Garlic Mustard

We have always preferred to call Alliaria petiolata “Jack-by-the-Hedge” rather than “Garlic Mustard”

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It was only present in very small numbers when we arrived here but now it springs up in profusion all over the place

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Which is good news as it is one of the main caterpillar foodplants of the Orange-tip butterflies who are out and about at the moment

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(This one won’t be laying any eggs as the orange tips to its wings show it is a male)


Here follow an addition for Tulip Maniacs. We can’t resist the Field of Tulips at the moment.

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Is two a crowd?

There have been times in the past when we have had several hedgehogs visiting the feeding station each evening

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Since the drought of 2018 we have had far fewer sightings. Not only did the parched ground make it hard for the hedgehogs to get their normal food supply but also they became a more sought after food supply by badgers unable to find worms. It was the only time we have seen badgers right up close to the house seeking sources of food.

So, we were pleased to spot hedgehog evidence recently

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and were quick to make sure the feeding station was well supplied

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Our camera trap showed a visitor coming several times each night, spread out of a number of hours

Although hedgehogs need and use a large range this one did not seem to roam far from its breakfast buffet very well appointed log pile bed

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Then a couple of nights later we were pleased to see not one, but two

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Even from the video we can’t decide if this behaviour is confrontational or potentially amorous

At last…

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We have a number of wildlife cameras set up around Gribin Isaf. As well as being able to watch birds, hedgehogs and other independent creatures we can see the behaviour of our own livestock.

It all started with our nestbox camera which we bought quite a few years ago

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Despite frequent relocations to find an acceptable setting, the bird population has stubbornly refused to make use of it. We have many normal boxes around the site which are filled every year – but not this one.

And then at last this year a Bluetit decided to move in

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and produce eight eggs

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This week they started hatching

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The mother ate up the shells

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and soon both parents were in attendance

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Non stop in

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and out

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bringing food

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to fill those gaping beaks

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Out of the Ash…

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The oldest tree at Gribin Isaf is a stately Ash, many years ago part of a hedgerow and now in its later years. As an elderly late riser, it sees no need to bother with leaves until well into the second half of May.

Despite this lack of cover and only being a few yards from the house we were not aware that one of the large horizontal branches held a secret until the Mistle Thrush brood were lifting their beaks above the parapet.

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From that time it was only a few days before the adults were calling the young out of their nest

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We watched as they tiptoed along branches

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and perched precariously in different trees nearby

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Food still had to be delivered

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We think they all four survived, in spite of at first being a little nonplussed with the idea

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Warbling

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We can often hear Chiffchaffs and Warblers in our hedgerows but it is less often we get a good sighting. This Willow Warbler was making a loud defence of its territory today.

Lettuce with Tulip

The days are getting longer, the evenings are getting shorter.

Little time to spend with photos and computers.

So we are going to try and share one quick picture of the day:

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The beds are full of lettuce and each day a bowl is part of our lunch. The orchard is full of tulips and some succumb to a passing beast, or even the weight of their own headiness, and come indoors to radiate before they perish.

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(See, we are cheating already, not just one picture at all)

Phew…

After waiting so long the year has taken off with with a whoosh.

Although there are a lot more hours in the day there seems to be more things to do than will fit into them.

So there has not been much time for musings here.

Fortunately a lot of beautiful things seem to happen without us – here are some of them:

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Once Bitten, Twice As High

Two years ago we planted over a hundred new trees on the edge of our meadow

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We bought them as plugs from The Woodland Trust and dutifully used the canes and plastic tubes that came as part of the packs.

There has been much debate recently about these plastic tubes. Keith Powell of Stump up for Trees

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has an interesting piece in a recent edition of The Land

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about he he recently planted 120,00 trees in Wales without them.

We only see the very occasional rabbit and the tubes did seem to be inhibiting leaf growth as well as providing an ideal micro-climate for grass growth.

So last Autumn we removed the tubes…

…and then one morning recently we found rabbits had nipped off fifteen of the young trees

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Now removed, we will keep these deformed stumps which should grow into hedging material.

Although we are close to the end of bare root reason out local Nursery

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was able to supply us with some well grown field maple whips

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They went in today

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and being taller than the damaged stock

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are worthy of a celebratory roll in the grass

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Twixt the Worm Moon and the Equinox

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Although in some ways the climate in these Western regions is more benign than elsewhere, here at Gribin Isaf – nearly 1000 feet up – we are late arrivals at Spring celebrations.

But now we have seen the signs:

When Ewe Number 1 with Lamb Number 1 appears next door

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Shortly followed by Ewe Number 2 with two Lambs Numbers 2

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and then…

Well it doesn’t quite work like that but before long baby sitting arrangements have been made

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The Snowdrops are going to seed

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and being replaced by…

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an eruption

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If someone had the idea of something you buried in your garden and forgot about for most of the year only to burst forth…

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…you would think they were mad – or a genius.

When such eruptions receive their first visit from our bees

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we know things are really stirring

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New life in the shed

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Old life on the watch

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we feel we can shake off the darkness

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