Guided Tour Of Sturt Pond

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Despite the heat today, Jackie continued with planting and weeding. I cut up branches from a tree Aaron had begun removing yesterday, and stuffed them into orange bags,

Late this afternoon Giles collected me and drove me to the bird hide overlooking Sturt Pond at New Milton.

Birds on Sturt Pond and static caravans

There we were able to observe the birdlife on the water between us and the static caravans opposite.

Swans taking off and landing 1Swans taking off and landing 2

This tranquil scene was soon to be disturbed by a pair of swans playing ducks and drakes.

Common tern on rock 1Common tern on rock 2

My friend and I employed quite an interesting arrangement. Giles would spot something of interest through his binoculars. I relied on the naked eye and had to be guided so I could point and click at something I couldn’t see. Take, for example, the common tern on the rock. Starting from the pale blue parasol to the right of the caravans, I would be expected to drop down to the reflected gull immediately below this and turn left at right angles to the next bird along.

Common tern on rock 3

My trust in Giles was rewarded.

The Bill Smith Tern Raft

The Bill Smith Tern Raft floats in the pond. After a ten-year development stage, the Milford Conservation Volunteers (MCV) finally launched the Bill Smith Tern Raft at Sturt Pond and the very first bird to land on it was a common tern, which also determinedly removed a herring gull who also took up temporary residence on the craft. Keith Metcalf, Conservation Manager, stated “Bill, with his band of volunteers, was a stalwart for maintaining the Solent Way footpath and this small tribute to Bill will be a lasting memorial to the services he gave so readily to the local community”. Today the raft belonged to the gulls. (See Paul Clarke’s comment below – the bird to the left is a tern)

Sparrows

A pair of young sparrows had popped over from the village in the hope that someone may have filled the empty bird feeders.

Shelducks

In the bottom left corner of this photograph are a pair of shelducks.

Sturt Pond and Hurst Castle

Across the pond lies Hurst Castle with its lighthouse.

Sturt Pond's birds

We left the hide and walked round to the bank of the pond.

Oystercatcher

An oystercatcher,

Oystercatcher in flight

finding nothing tasty, took flight.

Little terns and black-headed gull 1

Two little terns shared a rock, whilst, behind them a common tern searched for prey;

Little terns and gulls

another gull studiously ignored them;

Little terns and black headed gull 2

and one more went fishing,

Little terns and black headed gull 3

prompting one of the terns to nip off and bring back a fish for his mate.

Cormorants and black tailed godwit 3Cormorants and black tailed godwit 1

Black tailed godwit

With a pair of cormorants on a rail in the background, we watched a black tailed godwit scavenging along the shore. Giles observed that this specimen had been left behind when all its companions had left our waters because it had an injured right leg.

(Any errors of identification are entirely the responsibility of the author.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken tikka, onion and mushroom rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of Jessie’s superb chablis.

 

Smiling For The Cameras

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Waterboy Pool 1

We have several sparrows’ nests in the garden. They, along with various other small birds, take their ablutions in the Waterboy’s pool, as they did this morning.

Sparrows - one on waterboy's head, another on pool edge

Sparrows - one on waterboy's head, one flying

Sometimes they await their turn for a dip on the little lad’s head, flying off after they are done.

Sparrow on hook 1Sparrow on hook 2

Other perches also come in useful.

I carried out an administrative task in relation to our friend Wolf’s executorship, after which Jackie drove me to the Hordle Post Office.

Crane transporter 1

We were narrowly beaten to Hordle Lane by a crane transporter. This held us up somewhat,

Crane transporter 2

since it took up most of the tarmac, and anyone coming from the other side of the road had to risk driving into the ditch.

Crane transporter 3

There were quite a few of these because it was school run time.

Mount Pleasant Lane

After I had eventually posted some missives, we travelled on to Brockenhurst via Mount Pleasant Lane which rather lived up to its name.

Heron

At Highland Water a heron strode purposefully along the shallow stream,

Ponies

on the other side of which a group of small ponies mowed the lawns.

Pony and family 1

One of their number had remained on our side and attached itself to a small family.

Pony and bare feet

The father collected up the picnic and took it to a safer place,

Mother and two boys

while the boys watched with some consternation the pony snuffling the bicycle.

Pony and shoe

With teeth

Pony scratching and family

and hoof, the animal sought to relieve its itching,

Pony and family 2

reporting progress to the mother and her younger son

Pony and photographer

as the father crouched down with his camera.

Pony and photographers

While other photographers thronged to the scene the model began smiling for the cameras.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb lamb jalfrezi, her rice with peas, and her sag ponir, with which we both drank Kingfisher.

Waiting For A Table

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Today, Jackie drove us to Frances’s home in Wroughton, near Swindon and back.

