Friday, 8 September 2017

Confusion and Obfustication.... and Nature's digital art.

What does the Passenger want you to see...
Well, perhaps it is easier to say what it doesn't want you to see....
it, and all the other wonderfully patterned moths, don't want you to see a potential meal!!
Save those like the Tigers, the Cinnabar and other very brightly coloured insects...
they, apparently, are saying "Don't eat me, I'm yucky!"
No, I've not tried!!!
But these, whilst often seen in flight during the day, are few in number.

The vast majority of moths are resting at that time and only flying at night.
So they need to remain unseen...
the most well known of these was the Peppered Moth [Biston betularia]... often cited as "evolution in action"*...
where...int'Black Country and t'grime of t'far North'n cities with the mills and steelworks...
a dark form evolved... and thrived... because it couldn't be seen at rest.
And, now, with the "big clean up", it has become much rarer.

Everyone knows the Buff-Tip... which tries to make us think that it is a broken birch twig....

Here, it is actually on a broken willow branch....
so it isn't restricted in its choice of places to rest!


and the Lappet, in silhouette in the previous post, even has "leaf veins"!

The leaf veins are showing very well on the lower wing of this one.


But what is the Passenger trying to imitate?
As a moth, it is a very "flat-winged" one...

It is a very delta-winged moth.

but, by "posing" in a nose downward position, it is imitating a curled over, dead leaf.
A total optical illusion... but very effective... all the insect needs to do is keep its tail towards the sun...
et, voila...
it is a dead leaf.

Not one of my best pix....
but I had released it well before looking at it onscreen...
and spotting the illusion.

And it is all done with pixels...
nature invented digital art before computers were even a Greek dream!

And here are the pixels!!

*Personally, with the Peppered Moth, my take is that a dark form had always existed!
Many moths have dark forms... given the right conditions, they will be more successful...
simply because they are the least likely to be picked off as a tasty snack

Friday, 1 September 2017

Spinning on a branch!!



Sometimes book illustrations get it so wrong...
whilst being "right and proper"....
moths are one example...
illustrations of the waterside plant Butterburr [Petasites hybridus] Chapeau-du-Diable being another.... it always has tiny holes in the leaves caused by the Strawberry Snail [Trichia striolata] that feeds under the leaves. Artists have always "cleaned" the leaves when they paint illustrations for books.

A Lobster Moth [Stauropus fagi] fr... on a rendered wall... in normal, and book, position.

All moths are portrayed heads-up or from the side....
to show the underwing, quite often the moth is pictured with one pair open....
usually the right... and so it should be, you need to be shown the characteristics...
but they are always a bit "museum"!
Possibly because museum specimens were used to do the drawings??
But, possibly also, because that is the "norm"!

But on websites, I have noticed that the photographs are also quite often corrected...
the moth doesn't actually adopt the position shown in the books... but the picture's editor....
possibly the photographer... possibly the website owner[s]...
have orientated the moth to the book position.
You don't actually find the moth in that position...
and the direction of light shows it has been rotated.

An "almost-silhouette" of a Lappet...
showing the leaf outline... not the right plant...
but it chose to fly off and settle there!!

Take the moth at the beginning of this post...
The Passenger
[Dysgonia algira] la Passagère...
a moth new to me... but a beautiful example of evolution.
I rotated the first picture to the "book" position.
BUT... this is how it was in the trap...




And a better picture taken later...



And this is the position it immediately adopted on release back to the wild...


... in both cases, as in the trap, head down.
But can you see why?
Let your eyes relax a little and look at those last few pictures...
can you see the optical illusion?
Remember that the moth is a flat-winged creature...
the illusion is created in "pixels"... each wing scale being a "pixel"....!!

I'll post later about what evolution "thinks" you should be seeing.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

A LONG Gardening Break...

...or yet another "Hiatus on the Homefront"

After yet another gardening break...
and we are almost ready for the growing season...
OK...OK... I know it has gone mid-AUGUST...
but the drought and then the heat held us back.
But, on the other hand, we'll be eating food "out of season"....
when it begins to get expensive in the shops...
So any bloggin' has taken a back seat...

