Saturday, March 31, 2012

a Spot of trespassing

actually, June, the owner of this cottage called Greenscombe in the wood, gave us permission to go into her meadow which runs beside the Tamar. Not far from here today we saw a kingfisher, and a greater spotted woodpecker, to add to the general pleasure of being out and about. Spot and I are due to give a talk to the local group of WI's next month, and with any luck June will be in the audience and we will use this picture as an example of quintessential rural England.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

everyone's doing it 2

a chiffchaff (based definitively on its monotonous song!). I think this one is local and has spent the winter here rather than around the mediterranean (bad choice in my mind). The lane is now suddenly full of speckled wood butterflies. There are two male varieties apparently, a docile type with 4 spots on the hindwing, which sits around sunbathing, and this type with three wing spots on the hindwing, which spends all its time chasing off rivals up and down the lane .

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

early starters

Bluebells normally flower in April and May around here so it is surprising to find this solitary specimen in flower. It looks like the spanish variety that is slowly spreading and hybridising with its less vigorous cousin our native bluebell. There are hundreds of plants developing nearby but none are anywhere near flowering.

And a peacock basking in the unfamiliar warmth of the March sun, staying still long enough to be captured on camera

more loud singing


the air is full of birdsong because every male bird seems to be shouting at the top of his voice. At this time of year just before the leaves appear  they are much easier to spot.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

sea side flowers

Sea campion is a close relative of  red campion and has the same pattern of five deeply divided petals.

Dogviolets are hardy plants that will grow almost anywhere.

Thrift is a sea side specialist and loves these barren rocky and salty places.

Life of Harriet

It's a sign, it's a sign, we must carry a shoe in our mouths.

Cormorant at Downderry

we have several Kurt Jackson paintings (from a time when he was very inexpensive) but he didn't paint this one

Saturday, March 24, 2012

pond skaters do battle

he who trembles most, wins

the world is alive with the sound of living

Life is stirring; the air is buzzing with the hum of bumble bees and hoverflies, brimstones, peacocks and commas are emerging, celandines, daffodils, wood anemones and dog violets are in flower, long tailed tits, wrens, robins, great tits are singing out, buzzards are pairing up by soaring on Spring thermals, the fish were leaping out of the water. Spring.

 wood anemone

 comma and celandine

 robin singing his socks off

One thing I have noticed is that the first butterflies to emerge in early Spring are much more frisky and easily unsettled than later in the year and therefore harder to photograph. This is surprising given that it remains quite cool especially in the morning. It may be because as there are fewer of them at this time of year they are more conspicuous targets for birds and other predators, so it pays to be more agile.

Monday, March 19, 2012


the little hamlet of Tutwell, where Uncle Max was born, Dartmoor in the distance. Tutwell sits on the top of the Tamar valley. In the panorama below it is to the left, and a little hamlet called Townlake in Devon on the other side of the valley is visible to the right. As usual the photo has suffered from making it fit onto the blog page!

top of the hill

entrance to our village this afternoon, (with traffic sign impedimenta and bins removed, if only planning and highway law were so simple). See link for same view from an earlier page from this blog with different flowers and more information.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

three favourites

butterbur, spot the native daffodil, and a crowd of ghostly mother superiors leaving this morning's woodland service

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


annual catkin photo against non annual blue sky, and, below, masses of very juvenile tadpoles. The greenish tinge in the middle of the photo is caused by the residual egg sacs from which they have emerged and which they are still feeding on. Unfortunately, it is very dry and like last year I think there is a real risk that these puddles will dry up before the tadpoles can mature.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

sling your hook

it was a quiet, foggy morning and the trees were full of these little hammock webs, designed it seems to catch the little midges that tend to fly up and down in little mating clouds at this time of year.

first appearances

more and more plants are putting in their first appearance of the year including the very slender and pretty wood anemone above, and the rough old dog violet below. Early, but not very early.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kit Hill images - and a linnet

Kit Hill quarry provides a wonderful range of tones with only hints of green at the moment. It has warmed up so quickly that crowfoot is already flowering in the small ponds around the quarry pool.

 And a stonechat (I think) was puffing himself up and giving full vent to his Spring song.

post post script:- my in-house expert has suggested that what I thought was a stonechat is in fact a linnet. This may well be true because its song was strikingly beautiful and the linnet is renowned for the quality of its song. It also likes scrubland. I have a new source of information to keep us all well informed, Birds Britannica (see link)


a beautiful sunny morning with a thick mist lying in the Tamar valley. As the mist receded the whole village of Downgate appeared beneath us as we stood on Kit Hill. Downgate is on a fairly steep hill but the perspective has flattened it out. In the background a green wood pecker was yaffling away (to hear it try this link to RSPB). I have never managed to catch a green woodpecker on camera, but there is definitely one in residence on Kit Hill now. We will go hunting (only with a camera of course!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

another yellow body

last week I could hear yellowhammers practising their song. They could manage the "bit of bread" and "cheese" but not the whole phrase. Today there were several sitting in the tops of trees giving it full blast and using the whole phrase.

There was also an odd episode in the field behind our house. A buzzard flew down from a tree in our garden into the field. It was immediately the subject of a spectacular aerial attack by another buzzard. They appeared to be fighting for a minute or so before one flew off, and then the other flew off, neither seemed injured. I have never seen this behaviour before (they are quite furtive birds as a rule other than when they are in the air or roosting on a pole)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012


there were five wrens within 50 yards of each other singing their hearts out today.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Stitchwort returns

Greater Stitchwort, the first of our true hedgerow plants, is back. According to my records this is very early this year even though it is a plant that flowers later in March. As this is Spot's blog Harriet, who has a natural interest in flora and fauna, insists on having a bit part in it as often as possible.

path clearing and gate keeping

Spot showing off his very strong retriever genes, just like his dear old mum (see link), and making sure the elephants don't get out.

As this is his blog he does like to appear in it from time to time.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

almost perfect

Camelia coming into blossom. They do much better than roses in our local climate. And joining in the hymn to the rising year