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Monday, August 25, 2008

Creamery Road and the River; Long Time No See

Watching the Olympics is great, I love watching certain sports and their competitors, like athletics, swimming, snooker, cycling, (mostly for the landscapes!) and the regatta sports such as rowing, and too many others to list. Therefore, Francis was really surprised when I said I was getting out; my excuse was a birthday card for my mother, which needed posting before 2.10pm when the mail leaves the village for further frontiers. The rain had stopped for the day and the Sun stood high in the sky to lure me from the athletic track and field activities. The tide was out and had not even reached its lowest point yet, so going to the bay would be a waste of time and I wanted to stay closer to home somehow. I just wanted to do a quick tour.
Besides, with the first BirdAtlas finished, in which I had concentrated on the bay and the two western backroads leaving the village along the peninsula, it was time I started to look at the other, east/northern side of the village. Mind you, most of the routes out into these directions are inaccessible because these are too busy with cars. Or they pass over a range of hills where the roads are really too narrow. One of these climbs up from the COI and thus our previous home. I’ve done that road more than 10 years ago, but not only is it very steep, and it had made me dizzy, also, the people living on top, are always aware of their neighbour’s daily schedule, and would not expect my wheels. Besides, there were no good verges for me to move to the edge. A deep drain, yes, that was on either side. It is a real pity, yet I shouldn’t dwell upon it, and get on with it.

It had also been about 8-10 years since I’d done the Creamery road. It was time that I started following the river again from the village. In contrast to the river at our previous home, Riverside Cottage, this one is freshwater, unlike the tidal river which surrounds riverside on two sides.
This river, the main one in and around the village, is also the source for our mains. After moving into our council house, eight years ago, I had great trouble getting used to the drinking water of the village. We’d had a well until then, which we used for drinking mostly. For cooking, cleaning and the bathroom we used rainwater, until the last 7 years or so when we used this for drinking too.

The road was not as I remembered any more:
I used to go on along this road for about 5 minutes and then, where the narrow road turns to the left, I’d follow a track where a friend of us used to live. Like with so many friends, she lived in a marvelous house, however totally inaccessible to my wheels and with good weather we’d sit outside with the youngest of her 6 children, and have a chat and a cuppa. These days she lives behind in the last stage of the council estate. These houses have extra wide doors downstairs, a downstairs’ {cramped!} toilet following the new building regulations. This means that even with bad weather I can go and call in, literally!
The hedgerow had a totally different set up and feel than those going out west from the village. One of the three shopowners, Eugene Wiseman, who has the Hardware Store, also has one of the three Open Gardens in the direct area of the village. (Yes, you guessed it! All totally unsuitable to wheels) Between Eugene’s shop and the bridge, Eugene uses a small patch for storage of his Garden and other supplies. A little further is another one of these, left going wild, and here Loosestrife, Montbretia, Nettles and Bramble had spread out. I made a mental note to ask Colin, Eugene’s son, about it and see if I can find enough ‘hardened’ surface to get as far as the other side. I’m still looking for a spot from where I can see the river. There is a lot of high growth, but I might be able to see something. Eugene is mostly involved with his garden these days and more or less retired, and lucky enough to have a son willing to stay in such a small community instead of being attracted by the big cities, The UK or the US, to which most of the younger people have been lost.

Among the Loosestrife a Bee was humming away and a Robin said looking down at me from the branch of a lovely young Ash. I looked at the Robin, then across the other side of the road, the river and fields, up to the hill and wondered whose Robin was he anyway? I sat talking to it for the next 5-10 minutes; about the same conversations I have with my Robin, back home. It could easily be one of mine.
However, the saying that every house has its own Robin, would contradict this way of thinking. And I should respect the Robin for who s/he is. A bird in its own right. Even if I could see the garden with the great Scot’s Pine where my Chaffinches had been nesting this, and last year.

Once past the old (and now closed too) Creamery, a few dilapidated houses were growing into the background.

With so many Wild Carrots on the other side of the village, which I had taken for a (Giant) Hogweed, at first, I was curious if on this side, where the river is freshwater, these same Wild Carrots are just as abundant. Well, not really. I did see one very large one, of about 1.50m. at least, And Catherine’s message on the BGB forum stuck in my head. Its stalk was the perfect size for making whistles and it was far too wide for using as pea-shooter at school. It was sitting back a little from the road and I decided that I would go on for a little while, before returning and taking its picture. After awhile I thought I started feeling the spray of the river on my left, until it dawned on me that I should have felt a similar spray earlier on. Only then did I start to realise that I was caught in a shower of drizzle. And as with most of these showers, they do have the tendency to increase the volume of drops very soon. And indeed, before long I was Turning around, and increasing my speed as I traveled back along the same road. And while riding back, I made a mental map of all the plants and Flowers I had intended to photograph on the way back, plus others which I spotted only now.
It dried up soon again, and the Sun broke through, showing blue sky with some clouds above me. I came upon the old Creamery, which now stands lonely and forlorn at the side of the road; yet opposite this building was another, much smaller which had caught my eye.
A little new ‘hut’, which seems to be the council’s office for the waterworks and the river. By the time I was home I was drenched again and Francis had the door open already, which is even more embarrassing than coming home soaked to the bone and very very cold!
However I'm glad I went, I'd been planning to go there for so long! And I might only have seen a family of Jackdaws when I came back in the family. (with all tourists wondering who is the crazy one, me talking to so called 'Junior' JD in the planter or themselves believing they saw this woman in wheels talking to a JD) a Rook, a Robin and Swallows, but then I had been rushing on my way back which is bad for your eyesight. And I had only just reached the interesting part of the road!

