Welcome to our little home on the net. We are Steve & Rosemary and live in Buckinghamshire, UK. This is a blog of our life, sometimes interesting, but mainly boring. It is very picture orientated as Steve loves to take pictures, especially of wildlife. Sometimes he has his arm twisted by Rosemary and takes the odd snap of a weed.
We had a pair of Moorhens nesting on the pond, and then a brood of cute black Moorhenlings (Moorhen chicks). The pond was unusually full for the time of year, so the Moorhenlings were there for quite a while. One of the very few benefits of the incessant rain this year. Before the arrival of the Moorhenlings, the Moorhens actually coexisted with three Mallard ducks for several weeks. The Mallards could be spotted on the pond day and night. They appeared never to sleep, steaming around the pond at any time of the day or night, unlike the Moorhens. The Moorhens disappear back to their nest during the night. For many days we had only one Moorhen, presumably the other was hatching the eggs. At this time the ducks vanished, I presume forced off by the Moothens. We now had a set of baby Moorhen chicks (Moorhenlings).
The Moorhens chicks soon increased in size. You can see them searching the margins of the pond for food, and being offered morsels by their parents. A Heron paid a brief visit. Did any of the Moorhenligs fall prey to its avaricious appetite?
The Moorhen chicks also spent a considerable amount of energy hiking across the fields in search of food. Sometimes we would see them in the garden. Recently I was surprised to find the adults and chicks investigating the badger sett in our Compost Heap. This is a considerable distance from the pond with long grass in between. (We are limiting the grass mowing this year, with a no-mow Summer.)
The camera is moved around different garden sites, trying to spot the most interesting animal movements, and discovering their preferred routes. We had much activity in the Compost Heap in early June. There were two badgers who had taken up temporary residence, one even showing itself during daylight hours. Kindly one badger moved the camera during the night, pointing it more directly down the badger sett. They appeared to move off, and only come back to visit the sett on later days. A large male fox also came visiting. Amazingly not many rabbits appeared in the footage.
The last scene from the video is a badger walking along the bank of the pond, turning around and rushing off.
The Partridge Family
The Partridge Family and a pretty young black rabbit.
We’ve often have a few Partridge visitors, but lately, we were beginning to wonder if there was a pair. As ground nesters, they’d be tricky to spot. R had a thought they might be nesting in the road-hedge because of sightings as they came around the side of the house, from that direction. Then, one afternoon, there was a cry from R for me to get downstairs asap! Parent bird & chicks had made an appearance (from around the side of the house). The mother trailed them after her across the shingle drive, but would sometimes gather them all under her wings & sit down. I would have thought the shingle drive was awkward for the chicks to negotiate, but they managed. Later, other partridges arrived and a bit of a skirmish ensued with much chasing & wing flapping, all at tremendous speed. (Sadly, I did not have the camera ready.)
We both recalled a Forest Ranger’s advice not to count the number of ducklings or chicks in a brood, cos it only leads to distress as numbers decrease. (Although I can report that there were still seven chicks this lunchtime.)
R had been watching a rabbit when the Partridge Family made its appearance. Neither species took any notice of the other. The Partridges walked right around the rabbit, only inches away. While watching the mother with her wings covering her brood, R spotted a small black shape in the grass. Were the moorhens visiting? No, a small, very sleek & shiny pretty young rabbit emerged from the wilded grass. More than 20 years ago, a neighbour had a large black, buck pet rabbit. One day, he escaped his cage and was gone for two nights. He came home knackered. Ever since, we occasionally see a black rabbit. A dominant gene presumably.
Saturday 12th June was our first opportunity to see the Wisteria at Greys Court. We had booked just before we visited Wales, and on the day, thankfully it was lovely, being bright & sunny. To our surprise, it was art season, and there was an exhibition of sculpture produced by the Oxford Sculptors Group. It was opening day. The sculptures ranged from small pieces, exhibited inside, to large garden features. The sculptures were scattered throughout the grounds and made interesting items to be photographed. The exhibition is open until 18 July, and well worth a visit.
