Ecology

Spring Building Boom

Spring creeps slowly up our valley and in the last  week we have had 70 mm of rainfall, which is not at all unusual, but yesterday the sun came out.P1050503 (2)The new vibrant verges have splashes of bluebells and the pond surface trembles with life as the tadpoles jostle for a place in the sun.

Tadpoles jostle for the sun's warmth

Yesterday the first orange tip butterflies flitted between the pink flowers of the lady’s smock, the cuckoo called from the thicket on the hill and a tiny frog had his first taste of fresh air, albeit with the assistance of the author.

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I put him back where I found him.

But best of all –yesterday our swallows returned, flapping at our bedroom window  as the first rays of the sun struck the front of the house, they used to nest in this barn until we made it our home and ten years later still try to return to the beam above our bed.  We close the window and reluctantly they swoop off and renovate last year’s nests in the wood shed and perhaps accept our offer of a beam in the new barn.

The house martins that built their nest under the north facing eaves last year for the first time are back in force, at least two pairs.  Last year’s nest fell down in the winter but it looks as if they are preparing to rebuild.

The house sparrows are back in the hole behind the downspout that we left for them when we re-pointed (not because it was difficult to get at) and, needless to say, all is quiet on the bird-box front.

The moles have been busy re-boring their runs and Alan, not convinced by my argument that their efforts improve the drainage of our fields and that they should be left to get on with the job, stomped off to knock down mole hills. By tea time the mole hills were no more than a memory, smears on the pristine sward.  By breakfast today, with monumental earth moving ability, they had rebuilt three or four in each field, shifting hundreds of times their own weight in wet earth.  My admiration for the little velvet suited engineer is not well received by my spouse!

Rare sighting of mole. Is it still raining?

Local Hero!

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Ecology, Nature Photography

New Worlds above the Flood

It’s been raining quite a lot.  Between storms I’ve been having a new look at the world.

The stream is swollen and down the valley they complain that the drumming of the river keeps them awake at night.

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We’ve moved our flock to higher ground to keep their feet dry and when the low winter sun comes out, which it has been doing quite often, every sheep has a silver lining:

?????????????????????????????We’ve been making the most of the sunny periods by cutting back the hedge rows so that the grass can grow with more light although we still need shelter for the beasts and privacy for lambing; behind the hedges we’re cutting back  the low branches and brambles that will whip us in the eye and snag us as we give assistance in the spring.

Winter working reveals aspects of the wildlife with which we share this land that are overshadowed or covered at other times of the year. Hover over these pictures for details:

Today I have been looking in a bit more detail at the moulds and fungi that surround us, if any of you recognise the species I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment.

Here are some mosses and lichen.   After the fall, some of the hawthorn and damson trees reveal so much lichen that they seem to be in blossom!

A whole world can exist on the top of a gatepost!

Gatepost with mini rain-forest

Gatepost with mini rain-forest of lichens and moss

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