JuniorCoal TitGreat TitFeasting of House Sparrows on PeanutcakeMeadowsweet with "Male"? or "Lady"? Fern,Daddy Long LegsBee in the gardenMystery MothLoosestrife and MontbretiaRobin on Eugene's Wild PatchAnother BeeEugene's Open Garden,Council Office

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Break In The Clouds

We had a little break in the weather this week, and I took advantage of it on Thursday, and went to see what had happened in the botanical world of the road verges here and in the bay with the birds too, of course. Most importantly, we had a light breeze, one which would not lift birds to the other side of the Atlantic. Mind you, I had no idea how long the Rain would grant me; it was forecasted for later again, as was its mate, strong winds. Still, I lingered in the porch for about 10 minutes, when a Common Grasshopper was blown in or flown in{or hopped} in front of me! I was fascinated by how it made the weird short hushz, hushz sound by moving its abdomen up and down.

Along the residential part of the back road, an array of Giant Hogweeds had sprung up since my last time and the sight of new growth delighted me even more, after the shearer had taken down most of what had been there the last time. With only Brambles, Nettles and a few late Honeysuckles remaining. At the top 10 young Chaffinches were flying around and feeding in the edges of the road, and I just love how Chaffs have that typical little hop. There is no other bird which can copy a Chaffinch, I think; these lovely birds are in a class of their own. I was also amazed at the many Moths flying around me. I still have a lot of trouble with trying to locate my subject in the midst of its backdrop, and hence the absence of their pictures. This is a pity because ‘the Unknown Wave’ especially sat quite still for me in its pose. These Small Moths are a perfect camouflage when resting on a dead Bramble leaf, which threw me too, although I had seen it. I’d hoped to be able to ID which Small Wave it was, with a photo, but no luck apparently. A Dark Arches also flew around; this one remained in the air though.
Only a few Butterflies were around, a Common Blue, a Brown Hairstreak, one unknown to me, see photo, and a Large White. Besides, the wind had picked up again and I needed to make some headway if I still wanted to get to my little strand before it either would get too cold or I would be caught in a shower.
Those moths must have been anticipating this change in the weather; soon after I didn’t see any at all. And then you start to wonder is it coincidence that there was not one bright moth or butterfly around? And why had I seen so many Moths in the air compared to other days? I know that we have a new generation, yet that was not reason enough. I suspected it had to do with the weather. The Sun in the sky might mean nice weather with Sunshine, yet there was moisture in the air. And not because I was getting closer to the strand.
Down and back at the bay, and above the little strand, there was not much life around either. The Wild Strawberries had finished flowering and some had starting creating fruit. Only here and there, a single white flower was peeking through the sea of glossy leaves.

Across the road a coach was emptying again for a visit to Kilvorack Gardens. I had to smile. In the village I’d met the tourists already in the shop when I did my shopping a few hours earlier, and those stopping and drifting into the shop en masse had delayed me quite a lot in me getting away again. I decided to go on a little further to see what or who else was about. Here it was apparent too that after the Shearer had taken off all growth along Hedgerows, and along the lower edge of the roads, all over, there was this one Wild Flower which popped up everywhere; Giant Hogweed. The shearer had done a lot of good too, of course in rejuvenating the hedgerows and the torrential rain had in a way helped growth along too.
On my way back I spotted 4 Mute Swans and for a moment I hoped that it was the other pair I’d seen with its young and that it was still alive, and perhaps hiding between two of them. Of course I also knew that this was wishful thinking and as I got closer I was soon brought back to reality. It is not too often that I see more than the one pair close up; usually they are across the bay, in a sheltered spot, too far off for pictures. Now though, all four were willing to pose for me and Miss Lumix.
The Swallows were everywhere again, yet I am still sad that there are so few of them compared with other years; assuming that the main reason for this is the situation in their wintering grounds in South Africa.

