Saturday 24 April 2010

Nutmegged by a Lady

Another warm Saturday, another fruitless search for Odonata.

However, the day was cheered up immeasurably by several sweet natural history moments.

Starting off in the garden with a visit from a Speckled Wood...

Then on to Walton Lake and several brushes with a Brimstone...

And finally to Linford Lakes, where we were entertained by Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo, Hobby and our first Common Terns of the year. Then, whilst attempting to cosy up to a Comma, I noticed a ladybird scurrying towards it, pass directly underneath the butterfly without breaking stride, and carry on without either insect becoming in the slightest perturbed. I, on the other hand, couldn't decide which one to photograph, so you'll have to make do with this panicky snap.

It would appear to be a 24-spot Ladybird and Boro should definitely sign it up to strengthen our forward line for next season.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Butterflies 7, Ladybirds 3

On a pleasantly warm day, with barely a breeze, the temptation to say "Hang spring-cleaning!" a la Mole was just too great. A potter around Walton Lake and the river bank behind the OU produced a Comma, a few Small Tortoiseshells and my first Orange Tip of the year. There were several Seven-spot Ladybirds but no damsels or dragons (sigh).

Moving on to the Great Ouse in Newport Pagnell, and from the Northampton Road bridge around to The Battery, we saw a Two-spot Ladybird, plus more Small Tortoises and Orange Tips. Across the Ouzel, in the Castle Meadow, were Brimstones, Peacocks aplenty and we had a brief view of a Common Blue (butterfly not damsel, sob). Here, neatly nestled in the nettles, we also "spotted" a Cream-spot Ladybird.

Traipsing home through the Riverside Meadow and along Tongwell Brook, there was a single Speckled Wood, I think, but didn't have a great view. Still, it just goes to show, there's nothing quite like messing about by the river.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

First bloggiversary

Well, who would have thought it! I've managed to maintain an unsteady stream of blog burble for a whole year, making this my anniversary post.

Through what kind of drug-induced haze, exactly 365 days ago,did I presciently write that first paragraph?

"In case you're wondering, dear reader, I am most definitely not writing this whilst sitting in the kitchen sink. However, I did see a Dalmatian yesterday. These two small facts may well have set the tone for all that follows, today, tomorrow and in the future."

Why prescient? Has the numpty gone and enrolled in the Dodie Smith Appreciation Society? Are there slightly more than one hundred spotty dogs frolicking on the lawns of Tense Towers?

Heck, no, it's mainly because the bathroom is currently out of bounds undergoing refurbishment.

Still not seeing vast amounts of prescience?

Well, the works in progress have led to some drastic measures on the hygiene front...

Saturday 10 April 2010

Digital Heron aid

This chap has been appearing on our neighbour's roof in the late afternoon and early evenings for about a month now. Consequently, the light has always been low and behind him, which produced some quaint, pink heron effects.

This morning he turned into the sentinel at the gates of dawn, still intent on wreaking havoc upon  the local amphibian population, but much more photogenically.

Monday 5 April 2010

Gardeners questioned 'im

Not too much enthusiasm for venturing out today... had a bit of quality garden feeder time, instead. Threw loads of technology at it, with some passable results, which only went to prove the long-held belief that the root of my problem with photography is lack of talent.

Still, there's lots of wildlife that doesn't know that yet, so "Shhhhh!"


Blue Tit


Bit of  handbags for a Greenfinch and a Great Tit 


Neither of the Greater Spotted Woodpeckers could be arsed to show up. Presumably  they were off somewhere giving a tree a good beak lashing with that holier-than-thou attitude they normally reserve for nest boxes :o)

Sunday 4 April 2010

Think Pink

This morning, I am aroused from my slumbers by a sweet sound. It is not yet dawn and through the heavy drapes of the room it is not possible to detect an increase in light level, only a lessening of the darkness.

I lie there trying to resolve what my ears are telling me, wondering if I'm still asleep and dreaming.

The dawn chorus is well underway, in fact, as I regain consciousness, I realise that it is predominantly every male blackbird in the area. But behind their joyful song is the peeling of church bells. Ah, yes, Easter Sunday. This is most surreal. A combination of sounds that is as familiar as it is strange. Then understanding slowly rises over the horizon of my mind. Pink Floyd.

High Hopes from Floyd's The Division Bell album is framed by a Song Thrush and a tolling church bell, (as well as a piano, but that would be too strange at 05.54 on a Sunday morning). Intro and outro. It's simplicity belies the emotive power it stirs.

Other rock tracks spring to mind, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells 3 that ends with a Robin and a Wren; Faerie Stories by PBF, with its Swifts and a Robin; and more humbly but increasingly rarer, House Sparrows on the intro to Xanadu by Rush. "Increasingly rarer"? That must be a contradiction, surely?

Bird song, bells and rock music, a heady combination. I think we know who are the real Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. I am sorry Geddy, Neil and Alex, but that little piece of anatomy that allows birds to flute and warble to such beautiful effect deserves a better press.

All is quiet now, except for the occasional Robin, a Wren here, a Song Thrush there, the bells are silent once more. Man and Nature have both welcomed the new day in a manner they see fit.

At least I know why the birds were singing, their devotion to their faith is bound to the seasons and the wheel of life.