September

September is my favourite month for many, many reasons.

The end of September always makes me a little sad but but I am always looking forward very much to the next one.

It is filled with lovely things for us:-

It is the month we take our main annual holiday

The Shropshire Way

Walking – The Shropshire Way

It is the month of Burghley Horse Trials

Burghley Horse Trial

Burghley Horse Trial – Burghley

It is the month of harvest

Harvest in Northumberland

Harvest – Northumberland

It is the month of Sandringham Game Fair

Horse Boarding - Sandringham Game Fair

Horse Boarding – Sandringham Game Fair

It is a month when we do most of our walking

walking - The Lakes

Walking – The Lakes

It is the month when the best fungi appear.

Fungi - Fly Ageric

Fungi – Fly Ageric

It is the month of Food Festivals across the country. Ludlow being our favourite.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle

It is the month for Bramble picking & making Jam.

Brambles

Brambles

It is the month of Indian Summers when the heat has left the sun but the cold months are not showing themselves yet.

September Sun - Ford Village

September Sun – Ford Village

It is the month we got our hound and collected him when he was just 8 weeks old.

Max

Max

And it is the month we got married

September Wedding - Rings

September Wedding – Rings

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olloclip

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

I use an iPhone (5) and I love it.

I use it every day for emails, calls, texts, vibe, whatsapp, FB, instagram, twitter, maps, waze, evernote, pinterest, contacts, calendar….. you name it.

I didn’t think that the camera on the phone could be improved as it such good quality already. the iPhone 6 has probably managed to improve the camera further but until I have an iPhone 6, I will have to wait to see.

But I read somewhere ages and ages ago that there was a little attachable lens was available from a company called Olloclip to use with the phone as an attachment, providing more flexibility and giving you a tool that would truly explore the potential of the smashing lens in this little phone.

As an early christmas present to myself, I ordered the 4-in-1 combo. This provides you with a fish eye, wide angle and 2 strengths of macro lens.

I have a canon 6D that I use all the time and have a variety of different lenses for it. It provides such good quality shots that I use it for serious photography and pictures of my work but I have never really considered the iPhone to be a contender for serious shots.  As good as it is, how could it possibly be used as a serious working camera?

The review were good but my true expectations for what the addition of the olloclip could do to the camera on the iPhone were limited, but the results have been amazing.

It is tiny attachment and a bit fiddly and would be very easy to lose but if you have the time and the patience along with helpful additions to your camera bag such as a gorilla pod and a clip for your phone, you can set it up to get great photos.

It is great fun and the results are very effective.

Olloclip has an instagram account where people share their images using the olloclip and some are truly incredible.

I need some time to get more interesting shots and I have not taken advantage of the wide angle fitting yet but I’m delighted with the macro results

See for yourself……… all taken with the phone hand held without the support or steadiness of a tripod, gorilla pod or surface

Fish Eye

hand held at eye level

at eye level

seated

seated

10x Macro

flower head - hand held

flower head

daisy - hand held

daisy

rotting knot in fallen tree - hand held

rotting knot in fallen tree

15x Macro

drooping flower head

drooping flower head

detail from flower

detail from flower

offset shot of flower - my favourite

offset shot of flower – my favourite

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

 

 


Water Baby

retrieve

retrieve

It’s safe to say that Max does not like the water.

He’s spent an extraordinary amount of time getting wet with weekly baths to sort out his skin problem so I can understand the aversion to it.

not letting the stick go

not letting the stick go

But even before the allergy started, he wasn’t the first into the sea or any body of water that you’d throw a stick into.

He might venture into the shallows to retrieve a treat but we have lost a lot of balls and toys on the beaches of norfolk because he just won’t go in to get them if a swim or deep water of any kind is required.

Hamlet and Max waiting for the throw

Hamlet and Max waiting for the throw

Add a bit of competition though and that is a completely different matter as we found out recently.

fish eye olloclip lens on iPhone 5

fish eye olloclip lens on iPhone 5

We have my sis’s JRT, Hamlet with us for a while again and we took Max for a walk with him to a pond nearby and as soon as there was a chance that Hamlet might beat him to the retrieve, he was right in there.

