Sunday, 13 December 2009

and a better view from Carthamartha

we returned to Bishop's rock this morning (with permission) to get a better picture of this strangely quiet and isolated part of the Tamar valley

tamar flow

lovely colours in the Tamar as it flows over a salmon (?) weir above Endsleigh

Thursday, 10 December 2009

bird at prey...when it stops raining

After seven weeks of incessant rain the sun has finally come out. It was a lovely misty morning. All the local buzzards immediately headed for their favourite perches on the top of telegraph poles where they can watch rabbits from a far. Unusually, this buzzard did not object to being photographed; too busy sun bathing.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

down at Inny foot

if you are an avid reader of Spot's blog you may remember a picture of him standing by a tree in the middle of the Inny (see link). Here is the same tree, 10 feet under water. There appears to be a bulge in the water level here presumably because it is where the Tamar (in spate in the background) and the Inny meet. The water level rises dramatically under these conditions.

Below is a tangled wood photo. It turns out that this pond is by a very ancient road down to the ford at this point. In the mist we can hear the faint sound of footsteps of people long gone, tramping towards the future.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

bishop's rock, Carthamartha

we were very lucky today because we met Mr Nigel Jonas on our walk. He owns the woodland that leads to Bishop's rock, a rocky crag overlooking the Tamar valley below Carthamartha (and also known as Carthamartha rocks on older maps). He showed us the splendid view from the top of the rocks. Unfortunately, even after all this time, the photographer forgot to reset his camera for the bright light. So this is a somewhat doctored picture of a buzzard wheeling in the valley below. This link will give a better idea of the view (link). It seems to be a very ancient landscape with numerous iron age hill forts, and a bronze age trackway leading down to one of the easiest fords across the Tamar although in this weather, to use an old joke, England would be cut off.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

squall over Dartmoor

and still it rains, the ewes must be soaked. Dartmoor is on the far horizon, Hingston Down to the right.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

where's my ball

Spot in his autumn colours, and Cassie showing no sign of fear in pursuit of an old football lodged beneath the waterfall.

traveller's joy

our native wild clematis, showing why it is sometimes called old man's beard.

one of my favourite birds

a pair of nuthatches arrived at the bird table today, probably blown here by the gales. I don't know why but they are amongst my favourite birds. Very busy and quite aggressive with everyone else.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

it's getting wet

much more rain on the saturated ground and it will flood. Very strong winds blowing today, the English hurricane season has started.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

all blogged out

no, not a scene from the valley but an image of the stunning beauty of Monet's lily pond at Giverny which we visited on our recent travels via Santander, Haro, Alquezar, Rodes, Apchat and Chevreuse. It is reassuring somehow to see how similar our own beautiful valley can be to Giverny. And to realise that Monet was truly the father of digital photography.


Kit Hill Quarry (!)

What with the wind and rain, poorly knees and Harriet managing to cut her hind leg badly it is time to take a break from blogging for a bit.

If you are visiting the blog for the first time there are many pictures of the Tamar valley and its flora and fauna within the blog, best viewed by using the labels in the list on the left hand side of this page, or by searching on a specific word or phrase.

We will be back when we are all strong enough to go for a proper walk!

Friday, 2 October 2009

woundwort and hawkweed

hedge woundwort flowers through to October and is often this deep purple. At this time of year most flowers seem to be yellow or purple. Below is a common but striking flower the brilliant yellow narrow leaved hawkweed.

a sawfly (or hover fly ... more research required) eating the pollen off the anthers of some late flowering wild honeysuckle


it has been a bumper year for wild plums. These are growing in the hedgerow at the bottom of our garden. The plums are called damsons, possibly because they originate in or around Damascus, and were introduced to Britain by the Romans (see Wikipaedia).

Thursday, 1 October 2009

carletta comes to visit

Carletta came all the way from Maine to visit us. As you can see she was very easy to train, and we quickly had ourselves eating out of the palm of her hand. The woods and meadows are a bit drab at the moment, but it was nice to have a visitor. Anyone else for a guided tour? (please bring own biscuits).

Sunday, 20 September 2009

and a late comma

and a late comma, with very pretty markings on the border of its wings. This is the second generation, and usually they are darker. I thought this specimen was lighter but when I checked for earlier images it is actually darker which may be why the markings on the edge of the wing show up more clearly.

field full of scabious

the meadows are full of scabious. I think this is devil's bit scabious, rather than field scabious, Devon in the background. The scabious in these meadows seems quite variable and comes in two distinct colours, dark blue purple and pinkish, and some in between.

a seed is born

himalayan balsam spreads its seeds by exploding the seed pod when it is touched. The fragment is the remnant of the coiled spring after it has released the seed pod. Great fun, but very invasive.

more green from the valley

everywhere seems to be a very luscious green at the moment. This is taken at one of our favourite places to take a dip before the serious business of the long walk begins. A tree has fallen into the river adding to the sense of lush vegetation on the river; sometimes with the birds singing in the canopy it feels almost like a tropical jungle.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


goldenrod (an american import) and willowherb (rosebay) seed heads, described as tall and aggressive (!), is this fair I ask myself. Sun has shone for 9 consecutive days, this is a record.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

and a swim in the Lynher

the light shining through the trees along the banks often creates these beautiful dappled scenes

on the moor

it has been a lovely warm clear blue-skyed day today and there is no where better to enjoy the day than up on the moors. The standing stones are the Hurlers.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

It is that time of year again, the martins are getting ready to go, the lanes are as overgrown as they get before the hedgerows are shorn, and the sloes are abundant.

Monday, 7 September 2009

scorpionfly - drunk and disorderly

this odd looking creation is a female scorpion fly (Panorpa communis), lacking the scorpion like tail of the male, but looking like a horse from the Andromeda galaxy. Its habits are fascinating (see link). This one was clearly inebriated and was unable to stay upright on the leaf. I suspect it had been at fermented fruit juice. They are primitive insects and may have given rise to all other flying insects.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

traveller person's wort

our first proper walk for almost 4 weeks, wading through mud, swimming, eating bur docks, and generally looning about. This little plant is gipsywort which only seems to grow in one marshy patch locally. It is a member of the mint family although it has no obvious scent (or use). The flowers in the meadow have almost gone, except for some scabious (plus hover fly),

and knapweed (plus bee, ?) although now that I look closely at the picture it could be yet another bumble bee mimic, a hoverfly called criorhina floccosa or berberina,

a very small common blue

a very small blue butterfly, which I thought might be a small blue, but on closer inspection it is a female common blue, feeding on its favourite plant, bird's foot trefoil. The small blue caterpillar feeds mainly on kidney vetch (qv) of which there is none locally as far as I know.