11 June 2008

June 11th, 2008

Wickham Fen
Okay trying to catch up on what has been going on here lately. After our trip to Stonehenge we took another coach trip to Wickham Fen . We thought it would be a lovely trip close to home where we could do a bit of bird watching along with a little walking for exercise. Well we did the exercise bit...... It was windy, rainy and really really cold!!! I had thought we were supposed to be having summer.... I am not sure we are going to get a proper summer this year.

Anyway the Fen is known for its Bird life(which we didn't see much of), The wild irises (known as flags) and the dragonflies(which we didn't see at all).So I guess we will start out with showing you the yellow iris.

Well what should one do when faced with this type of conditions and has lugged the camera with her on the trip. Guess we will have to have pictures of plants.... Here is one of a bee enjoying a respite from the wind and rain and getting a bit of nectar.

They are introducing Highland cows to help keep the weeds and grasses down. With this weather they are definately feeling at home.

I think this one is either Cow parsley or wild carrot blooming.

A nice old tree where one would expect an imp or gnome to live.

Poor Brian !!!

Puddle with rain drop circles, yes it was muddy too.

Even in these condtions nature is still beautiful.

I know this plant!!! It is Ragged Robin.

Okay it is really getting quite windy now!!!!

This is a rare plant, a Marsh orchid.

Not sure what this one is. Possibly a cranebill???

Okay now it is time to check the map to see how far we can go before we really get lost.

No honest Brian is great at navigating, I think it comes from all the orienteering he used to do.

They can't believe their eyes..... Silly people out for a walk in this weather!

These are the Konig ponies the closest living relatives to the European wild horses.

There are some distinctive marks to wild horses like these, one being the stripe down the back and another that I know of is the stripes on the backs of the front legs, much like a zebra's stripes.

They are quite beautiful and serve a very good purpose here on the fens. I am glad they are using animals like these rare ponies and the highland cattle to help maintain the fens.

Not sure what this lovely little flower is. I guess next time we visit I will need to get a book on flora and fauna.

The water lilies weren't open much on the day. The last time we visited I do recall them on the canals and being rather pretty.

There were loads of wild hydrangea growing in the hedges.

Ahhhhhh one of the few birds we saw that day on the fens. A Chaffinch.

Even after it has died this thistle plant still has beauty.

Raptor Foundation
Now for the second part of our trip that day. Again the weather was quite foul or should that be fowl......
We visted the Raptor Foundation in Cambridgeshire. And I can well recommend a visit if you every have the chance. The birds are very well looked after and the volunteers are really helpful and informative. And another benefit is you can see these and other lovely Raptors and birds up close. Some I had never heard of before. One being the Monkey face owl. It truely looked like a monkey!!!!

This is one of the volunteers and a little owl.

It really was very very small.

This gentleman told us that he drives 120 miles to volunteer at the centre. And he knew quite a bit about the birds and did a wonderful job flying them.

This is an eagle owl I think and yes it flew right at me...... they were flying so low that I felt them buzz my hair. Their wingspread is huge!!!!!!! They barely got their wings open and flapped a few times when they were at the other end of the building we were in. And amazingly quiet. You didn't hear them, felt them, but didn't hear at all.

I think these were just youngsters too. One of the largest if not the largest owls.

Here it is trying to swallow a bit of food. Which they do whole rather than chew.

I can see how a rabbit might be frightened. I did notice since taking these photos, the wings move, but the body stays centred and doesn't move, this must help the bird keep track of it's prey.

This one I think is possibly a Great Horned owl.

Our speaker says when they are full and contented the ears(tuffs) go up. They make them look quite fierce.

Now for the cuties!!! The barn owls. Brian and I both love these little owls. They have such cute faces.

And a lovely thing about this place is the hands on with the birds. This is a definate way to spread the love for the birds. And to get more supporters. Anyone in the group was allowed to feed them. Here it is Brian's turn to feed this female owl.

The lady was explaining about how the feathers looked either like eyes or frog spawn.

They were beautiful no matter what they looked like.

Here is our friend again flying a peregrine Falcon. The minute we got outside it started pouring down again. And it felt like it was going to snow any moment.

The wind kicked up too and this chap just wasn't much in the mood for flying. I don't blame him.

Anyway, again if you ever get the chance it is definately worth a visit. And I hope that Brian and I can go back again and visit on a sunny day. The birds are looked after very well. And there are more than just these few.

Spring Watch
Well here the past few weeks on telly we have a programme called Spring watch on the BBC. It is hosted by Bill Oddie, Kate and Simon. And is all about the nature of Britain. They also have on the net some Bird cams with fledging babies. BBC Springwatch
Well Brian and I have had a bit of a spring watch in our own little garden.......

This Mushroom is in hiding under our Conifers.

And this one is under our old wooden garden bench that the cats sit on. Not safe for anyone larger than a cat....

This is one of the many bees we attract.

And one of the spiders!!!

Now this is supposed to be our Toad house.... Thing is I have never seen a toad in our garden....it sits right next to our mini pond.... The one with the plastic gnome fishing.

I got a fright when I picked it up. Looking for slugs and snails that were eating my veg!!!

NEWTS!!!!! Not Two....

Not just 5... Notice the snail shell....Good Newts!!!

But at least 6 or 7 I think. When I first picked up the house there was also a frog inside with the newts, but he was a bit too quick for me and my camera.

I think they are common newts called smooth newts. And I know they have used our pond before to have their babies. They little ones have feathery gills on the sides of their heads and are really quite small.

And here is a strange beetle I have been noticing of late. Copper coloured with marroon stripes. The best I can find is a leaf beetle, either a mint eating one or a raspberry beetle.

Oh and can't forget some of our feathered friends. Mom or Dad Starling....

And one of the babies that has decided this is his feeder.

We even had a tiny little mouse yesterday visit the feeder. I will try to get his photo, but he is quick.

And where are the boys????


Lincairns said...

Great pictures pat, the newts are brilliant.
I just love the cat on the cussion, he looks so relaxed! LOL

Pat said...

Thanks Linda, He does look rather relaxed!!LOL

The Urban Chic said...

Pat, what wonderful pictures. Dads house is right next to some woods, but not sure if I want to go in because of the coyotes. My grandpas house used to be there and I can only imagine what kind of treasures could be found there, especially old bottles. Thanks for your wonderful hiking tour. Hugs, Pat

Pat said...

Thanks Pat.

Knitty said...

I see you are still taking wonderful trips! You always posted such interesting things about your life back in the forum days.

I am so glad Urban Chic found my blog (which is only a week old) and from reading hers, I found yours. I'm raising my caffeine free diet Coke in a toast to long lost cyber friends. Cheers!

Knitwit (Charlene)

Pat said...

Thanks Charlene!!! And I will toast with my bottle of water here.

Leo said...

Pat I've tagged you, hope you don't mind - info is on my blog.