Friday, 28 February 2014

Look Who's Finally Turned Up and Poppy Gets Into Trouble.....

I was greeted, when I got up this morning, by the sight of a white bottom flashing past the window. 

This is Not Necessarily The Sort Of Thing you want to see first thing in the morning. Once, when I was out riding, a bald man lurking in the bushes flashed at me. What a Deeply Unpleasant Experience that was. I had a long whip with me at the time but I was so shocked I just rode past as quickly as I could and got back to the yard where I phoned the police. They took it seriously and arrived within minutes, but the bugger had already gone. He turned up in the local area a few times after that and was eventually caught, as one of the women he'd flashed at got his number plate because she saw him driving on the motorway! 

It still makes me cross to think of it, particularly as our children used to cycle that way (although, had someone flashed at my kids, having their doo-dah hanging outside their trousers would probably not have been the best place for it - an incandescent mother on the rampage needs a target after all). The New Forest is renowned for odd things happening. Some friends of mine were riding across a common one summer's evening when they came round a gorse bush to discover four people have tea on the other side. They had a table and chairs, a lace table cloth, tea cups and a teapot etc. All very proper, except for the fact that none of them were wearing any clothes. Another time the same friends were out and one of them (having failed to put on her glasses) called the other one's attention to two pigs struggling in a ditch. 'Just Ride On' said the friend. 'Why?' said the other. 'Because they aren't pigs, they're people, and if I have to tell you what they are doing I shall blush so hard they'll see it all the way to Southampton.' 
I once saw a man dressed as Death in the forest (and I mean the full get-up: long flowing robe, skull's mask and scythe). I came upon him unexpectedly and had no time to turn round, so I just rode past and we exchanged a polite 'good afternoon,' as if it were the most normal thing in the world to walk through a wood dressed as Death. It was so surreal I would have believed I'd imagined it, except that once we'd got past I took the phone out and got a picture (which I don't have any more, before you ask). 
Then there are the people who mutter to themselves, the ones who stand in bushes with their cameras and are probably twitchers, but after all these experiences I take nothing as read. There are the women who insist on walking through the forest in their pink high heels and tight skirts, and those that bring their tiny dogs out in their handbags but won't let them actually touch the ground. There are the picnickers who eat their food inside their cars parked in the car parks and never get out and actually explore the forest, then there are the people who drive their sports cars at a zillion miles an hour and pretend, when you flag them down, that they were only doing 30. They aren't remotely interested when you tell them people have wrapped themselves round trees in the forest and not come out again for driving in much the same way.

Anyway, this morning's White Bottom was one I was happy to see,  belonging as it did to a bird I've been keeping an eye out for ever since I saw him down the lane last week.

It was the gloriously marked Mr Bullfinch. Here he is sitting in our hedge this morning.

He was shortly joined (in a half-hidden capacity, but never mind) by Mrs Bullfinch. So there are a pair, which is Great News and hopefully means baby bullfinches will appear with small white bottoms in due course.

Now all I needed was the Goldfinches to turn up and complete the set, and would you believe it, within half an hour they did....
'What's going on down there, then?'

They had been in the garden very briefly a couple of days ago and I have heard them in the hedges while I've been out walking the doggy people, but this is the first time they've stayed long enough for a good photo-opportunity. I hope this means they are here to stay a la last summer.

I've decided I'm going to photograph the same stretch of lane from the same position at the same time every year, as well as one of the local oaks, to record the changes over the seasons. So here is today's offering:

The trees are beginning to bud, as we discovered yesterday while out walking through the woods in an attempt to do winter tree IDs. What started as a beautiful sunlit walk fast descended into a rain storm that very quickly became hail. Luckily, the hail wasn't strong enough to knock the Blackthorn blossom off the tree at the bottom of the lane. It was looking really stunning against the blue of this morning's sky...


 As were the Alder catkins, who have turned an interesting shade of reddy orange....

 I couldn't resist this shot of some daffs growing near an oak...

 Nor this slightly arty one of the weeping willow behind the other (possibly grey?) willows....

Anyway, I can excuse this because I am ever so slightly tree-mad at the moment, which is a nice kind of mad to be. Here's my pile of reading for the assignment I'm currently working on for college....Trees, Trees and Yet More Trees. It's a nice way to spend time.

We have a lot more Willow round here than I'd first appreciated- I've just discovered another species growing at the bottom of our drive, and there is also a second Goat Willow on the lane. This all bodes well for the wildlife.
I learnt yesterday that beeches, while beautiful, majestic beings, are not great in a woodland setting because they shade everything else out and the ground beneath a beech is dead ground where nothing grows. Oak's your man (or woman) for biodiversity.

