SPRING IN THE AIR IN DORSET THIS WEEK


The sun is shining, the birds are twitterpating (©Disney), the trout season has opened. Also, the first swallows arrived on Tuesday, followed by the martins on Wednesday. These birds are already checking out the mud nests under the eaves that remain from last year.Martins' Nest Totnell 4.14

The hedges are suddenly greening up and the grass is beginning to grow fast. The Alpacas, formerly the official lawnmowers for the paddock, have been banished to another field to give the ground a rest. That means resorting to the mechanical method for the first cut of the year.Alpaca Totnell 4.14Paddock Totnell 2014

Some creatures appear to have got Spring fever. The rabbits for a start, who are clearly ‘going at it’ for all they are worth. And the sheep over the road surprised me one evening when I opened the kitchen door (the notice on the gate is good for their self-esteem). Sheep climbing bales Totnell 14

My first fishing of the season yesterday, on the River Piddle (as in Tolpuddle) – very pretty, pretty unproductive…  Today on the River Frome, the swallows were skimming insects off the surface of the water. There were heron and egrets, and a pair of common sandpipers clearly looking for a suitable nesting site. It’s been a great Spring week.Piddle 1 Dorset 4.14 Piddle 2 Dorset 4.14 Piddle 3 Dorset 4.14

The moon and stars have been wonderful all week. There have been plenty of moon photos around, pink or otherwise, but one evening Mars was gleaming brightly too. Only one shot was steady enough to use – at maximum zoom most of the images looked like squiggles.

Full Moon Totnell 14Mars Totnell 14

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THE HOUSE MARTINS… BUILD (A NEST)


Spring is making up for lost time in Dorset, as everywhere else. The blackbirds are nesting again, the partridges have been joined by a cock pheasant in full, shiny breeding plumage. We heard our first cuckoo on March 5th, a couple of fields away. Sparrows are nesting in cavities in the old walls of the house. Strictly we ought to plug them with something, but it seems a shame, and the walls are thick enough. And so, on to…

…the decade that music forgot. I watched a pair of house martins building a nest under the eaves, taking it in turns to collect small balls of mud to add to the structure, and carefully fitting the nest together. I decided to video them. Suddenly I had a vague recollection of The Housemartins and a song called ‘Build’ (it reached #41 in NZ in 1987… rather higher in the UK). So I put video and song together, only to realise that the song is actually quite irritating – especially the papapapapa bits. Too late. Here it is, with advice to mute the sound if you don’t want to be transported back to a bad place musically… 

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/65641512]

HOUSEMARTINS IN WALES


HOUSEMARTINS – CWMDU, POWYS, WALES These little birds moved too fast and too acrobatically for the small camera I had with me. They were nesting under the eaves of the cottage I was staying in