We went up to see Albert, who is still leaved (phew) and was sporting a flock of Linnets as adornments. They were making a racket. There were also a handful of flutters decorating the grasses at his feet. We stopped for a bit and had a chat before turning for home, at which point TED rolled in a pile of fox poo he found in the grass :-( Pops, looking extremely smug when I told him off, grinned broadly when I added that he'd be having a bath in the garden when we got home.
Now, usually, on our early morning walks I leave the camera at home, but it was very insistent that it came with us today so I brought it along. As we came back through the meadow it became evident why it had been so determined to come. First a dark-green fritillary (which I have never seen in that particular meadow before) and then a black-tailed skimmer (type of dragonfly) appeared and proceeded to pose prettily for pictures....
I took some shots of the countryside and of the Abbey, which was looking all romantic nestled into its summer scenery.....
|Two Hot Dogs|
When we got back, both the dogs had shampoo and sets in the garden, which they were thrilled about. We also dealt with Ted's poo problem and then he went and rolled in all the dirt in the greenhouse, so he had to have another bath. Poppy (watching damply from a safe distance beneath the picnic table) clutched her sides and fell about laughing while Ted cast her a reproving look.
I left them both drying off and took myself off to the River to look for water voles....which (as you'll know if you've stuck with my various posts recently) I have yet to actually see.
It was a GLORIOUS day and I felt very spoilt to be spending it by the quietly flowing river beneath the dappled shade of weeping willows with not another single soul about.....
OK (I said to the River). Here's The Thing. I'm here. I would like to get to know you, and for you to know me. I think you are very beautiful and I'd really, really, really like to see some of your water voles today, if that's OK, so will you show me where they are please? I promise I will look after them.
Five minutes later the River sent me his reply: a Kingfisher flew up the water straight past me. It's the best view I've ever had of one- they are truly spectacular birds. And then two minutes after that a moth appeared.
There were numerous Banded Demoiselles flitting about, both boys and girls, Very Pretty....
There were Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods, Large Whites and Black Caps and I heard a Reed Warbler (I think). There were also masses of water vole signs. Most of the bank was lined with them. Runs, feeding stations, burrows, latrines.
I was a Good Girl: I spent the first forty minutes diligently recording all of these on my some-what bodge-it-and-scarper-production hand-drawn map (with the high-tech addition of grid references and lat/long which looked a tad incongruous beside my scribbles) and Resisted The Temptation to do what I really wanted to do, which was to throw all my tools to the floor and go and look for voles.
After the recording was done I felt I'd earnt the right to stop, so I took myself off for a walk to explore the extent of this section of the river, getting challenged by a NT employee on the way (which was a good thing, because they do keep a tight watch on poachers here). On the way back, I discovered a prominent latrine (a log) near a bridge, so there I sat down to wait for the voles.
And less than a minute later she appeared.....
I could have burst with happiness and was very tempted to Do A Celebration Dance, but I controlled myself, because she would probably have disappeared and that would have been too sad for words. So I sat still, hardly breathing, and just took millions of photographs instead, smiling all the time.
They are charming, adorable creatures, every bit as fantastic as I'd thought they would be, and it was worth all the times I've paced various rivery environments in recent weeks and not seen them, for this one time when I finally, finally did :-)
I watched her for as long as she remained there, then got up and wandered back up the river, very pleased (under-statement, I was elated) and not expecting to see anything else all day. But then there was another one! As I got the camera out to take a pic of the opposite bank, a soft chewing noise from the region of my feet made me look down and there, right next to me, was a THIRD vole! She sort-of glanced up at me then carried on eating for a while before she popped through the reeds and disappeared.
I was in SEVENTH HEAVEN, smiling so much my face hurt.
I carried on up the river, vaguely looking for the Kingfisher, and stopped to take some pics of the Hemlock Water Dropwort, when the River gave me a nudge and there, right opposite me, was a FOURTH vole.
He sat on his pile of grasses tucked in the bank munching away for ages, so I was able to fill the camera with pictures :-)
|And, unconcerned by my presence, he continues lunch|
For once, I have Run Out Of Words, so that seems like a Good Place to leave things.
Thank you, River: you Made My Day :-)