Gazing into the view. I intend to walk this and other footpaths this spring.
There was another hard frost here this morning. The temperature is NOT conducive to long posts on the computer, so I will be brief. I stood for a brief while in the yard this morning, listening to the birdsong. The starlings which have billeted with us this winter for the first time, are very vocal first thing in the morning, when they seem to be planning the day, and late afternoon, when they debate where they will sleep that night. It is always the same stand of ash trees, but they try out other trees for size, setting up a constant clamouring twitter. A few birds will leave the current trees and move on elsewhere. Then a few more join them. Then a deafening silence falls and in a mass, all the birds swirl up into the sky and stream away towards a new roost. The crow family act in a similar manner.
At the top end of our yard this morning, there were several Blue Tits in the apple trees. One couple seemed to be thinking of pairing up, and would fly in a loop - he following she presumably, land again, bounce nearer to one another and loop the loop once more. I don't have nest boxes here, but think I will talk to my husband . . . he has plenty of wood.
These Oak Apples are the result of a Gall Wasp, which lays its eggs in the oak leaf, and as they turn into larva, they inject the leaf with chemicals which cause this mutation.
Another photo of the long tailed Bank Vole which I was watching last week. His hole was just a few feet away and he was totally at ease - I don't think he can have noticed me at all. He probably thought I was a tree!
One of the line of stunning lime trees at Gelli Aur (which is Welsh for Golden Grove). Note the natural 'witching' or burring of the trunk. In spring, when they are in flower, the lime blossom has the most wonderful scent, and it produces honeydew which is very attractive to insects.
There are three species of Lime tree - the Small-leaved Lime, the Large-leaved Lime and their hybrid, the Common Lime. These are introduced plantings - they only occur naturally in southern Britain, and indeed, that is the very northern edge of their range.
The photos were taken at nearby Gelli Aur last week. There is a lovely walk through the Deer Park, but I watched them from the back of the tea shop and they weren't at all bothered about me taking photographs. These are Fallow Deer, but as they have their winter coats on, they are much darker than in summer when their spots reappear.
Compare with the smaller Roe Deer:
There are 6 species of deer found wild in the UK. These are Fallow, Roe, Red, Sika, Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer. All were introduced to Britain, bar the Red and Roe deer, which are indiginous species. Fallow deer were originally introduced by the Normans and were hunted by the nobility - deer parks were surrounded by a pale - or ditch and fence (I know of one at Lordswood on the edge of Southampton - even the name is a give-away now.) The expression "beyond the pale" can be traced back to this term. Sika, Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer either escaped or were let loose from private collections.
I couldn't resist this handsome chap, who was watching the deer park near by me. The rangers have had to paint the glass in the bottom of the tea shop windows white, to stop the peacocks attacking the 'strange birds' they see!