Contemplating My Navel

Literally the phrase is used to describe somebody who is spending too much time thinking about their own problems but with me, of course, it means something quite different.

We went up to the Bluebell woods today and they were still not quite ready for us, there are plenty of flowers but it is not a sea of blue yet

https://atrampinthewoods.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/286.jpgThat is good, it means that we haven’t missed anything. Our Bluebell woods are beautiful and you wouldn’t want to miss them.

BluebellsA lot of the wood still looks like this..

BluebellsThe flowers are there but they have a little way to go yet.

Bluebells

Bluebells

BluebellsThere are a lot of Bluebells in the hedgerows and tracks around the farm and they are a bit more advanced than this, probably because they get more sunlight.

Our hedgerows seem to retain a lot of the characteristics of ancient woodland,  which they would have been before they were turned into farmland and I see a lot of species that are regarded as “ancient woodland indicators” growing there. Maybe I will do a post about that soon. The Bluebell is one such species.

7This is a derelict Sweet Chestnut coppice and this is where we filmed the Boar. I know some much nicer Oak and Beech woods that will also be filling up with Bluebells and we will visit them soon.

So we struck out with the Bluebells, what are we going to do now?

I suggested to Fizz that we might go and contemplate my navel.

She looked impressed.

BluebellsYou probably won’t be much more impressed yourself it is not visually striking.

This is Navelwort.

NavelwortThese first two pictures were taken in February, when I first discovered it.

This is new to me and I have never seen it in flower. I had never even heard of it and that doesn’t happen to me very often so I have been watching it closely. I am very excited about my Navelwort.

NavelwortIt flowers in May and today I saw the flower spikes starting to emerge.

Navelwort

NavelwortIt looks a little bit strange, that is because it is a succulent. Succulents are plants with thick, fleshy leaves and stems that are specially adapted for storing water, like a cactus. They usually live in very dry places and we don’t have many native succulent plants, probably because the UK is a very wet place. This one is special.

Navelwort

NavelwortIt is edible and I have read that it has a very nice flavour similar to fresh lettuce. I haven’t ever tasted it and I will tell you why…

I have actually just been watching a video about edible Navelwort. It started with the presenter going on about what a rare find it was and he hadn’t seen one like this for years and then he ate it.

There is a basic rule when it comes to foraging, unless you are starving, don’t take things that are not abundant and don’t ever take the last one or even most of them. It is common sense.

The Navelwort that I have found is not abundant and most of what I saw in February has been eaten by animals. They don’t respect anything but then most of them are starving.

NavelwortAnother name for this plant is Wall Pennywort (It grows on stone walls) and the Latin is Umbilicus rupestris. It has medicinal uses but I haven’t really looked into that yet and these little flower buds are going to grow into tall spikes of flowers. I will show you when it happens.

NavelwortWell that is it for today. We did see a lot of other wildflowers and we romped about in fields of golden yellow but those are other posts 🙂

Old Man Dancing

Dances with Wolves

I am so sorry that I have been away from the blog this month. There was a wolf at my door and you know how much I like wolves, I got distracted.

He has  gone now. I gave him a little dog that I found in the garden and that seemed to fill his tummy nicely,

(I have not really fed Fizz to a wolf)

Anyway Wolfie has gone and we would like to get back to nature. I will try to post every day for a while, to make up for my recent absence.

So much has been happening and there is a lot to blog about.

I am glad to find that I have not lost my touch with the Faeries.

Orange Tip

Orange Tip

Orange TipTomorrow we could go up and look at the Bluebell woods.

BluebellOr we could video Fizz searching for her yellow ball amongst the Dandelions.

The WinnerThe world has turned beautiful.

Let me put this little animal down….

Orange Tip

Whoa! Hold on! I’ll get a ladder.Orange TipThat plant that I am putting him on is Garlic Mustard.

Garlic MustardNext to Wild Garlic it is one of the tastiest herbs around at the moment. This is one of the very best reasons to get into foraging. Picked fresh it is better than anything that you could buy in the supermarket. Foraging is not just about nettles and Dandelions, some of it is Caviar (without the fishy taste) and you just can’t buy it in the shops.

