Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review Of The Year Part 4: Dragonflies, Adders, Dartmoor, Rivers, Grass Snakes, Seeds, Bee Orchid, The Countryside & Icy Weather

It's very cold here today (well, cold for the UK). Last night's temperatures were the lowest of the year dropping to -5.1 by 8am just before the sun came up properly. We woke to a white winter wonderland; every tree and blade of grass was encased in ice and the garden birds were relieved to find the feeders full. While sane people were still snugly tucked up in their beds beneath thick layers of blankets, we were out running through the frozen landscape and then spent twenty minutes stretching outside in the frosty air when we got back.

I've had the same running shoes for years and, having up my mileage recently, was feeling it in my knees. I was content to put it down to Old Age, but M (who never lets anything stop him) said nonsense! and marched me off to our local expert running shop where my feet were assessed and slightly dropped arches (pregnancy is a wonderful thing) were diagnosed, Apparently, these cause your feet to twist while running and put pressure on the inside of the knees. New shoes with the correct running support were produced and now I can't wait to go running tomorrow and feel the benefit :o)

And so to he fourth part of my review of 2014 in photographs. Basically, here you will find everything that didn't fit neatly in to the other three. Hope you enjoy them.

Male and female adder on Dartmoor:

A Bee Orchid on Stockbridge Down :

Common Lizard on Dartmoor:

Hay Tor, Dartmoor in April on a college field trip:.

Devil's Bit Scabious blooming on Magdalen Hill, Winchester:

The ever-beautiful Rose Garden at Mottisfont in June:

M and I had a week off in June and visited some gorgeous National Trust properties, including the beautiful Chalfield Manor, where we walked into the centre of a film set. The house was being used as Thomas Cromwell's manor in the forthcoming production of Wolf Hall and M (of course) couldn't resist picking up one of the lions on the plinth and waving it about. Watch out for it when it comes to our TVs in early 2015 )with TVBF Number One as Henry VIII) :o)

The dog's discovered Grass snake eggs in the compost heap in the late summer. After a hurried re-bury we kept our fingers crossed that the baby snakes would be alright:

Not long after that, an adult Grass snake appeared to fall from the sky into the garden. Buzzard, perhaps? Sadly, it didn't survive.

But then a short while later this little chap was discovered beneath the refugia I'd put out in the garden in the hope of encouraging slow worms. This is a baby Grass snake, and the best evidence we could have had that the eggs weren't damaged.

We called him Nate, after the latin for Grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and I saw him several times more before he went off to hibernate. He even left me a sloughed off skin :o)

This Horsetail was growing by a salt marsh. They are ancient plants and look it:

This summer we went back to Oxford and I marveled at all the specimens in the Nat hist Mus:

Later in the year I worked on a new blanket for L, which was completed just in time for Christmas and is now doing sterling work keeping him warm during this cold snap. The dogs are rather fond of it too:

This autumn I collected seeds from the garden plants to sow next spring:

I got a new camera this year after my faithful old one died and enjoyed experimenting with it:

Our ponds supported a good variety of life this year - we had lots of damsel and dragonflies eclosing and laying eggs. Below is a damsel fly nymph case found on a leaf by the fish pond and the one beneath that is a dragonfly (broad bodied chaser), one of five that came out of the wildlife pond:

I was fortunate to watch two dragonflies coming out of nymph cases on separate days. Both of them ended up sitting on my finger at different stages of the process which was a magical experience.


It was a also a good year for reptile spotting, with smooth newts moving in to the pond. This little fellow was one we saw in Dartmoor...

I spent a lot of time by Rivers this year...

Had lots of contact with Slow worms (which took me straight back to my childhood)...

And also found Interesting Sea Creatures on several trips to the Sea...

In the summer I was involved with a project to help the rare Striped Lychnis moth. L and I went out counting caterpillars for Butterfly Conservation....

In the Autumn there was fungi to photograph, although to my mind not as much as in previous years...

And all throughout the year there were woodlands of all shapes and sizes to enjoy...

The dogs and I have walked most days this year, in all weathers. They are fantastic companions to get out and enjoy the beauty of the countryside with. Look out for their very own post which is coming up tomorrow :o)

L had his mate Will over today and the boys spent much of it ensconced in the attic trying out the various xbox games that arrived with Father C. I've just turfed them outside to fill their lungs with fresh air before night falls, and got called over to the lake where they were busy chucking ice and stones across the frozen reaches of the water. The stones make a fantastic eerie whirring noise as they skitter over the ice. Before this, M and I took the dogs out round the fields and I took the camera, so these are more or less the last pics to be taken of 2014, all icy...


I'll leave you with a picture of the Mottled Umber who flew in to our bathroom on the first -4 night a couple of days back and has sensibly remained there, waiting the return of warmer weather...

Hope all are well and enjoying the holiday?

CT :o)


  1. I'm going to save up and go to the local running shop to be measured correctly for trainer. I have three pairs and none of them fit right, luckily you don't need them for Yoga and Pilates but I would like some that are comfy.

    1. It is worth it. I poo-pooed it before but our guy really knows his stuff. x

  2. Some stunning photos there again, particularly the adders, how amazing to see two together. Good luck with the new shoes, I hope they help. Wishing you much happiness for 2015. CJ xx

    1. We were very lucky to spot the adders and watched them for ages. I'm dying to try the new trainers out! Have a great New Year x

  3. Great flashback. I love the blanket, and the baby snake Nate is adorable. Happy New Year to you n everybody oot thar in tha Country, eh.

  4. Lovely look back over the year with this and your previous posts.. great photos.. that baby grass snake is cute.. we had one once appear near our back door a few years ago. That newly 'hatched' dragonfly is simply stunning, how lucky you got to watch it emerge and have it sit on your finger :o) xx

  5. What a wonderful and varied year - makes me realise why I enjoy your blog so much! Have a great 2015 :)


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