Lilies and Strawberries

There are three things in life which it is hard to have too many of.

Sheds. obviously, compost bins
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and ponds.

Of these (so far) we have the two-foot tub, the four-foot prairie garden pool, the woodland pond and – The Lake
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here seen in context at the bottom of the meadow with the pigs at the top and the beehive in waiting.

The four-foot pool currently contains enough water-lilies to fill a lake so today we moved some of them there
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The recent heatwave has advanced the outdoor strawberries before their time so tonight, ahead of rain with its accompanying slug army, we harvest a few
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Pethan eraill yn y tyddyn heddiw:

One day we will learn how to cook Chard but in the meantime we are happy just to look at it
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Pea plants are a very individual shade of green – and it is not pea-green
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Also
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Peak Light, Peak Heat

The fat old sun, having swept round through 263.85 degrees during the course of the longest day,
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finally decides to sink, barely three degrees short of north-west
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We wash out the day’s toil
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and breath in the solstice scent
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While noting the fly in the…
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The boldest fledgling swallow contemplates leaving the woodshed
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and the sheep next door wonders if she will soon be able to shed her winter coat
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We spot a different coloured damselfly
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Bert has a lie down
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While Bina wonders if he will ever be interested in her
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Damsels not in distress

The other day we might have been so excited about this
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that we were a little dismissive of these
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They didn’t care as this morning the Lake was a dancefloor of happy couples
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Less happy is a solitary Red Admiral
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who has been mooching around for many days, even driven to seeking human company – settling on our clothes and close to our tools as we work today. As the day ends we think we glimpse a second individual plus we rejoice in two Peacocks, brought here through the post, cavorting in courtship.

Having thirty identical clean pallets is a bit like getting a meccano kit for Christmas. What shall we build?

We sketch out some compost heaps
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and experiment with a wine siphoning zone
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Sweet June

The heat is on and the lesser ducklings have their first outing to their outdoor paint tray
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In the woodshed, up under the metal roof, the young swallows are a little warm
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We open the doors to let in a little more air.

Trying to give a boost to our butterfly population we have brought in Peacock pupae and are now releasing the adults
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This one heads straight for the wisteria and tucks in to the sweet nectar
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We start harvesting sweetness
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to make our own nectar
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and complete final preparations
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to collect future sweetness
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Meanwhile Mrs Bumblefoot continues to survive
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and silage cutting starts
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Other June sweetness:

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Happiness is Libellula depressa

Earlier this year we brought water to the bottom of the Meadow
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Insects dutifully turned up…
Pond Skaters, Water Boatmen, Diving Beetles, and small shiny things that zoom round in circles.

Damsel flies are nice
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Coenagrion puella moves in
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And then today
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We read “Libellula depressa is often the first dragonfly to colonise new habitats such as newly created ponds” so this is the first… others to follow?

We read “They characteristically return to a favoured perch, in the sun” and we watch as, for several hours, it repeatedly circles the water and returns to:
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We read ” When a female enters a male’s territory the male will fly up and grab the female. Mating occurs on the wing and the pair are in tandem for only a brief period, often less than a minute”

He waits
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A Tale of Two Wagtails

…and a lesson on the dangers of anthropomorphism.

Each year a pair of pied wagtails have taken over the space round the house to raise a brood. Last year within the wall at the back; this year tucked into the wisteria at the front. Each year strutting across the roof and striding through the open space they like to so much at the front.

Then, midway through courtship, the female developed a bumble-foot like disability
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and a little later disappeared. The story we told ourselves was that her burden had made her vulnerable to… the Sparrowhawk? or some other demise.

Weeks went by and the male hung around, keeping watch
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and being very bold in approaching us on the ground
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The story we told ourselves was that he was in mourning and facing us off.

Then today the one legged partner reappeared.
The story we are telling ourselves is that she has been busy incubating the clutch and is now back in action.

Since there has not been a posting here for three days we need three pictures of the Vole outside the kitchen window
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Plus a sharing mouse as a bonus
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We seem to be in the highly inefficient process of nurturing a succession of very small duck broods.

The Middle Ducklings (all two of them) are enjoying being big ducks in a small pool
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While the Lower Ducklings (an enormous group of three) are still thinking about life
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There is much excitement when they meet
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Other young birds are busy learning the meaning of life too.

This young Robin flew into the pig house and needed help getting out
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The young great tits practice drinking while dressed in their pristine plumage
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This young Goldfinch had not yet learned about windows
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The young Swallows keep their heads down
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Bees are exciting
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Our preparations to house a few continue
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Pethan eraill yn y tyddyn heddiw:

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Reproduction requires concentration – and good fortune

This is the season of fecundity.

The branches and feeders have been full of fledglings – Nuthatches, Great Tits, Woodpeckers.

And of course Bluetits make it look easy
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The Flycatchers have fledged but the last to leave, presumably the runt who would not last long anyway, did a nosedive directly into the ducklings’ bath
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Claire is concentrating. Sitting like this for 23 and three quarter hours every day
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But guess she knows what she is doing. When we try to replicate her care it is not easy – at least with ducklings.

The next batch is hatching tonight
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but might not be many out of the twelve eggs. We will see.

We have been updating our on-going meadow flower record.

In an item on Springwatch tonight one couple talked about a hundred flora species in their meadow. We still have more flowering plants to document, plus more to arrive, but we reckon they were including grasses. We better start learning to identify:
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They have the Rattle in contention:
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At the edge of the meadow the bracken is luxuriating
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Fine, as long as it does not cross that line.

Down in Zenith, the march of the tomatoes has an escort of aubergines
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with signs of fecundity
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Pethan eraill yn y tyddyn heddiw:

We are producing Woad (just in case)
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and

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