I've got it!!

I’ve got it!!

 

Swimming no less!!! (well, it actually looked a lot like drowning a lot of the time to be fair).

It was such a lovely evening that we stayed for ages, wearing out the boys and enjoying the sun set.

sun set

sun set

 


Willow Tree Fen

permanent waterways that edge the farm and the willow woodland 2012

We went to an agricultural show in June 2012 which was very wet and, although incredibly quaint and old fashioned with vintage tractors, rare breeds and country craft demonstrations, the rain drove us indoors eventually.

We took the exhibition tent and got talking to some interesting people at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

the ground is still partly drained by the grid of dykes across the fens 2012

Where we are based in South Holland, there are very few public footpaths because of the extent of the privately owned agricultural land.  We know there are some places that you can go to but they all involve a drive and sometimes into the next county.

Imagine our delight to discover some incredible and readily accessible nature reserves right near us.

flora and fauna 2012

Giddy with the joy of it, we joined the LWT at an annual fee of ONLY £33 and walked away with a comprehensive map of the local reserves, a book about all the reserves in the Wildlife Trust’s arsenal across the UK and a car sticker (should have handed that back as we won’t ever use that).

The following day, the weather perked up considerably and off we trotted to one of the newest reserves that happens to also be the closest. Willow Tree Fen

jews ears or woodland ears on fallen rotting willow 2012

Unfortunately most of the reserve restrict dog access but we did happen upon dog walkers on this one and wished we had brought the furry one.

one of the many varied damsel flies that we spotted 2012

Willow Tree Fen is exactly what it says it is.  It is a fenland farm where Willow trees grow in abundance and it is one of the last farms that was run as a traditional fen farm where the seasonal water level changes are allowed to occur in the low section of land.  This in itself, gives rise to all the splendid wildlife and fauna that goes with it:- Willow Trees are in their element, sometimes standing in water for months at a time, the wetland meadows or meres are teaming with flowers, the permanent water ways that edge the farm are home to lots of interesting insect life such damsel flies that are so numerous in types that we got lost counting them, there are water birds, sand martins, swifts, swallows and many more.

kings cups with the new flower heads growing towards the water surface 2012

It was peaceful and a total delight to have found.

We spent a wonderful afternoon there once we found it (as the directions are a little sketchy) and it is tucked out of the way so is unlikely to get very busy (we only saw half a dozen or so visitors in a whole afternoon).  The original 2 hides have posters of the birds that have been seen and visitors are asked to record the breed and numbers that they see when visiting for the reserves records.

resting cattle in the fen meadow with the mere in the background 2012

Nearly all the work undertaken to build hides and walkways is done by volunteers and there was evidence of some of that work in progress as we meandered around the reserve.

acres of meadow and mere stretch out across the farm 2012

The farm itself was sold to the Wildlife Trust in 2009 after I imagine it became unviable as a business but when you look around the acreage, it is easy to see why if was kept in it’s traditional state but how that would mean low yields and limited options for making a living out of the farm.

It is a great thing that it is being maintained and that is thanks to the foresight of organisations such as the Wildlife Trust.

the wet meadows with the willow wood in the background 2012

Since first exploring the reserve, we have been back a number of times and see changes every time we do.

tree clearing 2014

tree clearing 2014

There is a new hide that sits between the 2 original ones and right on the edge of water that is punctuated with trees that were clearly planted in neat little rows at some point in the farm’s history.

logs piles from tree clearing

logs piles from tree clearing

These are currently being cleared as they have mostly died in the deep fen water but before this is completed and while we were enjoying the peace and quiet of the new hide, the trees provided a perch for a kingfisher that we were delighted to see.

a beautiful kingfisher

a beautiful kingfisher

In a flash of blue it appeared from behind the hide and stayed with us for a few minutes before flying around the front of the hide and disappearing behind the other side with as much flourish as it arrived.