We had a marvellous visit, though, at the start of May, by fellow LPO Refugers...
a reunion for LPO members who have declared their patch of land, or balcony...
as a Refuge LPO....
which visits a different persons refuge each year...
and this year, we had been asked to host the  day...
with lots to see and lots talked about.... a guided walk around the Refuge...
broken around midday by a picnic lunch, plenty eaten... quite a lot drunk...
and then a great Orchid Walk from Susan of Loire Valley Nature in the afternoon.

The Moorhens decided to nest just beside the bridge this year...
having destroyed the patch of yellow iris...
there is only so much bending and destruction of the leaves that a plant can take!!
But the nest was very visible from the bridge and gave a very nice intro to the site...
and, for a change, had local naturalists... whispering!!

At the six egg stage... she finally laid nine.
Five survived through the early days and were split 2 & 3 amongst the adults.

Then Pauline led the group around the meadow using her new chariot!!
The day was nice, weatherwise... and plenty of wildlife seen...
and we even river-dipped...
with a net!

Pauline introducing the visitors to the meadow...
the raised side bar of "The Chariot" can be seen on the right.

Lunch was had.... and on the way to the orchids, we stopped on the 'flatlands' above Chaumassay to see if we could spot the larks that frequent the fields just there... and anything else that would be different from the valley fauna... and were treated to a wonderful exhibition by a male Hen Harrier... both quartering the fields and.... new for me... trying to flush small birds from the treetops.
As there has been a "vole crash" locally, I am presuming that this 'out of the ordinary' behaviour is a little observed method of hunting when times are tight.

The walk proved interesting...with a number of oddities spotted... the best for me, though, was discovering the very strange larva of a Bloody-nosed Beetle [Timarcha tenebricosa] le Crache-sang.... a "Jabba the Hutt" type of critter....
anyway...
here's a load of pictures from the day.



Two views of a male Beautiful Demoiselle [Calopteryx virgo meridionalis] le Caloptéryx vierge méridional...
this is indicated by the fact that the wing colour doesn't quite reach the body...
in C. virgo virgo, it goes from the body almost to the wingtip.

A nice fat Roman or Burgundy or Edible Snail [Helix pomatia] escargot de Bourgogne, or Gros blanc...
and also known as escargot de Champagne....
these are actually really heavy when they get to this size!!
 
Spiderlings of the Garden Spider [Araneus diadematus] l'Épeire diadème...
which carry the same back pattern as the adults.
All orb-web spiders... as well as many other species...
form these dense clusters of newly hatched youngsters for the first few days.

A Woundwort...
most probably Marsh Woundwort [Stachys palustrisÉpiaire des marais...
given the habitat and pattern on the labia....
although hybrids between Marsh and Hedge Woundwort are not uncommon.
We have Hedge Woundwort by the front fence.... and is a lot darker...
this, though, is by the Aigronne.

A "nest" of Peacock caterpillars on a nettle plant
And then the afternoon and orchids...

Susan of Loire Valley Nature giving a talk on the orchids at Chaumassay....
before leading a walk along the road and up through the woods to the right.


Two colour shades of the Monkey Orchid [Orchis simia] Orchis singe...
first, a reasonably normal version...

....then a hypochromatic version.
Hypochromatic means lacking in colour.... and this one is very pale...
but you can see a tinge of pink.

Then it was single file up the hill into the woods.

Where, as mentioned, I discovered the "Jabba the Hutt" larva of a Bloody-nosed Beetle...
they feed on members of the Goosegrass family...
in this case, found on Madder [Rubia peregrina] Garance voyageuse.
And a male Crab Spider [Synema globosum]... named for the female's very spherical abdomen.
This fella is 3 to 4mm from nose to tail...
in fact, his front legs, at 4mm long, make him look much larger.