It is growing in abundance in my neck of the woods and deserves a post of it’s own.

Garlic MustardOh lookit! A brown Faerie.

Speckled WoodThat would be a Speckled Wood.

Speckled WoodIt is so nice to have them back.

I am going to cut this post short because I want to post it tonight.

Sometimes Fizz and I get ourselves into some pretty dangerous situations.

DangerI tend to shut other people out in case they get hurt by the terrible dangers that we have to face.

Terrible DangerSo I haven’t been reading my email or attending to anything just recently and I am sorry if I seemed to be ignoring you. I will be back on top of everything tomorrow.

I had a stroke of luck and came out on top. I don’t have to leave the farm or Fizz, or do anything that I don’t want to do. So it goes.

All right, Cutie Pie?

Cutie PieI did not fail to notice that you played a good game back there and that you are a reasonable companion animal 🙂

Tonto

Feeling The Heat

The purpose of our “Selfies” is to try and capture the feel of the day. These are from December… Great long shadows and it is cold and windy.

Selfie

SelfieNow this is April…

SelfieHer mud is drying up.

MudThese are my holiday snaps and I have been on holiday for a long time.

There may be trouble ahead….


I wouldn’t like to be that Rat when Fizz the Great War Dog gets a’hold of him.


She just needs to practice a bit, she is warming up.

Oh yes, I have bought the Goldfinches a nyger seed feeder.

Nyger feederThey are loving it and empty it very quickly. I will do more about that in another post.

On the subject of birds. The Bullfinches have stopped using the feeders but they are still around. We have an Apple orchard at the bottom of the garden and I think that they are drawn to the buds there.

Disappointingly the Long -tailed Tits have gone. Like the finches I think that their comings and goings are related to the natural food supply but I don’t know what has drawn them away.

The little Robin never came back. There are still lots of Robins about and sometimes I look out of my door and shout, “Come on! One of you must be Christopher.” No, he has gone.

But all of that fades into absolute insignificance because when I opened my door yesterday I heard a song that filled my heart.

Barn SwallowNow I know what they say, that “One Swallow does not a summer make,”  but that is rubbish, it is summertime now 🙂

There is something that I have got to do this year. Swallows pair up for life, each autumn when they leave they separate and then in the early summer when they return they reunite. It is something to witness and I have got to video it this year. They are so excited to be reunited, like little puppies and it doesn’t last for that long but for a little while there is a great video waiting to be made.

Barn SwallowI am going to love hearing their song again.

The little Mud Eaters beat the Swallows back by several days.

House MartinI didn’t really do the House Martins justice last year, they don’t nest outside of my front door like the Swallows but I will try harder this time around. I love their little feathered feet.

I like a little heat.

SelfieWildflowers then, there is so much going on that I don’t know where to start.

Walking along the country paths it just looks like a mess of green…

MessUnless you know it.

Cow ParsleyThis little leaf is the Cow Parsley and in a few weeks it will be painting the most beautiful pictures.

Cow ParsleyThat reminds me of another April challenge. The St. Mark’s Fly.

St Mark's FlySo called because the adult flies emerge around April the twenty fifth (St. Mark’s Day), these are the ones with long dangly legs that trail behind them when they fly.

St Mark's FlyThe challenge is to photograph the female, I just could not find one last year. They only live for a couple of weeks and the window of opportunity is a small one.

But back to the present, this leaf is the Hogweed.

HogweedForget any misconceptions that the name might suggest, this one is a very beautiful flower.

HogweedAlso the large, saucer like, flower heads are an absolute magnet for insects. I am finding my first flowers now and it will be here until the very end of Autumn.

I have got to leave the wildflowers for a bit because I have got to take Fizz for a walk, I will come back to them. While we are out I am going to upload some wild animal videos for you to watch.


These are female Fallow Deer (Dama dama) They are just losing their winter coats and so they look a little bit tatty but they are healthy animals.


This week the trail camera returned 180 videos over two days and nights. 136 of those were of my little friend the Fox but I also got 44 clips of the deer in the daytime, a nice return.

