Friday, 19 May 2017

Spring Flowers and Humming-bird Hawk-moth

Beautiful apple blossom

 A stunning little apple tree I bought last year-tough and sturdy it withstands the easterly and westerly winds in the north facing front garden

Pulmonaria-looking great this year and giving the bees a valuable early food source. This was a little plant given to me by my friend Anne many years ago. I propagate it regularly and it's moved house many times.

Another favourite- Geum (unknown name) bought many years ago from Dove Cottage Nursery at a plant fair and another house mover. Sadly it doesn't attract many insects. However this has been the best year for it in many years as it usually gets mildew.

Looks lovely mixed into the garden as the flowers stand well above the leaves 

Frost is not a thing we see in Torbay very often but early in December we had a very hard frost and it produced a beautiful mist across the bay.

Percy was not impressed and decided to get comfortable in his snuggle bag.

Boo snoozing in the long warm spell of weather in April and probably the driest spring we've had for many years

A garden project-ugly wall

Transformed with the help of the front of an old beach hut they were clearing off site, a chainsaw and two strong men (husband and gardener friend Chris).

Decorating is finally finished, I love this wood panel effect wallpaper in the hall.

A quick catch up on the house and garden, and the first time I had a moment to myself , I should have posted this weeks ago.

Best of all I've had a humming-bird hawk-moth in the garden feeding on Centranthus ruber (red valerian). I was able to get quite close and see it feeding on the flowers. last a photo in focus, very hard to do as it moves so quickly.

Only the third time in my life I've ever seen one.

Until next time

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Torbay Humpback Whale Update

I tried very hard to get some photos, but I was so excited. It was hard to concentrate and not want to just put the camera down and enjoy the whale via binoculars instead. So here are the 'not very good' photos I managed to get. Below - splashes from the tail slap.

In the photo below the whale has breached the water and is splashing down, you can just make out a tiny bit of the body if you look very hard and use your imagination!

The blowhole spray, which is what I noticed first out in the water, a huge mist which looked like a ghostly windsurfer. I couldn't make it out so I got up to take a closer look with binoculars.

Just managed to catch the tail...if you look very closely

This whale has had a few adventures around our coast, it managed to get trapped in fishing line and was rescued twice in a short period of time at the end of March and in early April, see the photos from the RNLI here as they cut it free.

On April 11th the same whale was apparently seen in Falmouth (identified by the rope burns around the tail) and you can see fabulous photos here and a video. However now they think it was a different whale.

Maybe next year we'll be treated to the same delights and I can only hope that in twelve months we'll be a step closer to caring more for our wonderful oceans and the creatures that live in them....but then again maybe not!

You may be interested in the story concerning one of the worlds biggest cruise operators 'Princess Cruises' and the illegal dumping of their waste into our seas over many years.

Until next time

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Minack Theatre

Another forgotten post. We booked tickets for The Minack to see a comedy and were very lucky with the weather.

Originally owned and built in the 1930's by Rowena Cade (and her gardener Billy Rawlings), The Minack Theatre is simply wonderful.

Fantastic views of Porthcurno Beach where Rowena Cade used many tons of sand to help build the concrete used for the seating.

Gannets flying over us and behind the stage

The Miracle Theatre Company performing The Magnificent Three

The Moon coming up

End of the evening after the performance

Absolutely worth a visit if you're down that way
Until next time

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Fairmile RML 497 Update

I'm absolutely delighted to report that this wonderful boat has been bought with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and will be an important attraction in the historic dockyard in Portsmouth.

Head of Heritage Development at the NMRN, Nick Hewitt, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has supported us in acquiring RML 497. She’s an amazing survivor, full of original features and still fully operational, which is incredible for a wooden warship built for ‘hostilities only’ service during the Second World War.

“When she comes to Portsmouth she’ll be entering a whole new phase of her long life, and I’m sure our visitors will be just as excited as we are to step aboard her and see Portsmouth’s amazing naval heritage from the deck of a real warship.”

Extract Ref:

You can read the whole story here.

Here are some of my photos from Brixham when Greenway Ferry Company owned her and she sailed across the bay every summer.

Greenway Ferry Company spent a huge amount of money restoring and maintaining her which also included restoration to her original wartime colours

We were lucky enough to sail on her over to Slapton Sands a few years ago in remembrance of the fallen of WWII Exercise Tiger Tragedy at Slapton Sands.

Brixham Harbour and the Fairmile

It's such a shame she couldn't be kept in the bay, as she looked spectacular crossing the waters however the National Museum of the Royal Navy is a perfect resting place.

I hope you get to see her there
Until next time

Friday, 17 March 2017

Saw the Humpback Whale

Probably one of the most exciting wildlife moments of my life. I was sitting on the sofa on Sunday  afternoon (12th March) and saw a windsurfer out in the bay, however something else caught my eye.

I could see a mist of water being blown into the air, so I followed it and saw something very big moving in the water and splashing about.

Much too big to be a dolphin, no sign of those wretched noisy and annoying jet skiers, so I jumped up grabbed the binoculars, shouted to hubby and phoned the neighbours.

Sure enough it was the humpback whale which had come over from Slapton to have some fun and a feed in the bay.

Here is an article from the local newspaper with great photos and a video 

I tried very hard to get some images but only succeeded in getting a splash of water without the tail.

However here are some photos and images from others who were lucky enough to see it too and captured this very exciting event on film. Please copy this link into your browser to see a picture taken by those lucky owners at the Guardhouse Cafe up at Berry Head 

You can also read this very nice article from Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust about the whale.