Great Black backed GullMute SwanFirst year's Black headed Gull and adult Herring GullBlack-headed Gull enjoying the BreezeSwallowsMystery FlowerBee and Fly on G. HogweedLargeWhite ButterflyMystery Butterfly
Common Grasshopper in the porchPiedWagtailBlackheaded Gull, losing summer plumageNew growth after the haircut and the recent rainsGiant Hogweed, sprouting up everywhere

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The usual six legged suspects lined up :

Been awhile since my last post; it had been raining mostly over the past weeks or so and although I’ve had a few visitors from the World of Moths, other things have kept me from doing much on the Internet.

Last year I’d stopped smoking very sudden and I had no problem, as long as I had fresh fruit around me to nibble or snack on. Then after three months, we were to go and see Elsje, my dear mother in Holland. Our birthdays are a week apart and we’d always said that in 2007 we’d celebrate them together because we’d be 50 and 75. With the trip causing me much pain again, I soon turned to nicotine again for some form of relief.
I’d promised myself that I’d quit again, most likely in summer when there would be more fresh fruit available. Ad yes of course, I know; summer is almost over. My freezer part of our fridge has a fair amount of watermelon wedges which are great to nibble on. And chill out at the same time.
Yesterday I’d hoped to get out onto the road, but again, persistent showers kept me in, and the same today.

I did however delve into my new books. I got myself a Concise Guide to the Moths of Britain and Ireland, spiral bound which lies open flat without the need of extra hands. {I mostly buy hardback when I get new books, just because paperbacks are often too hard to fold open. If you recognize this problem than just try it out with just the one hand, while your’e reading. The best is soft back, but these are not as widely available as they used to be. Yes, I know, hardback can be just as horrible as paperback. But the difference is that you can “shape” it as you require and get it to work for you.

I also got Roger Lovegrove’s book, Silent Fields. A book on my wish list since it date of publication.
I write about fictional creatures set in a UK landscape of before Man. Later eras I use too, and knowledge about the way Man dealt with the many species he considered vermin, and which species was dealt with first and to what extent, is quite essential.

It is not pleasant reading of course; it is still a report on the downfall of many species of wildlife, which used to be commonplace in all kind of habitats in the UK.

A book on Wildflowers I got myself too. One by Marjorie Blamey and the brothers Fitter, recommended by Jenny Seawright. Which she thought would help me with ID’s of those Wild Flowers/Grasses, and Rushes I might meet on my travel.
And a general Wildlife Guide (Collins) with bits on Insects, Butterflies and Moths, Mammals, Birds, Fungi, Amphibians/Reptiles, Wildflowers, Fish. Oh, and Trees too.
These will keep me occupied for a while, I’d like to think.

In the meantime, Eurosport is focusing on Beijing. As am I from my table in the kitchen, about 5metres from my TV. I’d prefer to watch interactive with the Beeb, our Sky box is on the blink somewhere. One of the guys removing the fireplace, yesterday, and replacing it with a modern one (help!) told us that the Sky box would need replacing after 6 years; and as we’ve got it 8 years, we’d be eligible. If it works that easily, I doubt.
Anyone ever replaced their box?

To please the US, the Olympic Committee in Beijing has planned the swimming and Athletics finals at a suitable time to watch for the general American public, even though it means that we have to stay up till 3am for them to start, and then watch from that time on.

8 days ago, I found two Micro Moths again. One, a beautiful light sienna one, I found on the windowsill. Soon I noticed that it had not been stuck indoors since the night before, but had been trapped inside the kitchen longer than that; its wings were like rice paper, but a lot more fragile.
The other one, I spotted quite by accident, as it was on the floor underneath the bookcase It was another Dark-barred Twinspot Carpet.

A few days ago, getting out into the garden to see who and what was about, I spotted this little Beetle in the porch; It was climbing and walking very fast on the wall, enjoying the Sunshine. What was weird about this Beetle? It almost seemed as if it had a transparent body covering. Somehow I was able to see the body underneath its shell, or so it seemed. My OH thought it to be a reflection in the Sun, but I’m not sure. It has a light grey band around the shell. And at the front part has some light grey bits too

Yesterday morning I had another Moth on my window, one which again entered my tub easily and came with me outside into the early Sunshine at 6am. It warmed up for about 15 minutes, the tub set on top of one of the (gate)pillars while I chased the Swallows (without luck) and when it refused to come out, I put it in the window where it faced the Sun directly. I concentrated the camera on my Sparrows near the planter, enjoying their breakfast of peanut cake, peanuts or seeds. Focusing onto the grass for a minute, I spotted this lovely little white Moth flying about. Looking at the tub, all I could do was smile at the Moth. Well done to you!

A late addition to the Robin juveniles; only just starting to turn colourAlien BeetleThis month's unidentified Moths sofar;Mystery Sienna Moth, 1 Aug 2008-Mystery-8 Aug 2008-MicroMothPoor Junior, totally drenchedOne of the Chaffinches (male) enjoying SunflowerseedsFennel in the rainMy Fennel is a haven for winged Insects