This is the same spot that I videoed the Boar in last week and it is proving to be a good place to set the camera. As well as the Deer, Fox and Boar I have been getting clips of Badgers, nothing exceptional but it is good to know that they are there. I feel happier if I can say that I am putting the camera out to film Deer, they are hunted just the same as the Boar but there isn’t the same hysteria and people are much more likely to go into the forest to look for Deer.

This location is not in the Forest of Dean, it is woodland some way outside of the forest boundaries and the Boar here are the animals that the Forestry Commission have been kind enough to drive out of the forest as they attempt to disperse them across the whole county, or country even.


A few other things that are good about this location, apart from the fact that it is rich in wild life, It is an unmanaged Sweet Chestnut coppice, I wouldn’t normally like that because there is very little else that grows in such a coppice but it does give me quite good views of the animals. This is also a Bluebell wood and that will make a nice backdrop and nobody comes here. I have filmed a lot here and have never picked up Dog walkers or anybody at all, that makes me feel quite safe about leaving the camera out. I will continue to film here for a few more weeks.

Okay I am back and Poochy has been walked. It is quite blustery out there today.

Back to the wildflowers. I like them because they are beautiful…

Ivy-leaved Speedwell(Ivy-leaved Speedwell)

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellFizz likes them because they make a nice soft bed.

Fizz in BedGet off the bed!

I am very pleased that I got pictures of the Town Hall Clock buds last week because this week there were no buds to be found.

Town Hall ClockAnother flower that has just appeared…..

Remember the diminutive Harry Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)?

Hairy BittercressThis is the girl of his dreams, Lady Smock and if you think, like Harry that she looks good enough to eat, well, she is.

Cuckoo FlowerCuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis). The leaves and flowers are the best bits to eat, they  have a peppery flavour that adds a lot to a herb salad.

Cuckoo FlowerBoth she and Harry are Cardamines and they can cross pollinate but  will she, wont she? That is what Harry would like to know.

Cuckoo FlowerA couple more “firsts” for the week, this little splash of pink is Herb Robert.

Herb RobertLast year I was able to find this one in flower throughout the winter but this year, this is my first.

Herb RobertI have also seen my first signs of the spathe of the Arum Lily.

Wild ArumThere will be much more of these flowers in the weeks to come.

Well it has been a long post and you must be feeling pretty tired.

Tired FizzI have just got one more wildflower to do today and then we can play ball.

FizzThis is Hen-bit Dead-nettle. I found it growing on my steps when I got home.

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettleI will try and find it in more picturesque surroundings.

Goodnight Fizz.

Selfie

 

The call of the Wild

Following on from our discovery of the Boar tracks in the wood, Fizz and I have been out hunting. We left the camera out for three nights and it returned one hundred and ninety videos. The pesky Fox above made around a hundred and sixty of those. At least it was good enough to show up in the daytime.

************

You may have noticed that I have been neglecting the blog in recent weeks. I am coming to a time when I have to think about my future and maybe leaving the farm. It kinda stifles my creativity but everything is fine.

I came here with the intention of taking a year off, following my divorce. Just to give me time to think and get rid of any negative thoughts that may have been bothering me. That worked pretty well, I feel happy in myself but my year off has stretched to sixteen months now.

You know that if I leave the farm, what else I will have to leave, don’t you? It stifles my creativity.

FizzI haven’t spoken to her about this yet. I am working on a plan that will give me another year here and if all goes well, I will leave next April.

Nothing is forever.

When I came here my plan was to take my year off and then seek to rehabilitate myself. Go down to the job centre and start a new life.

There isn’t any work around here, I would have to move into one of the local towns and then with luck find myself a job stacking shelves in a supermarket, something like that. It just isn’t ticking all the boxes for me. I am an adventurer and I am not that afraid of life. There must be something better than that, so I will go and find it.

It all stifles my creativity. But…

and it is a big BUT….

Today life is beautiful and we need to enjoy every moment of it, don’t think that we haven’t been doing just that.

FizzHow to track and capture Wild Boar

Hmmmm…
Boar Tracks

Ah ha!Hoglet tracks

This ought to work…CameraWatch closely….