Until next time

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Brixham Marine Conservation Day

on Tuesday 30th May 2017

What's going on around Brixham harbour? Beach clean up, Marine Mammal Stranding Rescue Demonstration, Marine Monster Sculpture, Evening Seashore Safari, Photo Competition, Crab research/competition, interactive stands... day of talks hosted by the Brixham Yacht Club. 

Who's participating? British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Devon Wildlife Trust, Brixham Seawatch, Devon Seals in the wild, Marine Management Organisation, Edfest, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, Marine conservation Society, Community Seagrass Initiative, Plymouth University Marine Institute, Surfers Against Sewage, SharkTrust, National Marine Aquarium, Sea Champions South West.

Find out more at the Brixham Dolphins Twitter page and also here to find out about the crowdfunding appeal to raise £1500 the cost to hold the event (marketing, insurance, stalls etc).

Sounds like a great day out, I'll hopefully be booking that day off work to attend and support the Brixham Marine Conservation Project.

This group formed after the sad events last August when two dolphins swam into Brixham harbour, attempts to rescue them were made, and sadly one died. Read more about this story here.

The purpose of the Brixham Marine Conservation Project is to promote a healthier, cleaner, safe marine environment by bringing together Conservation, Education, Research and Tourism. The group also hope to put in place a protocol should more marine mammals become stranded in the harbour in the future.

P.S. Has anyone heard of the Vaquita Porpoise? neither until I was writing this post! There are only 30 left in the world, in the  Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Please raise awareness of this creatures plight by spreading the word and visit the Porpoise Conservation Society website here to find out more about Vaquita.

Until next time

Friday, 3 February 2017

Nightingales and Lodge Hill Proposed Development

Soon nowhere will be safe from housing!

Dear Followers
Please see the article below from the RSPB regarding the proposal for a massive housing development in an area which is home to 80% of the UK's Nightingale population and would result in a loss of 40% of this Site of Special Scientific Interest.

"Our most iconic songbird is under threat and needs your help now.

If we don't act, the UK's number one site for nightingales - Lodge Hill in Medway, Kent - will soon disappear forever.

A planning application has been submitted to build 5,000 houses on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and Medway Council wants to allocate the land for development.

If the development goes ahead, the vital habitats that the nightingales - and other wildlife - call home will be destroyed and this iconic bird's song silenced. 

Will you join our campaign to save Lodge Hill and SSSIs across the country?"

Ref: RSBP (extracted 3rd Feb 2017)

Visit the website for more information here and watch the nightingale video by clicking on this link

You don't have to live in the area to understand the implications of allowing a housing development in a SSSI. If we don't act to stop it happening, nowhere will be safe and we will have nothing left of our beautiful countryside.

Hoping you can support this campaign
Thank you

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Gannets and Dolphins Short Videos

With no time to myself at the moment (major project to finish for work) I've been unable to get out with the camera or find any time to write a post.

The easterly winds have made the sea choppy, this brings birds in that would normally be further out to sea.

This morning during my dog walk, I met Mike Langman who was bird watching across the bay from Broadsands Green. 

I commented on the number of Gannets diving this morning and Mike advised that he had seen hundreds diving of Sharkham Point yesterday, had taken a short video and posted it on YouTube. 
Gannets Feeding Frenzy and you might also like this video of Common Dolphins passing by.

Northern Gannet fact: when diving they hit the water at speeds of up to 60mph

It was quite exciting receiving our beach hut renewal notice in the post this week. They'll soon be back on site.

Until next time
Take care all and Happy Big Garden Bird Watch for this weekend

Friday, 13 January 2017

Buzzards and Crows

A buzzard landed on the roof of my neighbours house a few days ago. It was very cold outside so I didn't go out to capture these images as I knew the camera would take time to adjust. These images were taken with the Panasonic Lumix from my front living room.

It wanted a rest, and at the time I didn't know why, but the crows just wouldn't leave it alone. I heard a lot of noise and got up from my office to see what was causing it.

So here it is catching forty winks

But those naughty crows were having none of it

They were even brave enough to pull its tail feathers

It moved about a bit, ruffled its feathers and probably had enough

It was quite funny to watch as it only had to make the smallest move and the crows jumped away

In the end it flew off for some peace, probably into the woods near by. What I learnt later on that day was that my neighbour several doors away had seen this buzzard plucking and eating a crow at the end of her garden.

It's no wonder they were upset!

This is a photograph, taken in my old garden in North Yorkshire, of a wonderful shrub called Stachyurus Praecox. I mention this as it's not easy to find in garden centres and so may be overlooked. It is a wonderful plant for early bees and these little bell shaped flowers are covered in bees on warm winter and early spring days. So long as you have neutral or slightly acid soil, it'll be fine and it's lovely to look at too. It survived my cold and windy garden with almost no looking after.

With cold weather here in Devon I've been topping up the bird feeders with extra treats, peanut cake feeder, mealworms and sunflower hearts. The Woodpigeons are almost resident in the garden and look plump and healthy, but still no real success attracting a larger variety of birds.

The thick, mature hedge in the back garden provides a wonderful shelter for Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens, I place quite a lot of food under it, so that they are protected from the gulls whilst feeding. The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is only two weeks away, and I must say they have a great website page dedicated to it. Have you requested your pack for 2017?

Hope you're all safe in these winter storms
Until next time