Pauline and I were enjoying a glass if ice-cold Hoegy by the cherry tree this evening when our attention was drawn, by the cats' behaviour... ears pricked and watching intently, to activity on the opposite side of the bief.
We saw two watervoles, one very dark and one paler chasing each other about... up and down the bank, in and out of the water, too and fro from the bridge to right opposite us. Then all went quiet...
As it got cooler we moved inside to refill glasses and listen to the Archers... Baron was still outside and jumped up onto the window sill as if asking to come in... then he became interested in the bief again.... and on standing up I saw that the voles were at it again.
Collins Field Guide to Mammals of Britain and Europe cite the chasing about as breeding behaviour... will we be hearing the patter of tiny volefeet soon?
Incidentally, there was a very interesting programme on Auntie Beeb [Radio Four] yesterday about "Darren Tansley - Vole Warrior" It is available on Listen Again.
I will now start the day again...
Having made a New Year's Resolution to walk round the field as often as possible this Spring through to Autumn... I decided to start today... we'd heard a cuckoo, seen a swallow fly past the bedroom window... and I wanted to check out the fritillaries... it was a lovely stroll along the biefside, tripping over bramble and tussock but I saw our first cou-cou and while I was taking a picture of it, a cuckoo started up in the woods next to Bezuard... and like Niall & Antoinettes'... it seemed to be staying put!
|Our first "cou-cou"... or Cowslip.|
I then found a female Oil Beetle [Meloe proscarabaeus or M. violaceus... the first is more common]... as I have also recently photographed a male, I'll blog about these later with some more info.
|Female Oil Beetle. Big girl isn't she... and despite the size of her abdomen, she couldn't half move!!|
Strolling on the wier looked a site in the sun... and the older willows are looking well... though some are leaning a bit... I'll turn these into metre high pollards for easy harvesting of pole. A job for tomorrow or Friday... but it must be done before March is out!!
|The wier [barrage] giving plenty of aeration to the water flowing over the older rocks.|
Eventually I got to our non-Sloe bush [flowers much earlier than the Blackthorn...] Pauline is pretty certain it is a hybrid plum-blackthorn... it certainly shows hybrid vigor as can be seen from the two pictures below.
|Lovely thick blossom.... will there be a frost?|
|The bees love this early nectar!|