The two adult animals in that video are mature sows and I believe they are the mothers of all the little hoglets that you are going to see running around.

There are two other large animals in this sounder, one male and one female. They are last years litter. The female will probably stay with this sounder but the male will leave in the summer. Males are solitary animals.

You can see the two juveniles in this next clip and in case you can’t tell the male is the stroppy one. He is a magnificent looking animal.


Normally we think of a sounder being composed of females and their offspring but the young males will stay with the sounder until they are about sixteen months old and they don’t start growing tusks until they are two years old.

He looks impressive but he is still a lot smaller than his mum as you will see in this next video.


These beautiful animals were kind to me and I got quite a few videos but that will do for now. I don’t want to bore you 🙂

I brought the camera in for the weekend, I might stick it back up there next week. I would quite like to have one more look at them.

I have to be very careful. The local rag printed a single letter condemning last weeks headlines as I expected and that was of course buried on the letters page. It also ran this little story.

ArrowWhat has been reported as an arrow is almost certainly a crossbow bolt, around here that is the favoured tool of poachers, it is powerful enough to kill and you don’t need a firearms licence.

The bottom line is  that you can get £6.50 a kilo for wild boar meat unbutchered. An adult female weighs around 100-120 kilos and 70% of that is meat. At that rate that’s about £450 for one of those mothers, say it’s less, a little one £200. There is an element here that see the Boar as fair game, in fact you would be daft not to take one (regardless of whether or not it is suckling young). Have you seen that film “Whiskey Galore?” Well the Boar are our local bounty. That is why there is so much hatred stirred up against them. When somebody kills one he is almost doing a public service (They eat children, remember)

I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked, “Aye Lad, seen any Boar yet?”

“No mate. Not a one, the old FC must have shot them all.” 🙂

Wild flowers:

We went up to photograph the Early Dog Violets and they were very nice…

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog VioletOn the way up there we found these….

Town Hall Clock

Town Hall ClockThey are the first buds of what will soon become the beautiful and multi-faceted Town Hall Clock (Adoxa moschatellina)

Town Hall ClockBut today they are just buds.

Town Hall Clock

Town Hall ClockI know that some of you are still up to your necks in snow but here, everything is beautiful.

Let’s skip the Sweet Violets…

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets“Woke up one morning half asleep,”

Lesser Celandine“With all my blankets in a heap,”

Lesser Celandine“And yellow roses gathered all around me.” (Lesser Celandine)

Lesser CelandineI’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain.

Wild Dafodill“Feel the power of the rain,”

Wild DafodillIn amongst the Lent Lilies I found my first Wood Anemones.

They don’t really like the rain.

Wood Anemone

Wood AnemoneSuddenly there isn’t any shortage of flowers. I don’t have enough time to post all off the species that I photographed.

The Elm trees flowered, I have been watching them closely and waiting for this.

Elm

ElmA lot of the stuff that I do is technical, it is because I want to have pictures of a particular stage in a plants development for my “Easy Wildflowers” blog and it isn’t always easy to understand why I get so excited.

I enjoyed seeing the sepal development on the Tussilago farfara (Coltsfoot)

ColtsfootSo my future is riding on a Horse. I have put my entire fortune on a magnificent mare called, “Bendy Peg Leg,” if anyone can do it then she can.

Assuming that she wins, this is what will happen.:

I will stay at the farm for one more year because I want to write Easy Wildflowers. There are not enough local wildflowers to keep me interested beyond a year. I will go homeless next April. I will put my belongings on my back and go into the wild. How long that I will stay in the wild?,  Ha!

I will take a tablet and a solar charger and I will blog from the wilderness and it will be great.

If the Horse loses? She is a sure thing. Bendy Peg Leg, I got it on good authority.

Umm…. Trust me, I know something about animals.

Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

A Walk in the Woods

C’mon, let’s go for a walk.

Sticky WillyThat’s Sticky Willy, (Goose Grass or Cleavers) growing in amongst the Ivy, I thought that it looked pretty.

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellThis is the tiny Ivy-leaved Speedwell.

