THE RAMBLINGS OF A STRUGGLING ARTIST ON LIFE WITH TWO TERRIERS, A PONY WITH ISSUES AND OTHER WILDLIFE AND BIRDS THAT CROSS OUR PATH

25 July 2014

NEW DOG & THE RETURN OF THE HOUSE MARTINS


45 minutes with the Snippers clippers and what a difference. These are the before pictures:



Too hot...........


He wasn't happy.........


Much better:


Do you remember the muddy patch the house martins left on my neighbour's wall last year? Well, they're back and seem to be finishing the job. Bit late in the season but perhaps they're building it for next year having had their brood. I'll keep you posted. This was a couple of days ago:


These were today; good progress:


A bit shy to start with:


But soon back to work:




I know this is out of focus but I had to show you the multi-bug business going on here with the Large Red Damselfly being joined by these two friends playing piggy back:


I saw this young blackbird yesterday, preening in the sun:



Mmmm - much better:


Obligatory Meadow Pipits:



Another enormous and disturbing looking meal!




Spiders' webs covered in morning dew. That's a LOT of spiders:


Sheep are trying to keep cool in the dusty bowls, previously muddy puddles:


Bees mating:


Couldn't resist those Sword Thistles in the sunshine:


 Craggy Kestor in the sun: 


Today we went down to the river to swim. It was glorious:


We weren't the only ones swimming:


Bracken  wasn't much help pulling him out:


The light was exquisite on the parched heather:


Some people turned up with their dog. It turned into a mad chase and the dogs are out for the count tonight.


Like a very stretched out version of Jack:


Today is the first day of the summer holidays and it's started well. Tomorrow we're off to the seaside if it's nice. Last night I had a dream that I found a kitten in the washing machine being strangled by a belt. I saved it but then kept finding kittens in peril all over the strange and labyrinthine house in which I was staying. Freud would have a field day with that. Have a great weekend and until next time, here are the dogs again. 



21 July 2014

PIPIT POST


Before we moved here twelve years ago, we worked at the Hulton Picture Library, swallowed by what has now become a huge company: Getty Images. We held the entire collection of Picture Post, including the work of their most famous staff photographer, Bert Hardy. The mere mention of something close to that fabulous publication of the 1930's to 1950's, makes me nostalgic for the best job I ever had. Anyway....I have so many pictures of these fabulous little Meadow Pipits that I thought I'd put them all together for once. They are so important for the cuckoo population here; I saw our juvenile fluttering about today with its Meadow Pipit 'parents' trying, and failing, to keep up with it. They must be exhausted. These unbelievably numerous birds are apparently on the amber list in the UK which amazes me. Interestingly, Pat at The Weaver of Grass (http://weaverofgrass.blogspot.co.uk/ ) says they never see them up in Yorkshire. 


They are ground nesters, usually in a clump or here, often inside a gorse bush. the nest is built of moss, grasses and usually lined with animal hairs - lots of that here, especially as those ponies start to slip their coats, just in time for nest building in April, May or June. The female incubates a clutch of four or five eggs alone for up to 14 days. 


Both parents feed the chicks for up to 13 days when they will fledge. Now, is it just me, or is this one carrying the corpse of a chick, perhaps of another species, to feed to its young? The second picture is clearer......


To the left of the green caterpillar, you can see a tiny leg and claw:


Generally, their diet consists of flies, beetles, moths, caterpillars, worms and spiders, with seeds later in the year, obviously with a side order of cannibalism. Have any of you ever seen anything like this before?


There is certainly a lot of feeding going on at the moment with at least two broods a year. It's difficult to get a picture of them without something hanging out of their beaks.




This youngster was clinging to a rock and let me get quite close:



Still - Pipits have nothing on the Stonechats with up to four broods of course. Here are some juveniles at various stages of development but all taken within a couple of days of each other:




Almost full grown......



The Wheatear is a close relative of the Stonechat but will only have one or possibly two broods. They winter in Africa whilst the Stonechat is resident, so I suppose they have less time to fit in the breeding. 





In the garden, the juvenile Tits are gaining in confidence. This Great Tit is almost looking adult, just lacking its wide stripe. 


And this one a bit further along the way to adulthood. 


This fluff monster of a Blue Tit is a regular visitor and has no fear........


...............seeing off this Chaffinch:


At least some of its adult feathers are coming through now:


The Chaffinch waiting its turn:


A m}magpie in waiting too. There are SO many Magpies around here at the moment. If the rhyme were to be believed there would be many, many secrets never to be told. 


My Dragonfly pond is still almost exclusively full of Keeled Skimmers, here sitting on a cow pat nearby:



But there are now some Large Red Damselflies:


I've been writing this post for days now, never actually finishing before something comes up and I have to run off. This weekend just gone, Chagford played host to Chagstock, one of the festivals of the season. We can see it in the distance from here: 


I'm happier here, away from the crowds thank you:



So are the dogs:



One of the main reasons for being so behind with blogging is Chagford Pool which, with the stiflingly hot weather, is a magnet for OB and his friends. Here's a little picture I found on the internet. We can see Kestor Rocks in the distance from the benches but not in this photo:


The problem is, all the time we're there, I'm idle. Not unpleasantly so because I sit and chat to friends in a way that I rarely do otherwise, but I'm getting nothing done. Not a strong enough mobile signal to support the internet, so no joy there. I feel out of touch with the blogging world so am doubly grateful for your comments. Thank you. Tomorrow is supposed to be very hot indeed and OB is desperate to go and swim after school. Another wasted afternoon.............oh well. In a few years he'll be able to go without me so I should appreciate this while I can I guess. So until next time, here are those dogs fighting over a stick. Have a lovely week in the sun if you're in this country. The summer holidays start on Friday here so I think we can guarantee rain.