Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Julia is cursed....official

Well, what a difference a day makes. While geting the moth trap in, what flew north over the garden? Yup - the Osprey! And where was Julia? On a fitness run / Pied Fly hunt....oh dear.

Monday, 30 August 2010

A near miss....

After several days of dipping, Simon finally caught up with the intermittently present Osprey over the visitor centre this afternoon - and as the bird headed high south, it was unlucky that Julia couldn't add it to the garden list too!

Another good bird today - a Pied Flycatcher on Rockford Common enlivened a dusk run for Simon!

More exciting still, we made a trip to Macpenny's Nursery in Bransgore, which is BRILLIANT. Stacks of unusual plants in a very attractive setting, and we cracked, buying ourselves a fastigiate Oak, Acca sellowiana (Pineapple Guava), Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree), Sambucus nigra (Black Elder) and a few other herbaceous plants.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Rodents and other savage beasts in the garden

Well, a major garden tick during Amber and Tim's visit - a Brown Rat!

More interestingly, a quick twitch to Rockford yesterday secured 4 Black Terns (1 adult, 3 juvs), coming hard on the heels of a refreshingly wet wade through Vales Moor in the Forest - while we didn't find the main target species (Drosera anglica), we did see lots of Large Marsh Grasshoppers, and succeeded in finding (and moreover identifying!) a single Heath Grasshopper on Castle Hill nearby. Two of the rarest British grasshoppers, in totally different habitats, within 200m of each other - only in the New Forest. Also Keeled Skimmer, Small Red Damselfly and a very welcome family party of Dartford Warblers.

Heath Grasshopper (Chorthippus vagans) - a rare denizen of dry heaths in the southern New Forest and on the Dorset heaths. Easily (not) identified by a combination of features, including the black wedges on the rear of the pronotum reaching the rear edge, and especially the small but distinct costal bulge on the leading edge of the forewing.

Simon tries to negotiate Vales Moor bog - and fails. The wellies are wet....

Some airborne accompaniment to Orthoptera hunting

On the DIY front, Julia has planted up the right hand bed by the drive, and Simon has been presure-blasting the side of the house to get the blown masonry paint off. And was attacked by a vile wild animal! A Wasp sting right under your eyelid is no fun at all.....

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

More visitors - human and animal

Still more very welcome guests of late - Guy and Carolyn dropped by on Saturday for a spot of coffee and digger fun - 1.5 tonnes of JCB mega action was had this weekend, as we excavated the pond, the veg beds, and stripped the turf from both hedge lines and the woodland glade ready for autumn/winter planting! Creative destruction.....


Two pallet-built wildlife towers are also installed in the woodland glade, and our long-potted Camellias and a new Rowan are in the ground.

More alpha-male nonsense in the garden

Also here on Monday were Oscar and Eric, en route to Portsmouth and the Bilbao ferry - and they even managed to bring Pete and his partner Maggie along too. We all enjoyed some time in the field on the HWT reserve, and up on the Forest too. And a vast cod and chips lunch at the Redshoot Inn....

Finally, Emily came round too, with young Benedict (just two - Fionnbharr behaved beautifully with him, but less so the other two!), and we all ate too much (again).

Somewhere within this social whirlwind (more to come in the next few days!) we've had time to catch some moths (new ones included Red Underwing, Svensson's Copper Underwing, Birch Mocha, Orange Swift and Canary-shouldered Thorn), see some birds (first Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit of the autumn in the garden, Dunlin and migrant LRP on the reserve) and even do some botanizing. But the end of the holiday is looming.....

Red Underwing

Birch Mocha

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Autumn migration underway

Another visit from the Tawny Owl last night, as well as a very lean-looking young Fox. And a new garden bird today - a migrant Tree Pipit, picked up on call, and then seen perched in one of the Birch trees. Excellent!

Meanwhile, on the lakes, still two Green Sandpipers present, and the family of Egyptian Geese (six youngsters) has moved to Rockford Lake.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

All go - and lots of visitations

We're now firmly ensconced - which meant that, until today, we had no internet access, so no postings to the blog! But now we're back in the .... er .... 21st century. We've had lots of social visits this week - Teresa and her niece Sian for a couple of nights while they did their sailing course on Spinnaker Lake, Mum, Dad, Mark, Maddie and Jamie for a lunch at the Alice Lisle (poor fish and chips, unfortunately....), Julian, Kate, Felix and Cordelia for a big fish supper (much better), Ian for a lunch in the middle of his mega exercise walk in the Forest, and most recently, Simon, Clare, Sophie, Emily and James on their way home from a week's camping in Dorset. Add to this a meal with John and Sandy over the road last night, and it's been a whirlwind of food and sociability - most unlike us, and quite tiring, but excellent to welcome so many good friends to our little Forest home.

Teresa and Sian visit - our first "proper" guests!

On the practical front, small details have been tweaked (nearly got all the curtain poles up again, having resited them, and Julia is under way with the curtains themselves), and a couple of larger projects have started - e.g. digging some flower beds out the back! And the digger is now booked for ten days time....

Undoubted wildlife highlight was a Tawny Owl repeatedly dropping down onto the floodlit lawn a few nights ago, presumably after worms. Also lots of baby birds about, the Nuthatches again regular at the bird table, and further afield three Green Sands on Rockford Lake, Yellow-legged Gull and Gyppos on Ibsley Water, Grayling just over the Dorset border, and Merlin (in August!), Crossbill and Dartford Warbler up near Milkham in the Forest. We're doing lots of bike rides, walks and so on - and in Simon's case, some of it at 0500, when he's waking up too excited to drop off again!

Perhaps MOST importantly, we have now been joined by three furry felines, who started off pretty terrified, but are now getting used to the idea of a new home in the country - we think! Fionnbharr has already met his new vet, having got himself into a fight and acquiring a nasty bite abcess the night before he got moved (typical!), and the good news is that, so far, hostilities have been suspended between Elli and Cordelia - how long will that last?

Elli and Fionnbharr - still locked in!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Home at last

We really do have our own home now! John Lewis did their business on Friday morning, delivering our new sofa, bed and guest bed, and the place is genuinely like home now we have in bedding, proto-curtains (Julia is still working hard on these....) and all sorts of our own "stuff". These photos don't really do it justice - it's amazing.

Sir Simon & Lady Muck at home

The "spare" spare room - as yet unnamed - it might be
the Yoga Room, the Bamboo Room, or The Office.....

The actual spare bedroom....

...examined by a curious passer-by

"Where's my dinner?"

Madam in her boudoir

Plush and shiny in the bathroom

On the wildlife front, we added several new moths (e.g. V Pug, Poplar Kitten, Peacock, Red Twin-spot Carpet and so on), and an excursion to turn off the trap at 0500 on Friday flushed a full buck Fallow Deer from the field, over the fence and away into the wood. The Great Crested Grebes on Snails Lake have at least one well-grown youngster, and the juvvie Buzzards continue to make their presence noisily felt.