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellI came along this track to photograph the Early Dog Violets but the wind was blowing so strongly today that I couldn’t really get any decent shots.

Early Dog VioletWe will have to come back to them on a quieter day. It doesn’t matter much because in a bit we are going to find another Violet,

Fizz want’s me to go out into the farm fields, I think that she has something planned and as that just happens to be on the way to a wood that I want to visit, I agree.

Up until today nectar has been in short supply and I have been searching these fields for signs of any flower. That has all changed.

All over the field are little splashes of colour. Small and isolated at first this is the start of one of nature’s Spring spectaculars.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Dandelion

DandelionSoon these fields will be a sea of yellow flowers and there will be more nectar than you can shake a stick at.

So this is what Fizz has been up to, she has brought me up here to see the Sheep.

SheepTen Sheep is all that we have left now, the other twenty six have gone to market. They were Blue Texels and they have been sold as breeding stock rather than stock cubes, they will be happy in their new home.

This was the scene from my kitchen window last Wednesday, very early in the morning.

SheepThere is a story about how those Sheep came to be in the orchard.

A few days earlier the farmer and a friend went up to the fields to get the sheep in. They drive around in Land Rovers, tooting their horns and driving the sheep before them but it hadn’t gone well, the animals panicked and ran everywhere and it was a right kerfuffle.

The farmers wife had seen me walking around in the field being followed by thirty six Sheep, so he asked me if I thought that I could bring them down and sure enough they all followed me right into the orchard, where he was able to sort them out.

He said that it was amazing and he had never seen anything like it and that from now on I was “The Pied Piper.” I think that it is pretty cool to surprise somebody who has been working with animals all of his life. (I just used my loaf 🙂 )

Plans

Whisper, whisper, whisper…..

This is the “treat” that Fizz has organised for me. She knows that I am down in the dumps about losing my Robin and she knows how much I like to have little animals eating out of my hand.

Ha Ha! Thank you ladies 🙂

Sheep

Sheep

SheepSo anyway, as I said, we are on our way to a wood that is up behind the fields. I am going to see the Lent Lilies.

On the way to the wood we found our second Violet of the day. These are Sweet Violets.

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Sweet VioletsThey weren’t very perky it was not a very nice day today. There will be better pictures when the sun shines.

Sweet VioletThe leaves in that picture above are mostly Lesser Celandine, the Violets are growing through it.

That wasn’t very perky either, it likes the sun and closes when it’s overcast.

Lesser CelandineThis next picture is the leaf of the Sweet Violet. (a lovely little round thing with a scalloped edge)

Sweet Violet leafEventually we did get to the wood and the first thing that we saw were these signs of activity.

Boar tracksThis is where Wild Boar have been turning over the soil looking for food and all around were the sweetest little tracks.

Boar tracks

Boar tracksRegular readers will know that a few weeks ago I put a trail camera up here to look for Boar and as soon as I found them I retreated.

What we got on camera was four animals walking across the screen. That told me quite a lot. It told me that they were females, the males are solitary and also the time of year told me that they would be having their litters soon. I felt then, that it was best to leave them in peace and especially not to draw attention to them.

Now I am just going to “Go off on one!”

This is the front page of this weeks local rag.

The Yellow PressUnder the main headline it says,

“Now the boar have tasted blood, what’s stopping them attacking a young child?”

The first lines are,

“CHILDREN’S lives could be at risk, following wild boar attacks and the killing of new born lambs.”

The article continues on page three saying “They attack in packs. If one begins to chase, the rest will follow.”

In case you don’t know that is absolute garbage. Nobody has ever been hurt by a Wild Boar since they were reintroduced here more than twenty years ago. They have never attacked anybody, not even a scratch and they don’t hunt children in packs 🙂

This fear and hatred is what I have to protect my animals from.

People who live here in the Forest have the right as commoners to let their animals loose to roam around. It is a trade off, they avoid the expense of renting land but the sheep are uncared for and they will lose some.

These are lambs born in the wild.

Forest LambsI know that our Sheep require a lot of looking after. These free ranging Sheep wander onto the roads and they get involved in accidents, some of them don’t make it, they are not cared for but as I say, it is a trade off, they will lose a few but they will avoid the expense of owning or renting land.

