Sunday, April 29, 2012

happy birthday

It has been a miserable few days of cold cloudy rainy weather, but at least the first two great tit eggs have hatched (gaping mouths above), the first of several expected  arrivals both in and out of the nest. New life is uplifting whatever the weather. The female has been eating some of the shells and removing the residue. She appears unsettled by all the movement underneath her.  Now the parents' monumental task of feeding this lot begins. I hope to get some better pictures over the next two weeks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

on the towpath

apart from death and taxes two other things are certain, as soon as the cherry blossom appears a gale will blow it all away, and as soon as a drought is declared in England it will pour with rain.

he looks fierce

I couldn't resist one more picture of the feisty little goldcrest. He can see his own reflection in the window pane and is determined to see off this handsome rival!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

a nice way to start a day

a pair of goldcrests appeared this morning on our wisteria (which is about to bloom). These are the smallest of our native birds but they are surprisingly unafraid of people. They were extremely active looking for insects.

They are said to have a perpetually surprised look on their face. They may be nesting in a cedar nearby. I hope so because they are great fun to watch.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

St Dilpe and Landulph

After giving a talk to Landulph Good Companions in Cargreen we paid a quick visit to the church of St Leonard and St Dilpe at Landulph. This church is a good long walk from the nearest village and is set out on a little peninsular that reaches into the lower reaches of the Tamar (see this Google link , the church is at the very end of the road). St Dilpe must be one of the many obscure Cornish Saints (see link) whose names lend extra mystique to local place names. Landulph must be a corruption of Dilpe. Sadly, there were no sweet violets on the bridle path from the church where we had found them for the first and only time in 2005 but it was very muddy (not a bridal path then).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

the things we see

a fox ambling across the skyline

a holly blue taking a break

and Harriet with Spring in her step, behind a tattered pheasants eye

Saturday, April 14, 2012

the best day of the year

I don't know why but the sight of martins returning to nest is one of the happiest of the year. We have had reports of sightings nearby and today they turned up in large numbers. I noticed a gang of minatory house sparrows lined up on the guttering first, they were obviously planning to steal the old nests before the rightful owners could get back in.

And our great tit laid five eggs this morning.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


The Tamar Inn, Calstock on a busy afternoon. Interesting junk for sale further up the street.

proper job

Native bluebells showing off their characteristic deep blue violet colour. I hope they last until May. In local Cornish dialect "proper job" is used to describe anything truly appropriate or fitting to the task or well done. "Heller" is anything very bad or very good. And of course there is "dreckly" which notoriously means the same as manana but with less urgency.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

first of the year

the first early purple orchid of the year in amongst the fading daffodils at the entrance to Duchy College.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

another occasional find 2

white alkanet
This is a rare variant of green alkanet (which is blue of course), but an example appears most years in the same spot in a little lane nearby.


a bullfinch, a very occasional visitor to the niger seeds, with a goldfinch on the other side, spotted and described by Charlie Price aged 4yrs and 11 months. Well done Charlie!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

at Treven farm

the blue season is almost upon us. The top picture is of greater periwinkle (vinca major). In the bottom picture is some green alkanet with the very vivid blue flowers with white eyelets, and around it the mat of prostrate stems and the small flowers of lesser periwinkle (vinca minor). The lesser vinca is a good flower for Easter as it "hath an excellent virtue to staunch bleeding at the nose in Christians if made into a garland and hung about the neck". (Not clear what non believers and infidels were to do). A further reference (Nicholas Culpeper) stated that "Venus owns this herb and saith that the leaves eaten by Man and Wife together cause love between them". Neither periwinkle is native to Britain

Thursday, April 05, 2012


It has been fascinating to watch the great tits set about building the nest from scratch. The nest is constructed mainly of spaghnum moss brought in strand by strand with some downy feathers and hair or wool. Although the nest looks woven it is actually made by pushing the strands to the side. As the volume builds up the central concave part of the nest appears simply because it is where the birds sit to push the moss towards the sides. The male spends a large part of his time in the nest box pecking fiercely at the wood around the entrance (as above). It doesn't appear to be making the entrance larger but possibly it is making it smoother. They only have one brood a year so success is absolutely critical to each bird and hence they go to a lot of time and effort to make the nest secure and secret. I think they would both be deeply shocked if they knew how closely they were being watched deep in their own home.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

No idea

another unidentified flying object. We have a lot of goldfinches in the garden but this does not look like the typical juvenile goldfinch. In fact it doesn't look like anything, especially from the front. Can anyone help with identification? A greenfinch?

PS now that I have had time to look at some decent photos on Wildabout Britain (link) it is clear that this a greenfinch.

Monday, April 02, 2012


Blackthorn is now out everywhere. The flowers always appear before the leaves and the black stems create beautiful tonal contrasts against the pastel colours in the hedgerows before the green returns.


A skylark singing. They are not always easy to see against a bright background but they are easy to hear. They seem to tremble in flight as they sing.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

UFOs spotted

I know this is April 1, all fools day, but the photographs above are absolutely genuine and worth closer inspection. I noticed two small white round (to the naked eye) objects floating across the sky over us. They caught my attention because they did not seem to move like birds, floating rather than flying. Buzzards sometimes do this on thermals around here but they did not have the outline of a buzzard. They were moving steadily rather than swiftly west east, and looked very white in the morning sun. I took three photos, hard to get a very sharp focus pointing at the sky. To my surprise there was a third white thing to the top left, which I had not noticed, and two fuzzy white things. Maybe they are balloons. On the unresized RAW files they appear white with a fuzzy grey outline. Help!! I promise you this is not an April Fool's joke, and they are not camera artefacts or manipulated with photo imaging software. Very strange.

On close inspection I wonder if these are parachutes although there were no planes overhead at the time and I have never seen anyone parachute around here. The two lower photos are enlarged and slightly enhanced. And two more in the last photo I took yesterday.