As well as trees, it's been a Day Of Birds here (which is appropriate, seen as they are Quite Connected). The garden feeders have been busy, busy, busy all day. It reminded me at some points of a motorway service station, with birds coming and going in a constant stream. Our moorhen was in evidence by the lake, not to mention the mallards. Mrs was waddling along the Very Up High branch of the oak next door while her husband stared anxiously up at her. Potential Nest Inspection.

Here are a selection of today's visitors....

Two blue tits enjoying the peanuts

Bumble. Her foot is getting worse :-(

A Dunnock, who was singing like mad on the Elder stump

Great Tit

Great Tit

Ltt and Blue tit



Mr Sparrow, staring straight at me and looking not at all amused

Mrs Sparrow

Mr Nuthatch (more intense colouring on the flanks than the female- see the darker orangey blob just under the wing area)

Mrs Nuthatch (less dark blob)

Mrs NH


Robin in the Corkscrew Willow

Willow Tit

Poppy has been getting into Significant Trouble this week and by rights should be In Disgrace :-(

She did three wees and one poo on the carpet, despite the fact that the back door was open and she'd not long been back from an escorted loo trip; she shredded my crocs and left bits of pink plastic of varying length and saliva-coverage all round the house; she chewed L's school shoes; dug a tulip bulb out of the container and ran off with it; ate some chicken poo; licked her dad's ear not long enough after eating the chicken poo for it to be OK; chewed up a toy and nearly swallowed the small bag of teeny weeny polystyrene balls she discovered inside it (which she was very reluctant to let me have); bit Teddy's ears till he squeaked; jumped on his head; ran round and round me while on her lead when I stopped to take some pictures, with the result that when I tried to move I nearly fell over because she'd tied my legs so tightly together; walked under my feet as I carried a mug of boiling water and it was only by getting my own arm burnt that I managed not to drop the lot on her; jumped on to the sofa when no-one was looking, stole a tissue she knows I keep hidden behind a cushion and shredded it all over the floor; ate some string and was sick; stole a bit of paper that had all L's codes for his various computer games on it and mushed it up and would only return it when I bribed her with a 'fish for dogs' cube; jumped on L when he was least expecting it and knocked the wind out of him; dived flamboyantly and with seriously misplaced confidence into a flooded ditch which very nearly drowned her, and had to be pulled out and rescued but wasn't in the least bit concerned, just shook herself and scampered off to eat to a disgustingly ancient sandwich she found on the verge; ran UPSTAIRS and pulled my sock out of the toe of my trainer where I'd hidden it (I later discovered it a sodden chewy mess in her bed); ate some of the carefully and lovingly chosen, planted and nurtured pond plants from last year; got pecked on the nose by Mavis for sniffing Mrs Peckham's bottom (Mavis and Mrs Peckham are hens, in case you were wondering); ran with Great Purpose through a flood and kept going, even when it became Very Obvious that it was deeper than she is tall, and finally, had a face-off with Cleo over some fish, which Cleo won (thank God- goodness only knows where we'd be if it had been otherwise). 

So far, Cleo (and M, to a degree) are the only people she has any respect for. If her dad tells her off she'll squirm and polish the floor with her tail, with Cleo she runs backwards woofing. I think it's the claws and the hissing. Perhaps I should try it?

You would never think she was capable of any of these disgraceful behaviour type-things if you just saw her picture would you? I think the expression she's modelling is called 'butter wouldn't melt'. I suspect this stage is the puppy equivalent of the Terrible Twos, as she has now reached the Grand Old Age of five months...Lord Help Us.....

Ted spends most of his day sleeping, which seems like a sensible option when the alternative is being chased about and pounced on by a small fluffy Jack Russell.

I'll leave you with a pic of our two doggy people, and wish you all a Lovely Weekend.

CT :-) 



  1. Well, that puppy of yours has been doing some serious Naughty training hasn't she? As you said, butter wouldn't melt . . .

    Fabulous tree books (I have Oliver Rackham's History of the Countryside, plus the illustrated version of it too), from my Archaeology days. Your Blackthorn blossom is WAY ahead of ours. We have snow on the Brecon Beacons (and Black Mountain, which is the end of them and only about 14 miles away, so it's chilly here at present).

    I am hoping (no, not strong enough, praying) that we will finally sell our house and move to Herefordshire this year, or else I would join you in following a tree for a year.