We also dipped a net in the millstream before lunch and came up with a few goodies...


A caddisfly larva in its sand tube...
possibly one of the Limnephilidae, which tend to build long, straight tubes....
you can just see its front pair of legs... the others hold it in the tube...
and a Water Mite...Hydrachna sp. possibly, as the habitat fits.


A couple of mayfly larvae... type again unknown... an Olive or a Dun of some sort...

And, finally, a Freshwater Shrimp [Gammarus pulex]...
along with a very small spire-shelled water snail.
And so went the day....
In other news...
the moth trap has had two airings per month...
middle and end on the "half-moons" as it cannot compete with a full moon...
and the identified species count is now up to 230 micro and macromoths...
with plenty more unidentified... mainly the micros.

My favourite spider, Argiope, is back with a vengance... they seem to be everywhere in the verger and one in the potager... plus some casually spotted in the meadow...

And the bief [millstream] has been declared out of bounds to fishermen... it has become a nursery for truitelles... baby trout.
More on all this in future posts....

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A slight Hiatus on the Home Front....

or "Apologies for no major post last week..... or this, and this and that for that matter"

Sorry... with all this fine weather, and a need to get spuds in the ground at the right time this year... I hadn't pre-prepared anything...
But the moth trap has had two airings so far this year... and we've started to get visitors to the windows at night!
The Swallows are back... swinging in and out of the barn.... and paying a visit in here, too... which took a bit of juggling to create an escape route....
The Black Redstarts are back, as well....and the duck gave us a nice present the other day... a fresh egg that she'd laid on the fly down by the old apple tree.
How do we know it was fresh? Because anything like an egg down there wouldn't have lasted overnight....
A Little Egret had been fishing in the bief...and flew past the bedroom window just as I looked out... no need for binos...
The Nightingales are back... three singing males at least... and a Zizi was singing from the wall early doors... a Zizi is the Bruant Zizi... or Cirl Bunting... relative of the Yellowhammer... with a similar song but it keeps what it doesn't want a secret... "Little bit of bread and no..."
It misses out the "cheeeese"
We've got a group of young Viperene Snakes [Lat] Coulevre vipérine who have holed up together just inside the barn door... four is the maximum seen at one time.

So here are a few pictures taken recently.....

Here's the Bruant zizi... aka: Cirl Bunting.... zizi'ing his little heart out!!

There are four Viperene snakes in this picture
... count the heads... one sunbathing...
three in the gap 'twixt barn wall and the metal...
sunwarmed...
hinge.



Three from the moth trap....
R>L: a Brindled Beauty, a Small Lappet and a Lunar Marbled Brown....
the curate who named the last probably had cataracts.... it is all grey!!

 
A hoverfly.... hovering!

An Ichneumonid wasp...
possibly a female Ichneumon xanthorius based on looks and flight period.
{But, only experts can really tell... and not from photos!!}

Black Redstart [male].... showing his "shirt-tails"!

And finally... for the moment... an orb weaving spider.
Tetragnatha sp.... possibly Tetragnatha extensa which is the most common...
but I need the other side to be certain...and this one was...
thirty centimetres off the ground in stinging nettles!!




Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What's nibbling me willows?

I have been playing "catch up" in the meadow and along the millstream...
I haven't been able to get onto the meadow over-Winter for three years...
so I have been felling timber that needs to be felled as quickly as possible....
with the intention of tidying up afterwards...
the only tidying that I have been doing has been to create a safe environment for me to work...
or to clear the paths.

Some of the felling has involved the "nursery area" that is outside our bedroom window....
three of the young willows were too deeply rooted when Stuart and I were lifting them for replanting elsewhere....
and that, coupled with the fact that the ground had become very unstable by the time we reached them....
and we had no real purchase in the sticky goo... all that meant that they were left...
and, in reality, neglected for a further two years.
By that point they were too large to try and move, so I cut them off as waist high pollards...
this is the height that some biomass and basket making willows are kept at...
which means no back-breaking bending....
the oldest known pollard, some four thousand years old....
and found in the river bed of the Derwent in Yorkshire, is this same height...
so early man thought that too!

