Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Water Vole Signs, Some Moths, A Trip To The Isle Of Wight And Garden Babies Begin To Arrive At Last

It's been a Mixed Bag weather-wise here over the last couple of days, with a general trend of Downwards.

We donned waterproofs and all trooped off to Cow Common near Wherwell on Monday so I could look for water voles (which I have yet to see, and am still waiting....). I found signs of them, which was pleasing, because unless you know what you're looking for they are very hard to spot....

Latrines, used by the females to mark the extent of their territories

A Larder, or Food Store. Water Voles cut small lengths of grass and reeds at 45 degree angles and leave them in a pile for later
This is a view of their river, snaking through the Water Meadow. In summer it is PACKED with people, so I'm not sure how the voles cope with kids and dogs splashing about....

I'm still on the look out for actual voles, but it was nice to know they are there. Whilst on the meadow we also saw....

Early Marsh Orchid

A Stately Heron

A meadow full of Yellow Iris
 And this Novel Way Of Transporting A Sleepy Or Aged Dog....

Yesterday, we took the kids to the Isle Of Wight for the day. It's not far from here- half an hour to Southampton and then an hour on the ferry (it would be less, but it takes ages to get up Southampton Water), but it somehow feels like you've crossed over into another world. Something to do with crossing water I suspect. The island was born when the last Ice Age ended and the Solent Valley which connects it to England flooded. A high ridge of chalk running through it lends it some beautiful scenery and there are lots of lovely beaches rich with fossils, including dinosaur footprints on one. 
We followed this ENORMOUS container ship up Southampton Water. It was loaded high with goods being taken around the world...

J was desperate to go to the Model Village at Godshill.....

Tiny weeny cakes in the cake shop

Dino Excavation....

Streaker on the pitch :-0

Providing a Sense Of Scale...

Thatched cottages clustered around the Old Church
After that we tried to go rock pooling but it was proper brass monkeys weather and after a quick look in the lifeboat station at the end of a very long pier just off Bembridge, we opted to go to Brading Roman Villa instead, where there is a mosaic of a man who has a cockerel's head....

He is a unique feature of the mosaics and is thought to lampoon the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire Gallus (from 251-253CE), whose name means "cockerel" in Latin. There is a belief that the mosaic was designed by a man named Palladius, who was magister of Antioch before being banished to Britain. Gallus was his persecutor.

The island was conquered by Rome in 44 AD and the first villa was already on the site by the middle of the first century. There are twelve rooms in the ground floor and a really beautiful mosaic which I'll show you in a second. The villa suffered a terrible fire during the third century, after which it continued in use for farming purposes for another couple of hundred years. It finally collapsed in the fifth century and remained hidden for a further thirteen hundred years until a local farmer rediscovered it whilst making sheep pens in 1879.

Mosaic in the main room

Vectis Pottery, made on the Isle Of Wight 1-3rd century
Hairpins made of pig's trotters

Roman Hand Print in a tile

After that we all went outside and had a handstand and roly-poly competition near the amphitheatre, which is a Perfectly Normal thing to do if you have been born into our family... I expect the Romans would have approved anyway.

And then  it was time to come home. We got back and I found a New Moth waiting for me on the window. He is a Common Swift, and he was Rather Lively, so I had to put him in the fridge to calm him down for a few minutes before I could take a picture (this doesn't hurt them at all, it just takes the edge off the whizzy ones)...

This inspired me to put the Moth Box out, which I duly did, only the temp dropped in the night and the rain came in, so there weren't hoards of moths in the box this morning and only a couple of new species. It is due to improve towards the weekend, so we'll try again later in the week...


Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet

Light Emerald

Marbled Brown


White Ermine
I'll leave you with some shots of various Bird Children who have started to appear in the garden (at long last). There are 3 or 4 Great Tit babies, as far as I can tell. They make a right old racket yelling for their parents in the trees around the house and have suddenly discovered the feeders...

Also, the Sparrow Chicks have finally left the nest. Interestingly, the kids from last summer have reappeared and I remember them doing the same thing last year- the previous batch seem to come along and help out with the new babies, which makes sense, given that sparrows are gregarious people....

Mrs Sparrow with one of her chicks
And finally, one of our Nuthatches, who is not a Child, but I just loved the expression on his face in this shot....

 Hope you're all having a Good Week? Half term here, so it's all systems go at the moment....

CT :-)


  1. I'm always very envious of people who see a nuthatch - they are not often seen in our area.

    1. We're very lucky- we have two who are regularly garden visitors. I love them, even though at times their guinea pig squeak is a little noisy!

  2. Not jealous at all that you can nip off to the Isle of Wight, who spotted the miniature streaker first? It looks like you are having a wonderful half term & I love the little nuthatch at the bottom!

    1. We saw the streaker last time we were there and everyone remembered her and was keen to see if she was still on view! Rather glad she is- someone obviously has a great sense of humour :-)

  3. Sounds as though you have been having a fabulous time!! Lots of lovely things to have seen and done. The model village is great - so much detail!!!!!!!!!!!! You know that I mean by that I am sure!!!! You have really got me on this moth guessing game that I am now playing with myself. I got the Cinnabar again and nearly had the White Ermine, I recognised it, but couldn't remember the name. If you had asked me what one thing I might get from blogging I never in a million years would have said learning names of moths! It is very interesting though. xx

    1. That's really funny Amy and it has given me an idea for another blog post...:-) xx

  4. Need to find out if we get Water voles near me, did you see them on Spring Watch last night , so cute. I love looking round model villages, the last one we saw had quite a few " naughty" things going on ! Very funny.
    Still raing here, are you doing the Garden Bioblitz this weekend ?
    Amanda xx

    1. I know the rivers here (Test and Itchen) don't have huge Mink problems and therefore our Water vole populations are fairly stable (so far). It would depend on how many Mink you have near you as to how viable the WVs are. I did a course with our local wildlife trust on surveying WVs which was really helpful and interesting- would be worth getting on something similar because I would never have spotted the signs without it. Thanks re Garden Bioblitz info, will have a look :-)

  5. I love your photos of the miniature village! I really have to visit it some day and look inside the houses, even if it means lying on the ground ;)
    Your nuthatch is so funny! :)

    1. It's a fun place to have a look round, but does get very busy :-)

  6. Oh gosh haven't been to the Isle of Wight since Primary School camp and that was back in the...... dark ages. ;-) Looks like a lot of fun. Amazing all the moths you are finding even with dismal weather!
    And the water voles, now didn't I just see them featured on Springwatch the other day? Gorgeous things. Good luck with finding one!

    1. I live in hope with the Water Voles.... :-)

      Yes, Isle of Wight a fab place with lots to do and gorgeous scenery. Hoping to get the moth box out tonight, although it is raining here....again.... :-(

  7. Oh gosh you are so lucky to be able to just nip over to the Isle of Wight. Haven't been for a few years and am suffering withdrawal symptoms!! I love the model village at Godshill probably the best we've been too. Must look out for the streaker on the next visit!!!

    Good luck with the water vole search - did you see the footage on Springwatch the other night? Superb :) I picked up a leaflet for a country park when at the Mill last weekend and it suggests there are water voles along a brook there so if it ever stops raining and when half term is over I'll try and pop along and look for signs.

    Have a good half term!

    1. We really should go over to the island more often. I want to revisit the beach with the fossilised dino prints and the fabulous rock pools.

      I missed the voles on Spring watch. I am planning on staking out some local rivers and brooks when the kids go back to school. I shall sit out all day if I have to, with eyes trained on the banks and water edges....! :-)


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