“Assorted Aquilegia” is probably what it said on the packet. But it came from a wholesome source not unconnected with Perch Hill, and the results of the experiment have been gratifyingly immediate and colourful this year. New soil in the beds (after a lengthy lay-off from any serious attempt at cultivation) may have something to do with it as well. Here are some of the flowers snapped on an iPhone this weekend. 

IMG_0455 IMG_0454 IMG_0453 IMG_0435 IMG_0431 IMG_0428 IMG_0465 IMG_0464 IMG_0463 IMG_0461 IMG_0458 IMG_0457 IMG_0466


This young robin assisted me while I was gardening by encouraging me to turn more soil for his benefit. He was mostly within arm- or foot-length, and when we got tangled he flew to the edge of the garden rubbish bag. It was there that noticed the intricacy of his feathers, and so I took advantage of a bird’s eye view, so to speak. Click an image twice for a full-scale close-up.

Garden Robin West London 1Garden Robin West London 2Garden Robin West London 3




Mapperton House in Dorset  is not hard to find, but it is somewhat off the beaten track near Beaminster. In the recent film Far from the Madding Crowd the fine manor house, which dates from the c16, became the farm inherited by Bathsheba Everdene. We planned to see the film the weekend it came out, and spent the morning at Mapperton to get into a Hardyesque frame of mind. A form of ‘method’ film previewing, I suppose. It was a dull day, but here are some photos from our visit. And yes, we thought the film was wonderful, with ‘Bathsheba’ and ‘Gabriel’ excelling in particular…

Mapperton House, Dorset 1 Mapperton House, Dorset 2 Mapperton House, Dorset - Gatepost The later west front of the houseMapperton House, Dorset - west side

The back of the house, from the gardensMapperton House, Dorset - back view

The sunken gardenMapperton House, Dorset - sunken gardensMapperton House, Dorset 5

The sundial (base and column old, dial and gnomon new)Mapperton House, Dorset - sundial

The orangeryMapperton House, Dorset - Orangery

The stables and yard, as seen from the house in the film; and as they areIMG_1487-1030x773Mapperton House, Dorset - stables A

Note Bathsheba’s modern carriageMapperton House, Dorset - stables B

An unusual double-stepped mounting blockMapperton House, Dorset - Mounting Block

The ChapelMapperton House, Dorset - chapel 1

St Ambrose, with his hive and bees – one of several very good pieces of stained glassSt Ambrose and bees, Mapperton, Dorset

Yah, Troy here, yah, the thing is I’ve sort of fallen for this feisty farmer girl, ok?

Tom Sturridge films a scene for the movie Far from the Madding Crowd in Dorset Featuring: Tom Sturridge Where: Sherbourne, United Kingdom When: 22 Oct 2013 Credit: WENN.com

Tom Sturridge films a scene for the movie Far from the Madding Crowd in Dorset
Featuring: Tom Sturridge
Where: Sherbourne, United Kingdom
When: 22 Oct 2013
Credit: WENN.com

Mapperton Map jpg


Frog Totnell 2015 9 I was lying on the grass for rustic maintenance reasons when something small and greeny-yellow leapt onto my hand. And off again quickly. A tiny frog, dwarfed by mere pea-gravel, yet perfectly formed. It wasn’t in a hurry so I ran indoors, grabbed a camera, and had a leisurely photo session with it. I assume it’s just a juvenile common or garden frog Croakus vulgaris frequentis, but if anyone knows different I’d be pleased to know. You can see me reflected in the frog’s eye in the header image.Frog Totnell 2015 2Frog Totnell 2015 1Frog Totnell 2015 3

THE FROG HAS PICKED UP A COMPANIONFrog Totnell 2015 5Frog Totnell 2015 6Frog Totnell 2015 8Frog Totnell 2015 7Frog Totnell 2015 10



Sometimes a sequence of photos suggests a narrative. I’m not sure I have ever been so close to a jackdaw before, but this one completely ignored me as it practised what appear to be its marching steps… 

Lead Off With The LeftJACKDAW 15-1

Left Foot Firmly ForwardJACKDAW 15-2

Pause To Change StrideJACKDAW 15-3

Right Foot Forward…JACKDAW 15-4



We saw the first few swallows of summer here in Dorset yesterday. Two singletons and a group of three. Their arrival is about a week earlier than usual. One swallow may not make a summer (though it works for eating an oyster), but since there were five of them, I reckon early summer is here.



Easter Monday sunshine after 3 drizzly overcast days. Suddenly the garden is full of birds, bees and butterflies. We have had indoor butterflies right through the winter – all tortoiseshells. They have to be guided gently to an open window. If we haven’t been around for a while, it’s a sadder result. Where on earth have they been coming from? The house may be old, but it is by and large weatherproof and butterflyproof, so they must be emerging in the house… 

In the garden we saw plenty of peacocks and tortoiseshells, and several large whites and brimstones. I had a short time to try out a new camera – an alien thing with changeable lenses, a bossy screen, strange settings, too many choices, a mind of its own and an ignorant owner. I deleted almost all the photos, but these just about survived the cut. But they are poor, and nowhere near what can be achieved with my previous camera (which I have kept). But just as I was about to blame my tools and indeed condemn them utterly for incompetence, I realised that the problem is not in fact with the camera at all. Damn. I’ve got to trawl through the 756 page manual again… It’s all my fault!Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 3Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 4Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 2Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 1

Even the peacock photos that I had high hopes of were rubbish. This is the dodgy best. Next time out, all will be well… Peacock Butterfly Dorset 1


I recently photographed a group of dolphins and posted about them on my main blog (see Sidebar for link). They were not in UK waters, but since Bottlenose Dolphins are also common around the UK coast I thought I’d post a few of the images here as well, with apologies for the few followers who bravely tolerate both blogs…

Bottlenose Dolphins, Rocky Point, Abaco (Keith Salvesen : BMMRO) 7Bottlenose Dolphins, Rocky Point, Abaco (Keith Salvesen : BMMRO) 3Bottlenose Dolphins, Rocky Point, Abaco (Keith Salvesen : BMMRO) 4Dolphin Mother & Calf Abaco 9Dolphin Mother & Calf Abaco 12Dolphin Mother & Calf Abaco 6


I have been neglecting this blog recently because a lot has been going on… However while clearing out some old photograph files, I was stopped in my tracks when I found this tiny Australasian owl. I saw it in an owl sanctuary last summer, but had forgotten all about it  – I had been concentrating on another species, the Burrowing Owl. I feel it deserves a wider audience!

Boobook Owl