And therefore I began to harvest them in a three year cycle.... to create "bushes"...
which has been interrupted by three bad winters...
so I had a mix of four, five and six year old wood...
and I decided to cut them all and start again, because we only want bushes there...
the trees that they had become were blocking our view...
this resulted in a lot of timber
which I cleared to the side as I went, the largest one of which had its top in the millstream [bief]....
the butt end on the bank where I could get at it easily.

We couldn't help but notice....
as we looked out of the bedroom and kitchen windows at the newly cleared area....
that two of the willows were missing bark from the base...
and I thought to blame it on the ragondins [coypu]...

Two out of the three have had the bark stripped from the base... fortunately NOT all the way round

About two weeks ago, however, we noticed that someone had stripped bark from the branches that I had left lying in the bief...
immediate presumption... coypu!

Lovely white wood under that willow bark!

Then we saw this....

The focus isn't too sharp... I'll add a better one at the end

...now, according to the books ragondin do eat bark, but apparently reluctantly... as Pauline has discovered, they "only eat bark when they are desperate" as they prefer grass... visible and growing all this winter... and the fleshy roots of the teasels, thistles and similar plants... which we also have in plenty, despite their efforts and mine, in the orchard... as well as elsewhere.
But they stop at bark... they don't eat young wood!! Not like that, surely....
only a beaver leaves traces like that!!

Now, we've seen beaver activity... right in the heart of town, near the railway station... and they are spreading out quite rapidly from their point of reintroduction on the Loir in both 1975 and again 1995.... 13 animals in both cases... but up the Aigronne??
We needed proof before reporting it on Faune Touraine, the local focus for Citizen Science data collection...on an ever increasing diversity of wildlife.

So, time to deploy the "pieges photographiques"...trail cameras to Anglophones!
We had a stealth beaver... bark was going missing... but no triggers...hmmm!
The ducks were triggering the traps, as were the coypu as they swam past...
and the rats using the branches as a highway to avoid having to swim too much!
But, not what was bark stripping... by which time we had three cameras watching a twenty-five square metre section of stream...
so I contacted Martin of Wildlife & Countryside Services, the supplier of two of our photographic traps and our Wildlife Accoustics bat detector...
and a very useful source of advice....
who came right back with a probably cause... temperature...
beaver swim with only the nose and a flat area between that and their ears...
out of the water...
so as it emerges to feed, the temperature difference between animal and water...
is too little to trigger the PIR on the camera... try different positions!!
AND, bingo....

Yes, a beaver.... right outside the kitchen window...
... we were probably still up!!  And it is thanks to Simon that we've got these stills to insert...

.... yes, a positive sighting of beaver!!

These are European Beaver [Castor fiber galliae] Castor d'Europe....
and are genuine French ones, not Polish as I had read...
the reintroduction was from a remnant population on the Rhône.
Pauline immediately reported the wood chewing evidence on Faune Touraine...
back dated, which is quite normal....
whilst I tried to get a still from the video... nothing I had would play ball... or were programs I haven't had the chance to play with [learn]... but, again help was on hand in the form of Simon of LVTT and Days on the Claise who, after some Dropboxery and his preferred program... lifted out a couple of stills that Pauline reported the sighting with on Saturday night.... it would have to be the First of April!!
But we've supplied the photographic evidence along with the record....
so hopefully no "no you didn't" emails from the moderators on Faune Touraine...
probably thinking "Mon Dieu... it's those damned Anglais again!"

Pauline also had emailed Yohann the River Technician....who Susan posted about in December [an interesting read about a difficult job in itself].... during the afternoon to let him know... he came back with the nearest to us he'd seen activity was near Gatault... only about 2 kilometres from us downstream... so, as they have a multi-kilometre territory when confined to a stream, it/they have probably been going up and down quite regularly... or are doing so now? Looking at the grey wood on the largest stump, they've been here for at least three years it takes around that long to colour... and I hadn't noticed any damage before that....

