Monday, June 30, 2014

on the mend

Our hedgehog is definitely on the mend, eating and drinking and doing a bit of stomping about (and increasingly ignoring us). Still not quite sure it is 100%, but we will release it late tonight if all seems OK.
But sadly not on the mend enough. He gradually became more withdrawn and listless. He was taken to our nearest vet this morning where he was found to be very anaemic and emaciated. The state of his teeth suggested he was an elderly hedgehog. He died under an anaesthetic  while being examined with a view to treatment with antibiotics and steroids.

bit of bread and butter no cheese

The air is full of the calls of yellowhammers. They are fairly easy to spot because they like to sit on the top of bushes, trees and telegraph poles to broadcast their presence. There seem to be a lot around locally even though they are becoming increasingly rare nationally (see link).

Friday, June 27, 2014

hedgehog day 2

I think we are going to be OK. We have moved out of the box, had something to eat and drink, and used the toilet facilities. If all is well he can be released tomorrow.

hedgehog day

We have seen plenty of hedgehogs in the grounds recently but never during the day. This hedgehog was found curled up out in the open at midday, and that usually means something is wrong. There were no external signs of injury fortunately. After checking with St Tiggywinkles (see link), we placed it in a cardboard box with some hedgehog food (which of course we have to hand), and some water. In the absence of a local wildlife hospital, the emergency vet recommended keeping it safe for 24 hours and then releasing it back into the garden. We shall see. These situations are strangely disarming.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June treats

 a greater butterfly orchid

a tattered heath fritillary

a violet ground beetle

fledging day

all the young blackbirds flew the nest this morning except this tail end Charlie (Charlene I think). It may well be the bird rescued earlier in the week.
After we checked all was well, it eventually left the nest this evening. It has had quite an eventful start to its life.

walking with Lottie

 Lottie will do almost anything for a carrot, and was impressed by how quickly a human was able to learn her trick.
 She then had to work off all those extra calories by giving free bareback rides (only one, actually)

and of course champions make friends with champions (you know what I mean)

again for more information about this epic journey, please see the link to walkingwithawen and give generously!

walking with Lottie

We were honoured today by a visit from Jan and Lottie who are walking from the furthest point East in England to the furthest point West, both for charity, and for the life enhancing experience (see link to walkingwithawen (aka Lottie)). They have walked from Dartmoor, via Sydenham Damerel, and over Horsebridge into sunny Cornwall.  Dartmoor can be seen in the distance just above the granite gate post.

Lottie quickly made herself at home

a trip to Lundy 3

 One of the main reasons for going to Lundy at this time of year is to see the puffins at Jenny's cove. They are not easy to spot without binoculars and telephoto lenses, and the air is full of kittiwakes, razorbills and seagulls. However, if you look closely at the bottom left hand corner of the picture below
 and in the grassy area of the picture below, one can just about make out puffin-like puffins. I am not quite sure about the congregation on the rock emerging from the sea,

 but there were a lot more of them nesting on the cliff face (razorbills, and guillemots?).

There are also a lot of wheatears about, with a distinctive black eye line and flashing white tail feathers, which I think are designed to draw predators away from their nest sites.

We stayed on the island for about 4 hours, and then took 2 hours to get back to Ilfracombe, and another two hours to drive a very long day travelling but worth it to see a little gem.

a trip to Lundy 2

 Lundy is spectacularly beautiful, especially when the sun is out and there is little or no wind. Sheep, horses and cattle graze the heath which is very like the moorland across the sea in Devon. The goats (below at Jenny's cove) are allowed to roam wild.

a trip to Lundy 1

Our trip started at the pretty (but still fishing) town of Ilfracombe (after a long drive from home).

 The statue of the pregnant woman was controversial locally, but has inevitably become something of a sight to see. She certainly looked very fearsome in the early morning sun.

We arrived at Lundy after a two hour voyage in MS Oldenburg, a small, fairly elderly ferry boat, seen here docked at the jetty on the island. Even on such a fine day there was a considerable swell. The climb up to the village on Lundy is very steep and long and not for the unfit. And NO dogs, so Spot was left at home.

Monday, June 16, 2014

blackbird update

things are coming along nicely in the blackbird nest. However, I think magpie predation may have started even though the nest is right next to our front door. I found a small chick on the ground. It was alive and warm. It was not under a nest, and the nearest nest is the one above. I am fairly sure that a magpie had just snatched it out of the nest and was frightened off when I returned home this morning. I am not absolutely sure it was one of the blackbirds but I have put it back in that nest. Time will tell whether it develops into a duck or a swan.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

the pollinator

It is a sorry season for hay fever sufferers. The white smoke just visible in the grass is pollen released as Harriet swept through carrying medium sized branch. She is, of course, still sulking following the shock result of yesterday's over 60's beauty competition (see previous post).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stoke Climsland Post Office 175 anniversary

well, this is probably the best and most important day of my life, I came FIRST in the over 8 years old class, and Harriet came nowhere (see link for relish). Not quite sure why I didn't win best in show but there you go.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

deer view

deer in meadows at Upper Downgate, and, looking the other way, the view of our villages, Stoke Climsland and Venterdon, church and chapel, before the momentous events of 14 June 2014. The white structure in the distance is yet another wind turbine, one of many which are becoming more and more intrusive in this landscape.

more from wimalford

large red damselflies mating (top), a small heath butterfly (middle), and a miniature forest of marsh lousewort growing in the moss overlying some very swampy ground (the lush green gives it away)

wimalford marsh

This is the marsh fritillary, feeding on a spotted heath orchid at Wimalford farm (see link). It is a rare butterfly and is under a lot of pressure because of loss of habitat and possibly climate change. We also spotted a small pearl bordered fritillary (below)

and a chimney sweep moth

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

two is a surprise

Spot often finds one hedgehog in the garden, and has learnt to leave them alone, but this is the first time we have seen two at the same time. Our garden has become very hedgehog friendly (apart from the occasional unwanted move to another location by Spot) probably because we do not use slug pellets, and there are plenty of wood piles to provide shelter.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

rainbow days

 red, green, yellow and blue, everything is appearing

 a tortoiseshell on ragged robin

  a small skipper on campion

 a female beautiful demoiselle (not that she needs to be told)

a yellow crab spider

the first common  blue of the year
and brown, black and white too.

fresh speckled wood


Wednesday, June 04, 2014


One of the great pleasures of walking repeatedly through the same places is the gradual accumulation of knowledge of what is in the environment, and learning to notice the subtle differences between seemingly similar things. There is only one place in the parish, as far as I know, where the rare pink variety of wild bugle grows, and this year there is only one flowering stem, but there it is! (With the normal bluer variety shown below for comparison).

we're still here

A pair of blackbirds have decided to nest in the wisteria by the front door. This allows me to get very close without disturbing the female who is sitting (somewhat stoically) on her eggs despite the constant comings and goings, barking and general shenanigans around her. With any luck we should be able to watch events develop.

Monday, June 02, 2014


wild aquilegia, or columbine in the Tamar valley. Garden varieties tend to have smaller nectar horns and paler colours. The flowers really are this vivid lilac blue. Columbine comes from the latin for dove because the nectar horns are supposed to look like five doves together.