“The Royal Stump”

This morning I e-mailed two more entries to the Wessex Photo Spring competition. These are entitled ‘A Paddle’ and ‘The Hind Leg’. (A paddle is the collective noun for ducks in the water; a garrulous person could be said to talk the hind leg off a donkey – with Jackie’s assistance I couldn’t help myself).

Later I photographed the roses on the front garden trellis.

After lunch Jackie drove me to that photographic outlet in Ringwood to collect some paper I had ordered. We then travelled on into the forest and stopped at the recently opened bird hide at Blashford Lakes.

When I entered the building a man inside mouthed “lapwing” and pointed to the window. As I approached it flew away. I observed that I had that effect on birds. He replied that he had had that effect since he was eighteen. Quick to pick up the innuendo I gesticulated in the direction of the two attractive women in his company and offered the opinion that something must have improved. This was met with hilarity. The said waterfowl was decent enough to return for a forage.

I was informed that two somnolent birds bobbing on the water were great crested grebes.

A pair of ducks sharing a spit with a black headed gull soon took to the water. I trust one of my birding blogging friends will help me with identification. (The consensus seems to be Tufted Ducks – see arlingwoman and John Knifton’s comments)

We stopped for a drink at The Royal Oak, North Gorley where the avian propensity for taking flight at the sight of my lens did rather pay off. Two jackdaws perched on the chimney pot were possibly protecting a nest. One decided to decant to the TV aerial when I was in mid-click.

Since we last visited the eponymous Quercus has had to be felled. The pub landlord quipped that they should now be called “The Royal Stump”. Jackie suggested that the slice might attract the attention of a dendrochronologist.

This evening we enjoyed our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

Owling With Attitude

The blackbird still sits on her nest. Peering through shrubs at a safe distance, sometimes her bright little eyes are visible to the viewer, sometimes her upturned tail.

Brambly bedToday’s task for me was to clear one bed of brambles and other unwelcome growth. Simple enough for a day’s work. I thought. In fact the wild blackberry bushes were the least of my problems.

As I began to feel my way into the undergrowth I came across a number of previously unseen plants. Passion flower chokedOne was a heavily-budded passion flower which had become entwined in a hebe, and, of course brambles. The necessary disentanglement was a most delicate operation.Passion flower support Having carried out the surgery I gave it a leg-up by means of netting attached to a metal post set in concrete that Jackie had found elsewhere in the garden. Another such climber had clung to the weeping branches of the birch tree, but had many stems trailing in and out of the bed grasping at anything in its path. Further similar treatment was required. This time the netting was strung between two wooden stakes.

Two types of tree that are abundantly self-seeded in this garden are hawthorn and bay. There was one of each in this bed, their roots, as always, taking shelter among those of  other plants; in this case the weeping birch and some lilies that have not yet flowered.Bed head screwed to birch I had no chance of reaching them unless I removed the wooden bed head nailed to the tree. No doubt this once had a decorative purpose of sorts.  I couldn’t prise it off. Once the rust had been scoured off the nailhead it turned out to be a screw, so dilapidated as to be bereft of a slot. I tried to make one with the trusty hacksaw. I couldn’t get it deep enough.

Then along came Superwoman, who saw that if we removed the rickety slats and the other end, we could leave the post where it was. D’oh!

That is what we did. I dug out the offending trees and replaced the rest of the bed head. Two of the joints had by now disintegrated, so nails will have to be used, when I have bought some of sufficient length. In order that it does have a decorative function, I optimistically fed a passion flower stem through the secure bit.

Jackie speaks of the June gap, which is that unproductive time between the finishing of the spring flowers and before the arrival of those of the summer. The planting here has been so well planned that there is no such hiatus. Water lilyPhiladelphusWhite bush roseRose - pink abundancePetuniasPetunias - magentaDiasca and pelargoniumBegoniaPoppiesVerbascumRodgersiaClematises Star of India and Rouge CardinalI took a break after lunch and photographed water lily, philadelphus, roses, petunias, diasca, pelargonium, begonia, poppies, verbascum, rodgersia, and clematises which are just a few of those we currently have flowering.

Our blackbird is still awaiting the emergence of her chicks. Not so the owl in my friend Hari’s tree. Her two are about three weeks old, and able to reach the ground, but do need to be returned to their Mum. If I am able to photograph our fledglings I am confident that my pictures would not be as striking as the one Hari e-mailed me today.Owling by Harri She believes the creature was displaying a mind of its own when it stared back at its rescuer. I rather like her term for a baby owl, especially one with attitude, which has provided today’s title.

This evening’s meal was Jackie’s beef and mushroom pie with mashed carrots, swede, and potatoes; and crisp cauliflower and broccoli. Tiramisu ice cream was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the tempranillo.

If you have a shop that can sell you ready prepared pastry and have saved enough beef casserole (recipe) you, too could make the pie. Simply drain off the sauce from the casserole and use it as gravy; roll out the pastry, insert the filling into it, and bake it in the oven for about half an hour on 200. The chef, when pressed for her timing, said: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I didn’t time it, I just stood and looked at it until it was the right brownness’. I don’t expect she did this for the whole time, but I think that gives you the idea.