    1. Seriously Naughty behaviour. I think she could probably do with longer walks now to take the tickle out of her toes.

      Interesting about the archaeology- it would have been my choice at uni first time round if I hadn't got in to do history and english.

      Chilly here today but I don't think we've any snow forecast. I'll bet the mountains look very striking.

      HUGE good luck with your house- I know Herefordshire quite well (old boyfriend there years back) and always feel it's my spiritual home.

  2. The best post I've read in ages, thankyou

    1. Thank you Briony, that's very kind. And thank you for the follow too :-)

  3. Your diversion into the strange world of New Forest Flashers was wonderful! I have heard of similar but the naked Tea Party beats all :-)

    A friend of mine was riding her young pony out of the woods near here and in a tree by the path was a man in combat gear with a horrible mask. My friend said "Hello, I`m training my pony not to be afraid so please can you say Hello to him?". Combat Man said nothing and just stared out of his tree. Friend and pony carried on and just avoided bolting home. Very scary. needless to say, my friend was terrified. Hope the Combat Tree Man was impressed by her manners though!

    Your birds are beautiful, as ever and Poppy personifies "Butter wouldn`t melt...."!

    1. Crikey, that would have scared me witless! She did very well to stay so calm. What a horrid experience.

      Yes, extremely naughty puppy here at present, hope she grows out of it soon! :-)

  4. Straight to the naughty step. Fab Bullfinch! So lucky. We usually see one a year if we're lucky. xx

    1. Indeed. I can't remember Teddy ever being quite so naughty.
      I was SO pleased to see both the bullfinches- a real treat, such fab birds xx

  5. We also have had a pair of Bulfinches and a Blackcap visit the bird table but alas I did not have time to get my camera ..I shall try to do better next time...I did have a giggle reading about the flasher (not really funny I know) there do seem to be some strange people about..we once came across a group of people play acting Robin Hood in our local woods..the men in tights fighting and maids with heaving chests! ...silence fell and they just waited for us to pass and then carried on
    Thea xx

    1. I LOVE your Robin hood story- brilliant! I would have laughed and laughed. Am hoping for a return visit from the Bullfinches as I'd like to get some crisper shots of them both. We did have Blackcaps last year, briefly, and I saw one back in Jan but nothing since. We have a Kingfisher here too who pops up from time to time but I have (so far) not managed to get him on film. That's an aspiration for this year... :-)

  6. If the Blackthorn is out it's going to get cold...

    1. It already has- frosts on the last three mornings, but we need a cold snap to get things moving, it's been so wet and mild here.

  7. Strange goings on in the New Great photos, I love the bird ones.
    Your naughty pup.. but look at her little face.. she is well cute :o)

    1. It seems to be a magnet for odd behaviour...

      Poppy's had a good long run out across the Downs in the frost this morning so I am hoping for a more peaceful and less naughty day! :-)

  8. Lots of wonderful photos and stories, CT - and Good Grief, a naked tea party in the forest, that is very surreal. I am so envious of your Bullfinches, it would be fabulous if they do nest near you.
    I recognise some of those books from my own shelves - I shall make a list of the others!
    I think Poppy is at that difficult age but I imagine she's worked out that if she keeps on looking that cute she'll always win you round!

    1. The cuteness factor definitely works in Poppy's favour, Wendy. She's a smart little doggy so I'm sure she has us all sussed here.
      I've really enjoyed reading all the books in the pile so hope any new ones are up your street too :-)

  9. Great selection of birds - we've had just one fleeing bullfinch sighting this year. Lovely to see the blackthorn blossom coming into flower - I haven't seen any yet round here.

    1. The garden is alive with birds at the moment. Wondering if it's the selection of different food types that we have on offer. We are evidently catering for several palates! :-)

  10. Love your New Forest stories! Naughty, naughty Poppy. Lovely to see all your garden birds, the Bullfinches are beautiful but poor Bumbles foot looks terrible now. Blackthorne blossom is beautiful and coming out here too, love the way you've caught it with the blue sky behind.

    1. I liked the blue sky behind the blossom too. No such story here today- grey, cold and raining :-(

  11. There is never a dull moment in the New Forest is there? I thought the white bottom might have belonged to Ted! Poppy sounds if she has had quite a week hopefully she will be moving into the tiresome threes soon instead! Sarah x

    1. That did make me laugh Sarah re Ted's being the white bottom! He's had a hard day today- Poppy's been pestering him and he's not at all in the mood to play. He went and sat in the greenhouse for half an hour and wouldn't come out. I expect he would rather like a nice calm walk with Daisy instead! x


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x