Grass-go-round

Its that time of year again:

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when summer grass is stored for winter forage.

In some ways, the farming next to us follows the same simple system it always has

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Sheep and cattle graze the growing grass and then during the summer some fields are allowed to grow so the grass can be cut

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and stored for when the cattle are inside later in the year

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and brought back out to the fields to supplement what the sheep can graze when the temperature drops.

Compared to much agricultural technology these days the machinery used next to us is fairly basic

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However there are two changes to this cycle which have drastically changed the diversity of life in this landscape. The switch from hay to silage with its earlier cut and high level of fertiliser used has greatly reduced the variety of species and habitats.

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In addition, the field next to us was ploughed up a couple of years ago and sown with a commercial grass seed – something that happens to all silage fields every few years – eridicating any native species trying to get a foothold.

So, today the Kites come low

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looking for small mammal casualties and the cattle wait in the wings

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– they will come in to graze the uncut edges and then the mucking out from their winter quarters will be returned to the field.

We have one less Woodpecker tonight, thanks to the Sparrowhawk, although human intervention might have meant it lived to see another day minus some of its feathers.

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Dry for the harvesting but a light dampness a couple of days ago brought out a welcome visitor

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Coals to Newcastle?

One way of judging goings on at Gribin Isaf is the “how mad do our neighbouring farmers think we are?” index. Keeping rabbits comes fairly high up when there are already plenty in the surrounding fields. However we are looking for something meatier.

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Although deciding on the delightful Silver Fox breed for our new project may make that a challenge.

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Our breeding stock so far consists of one rabbit – Rory the Buck

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Choosing this comparatively less popular breed might be providing an additional challenge in that tracking down some does to which he is not related may mean travelling a long way.

Meanwhile he is in temporary solitary accommodation

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and although he shows no concern at all about inquisitive dogs

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he can trigger Jessie’s barking-at-small-furry-things response to the extent where she gets quite hoarse, so we quickly had to make a bit of a buffer zone

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Before long this was extended

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so that, when Jessie is not looking, Rory can come out to play

He is very happy being handled

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enjoys a variety of challenges

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and a range of tastes

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So, if you know of any Silver Fox does near you…

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…do let him know.

Sensual Delight

A quick round of some recent sensual stimuli…

Tastes – now and coming soon:

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The visual delights of flowering blooms

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and when the light fades the scents swell – Honeysuckle, Wisteria, the Mock Orange

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and the thousand blooms

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of the rambling rose

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And no more satisfying sight than a large fresh hedgehog dropping

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Rabbit Picture of the Day

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Rory upends his salad bowl to find the tasty bits.

The Female Emperor

Another first for us today

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with a female Emperor Dragonfly

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coming to lay eggs

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The Wide-bodied Chaser

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keeps watch

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Another first was the Small Skipper

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to join our butterfly list which includes, among others, the Ringlets, currently out in good numbers

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the Painted Ladies

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and the Red Admiral

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which is always to be found on the same small beat around a bare path and a shed roof

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the same spot that has been occupied by one of his species each year.

Also a wide variety of small moths around. These were inside the house

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Rabbit Picture of the Day

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Rory enjoys a mixed salad selected from here

The Chase Is On

Down at The Lake

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the water is thick with life

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and after The Chase of The Chasers the triumphant male

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has the territory to himself

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He spots what he is after

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and the chase is on

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Mating takes place on the wing, escaping capture on camera, which is a pity because:

“Mating in dragonflies is unique. The male first transfers sperm from near the tip of his abdomen to accessory genitalia near the top of the abdomen. He then grasps a female by the back of the head with his abdominal claspers (tandem position). The female curls the tip of her abdomen to meet the male’s accessory genitalia and sperm is transferred (the wheel position). This process can take a few seconds (in species of Chasers) or many hours (Blue-tailed Damselflies).”

Then the female immediately starts depositing eggs on the water surface

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We look forward to more chasing chasers next year.

It takes two to chase

Not just one

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but another

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two

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Male Broad-bodied Chasers competing for our territory. Having two is a first for us this year.

Meanwhile, apart from the Ringlets

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who have been around in numbers on sunny days

other butterflies such as the Red Admiral

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and Painted Lady

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have only been here as individuals.

Some other small residents:

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