The bright bits just as the shadow starts are teeth marks from the lower jaw.

BUT we may have also blown the myth that ragondin only eat bark when they are desperate... we got three videos where one particularly large animal stripped and ate the bark.... the tail said coypu, not beaver... unless it was so perfectly "side on" that it appeared the same as a coypu's... but my guess is that coypu will eat nice young bark if it is "presented" to them.

This stretch is perfect for European beavers as... because they burrow... there are plenty of old coypu homes ready to occupy.
It is calm and quiet, assorted different depths of water, too, so an underwater entrance would be easily maintained... even in the driest of summers.
We will keep watching... and feeding... our beaver(s) and add more information as and when!!

Here is the actual video of the beaver... uploaded via Blogger, so invisible on Safari and on Apple machines even if you are using Firefox, sorry....


video

And a much better picture of the tooth marks on the branch...

Yes, it does look dry... I rescued it before the branch broke at that point completely...
it is now strapped to a length of roofing lath as it has almost broken at the thinnest point.
Now... if that isn't natural news for us, I don't know what is!
We keep getting surprised!!

Monday, 3 April 2017

News Alert, News Alert, News Alert, News Alert, News Alert, News Alert,

News Alert, News Alert, News Alert, News Alert

Exciting news will be appearing here later today!!
____________________________________

....on a more mundane level, the moth trap has had two runs so far this year....
....the ducks are looking for somewhere to nest....

....and we have a nest of vipers....
....actually no... a nest of viperine snakes... coulevres viperines...
a relative of the grass snake.

Monday, 27 March 2017

One man went to mow...

...went to mow a meadow! At the moment in my case, it is one man and his cat to follow on.

We have around two hectares to mow....
that's around five acres in English money...
and the grass needs to be removed...
to lower the fertility and allow the weaker species to grow more successfully...
and hamper the efforts of  les orties* [nettles].

To mow we have "Betsy"...
our big two-wheel tractor with its 53" cutter bar.
To rake we have me and a Bulldog wooden rake...
so at the moment we slowly get a field full of humps and rows that become humps....
and humps that become bigger humps....
and so on....
and on!


Driving Betsy... the grimace is obligatory (as is the hat!)

When Betsy arrived she wasn't heavy enough at the cutter bar, so a cut of around three inches...
[or fifteen centimetres... I am of old measure]...
became a one foot high trim whenever the wheel hit a molehill.
It was very tiring to use and left me aching...
then the suppliers, Trackmaster, sent me two weights to attach to the bar and all changed...
she still bucks at humps but it is easier to get the front down again and she is, overall, more controllable...
which is vital when working near the willows!!
And I have since added a pair of large, wide skids... as those that are supplied as standard, just cut deep two-inch furrows!!



It is a big meadow.... this is the smaller bit....

The other reason for being able to mow large areas quickly and easily is that the meadow has Creeping Thistle [Cirsium arvense] Chardon des champs...
which needs to be kept cut before it flowers and the wind dispersed seed blows everywhere.
This is what the Wildlife Trusts have to say on the subject
.

So you can see that it would not be beneficial to the birds to eradicate it completely...
not that I think I could!!
And, in 2016, thanks to the Barn Owl Trust and Mammal Society....
and Pauline's research....
the mowing regime has changed yet again... but that will be another post!


The selected areas of nettles [*les orties] that I am mowing are to reduce their competition with the grass.
I have no intention of trying to win the that battle either as...
[1] we want the butterflies that use nettle as a foodplant for the young... and
[2] we use the nettles as fertilizer and occasionally as food.
Well, that's my excuse, anyhows!!

