Garden Guests Again.

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At this point, it would be ideal if I had something intelligent to say about these deer, which were wandering around on our patio recently. I wondered whether I could age this buck from its antlers. The answer is a qualified ‘yes‘. It’s not as simple as counting the tines, although the fact that there are three here does mean that this buck is at least three years old. After that it gets more difficult.

 

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Garden Guests Again.

A Tawny Owl on the Windowsill.

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The title just about says it all. We came home from our camping trip and were spreading out wet stuff on the patio to dry.

“There’s an owl on the windowsill!” Little S told us.

I hadn’t looked up to notice at that point.

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The owl was even less observant. It would occasionally half open its eyes to look at us without much curiosity, but then quickly dozed off again.

Of course, if you have an owl on your windowsill, then you can have your photo taken with it…

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It was around two o’clock when S first spotted the owl.

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It stayed all day. Around nine in the evening, by which time it was getting pretty dark, the owl had started to look a little more lively, although it still seemed to be dozing from time to time.

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I sat outside and watched it for quite a while, hoping to see it fly off. When all I could see was a dark shadow of the top of its head, I moved inside and watched it through the window, but eventually gave up. Even when it finally flew it would be too dark for me to see anything. Sometime before midnight it did eventually leave.

Since then, when we open the curtains in the morning, we keep checking to see if it has returned, but it hasn’t yet.

A Tawny Owl on the Windowsill.

Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic

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Below the Miro Foundation a formal park covers the hillside down towards the city.

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Designed by French landscape architect Jean-Cluade Nicolas Forestier, who seems to have designed parks in major cities across the world, the garden contains an abundance of water features, particularly several waterfalls which take advantage of the steep hillside on which the park is situated.

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I think one of the children had just ‘got’ TBH here, and revenge was on the cards.

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Teatre Lliure.

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Then we were back to the Gothic Quarter in the centre of the city for one final sight-seeing stop for the day….

Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic

More Garden Critters

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Common Blue Damselfly

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Very common in our garden on this particular sunny day. There were a couple of larger dragonflies quartering the airspace above the garden, but they weren’t so obliging in posing for photos as the damselflies.

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Green Shield Bug.

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Bumble-bee. Bombus….Pascuorum? Perhaps.

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Flowering Currant leaf on a fern.

The flowering currant in the bottom corner of our garden doesn’t look very well. I don’t think that it appreciates the shade it sits in beneath the large hazel.

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Another Bumble-bee. Bombus…Humilis?

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And another Bumble. Bombus…Horturum? (To be honest, I don’t have much of a clue.)

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This looks like another specimen of the dapper fly that had me confused a few weeks ago. It looks quite like the Empis Tessallata in my field guide, but when I search for images on t’internet the resemblance isn’t half so strong. So I’m stumped.

Still having lots of fun with my new(ish) camera however.

More Garden Critters

A Sunny Day in the Garden

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The title pretty much says it all.

I’m a lazy and intermittent gardener. Benign neglect is my modus operandi. It’s not much of a surprise then that we have a lot of weeds. But when those ‘weeds’ are aquilegia vulgaris, or Columbine, well frankly, the more the merrier.

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Spotted this LBJ calmly preening itself beneath the beech hedge. A juvenile Linnet?

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This was back in early June. In between occasional bouts of pretending to be purposefully engaged with some or other garden task, I spent many happy moments pursuing insects with my camera. The Green Alkanet (another weed) was flowering profusely and seemed to be particularly popular with Honey Bees.

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There were bumblebees about too, but they were popping in and out of less open flowers – foxgloves for instance – and so were proving to be much more elusive to photograph.

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I think that this is a 16-spot ladybird. Feeds on mildew apparently.

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Warm days in the garden have been far and few between this summer and we haven’t seen either the same number or variety of butterflies as we would usually expect to encounter.

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Over by the compost bins this dapper fly…

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..was sunning itself on a broad leaf. I suspect that it’s a hoverfly, maybe menalostoma scalare.