At the very end of the article and deep inside the paper it says,

“The Forestry Commission has received reports of three to four new born lambs being killed by boar, but not “in packs” and there is no first hand witness testimony.”

If that is the case then why print such rubbish on the front page?

Boar tracksI think we should put the camera back up there now, for a bit.

Lent Lilies, I saved the best for last.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the Wild Daffodil (Doesn’t eat children)

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild DaffodilThank you Fizz.

Fizz🙂

The Jumble in the Jungle

There is a cold wind blowing today and it is carrying hail and rainstorms with it but there are moments when the sky clears and the sun shines and it feels like Spring.

It looks like Spring.

Three flowersThe floor is covered in tiny little green things,

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellI don’t know what they are (but they are Ivy-leaved Speedwell) but it is all a jumble and there are lots of different species here,

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellI am just going to look at a few of them today.

Lesser Celandine, I know that we see a lot of it in March but it is just so lovely and you won’t get to see it in June.

Anyway, you know what they say? When you are tired of Celandine, you are tired of life….

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Tired FizzOh! You poor little Doggy.

What would you rather do?


That was an over long video of Fizz at her “Falling off a log” class. I try to be as supportive as I can, she is trying hard to better herself and in a couple more years she will graduate and be a Master of Falling off Logs.

Nobody said it was gonna be easy.

I will leave her practising because just a bit further up the track are the Primroses.

Primrose

Primrose

Primrose

PrimroseThis is also where I grow my greens.

Wild GarlicYou can eat the Primroses, they have two good qualities, The leaves are quite crunchy and give a bit of body to a salad and the flowers are pretty (also they are good for you) but food requires another quality and that is flavour, Wild Garlic is my favourite salad leaf in the world and easily surpasses anything that you can buy in a supermarket. I love this herb.

Today I found a new wild flower, well, not new, I have been waiting for it. The first of my year, this is the Early Dog Violet.

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog VioletI know most of what is coming and when to expect it. I can feel my birds wings beating as they return from Africa and I know there will be Orange Tips here soon. I know and I love these things. There will be Sweet Violets in a week or so and just after they arrive we will start seeing the Common Dog Violet (even prettier than this one) I love the Spring. Blackthorn may be in blossom already in places but it is always late here, it won’t be long and our Marsh Marigolds are out but only in the centre of the pond and I cant photograph them there.

Soon now the fields behind the farm will fill with thousands of yellow flowers.

Dandelion

DandelionI don’t suppose that you remember that from last year, do you?

Fizz

Well, I do.Lost BallI found out something about Fizz today but first let’s get this into perspective.

I came here to try and rent this flat on a dark November night. I was a homeless man with little going for me except an honest outlook and a brown envelope stuffed with cash. I was lucky and I was able to make a deal and as I left I noticed that they had a cat. (They don’t have a cat)

When I started walking her I asked what she was, I might have asked “what the heck she was” because my Dogs have been German Shepherds and Collies and I didn’t have any experience of Toy Dogs. I also asked how old she was and I was told about three years. Chatting to Margaret today, apparently she will be three next September. She was a yearling when I met her and that helps to explain how stupid she is.

Nevertheless I have come to love her. (I also love quite a few Beetles and worms)


I am just going to finish this. On the way home she wanted to play the “Gate Game.”

Gate Game I don’t mind.

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Defamation of Character!

As you probably realised I have been away for a few days, gathering botanical specimens for the benefit of our understanding and not what Fizz said, that is just her impish sense of fun.

Impish sense of funI was not lying in a ditch, I was in the pink.

Starting with pinks, I have got Primroses.
PrimroseNot pins or thrums or even yellow ones, I have got pink Primroses.

Pink Primrose

Pink PrimroseThis is the real thing, not a hybrid or garden escapee, this is the pink form of Primula vulgaris subspecies vulgaris a pink wild Primrose. They are not that rare but I didn’t have pictures and now I do 🙂

Pink Primrose

Pink Primrose

Pink Primrose

Pink PrimroseNow put pink out of your mind or the colours might clash.

