Rather than throw the honey jar away while there was still some in the bottom, I decided to leave the lid off and place it on it’s side on the Bar-B-Que. In truth I was hoping that it may attract some late night -flying moths. However, after checking it at night for a couple of nights and finding nothing, I gave up the idea, but left the jar.
A day or two later the rain had stooped and the sun was briefly shining. I took a stroll down to the Bar-B-Que and was absolutely amazed at the number of Honey Bees and a couple of Wasps all guzzling as much as they could of the (now solidified) honey. By the time I got there there were two dead Honey Bees and two live wasps amongst the tightly packed in ‘gang’! I watched it quite closely for a while and was surprised to see that both the bees and the wasps all ignored each other.
I know that it has been over a month since my last post here and I feel pretty guilty. That almost sounds like the beginning of a Catholic confession! But I promise you dear reader, I do have some genuine reasons. One, I have been ‘enjoying’ bad health, two I am my wife’s main Carer and she will always come first and three, there was a surprise birthday party for me organised by my number 2 son Jozif. I hate surprise parties, but as this was a special one (Big 70) I kind of accepted the surprise, and I was pleased that I did.
Jozif is a DJ and Music Producer and he flew back from Tunisia – where he had a gig – especially for me. He also organised his two brothers, who in turn had to juggle their diaries to be there. We had the small dinner party at home, Jozif and Oliver stayed on for a couple of days, Ben the eldest had to leave because of baby duties. He made me the proud grandfather for the third time with the gorgeous Lilly-Mae recently. Next Oli had to leave to take care of business at EMI Records where he manages the design department, and then Jozif shot off to Madrid for his next gig!
So all in all, a pretty hectic time.
Today was a beautiful Winter’s morning the sun was strong, the sky was blue with some lovely fluffy white clouds and there was a fierce chill in the air. However, I had signed up for a morning’s seminar/workshop with the Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT), at the nearby Magor Marsh Nature Reserve. The reserve has been there for a while now and it is really making a name for itself, unfortunately I don’t get to go there as often as I would like. This morning’s session was entitled Nature Detectives. It was delivered by a charming and very knowledgeable chap named Chris Hatch. Chris brought a few examples with him of things one is likely to find in the countryside and went into great detail to explain what they were and why they were important etc. The items included a large mollusc which was a Swan Muscle, found in freshwater and in the reens at Magor Marsh. Reens are small shallow field drains or ditches, but in Wales they are known as Reens. He also showed us a the breast bone (Sternum) of a Pigeon which he had found beneath the nest of a Peregrin falcon and finally the skull of a badger.
After spending about 20 minutes in the classroom the small gathering followed Chris out onto the Reserve to see what signs we could spot. and where we should be looking for signs. We were lucky to be able to spot signs of both Otter and Fox. We walked on to the Hide where we spotted a number of Teal and a Crested Grebe, not a fantastic display I admit, but all the same some good explanations from Chris and also the signs of Badger just near the Hide.
Finally on the way back Chris pointed out some grassland that he said was the ideal habitat for Snipe, so while we stayed on the path Chris walked through the grassland to see if he could ‘walk up’ some Snipe. Sure enough with two minutes of him walking onto the land up flew the recognisable zig-zag flight of a common snipe.
So an enjoyable two hours spent at Magor Marsh Wildlife Reserve in Monmouthshire.
I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t already know, when I say, if you keep putting off what you should be doing today, you will be lost! And that is exactly what has happened here. I was in full swing, with all the right motives, sitting quietly in the caravan in the middle of a beautiful quiet valley, aiming to write each day as it happened at The Gigrin. But no, I decided to do the things that I enjoyed doing, opposed to the things that I should be doing. Consequently, I have 100’s of photos of the stay at The Gigrin, but I can’t remember what happened day-to-day, you know..the news, the exciting bits, who said what to whom.
So, I’m just going to have to dig deep into the old grey matter and try to recall titbits of the trip, (Anyone remember that weekend newspaper called Titbits?)
