Sunday, 2 June 2013

Early Morning Antics

It is now my intention to write a post on the first Sunday of each month but, as is typical, I have a day full of activity so have had to start this post at 5.30 am!  It is not as bad as it sounds as this is my usual time to get up as I love to catch the early morning activity in the garden when the wildlife is undisturbed and at its best.

Yesterday morning I was entertained by a very agile pigeon. I am used to seeing squirrels and parakeets doing acrobatics to get at the food in the feeders...

but I have never seen a big fat pigeon being so tenacious...

I get so much pleasure from just watching wildlife but I also find the whole interdependence of living things to be totally fascinating. As Nick Baker said last week on Springwatch in the Afternoon, "It's life on life, taking life."

I also find it amazing the way things change and adapt, it would seem in a far more efficient way than humans do.  It is incredible that, in my lifetime, bacteria is evolving to be resistant to antibiotics and parasitic worms found in livestock, are evolving to be resistant to worming medication.

I recently read couple of interesting articles regarding interdependency:

The first was about the Harlequin Ladybird that was originally brought in to control aphids in greenhouses but escaped and has now spread across Europe.  Scientist have found that its body fluid contains the tiny fungi, Microsporidia, which is inactive in the Harlequin but when our native ladybirds attack the Harlequin's eggs the Microsporidia are activated which kills the native ones.  In addition the Harlequin also has a strong antibiotic compound in its body fluid, can survive in a wide range of temperatures and in the absence of  its main food source of aphids, can live off of fruit such as grapes and apples.  An unstoppable force it seems

The other article was about Mosquitoes. Scientist think they have found that mosquitoes infected with the malaria parasite have a heightened sense of smell making them 3 times more likely to be attracted towards a human scent.  There are further studies going on to find out how and it could prove very useful in the fight against this deadly disease.

Anyway, back to wildlife watching.  Our beautiful wildflowers are taking their time  to make their appearance this year but on a rare sunny day I managed to fit in a walk down our valley and came across a vibrant blue patch of Chalk Milkwort...

and while taking my mother to see the Bluebells at Emmetts N.T. I came across this lovely Orchid which I think is an Early Purple (please tell me if I'm wrong:)...

And lastly on to one of my other passions, conservation, in particularly my work with the Downland Project's conservation grazing livestock.

Last week we moved the  6 goats on to a site which is precipitous in places and that has a problem with spreading Cotoneaster.  Thankfully the goats are now a lot easier to catch (although one did manage to jump out of the catching pen) and once in the trailer the delicious hay literally went to their heads...

When we arrived at their new site we found that one of the field gates (luckily not the road gate) had been stolen!!!...grrrrrr...(I wonder if, in a few thousand years, humans will have evolved into two separate species, the nice and the nasty).  Anyway we were still able to put the goats on the site and then the goat palace had to be built.  Goats do not have a waterproof coat so we need to give them a shelter and as they are moved so often this has to be made from a portable tarpaulin. It always poses a challenge to make one that is effective and that stays up in all weathers but as I used to love making camps as a child it is a job I really enjoy. I always think I know how to do it best and given the time would literally build a palace but my husband has a more realistic idea of what is best so I have to curb my enthusiasm otherwise he gets annoyed :)))...

The other recent livestock task was to move the ponies.  Despite having signs up asking people not to touch or feed the ponies we have had persistent trouble with particular people who will just not leave them alone. This can cause handling difficulties and could eventually result in health problems as it is essential they have a diet low in sugars. Therefore I am not saying where they have moved to. However if it is not problems with people feeding the ponies, it's problems with people feeding themselves and when we checked them over the bank holiday we found that people had climbed into the field, had a BBQ and left behind them all their paper plates, knives and forks, the tinfoil bbq and copious empty bottles of beer.  How can people have so little regard for animals. Luckily the ponies seemed none the worse... this time...

I think I should end on a happy note with a few of my silly jokes...this time pony jokes :)

Q.  Where do ponies go when they are sick?
A.  To Horsepital.

Q. Why did the pony go to the doctor?
A.  Because he had the trots.

Q.  What is a pony's favourite TV program?
A.   Neighbours

Q. What is a pony's favourite wine?
A.  Chardoneigh

Have a good June...I'm off camping in Dorset so fingers crossed for some decent weather :)))))