Still mowing.... here at least you can see one of the paths along the edge of the bief (millstream).
Betsy is manufactured in Italy by part of the Ferrari works and moves at walking pace...
so I'm driving one of the slowest Ferraris on the planet....
but there is a big advantage with that...
we are working the land for the wildlife it contains and being able to stop instantly and walk forward to inspect for nests when birds fly up is a great help...
also, by cutting the grass and not chopping it with a flail or a whirling blade, allows the grass to fall aside and allows small beasts to fly, walk, run away.

Occasionally I get flying voles...
these rocket out of the grass and run along on the top, before diving back into the sward...
when they run ahead, this is usually repeated a few seconds later.


One of the first 'humps' is visible to my right in this picture.... it grew as the year wore on....
and had finished at around this height when I mowed through it last week.
We will be able to harvest compost from the bigger of these piles.

Betsy has another attachment...
a big wood-chipper that can handle up to three inch trunks....
but that's yet another posting.

/|________________________________________________|\

* Les Orties = The Nettles
(Thank you Susan for the correction.  
[The Nettles is a Celtic band - J.Nettles is an actor])

Monday, 20 March 2017

2010 & 11... Almost caught up!

As mentioned at the end of the last post we started off the willow plantation.
I purchased and collected the willows from Yorkshire Willow...
they came as 10" cuttings... well, lengths...
of one year old stem with about six to ten buds.


The willow sticks in their nursery bed...
some were too young to leave home!!

The idea is to plant each length of willow stem where it is going to finally be...
in our meadow?
You are joking!!...
it was difficult enough to find them the way I planted these ones.

The willows were of seventeen different varieties in bundles of ten.
One hundred and seventy twigs...
what we bought are listed below [the ones introduced as 20cm cuttings]...
and these should be buried with around two inches/two buds above ground.
So I decided to create two nursery areas...
the one pictured above and another one in a damp spot out in the meadow.
I have altered the table below to show the survivors... some have thrived....eg: Bay Willow and Cohu Blue.... others I have struggled with... and some, like the Sekka pictured below... have succumbed because they are not suited to this environment.


On each row I used a Crack Willow stick to hold the label on the left in the photo above...
this year I will plant out the twenty-odd young Crack willow volunteers that were the result...
they will form a coppice area towards the riverbank.


These are the Sekka catkins...
grey against the red bark.
And, in 2017 the last Sekka had vanished...
The majority of the bought 'twigs' took hold in the pictured nursery area...
but the success rate was poor in the meadow.
That wasn't surprising...
I purchased them in late March and planted them in early April...
not really the right time...
and as we were still in the UK for much of 2010...
they weren't able to be regularly watered either.


These are the wonderful Cohu Blue catkins...
they start steel blue-grey, then "heat-up" and, finally...
catch fire.

These young trees were then planted out in blocks...
or patches where there were only two or three survivors...
last year...
the year of the very hot, dry summer....
again not at all good for young trees that haven't got roots down deep.
If you look at the tree list page, you will see a column marked survivors 2012...
I will be going round next week trimming the survivors down to two or three buds on each shoot...
[and planting the cuttings deep, in situ, to extend the blocks/patches].