When I first visited The Gigrin in 2005 there was this great big Peacock who was a little on the grumpy side – on second thoughts he was a lot on the grumpy side – he was a sight for sore eyes. Big, blue and with a tail to die for, and he knew it of course. He would prance about the farm occasionally yelling at the top of his screeching voice. This trip, he is gone, passed over to greener and sunnier fields. However, he has left a legacy behind, a young son who has already started to accumulate a Harem of pretty little females.
I know I did get a couple of pics of him, but I haven’t got to them yet, as soon as I do I will post them. But, meanwhile here is a photo of one of his lady friends and their children.
She was a really great mum, no matter what she was doing, eating, sleeping or cleaning, she always had one eye on the chicks. And when my mini dachshund ‘Rosie’ quietly sauntered over to check her out, she quickly lifted herself up to her full height, plus a bit. Then puffed up her chest and feathers until she looked like the size of a small car and turned to square off with Rosie. Nothing was said no shouts, no barks nothing. Rosie just stopped on a sixpence, checked out the VW Beetle that was looking at her, and then quietly, but swiftly walked back to me. Mother hen just turned around and carried on with whatever she was doing, showing that this was not the first time she had to confront a possible enemy.
OK I know it is not really Day 2 but I have been unable to get online for numerous reasons. However, here is the news as of day 2!
The rain has come on and off all day and it has made things a little dowdy. But it certainly hasn’t spoilt my pleasure. The day started off with about 300 sheep bleating all around the caravan. As we were the only caravan in the field, it was a little disconcerting. However, I donned boots and mucked in (literally) to lend a hand to the young guy who was driving around like a man possessed on a 4 wheel ATV and a crazy sheep dog. We finally got the sheep to where he wanted them in a pen so that he could separate the Ewes from the lambs, to ween them.
The dog was great. I was standing at the railings of the pen chatting to the young guys (there were two of them by now) when the dog came up and sat beside me. He shoved his muzzle in my hand, which was just at the right height for him, and I looked down to talk to him and give him a smooth – it was obvious he wanted attention – and he bit me! Not hard just a nip. The two young fellers laughed and said “he’s a funny old dog, only just started doing that, does it with everyone”. I told the dog off, you naughty doggy (or words to that effect). We then carried on chatting for about half an hour and the dog came up to me again stuck his muzzle in my hand, I instinctively put my hand on his forehead, and he bit me again! By this time the young farmers were rolling around holding their sides. I smiled and made my excuses to leave, so I could get back to the caravan for some instant First Aid!
Sitting in the van the rain stopped, the sun came out and all was well with the world. Suddenly my wife yelped out a stifled scream and said “quick squirrel”. I said “why are you calling me squirrel you know my name is Mark?” She said no you donut come here there is a squirrel! With that I quickly jumped to the window to see this young squirrel busying itself doing some house work. He then shot off at about 100 miles an hour, came back to his home and went to sleep. The funniest thing I have seen for ages.
About 8 or 9 days ago I posted a couple of pics of the Cinnabar moth larvae that had moved into the Ragwort in my garden. You may recall I was really quite pleased as I have tried to let my garden go back a little to the wild. I think the number of the caterpillars were about 24. However, two days ago we had a day of torrential down pour, so the next day the moths were down to 2! I’m not sure where all the others have gone, I had quick look around the vicinity but to no avail.
We will see what happens from now.
Another pic from my last trip to Golden Valley, was this Lapwing. The sad thing was when he(she) took off I found a small dead fledgling!
I have been to Golden Valley again. I had such a successful trip the first time I thought I would try in again. It was equally delightful but not as prolific – wildlife wise – as the first time. This I know is down to the timing. The first time was in the heart of Spring and the second at the beginning of the Summer however, still enjoyed my time there.
Here are a few more pics from the trips up there to sunny Herefordshire in the UK. I hope you like and please post your comments, they are always welcome.
Apparently blackbirds are having a bit of a rough time of it. This is down to the very dry weather we have been having. Blackbirds have a particular liking for garden worms and, because of the hot dry conditions the worms have been going
deeper into the ground and out of reach of the bird.
Last week I took a trip up to
Herefordshire and stayed in Golden Valley. While I was sitting out with our small dog in the sun, this cheeky chappy just strolled up and took a piece of the dogs
He did this three times before the end of the day. The next day he showed his face again. I was able to recognise him by an unusual White flash on the back of his neck.