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Or not. Opinions, as ever, always welcome.

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Meanwhile, in the compost heap itself something was sprouting…

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(And, you can perhaps tell, something had dug a substantial burrow through from one side to the other.)

All of our vegetable peelings and trimmings go into the compost; it seems a few bits of potato peel were sufficient to produce a number of new plants. So I took the lid off the compost and left it open, to see what would happen. More of which anon, no doubt.

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All of the family were pottering in the garden. A had put my Mum to work weeding in her designated section of the beds. My Dad chose to enjoy the sunshine. (That’s the alkanet behind him. Some of it anyway) But eventually I enlisted him to help with the barbecue with which we rounded off the day:

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A Sunny Day in the Garden

Roe Deer

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When we got home from our trip to Roa Island it was to discover one more wildlife treat awaiting us – a pair of roe deer in the garden.

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Deer visit from time to time. Sometimes they sleep on our lawn. We’d seen them a few times recently, but it was pleasing that they visited whilst our guests were still with us – putting on a show as it were.

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The slightly scruffy look is because they are shedding their darker, winter coat in anticipation of warmer weather (which we are still anticipating patiently).

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Pottering in the Garden

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‘Other stuff’ again. Now I’m not much of a gardener; I have occasional bursts of enthusiasm, but I don’t generally have enough patience , and anyway, I’d rather be out and about walking and gawking. These days, however, we have a magic box at the bottom of our garden, which has, much to my surprise, quite captivated me. It’s ‘magic’ because you put stuff in it and, miraculously, said stuff is totally transformed. You can see the box above: it’s quite a simple machine, given that it can bring about metamorphoses. TBH bought the kit it was built from, and my Dad put it together – I think I may have helped him a bit. I made the lid though, from a large sheet of marine ply we had lying about, the end of a roll of roofing felt and a few off-cuts of wood. (I’m very far from being ‘handy’ and am therefore disproportionately proud of that improvised lid, even though I’m not convinced of its merits in use.)

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Here it is with the lid-off. This compartment’s contents are still undergoing the transformative process., whereas the other side…

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…still has a little of the finished article from last year. I’ve been sieving it – I’m not really sure if that’s necessary – and then trying to find places to use it, principally so that I can have this bin back to fill again.

The ‘active’ side is gratifyingly full of life; particularly these wriggly red worms. I was a bit surprised to find that we have several species of earthworm in the UK. These might be brandling worms, but then again, they might not be. The differences seem quite subtle to me.

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There’s lots of other life here too: woodlice, centipedes and in the summer months, far too many diptera. (Diptera = two wings: flies – I thought if I gave them a Latin name I might feel more charitable toward them. It didn’t work.) B and I have both seen a vole in and around the compost. Once, when I was turning the pile, the vole jumped up on to the edge of the box and then sat and looked at me for a while, before languidly leaping down and disappearing into the adjacent hedgebottom.

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All around the compost bins this plant sends up flower-stalks first, then leaves which will eventually become quite large. It’s a very vigorous plant, but I don’t know what it is.

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Any thoughts?

Nearby there’s also a patch of comfrey, which is just beginning to flower. It’s extremely invasive, but according to Dave Goulson the flowers are loaded with lots of nectar, which explains their popularity with bees and more than justifies their place. I’ve read that comfrey is ideal for making liquid fertiliser too, but haven’t tried that yet.

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The garden is a bit ahead of surrounding woods and hedgerows, with lots of things coming into bloom: snowdrops and crocuses and daffs obviously, pansies and spring-flowering heathers, hellebores…

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..and the yellow buds on the forsythia are just beginning to open…

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I did know what this bush…

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…is called too I’m sure, but the name has escaped me.

There’s usually a few birds about in the garden. We often have pigeons, although, sadly, they seem to be particularly vulnerable to our cats

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This one was photographed during a short late-afternoon stroll down to The Cove and across the Lots.

Pottering in the Garden