Thursday, 24 April 2014

Catch up...The Good, The Bad and The Very, Very Sad

As promised I'm going to do a catch up post with some stuff that I've had ready to go on here but haven't had the time or if I was more honest, inclination, to put on here.

Firstly back in March I went to check on the Spring Snowflakes just down the road at Wooton Basset. I'd seen them three years ago if I recall correctly. I was wondering how they had fared through all of the flooding we'd had during the winter. There was a very good show of them I'm happy to say. All the plants close to the edges of the stream were quite stunted but further away some specimens were pretty large.





 Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum)

A couple of weeks ago whilst visiting Martha in Winchester I popped into the New Forest while passing to look for a plant I've never seen before, namely Narrow Leaved Lungwort (Pulmonaria longifolia). This is actually a rare native plant unlike the more often seen Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) which is a naturalised species in the UK.



 The flowers become a very vivid blue.



The basal leaves are eight times as long as they are wide as can clearly be seen here.

In the warm weather we've been having I've seen quite a few butterflies out and about and also in my garden, where I've already seen nine species! I've had a go at photographing some using my 400mm lens, which isn't ideal but I'm happy with some of the results especially managing to get clear 'flight shots'.


 Comma




Small Tortoiseshell.

I do have some bird related news, mostly bad, but I did see the Lodmoor Red-rumped Swallow, which was a lifer for me. The weather was extremely dismal and gloomy so my efforts at getting photos were pretty dismal too! Still, you can definitely tell what it is.



I've also suffered two horrendous dips. Firstly the Great Spotted Cuckoo (I don't see what's so GREAT about them. I hate them!) This was (can you believe) the second bird which I have seen other birders watching but haven't seen myself! (Read the other sorry tale here.) And this one was on patch which makes it extra annoying! I kept hearing about it whilst I was at work, how it just sat there, and sat there for almost four hours. As soon as I got out of work at 7 o'clock I sped up there as fast as I could. I was less than one hundred metres away when I heard it had flown into some conifers, presumably to roost. I could possibly have seen it from that distance had I not been looking directly in the direction of the low sun. I went back at first light but there was no sign (and there wasn't realistically going to be) in thick fog. The thick fog lasted for three days, plenty long enough for it to have died :-( Thanks to Bun and Phil for their help it was much appreciated.

Then onto this Tuesday when Bun and I set out very early in the morning to Northam Burrows to see the Collared Pratincole. We arrived at 7ish and there had been no sign of it. We watched and waited for around 3 and a half hours and then,very stupidly, decided to call it a day. It really didn't seem that it was around anymore. We had just arrived back in Seaton when we heard that it was back. It could have been worse though. If we had decided to drive back we'd have dipped it again because it flew off a couple of hours later never to be seen again.

That was the bad. Finally the very sad, which really puts not seeing a couple of birds into perspective. Exactly nine weeks ago tomorrow I had to do what I'd known was coming for months. I had to make that final act of kindness and take Rex on his last journey to the vets. He had gone into cardiac failure and was struggling to breathe. By the time I got there he was so weak that it didn't even take the whole contents of the syringe to see him peacefully on his way. It still broke my heart....My best friend and constant companion for 13 years, at least he'll always live on in my memory and on here too. I'm so glad that I documented so many of our 'little adventures' on my blog and can look back on them from time to time. George Graham Vest's famous 'Tribute to a Dog' probably says how I felt about him better than I ever could..



Best of Friends...
and he never once laughed at my choice of hats!


Monday, 21 April 2014

A Bit of Bank Holiday Botanising... Mousetail

I took a quick jaunt out into Somerset this morning to look for a plant that I've never seen before, the diminutive Mousetail (Myosurus minimus). It's one of those plants that is becoming rarer in much of the UK due to all the usual reasons. As it's a plant which favours areas that have been flooded during the winter I had a hunch that this would be a good year for them on the Somerset Levels. It appears I was right. Well, in the area I looked today at least.


Mousetail habitat, King's Sedgemoor.



Very diminutive and looking a lot like grass if one doen't look closely.
It was surprisingly abundant in this gateway.


Small individual plants on patches of mud like this, is what I expected to see...
 


..but there were lots of dense clumps of it.




A really bizarre flower and I reckon you don't need me to
 explain to you why it's called the Mousetail!



 I love the fact that a water droplet has formed a mirror in this photo.
How cool is that!


This afternoon I went to see if I could find any Early Purple Orchids on patch. I hadn't seen any in one of the usual places for a couple of years after the ditches had been re-dug and all the spoil piled up on top of them. But after an extensive search I'm pleased to say I found four..which is a whole lot better than none.




I also saw this male Orange Tip

I've got a few more things lined up waiting to go on here (Not including a Great Spotted B******d! Sadly) so I'll have to 'get me finger out' this week!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Little Gulls

I finally caught up with Little Gull today. Two of them in fact. I spotted one from the car just as I arrived at the yacht club, but I wasn't prepared and by the time I'd got my camera out of the boot it was moving off to the west. There was nothing for it, I had to bite the bullet and leave the warmth and comfort of the car and go down onto the beach. Luckily I didn't have to go too far, not so luckily it started throwing it down (just for a change). I managed to get a few shots of them before my camera began to get too wet but it wasn't easy in the strong wind and driving rain.




This one was an adult...








And I believe the black on the wings makes this one a second winter.