth century) over the Lynher, on the road from Callington to Liskeard (see link). This is the view looking up the Lynher valley towards Kit Hill. The rampart and ditch are still very well preserved. Like Silbury, the hill on which the fort stands looks very odd in the surrounding landscape and is clearly man made to some degree. The slopes are very steep. Spot and Harriet are pleased to demonstrate.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

last of the winter sun

freezing fog in the valleys, and just visible to the top left, bathed in evening sun, the tower of Stoke Climsland church

Sunday, January 10, 2010


the water in Kit Hill quarry has frozen solid but no dogs were allowed to try it out given recent tragic events. It is so cold that an icefall has formed on the quarry face. (OK, the blue is cheating)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

going home

a flock of starlings going home to roost.

making tracks

does anyone have any idea what might have made these tracks, meandering from one small clump of snow covered grass to another. The larger tracks (to the left, and top) are made by rabbits, but what walks in a straight line by placing one dainty foot in front of another. It doesn't look like the tracks of a bird. A very small rabbit maybe?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

snipe over Dartmoor, and Venterdon

snipe (dot in sky in top picture) are easily startled and very quick through the air, but have a characteristically over long beak for their small bodies. They often live in the fields in the winter but it is extremely difficult to catch them in a photograph, they're gone before the camera can focus.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

some hungry visitors

this is the first song thrush we have seen in the garden for a long time (top two photos). The song thrush is a much browner looking bird than the mistle thrush which is greyer and has a lighter face. The blackbird is also a member of the thrush family and the brown female (third photo) has very thrush like mottled breast feathers

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

the fields of gold

another strange day with a golden sunset across freezing fog creating an eerie and magical world of soft suffused light; it reminded me for some reason of the song, but fields of miscanthus not barley.

buzzard rescue

this morning as I was driving slowly into work along the frozen lanes a young buzzard flew out of the hedgerow straight into the front of the car, falling between the wheels. When I went back to check, it was still alive but with obvious damage to its right wing. I am never quite sure what to do in these situations, but I decided to wrap the bird up in my coat and try to save it. For a large bird it was immediately and surprisingly calm thus restrained. Steering one handed with the buzzard under my left arm we returned home, rang up the RSPCA, and with a case number and their instructions took the bird to our nearest vets (Calweton) with the help of one of my neighbours, Derek, who is holding the buzzard in this photo, and his springer spaniel Moss. The buzzard was thin and malnourished and has obviously been struggling to find anything to eat in the cold weather. The nurse at Calweton said that they have a couple of people who specialise in rehabilitating raptors but I suspect the prognosis is not good. I have noticed several buzzards recently at a much lower level in the woods than normal. It was an unfortunate way in which to see one of these magnificent birds at such close quarters.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Out for a walk

the light in the morning is lovely at this time of year. In the distance, on the other side of the Inny valley you can see the little village of Treburley (home of the Springer Spaniel pub). I think the Lurcher would also be a winning name for a local pub.

Try clicking on the lane label under this picture to get a flavour of our lanes through the year.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

and it remains cold

out today we saw a fox ambling across a field which is unusual in broad daylight, the cold must be forcing them out to scavenge. We also came across deer, badger and otter footprints.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year 2

the first view from Kit Hill below is towards Plymouth. The English Channel is the thin sliver of bright light at the top right.

The second view is of Brentor sitting in front of the main mass of Dartmoor. It is usually much more difficult to pick out from the background.

Brentor is the little pimple like hill (plus church) to be seen just below the russet brown line of Dartmoor on the far horizon . It is a strange place (see link) with many legends (see link)

the New Year

It has been unusually cold for this part of the world recently. From the Saturday before Christmas until the middle of last week the roads were covered with sheet ice and many people couldn't even get out of their houses. Car travel was almost impossible without 4 wheel drive. After a brief milder spell, it has turned very cold again. The air is very calm and clear. The views from Kit Hill were spectacular and the quarry was frozen over for the first time in Spot's experience, who can be seen assessing the situation very gingerly (and no, he wasn't allowed to walk on to the ice) .