Tree Table of those species on site

English Name Species French name [if any] Survivors [2011]
[2017]
Uses Comments
Crack Willow Salix fragilis Saule fragile N/A Crop for biomass On site
White Welsh Salix fragilis decipiens 1 ex 10
2017 none!
Coppice for colour Introduced from 20cm cuttings
White Willow Salix alba Saule blanc (3) ex 10
2017....one left!
Coppice for rods and biomass Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Scarlet Willow Salix alba 'Chermesina' 10...
2017 one!
Coppice for colour Introduced from cuttings
Flanders Red Salix alba fragilis 3 ex 10
2017 one!
Coppice for colour Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Golden Willow Salix alba vitellina Osier doré 5 ex 10
2017 one!
Coppice for colour Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Dog Willow or Sage-leaf Willow Salix candida 6 ex 10
2017...
two left!
Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Tora Salix viminalis tora 5 ex 10
2017....
None left!
Coppice for rods and biomass Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Continental Purple Salix daphniodes Saule faux-daphné 10 ex 10
2017....
eight left...
not happy!!
Coppice for rods, colour and biomass Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Black Willow Salix nigricians 2 ex 10
2017....one left!
Coppice for rods and biomass Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Bay Willow Salix pentandra Saule a cinq étamines 9 ex 10
2017....
No change!
Coppice for rods and biomass Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Purple Osier Salix purpurea Osier rouge 5 ex 10
2017....
two left!
Coppice for colour Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Cohu Blue Salix purpurea 8 ex 10
2017....
No change!
Coppice for colour Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Green Dicks Salix purpurea 3 ex 10
2017....
two left!
Coppice for colour Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Sekka Salix sachalinensis 9 ex 10
2017....
None left!
Coppice for rods and biomass Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Black Maul Salix triandra 11 ex 20
2017....
None left!
Coppice for colour Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Common Osier Salix viminalis 5 ex 10
2017....one left!
Coppice for rods, colour and biomass Introduced from 20cm cuttings
Grey Willow Salix cinerea Saule cendré 1
2017....
No change!
On site
Eared Sallow Salix aurita Saule à oreillettes 1
2017....
No change!
Self seeded at allotment
Pussy or Goat Willow Salix caprea Saule marsault 1
2017....
three more self-seeded!
Plant more as early bee fodder Self-seeded - On site by bridge

Monday, 13 March 2017

A Bit of Fencing.... 2009

We had a break from the felling routine in 2009 and did some planting [as before] and some fencing.

The fencing was needed to define the boundary between our property and the neighbouring field...
the original fence was very 'tired' and in places...
completely missing [having, in our absence, been driven straight through by a digger!!]

The fencing was done in two stages...
when Stuart was here, in March, we aimed to get the posts in place and the strainers fixed up with the three carry wires attached and strained.
The strainers were done as "Colonial" two post, rather than the more usual post and a diagonal.
This technique lends itself to rocky soil like ours...
where it is difficult to dig a decent post hole to a good depth.

I've seen the method used quite a lot around here...
so it is not a strange thing to see a double header version at a corner or bend, the central post of three being the 'joint'.
And just I originally posted this, I saw a triple upright, double tensioner version over near Chaumussay....not sure why.... but with the work involved, there must have been a reason!

This is the major fence line, the one between the properties.
The "Colonial" strainer is in and tensioned and the post line is in place.
The thin posts are rose poles that I used as sighting poles...
the most difficult part of fencing is getting the line right in the first place!

You will see from the picture that a winder is used to tension the frame...
when fixing the stock fence in place, you start to strain up the fence at the second post...
leaving the piece that covers the strainer frame able to be removed as necessary for re-tensioning the fenceline.
All the posts used were reclaimed chestnut ones from other places on the site...
mainly from the bank of the bief.

Stuart and I managed to get both the lines finished and the straining wires in place without much difficulty...
despite using 'second-hand' posts.


This is a corner of the second fence line, the one by the road.
The three strainer wires can be seen quite clearly.
The wooden rail from the corner is not a "colonial" strainer,
but a length of timber performing much the same function on a very short run.

When Pauline and I returned in May, we stapled the stock fencing in place on most of the fence line, leaving just two sections that I wrote "I will be completing in the next couple of weeks... honest?". {Update 2017.... they are still to be finished.... }
This entailed rolling out the cattle mesh and crimp-stapling it to the top wire...
before going back down the line and doing the same on the other two...
trying to hold a 22 kilo roll of cattle mesh upright and unroll it at the same time is no joke...
it seems to be very tired and wants to lie down all the time!!
But we got there...
with much shouting and cussing!!


This is the main fence line, once the cattle mesh has been added.
You will see that the bottom wire does not run along the bottom of the mesh,
but along the next 'rung' up... this allows the mesh to be 'moulded' along the ground.
Any bigger irregularities are taken care of with offcuts of mesh wired on and buried....
not necessary here as the farmer is arable... and we don't keep stock!

In 2010 we did some more planting and started the willow plantation...
more about that next week.