This next one was a wonderful find.

I have been walking miles to get photographs of the various stages of Coltsfoot. A couple of days ago I was walking back from just such an expedition when we came to the gate.

This is where Fizz likes to play “The Gate Game.”
The Gate GameThis particular gate is by the side of a track we regularly walk and it is very close to home.

The rules of the game are simple. She runs under the gate with the ball and sits there looking at me, she won’t budge. If I climb over the gate she runs back under, to the other side and we play again. She can play this game for a long time. It is so funny. (Her impish sense of fun, again)

This time when I climbed over, I forgot all about her and didn’t bother coming back.

Coltsfoot on my doorstep.
ColtsfootI have shown you the flower, it is a beautiful flower but that’s not it.

We had been out for about three hours in bright sunshine and we hadn’t seen an insect, not even a Butterfly. The Coltsfoot was swarming with them.

I need these photographs again for Easy Wildflowers. It is okay to say, “Provides a valuable source of nectar and pollen early in the year” but it is much better to have photographs.

Honey Bees.
Honey BeeWhen I photograph insects I really want to get the eyes and it can get very frustrating trying to capture Bees on Thistles or Dandelions because they bury their faces in the flower. Coltsfoot is lovely and flat and it doesn’t give them anywhere to hide.

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Moving on…Honey BeeThere were lot’s of Butterflies but all of them Small Tortoiseshells and some of them were quite badly torn so today I will move past them quite quickly. (We will have lots of Butterflies later)

Small Tortoiseshell(Butterfly nectaring on Coltsfoot)

I just want to show you one more insect today. This next one is a Hover Fly, called a Drone Fly it is a Bee mimic.

This is Eristalis tenex.

You can tell it is a Hover Fly and not a Bee because it only has two wings and it has a thick waist.

Common Drone FlyIt has huge eyes that would meet in the middle if it were a male, this one is female and it has stubby little antennae.

Common Drone FlyIt is not quite so easy to get it to species, they can vary in colour a lot.

This is Eristalis tenex because it has a banana shaped back leg (curved rear tibia).

Eristalis tenexThe hairs on it’s back legs are longer in the centre of each section and that is indicative of species.

Eristalis tenexIf you look closely there are two lines of fine hair running down it’s eyes. That is probably not very clear unless you are looking for it.

Eristalis tenexOh dear. Am I boring you?

Bored FizzJust one more little flower today.

I have been fretting over this one. It is already in flower and I haven’t put it on EW yet. There are two subspecies and I wanted the pictures to show the difference. This is the flower in question.

The Ivy-leaved Speedwell.

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

You have to look closelyIvy-leaved Speedwell

Really closely.Ivy-leaved Speedwell

There it is.Ivy-leaved Speedwell

A British pond coin is about the same size as a wedding ring and an Ivy-leaved Speedwell is the same size as the “G” in “REG.”Ivy-leaved SpeedwellInside the flower there are even tinier bits (smaller than Fizz) and what I have been looking for is a picture of the anthers just before they open to produce pollen. There is a fairly small window of opportunity.

If the anthers are bright blue, before they get covered with white pollen and all the other bits add up then it is Veronica hederifolia subspecies hederifolia and that is what I think that I have got here.

Ivy leaved speedwellDoes it really matter? Will anybody ever look?

What do you think Fizz?

FizzFizz thinks that we should play ball.

Christopher

ChristopherThank you everybody who voted to give the little Robin a name 🙂

The most popular name was Christopher and that is how I will remember him.

He’s gone 😦

I haven’t seen him since Wednesday. He wasn’t there when I opened my door on Wednesday morning, he only showed up once that day, I think to say goodbye and I haven’t seen him since.

ChristopherWhat happened?

There were too many Robins. I was seeing four birds every time I looked out of my window. I think they were last year’s brood and that they just hadn’t dispersed yet. Christopher must have been one of the juveniles.

I don’t think that he was hit by a bus, just because he did come to see me once on that last day. I think that he had to leave and find a territory of his own.

