28 June 2013


And with heads this time. Having weighed up the possibility of their being juvenile Greenfinches which look extremely similar (thanks CT!), I'm going to go with Siskins. The beak shape is slightly more pointy and the colouring slightly different. I guess we'll find out for sure in the next few weeks as they mature. Between them and the Chaffinches, they managed to half empty the feeder in two days. At last, the mega-bag is going down a bit. It might be empty by 2015....if they hang around of course. 

A juvenile Great Tit has been pecking away too.

And the trusty Chaffinches.

The Blackbirds are too big so are stuck with the porridge. He doesn't look happy.

Yesterday I saw this sheep trying to scratch its fleece off on a rock. This muggy weather must be driving them mad. 

Those pesky cowboy Housemartins have done a runner, leaving my neighbour with a load of mud and messy sticks on her house. I wonder if they'll be back next year. 

Ann (, the pony naming-meister has suggested 'Arrow' as a name for the stallion which I think is great. The arrow marking is, of course on the other side in this picture. He was with Daisy, Isaac, Foal A and his mum yesterday and wasn't happy about Snippet, stamping at him and trotting at us. His looks are growing on me but we will be giving him a slightly wider berth next time. 

Talking of ponies, the grey Dartmoor madam allowed me to give her a stroke and then a big scratch this morning. First contact after weeks of quietly approaching her and breathing with her over the gate. 

Today I failed, yet again, to catch the male Broad Bodied Chaser but got this rather unsatisfactory shot of what I think is possibly a Four Spotted Chaser. Any other offers gratefully received. 

Strange weather today. The picture below sums up a typical Dartmoor summer day......mist rolling in on a high wind followed, later on, by a period of bright sunshine, in turn followed by persistent light rain. Lovely.

Until next time, have a lovely weekend and here's Snippet on cat patrol in the garden. There's one up on the wall.....

26 June 2013


Success today and yesterday. The Heath Spotted Orchid. Not rare but this is the only place I've found them in this area. Shame they're not Marsh Orchids given that I have to negotiate such boggy ground to find them, but never mind. Below is a fraction of what faced me and caused very wet feet:

Yesterday I found this little clump but they were still fairly closed up:

But today produced this beautiful little specimen. 

On the way home I saw.............

These three foals:

A Meadow Pipit or Skylark (not the best identification angle) escaping the camera

A sheep trying to hide:

That troublemaker galloping in again. I had a VERY good look at him yesterday and he is NOT a gelding after all. I think we know what next year's foals are going to look like. 

The horrible Fernworthy Forest looking rather sculptural beyond the Longstone. 

A lovely Large Red Damselfly:

And back home, as I was pottering in the kitchen, I saw something yellowy green flash across the garden in my peripheral vision. I'm pretty sure it's a juvenile Siskin. Very exciting as I've never seen one in the five years we've been up here. One of my favourite birds. 

Unfortunately, it remained hidden behind the feeder but I caught a glimpse of its open mouth as it tried to get first a Sparrow and then a Chaffinch to feed it. I really hope it comes back and perhaps I might get a decent shot of it!

At last we have stuff to eat from the garden; it's been two years since our last crop thanks to last year's disastrous weather. 

The dry shade border is looking okay at last:

A TINY Blue Tit:

Yesterday evening, the late evening light looked gorgeous, casting shadows on the wall around this mirror:

A strange day of sultry heat under dark grey skies which have now cleared. I wore my sandals  for only the third day this year - yippee. Until next time, here's that dog in need of a beardy trim. The moor is at last beginning to look green.....ish.  

24 June 2013



Today I decided to go to the marsh below Thornworthy Tor in search of the lovely Marsh Orchids I found there last year. What I found instead was a huge collection of ponies, only half of which I know, and a lot of newly shorn sheep. The pony above, a two year old I think, and its mother, are a bit behind the current summer hairdo fashions. What a state they look!

At least the sheep are feeling cool if not looking it:

I noticed Foal A, Isaac and Foal number 3 from last year relaxing:

But suddenly, further towards the Orchid site, all hell was breaking loose amongst a largish group, including rival males; geldings acting like stallions, careering about annoying the mares and posturing with each other. 

Some of them have pretty bad hair too. Foal A and Isaac look on without much interest. Both are getting browner by the day. 

A brief break for a nuzzle..........

..........then back to it.

Believe it or not, that last one is poor little foal number 3 being chased. I remember Anna Bonnage telling me that any tolerance of childish behaviour from a young horse within a herd disappears when it hits a year old, which he has now! He looked very shocked poor thing. 

Things then settled down as I made my way home without the orchid pictures I had hoped for. 

 Pink snow up the drive...

Lovely red Astrantia in bloom in the garden. My mum reminded me today that as well as being Masterworts, all Astrantias are also known as Hattie's Pincushion. What a fabulous name. 

The word has passed around the Chaffinch flock:

After a weekend of rain, the sun is out a little today. Saturday was the school fete, which was held indoors thank goodness. I don't know the total takings but, if the book stall I was manning was anything to go by, we did pretty well. All the money goes towards trips out for the children and other stuff the school can ill afford. It was combined with a farmers' market which swelled the numbers too. 

Trigger seems a bit better today. He cantered over to me with the others when I blew my dog whistle. Amazing how a tiny bit of food can train the wildest of ponies so quickly. Sometimes they are far away, but one blow is all that's required. Better than Snippet! Talking of the little scruff, until next he is with a borrowed toy. Five seconds earlier, it was on the end of his nose.