Frances's garden 1Frances's garden 2Frances and Jackie

We sat and talked in her garden, where

Trug and tools

her trug and its contents had clearly been put to good use.

Bluebell Walk workforce

 Prospect Hospice where Chris died two years ago, has a Bluebell Walk which is undergoing a cleaning process at the moment. This is a paved path funded by the purchase of bricks and stones bearing the names of people who spent there last days in this peaceful final care home.

Chris Knight paver

Our sister-in-law drove us there to show us Chris’s paver. She and the family had gone for the tasteful, simple, option.

Back at The Mountings Frances gave us a welcome lunch of pasties and chips.

Sp

Afterwards, in the garden, I watched sparrows on the bird feeders, which tended to become a little crowded.

Sparrow 2

As in all the best restaurants, it was necessary to queue for a table;

Sparrow 1

then the more fortunate visitors had one to themselves.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her excellent chilli con carne with rice and peas, followed by vanilla ice cream. I drank more of the Fleurie and Jackie didn’t.

Cave Dwellers

On a warm, sunny, morning, Jackie drove me to Lymington hospital for a physiotherapy appointment. This had been rescheduled because I forgot the first one. Apparently, although it still looks pretty manky, and required the physiotherapist to cut away scabs clinging to the parchment of dead skin, my hand is healing well. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence. Later, I walked around the garden where Spider on cranesbill geranium

a minute spider clung to one of the many different cranesbill geraniums;

Glechoma

a glechoma has produced tiny flowers which neither of us has ever seen before;

Lonicera

a rich carmine lonicera adorns the arch leading into the planned rose garden;

Aquilegia and ornamental grass

and ornamental grasses cast their shadows across pale lilac aquilegias.

I needed to climb onto the Ace Reclaim bench to photograph this unidentified clematis,Clematis 1Clematis 2

because it is so close to the fence that it is our neighbours who are getting the benefit of it. Clematis Doctor Ruppel

Jackie had no difficulty in identifying the marvellous magenta Dr Ruppel variety ascending the weeping birch, because she had planted it beneath that tree.

The Heligan Path sign

I thought it rather generous of her to have added a dedication to The Heligan Path sign.

As you approach the entrance to Lymington hospital you are currently greeted by a sparrow concerto of splendid amplification. This comes from a colony inhabiting the walls. The architects have provided a facade of stone chunks without apparent grouting. A strong metal grid covers this, presumably to prevent an avalanche. These, the head gardener tells me are cages called gabions.Wall with sparrow

The birds flit backwards and forwards to and from the crevices behind which they are nesting.Sparrow 3

This one appears to be carrying food for chicks.

Sparrow 2

Various males stand guard outside their respective entrances.

Sparrow 1

You wouldn’t want to tangle with this one. (Click on him to reveal his malevolent visage).

The house sparrow is an Old World sparrow believed to have evolved in the Mediterranean region centuries ago. It is unlikely to date as far back as the times of the Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon humans. The latter term for our ancestors comes from the name of a hill in the village of Les Eyzies de Tayac in the Dordogne in Southern France, within reasonable driving distance of my house in Sigoules. This was where bones were discovered by workmen in 1868. These people were also cave dwellers, and lived on this hillside:4182885-cliff_dwellers_cave_Les_Eyzies_de_Tayac 2960806-The_National_Museum_of_Prehistory_Part_II-Les_Eyzies_de_Tayac

One former resident, surveying the valley below, has been preserved in stone.

Perhaps far more famous are the caves at Lescaux where early folk have left their marks on the walls. Chris and Frances were rather disappointed a few years ago when they took a trip from Sigoules to see them. In order to preserve the artwork intact, the public are not permitted to enter the original dwellings, and are shown around a replica, at the speed with which anyone who has been marshalled along a crowded art gallery will be familiar. Here is a two and a half minutes guided tour taken from YouTube:

There was no YouTube in prehistoric times, so people told their stories in scratched markings and pigmentation. 13000376 In Argentina’s Patagonia stencils of human hands, together with other rock paintings depicting the life of hunters who lived between 13,000 and 9,500 years ago, cover the walls of the cave known as the “Cueva de las Manos” which literally means, “the Cave of Hands”. Perhaps these people didn’t live long enough to be inflicted with Dupuytren’s contracture.

This evening we dined on a tangy variation of Jackie’s cottage pie topped with sheets of mature cheddar cheese; baked carrots and leaks; stir fried cabbage, onions, and peppers; and piquant cauliflower cheese. This was followed by Lidl’s Deluxe New York cheesecake, use by 18 May. Jackie drank her habitual Hoegaarden and I relished my customary red wine, in this case the last of the Cotes du Rhone Villages.