I put off writing this post. I am a bit disappointed, just because it took me three months to get him eating out of my hand and I miss seeing him when I open my door.

The way that I see it is that it was a wonderful experience and there is nothing at all to regret and I will try again.

ChristopherTake care Christopher (I have to stop calling him little bird now). Thank you.

Now that was a sad post. I have got another post to write today. The Dog has been saying some things about me that are not completely true and I have some beautiful pictures to show you.

Honey Bee

He’s Got Wandering Eyes

And that’s me being nice about it.

Grey SquirrelAnything with a pretty face… I will tell you about her later. (I have put her up a tree)

FizzHe was looking a bit fragile today so I thought that we could go on a nice walk to see some flowers, he likes flowers.

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser CelandineThat was his Lesser Celandine.

FizzHe says this next one takes his breath away.

I thought that was the smoking. (How can something be beautiful when it doesn’t even have big brown eyes?)

Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwellThat one is his Common Field-speedwell and I am glad that I am not called a “Common” anything.

Cute DogOne more and then we will get down to business 🙂

This is the one that he is prone to put in his mouth. It is Coltsfoot.

Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot“Everything is beautiful, in it’s own way… la..di..da..di..da,” except for this next one.

Now I like a drink as much as the next puppy (but I wouldn’t mind if you got me something a bit better than mud)

FizzThe thing is that I can hold my mud and I don’t go making a donkey of myself with every floozy who bats her eyelashes at me.

Okay I will tell you what happened.

She was leaning on a lamp post at the corner of the lane…

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel

Oh me, Oh my…Grey SquirrelCor Blimey! Ain’t you the pretty one.

So I was just wondering…..

Grey SquirrelHow fast can you get up that tree?

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel

Quite fast then.

Faster than me as it turned out.

Grey SquirrelWatch it Mate!

Grey SquirrelSo all’s well that ends well. I just have to sit here now forever.

Grey Squirrel Fizz

The Boss Speaks

There are two things wrong with today:

One: It is chucking down with rain.

Two: Whenever I look after him, when my mum and dad get back (his owners) they give him a bottle of whiskey for being a good boy. You won’t see him for a while.

So let us start by righting a few wrongs.

The Eagle has landed!

European RobinGreat! So it is “Eddy the Eagle” then. No need for a poll.

Eddy as in a tide. The tide comes in and the tide goes out (Geddit?)

European RobinEating isn’t a trick. Anyone can do eating.

Eating FizzI can do the dishes.

DishesSo I took him for a walk today. At his age it doesn’t really matter about the exercise but I need to keep his mind active, it slips so easily.

Hey Fizz come and look at this beauty.

SheepLeave it Col, it’s not even one of ours.

The last thing that I want to do is mess about photographing lambs in springtime.

It is not a lamb Fizz, it is a Sheep with a very pretty face. No lambs involved.

Pretty SheepIt is hard to keep him on track sometimes.

We are up here looking for Lent Lilies. (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) otherwise know as Wild Daffodils. I found a bunch up here last March and I keep coming back, hoping to catch them from the beginning.

Pictures from last year.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Narcissus pseudonarcissusWe can’t exactly remember where we saw them last year, so we just keep walking this trail and looking for them.

Fizz, Fizz, Fizz!

Spring LambYes! We agreed, no lambs. Remember?

“No lambs involved,” That was his words.

Yes but it’s her lamb Fizz!

LambColin.

Come this way. I need you to focus. Would you like to throw your ball away for a bit? I’ll get it back for you.

Then, a breakthrough!

Lent LiliesHidden in amongst the Bluebells, just where I knew they would be, I found them.

Lent Lilies“Col, come quick! I’ve found them!”

Fizz, Fizz, Fizz!

LambTry to remember that I am a Dog and that technically, I could bite you.

Bite me Fizz! It’s her other lamb.

Other LambSometimes I despair.

SheepHe is just a sucker for a pretty face.

(I know, I work it)

Pretty FaceWe will be back to talk about Lent Lilies in a week or so, when he has sobered up. Until then, I will be running the blog.

Is it Spring yet?

Has anyone seen any signs of Spring?

A nature diary from the Forest of Dean.

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