Our main reason for visiting was to see the Wisteria which because of the cold weather was very delayed in opening this year. (On our previous visit to view the bluebells, not a sign of growth on the Wisteria, despite the Wisteria in Cambridge being out.) The Wisteria did not disappoint.
Rosemary made a trip around the house, while I walked across the fields and wood. Bluebells not to be seen now, though there might have been a cow in the field called Bluebell. The fields were being grazed by a herd of cattle and their calves.
The Polestar car behaved well in the warm weather, and came in with an estimated range of 270 miles, making the WLTP advertised range.
Morrison was out again on Monday 7th June on a long trek to mid-Wales for four nights camping. We took the longer route there, crossing the old Severn bridge and meeting up with relations to view their Hill Fort. They have a dwelling down some of the narrowest roads imaginable. Thankfully we met nobody coming the other way. Leaving was not quite so lucky and I had to reverse back up the road to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass.
Their Iron Age Hill Fort is in a spectacular setting, you can see the major South Wales hills in the distance. The embankments to where the hill fort is located would take an athlete to scale. Their fields were wonders of wildflowers. After a nice lunch with some lovely Scottish cheese, we left to drive up to mid-Wales. (We have now ordered some of the cheese (from the Ethical Dairy)).
We arrived at Fforest Fields campsite, checked in, set up camp and went for a walk around their ponds in the lovely evening light. So beautiful and so quiet. I grabbed a few golden hour photographs.
The next day we went for a walk up the hills, visiting all the usual spots, such as Mobile Phone Mast, Look Out, The Water Falls. We did spot many red and blue Damselflies and a Broad-bodied Chaser who stopped long enough to be photographed.
Tuesday also appeared to be sheep herding day, all you could hear were the sheep being rounded up and moved from one field to another. Quad bikes and dogs doing the work. Lots of baaing sheep as they were moved from field to field. I don’t know what was happening to them, no shearing appeared to occur, some were penned away behind trees out of view for a while, where there was much shouting.
It was a lovely day, and after lunch back at Morrison, I decided to go for a hike up the hills and along the top to where I used to paraglide. Shot up the hill, (those Joe Wicks exercises worked well), along the ridge, along sheep tracks. I forgot how steep the slope was. Falling I would not have stopped for a while. Coming back I went inland along the vehicle tracks and back down. Aargh, the pain in my left leg below the knee was excruciating. Fine going uphill and level, but agony going downhill. Back at Morrison, a (pre-made by me) Negroni eased the agony. Some lovely evening shots of the buttercups in the long grass under the slope to the hills in the field where we were parked. The owners have kept up to the tradition of mowing a number of spiral paths in the long grass, making beautiful patterns when glimpsed from above.
Wednesday and Thursday a gentle few days of walking around the site. On Thursday R and I walked along the bottom stream towards the pub, then up the hill and back past the mobile phone mast. In the afternoon after lunch, I decided to walk up the hill, and then a walk south on level ground high up. It was a damp day, cloudy. Good day for walking as not hot. I made it to a trig point took a selfie and then walked back. Around 6 miles in a couple of hours. The same problem, walking uphill or on the level, no problem. Downhill, on the same path as Tuesday, my left leg was in agony. At the back of the leg, just below the knee. Thursday night we fired up the charcoal BBQ, and then resorted to the frying pan on the induction hob.
Friday we packed up and left. The site was full on Friday, would have liked to have stayed as the weather was good for the next few days.
What has changed at the site since our last visit three years ago?
There was a new check-in and shop built, separate from the main shower block and cafe. The shop had the basic requirements, milk, cheese, eggs, sausage and meat, items for a quick meal. The coffee shop was the same, now selling some (too) lovely chocolate brownies. Made in Wales, though Cardiff does sound a long way to bring them.
The new tree planting on the hill was growing well, the birds appreciated it, they were deafening, even from 300 meters where we were parked. Some mature trees at the top of the hill, behind the lookout, had been felled for wood. Some other pines at the top had also been felled, and the newly exposed pines had been damaged by high winds in the winter.
Around the swimming pond, the path had been built unmuddied with stone, and there was a little more grass cutting to open it up. Looked nice, but not so friendly to the wildlife. There were moorhen and coot families on the pond and we did see a fierce bust-up between two coots.