reed bunting

reed bunting

We listed the numerous birds that we have seen this week (some more interesting than others but wonderfully varied all the same) and managed to photograph some of them:-

goldfinches

goldfinches

Kingfisher

Goldfinch

Mute Swan

kingfisher

kingfisher

Wood Pigeon

Great Tit

Blue Tit

off as quickly as it arrived

off as quickly as it arrived

Marsh Harrier

Crows (numerous)

Jackdaw

Swallows (still here)

little egret

little egret

Little Egret

Kestrel (x2)

Snipe (not confirmed as not 100% sure)

Reed Warbler

lapwing display

lapwing display

Nuthatch (also not 100% sure)

Reed Bunting (numerous)

Jays (x2)

lapwings flocking over the marshes

lapwings flocking over the marshes

Mallard

Coots

Moorhen

Grey Heron

coots and moorhens in amongst the drowned trees

coots and moorhens in amongst the drowned trees

Buzzard

Sparrow Hawk

Lapwings

House Sparrow

woodland walk

woodland walk

There is a new woodland walk, a new path along the drain which takes you lower and nearer the meres, there is an education centre, new benches dotted around and at some lovely viewing spots and a wonderful bug hotel at the visitor’s centre that would be the envy of many and has certainly made my little palace look wholly inadequate.

5 star bug hotel

5 star bug hotel

There are other reserves that we need to explore too but we will continue to come back to watch this one through it’s seasonal changes and improvements.

It is a lovely place!


horseboarding UK

leaning into that corner

greens – leaning into that corner

It’s about 18 months since I first ‘discovered’ horseboarding. I now follow it on FB and enjoy the odd post from the hard working teams.

 

purples - clearing the gate

purples – clearing the gate

I would like to eventually do more to support the sport as I just love it but for now, I remain an enthusiastic spectator.

dare devils - 9 and 13 years old

dare devils – 9 and 13 years old

It is fun, funky and very, very exciting.

norfolk and good

norfolk and good

I’m not lucky enough to feed my interest in it often but it does’t diminish my enthusiasm.

IMG_8038

Today, I got my fix at Sandringham Game Fair and it just gets better and better.

fast and exciting

fast and exciting

To the uninitiated, it probably just looks like a lot of very fast fun but there is some serious skill involved. There are polo players, championship snow boarders, olympia qualifiers and some very good jockeys.

I know that they perform as often as they can and I also know that they practice hard. There are long days on the road to get to where they need to go and I’m sure they have a wonderful associated social life but there will also be some massive sacrifices.

raising some dust

my favourite ‘dead pigeons’  raising some dust

And they rescue horses!! What’s not to love?

balance going

balance going

My favourites are still Dead Pigeon but there are some great new teams.

uh oh!

uh oh! Poor Tom took a tumble just before the end

I just love the sport and wish I was still a rider….. I might just think about taking it up!!


lovely lapwings

arial acrobatics

arial acrobatics

 

One of my favourite birds next to the Wren is the Lapwing.

 

with a beautiful clear blue sky backdrop

with a beautiful clear blue sky backdrop

 

Called peewits in the NE (& possibly elsewhere too) because of the sound they make, they are endlessly busy beauties that grace our skies with their amazing acrobatics.

 

endless activity in the sky

endless activity in the sky

 

They are graceful, athletic, full of character and have such lovely markings.

 

swooping down to the ground

swooping down to the ground

 

Their nesting habitat is easily ruined as they tend to nest in ground scrapes on flat farmland that is invariably ploughed, planted up and later harvested.

They are fierce defenders of their nest, eggs and youngsters; feigning a damaged wing if there is anyone or anything too close to the product of all their hard work and courtship.

 

IMG_0152

wading – is that a banksy?

I never get sick of watch and listening to them. I could do it for hours.


deer damage

old deer damage to a sapling

old deer damage to a sapling

 

We are lucky enough to see Roe Deer where we walk at the weekends and although they become harder to see when the crops get up, there is always a sign that they are about.

 

a healed area that has been nibbled in the past

a healed area that has been nibbled in the past

 

We see slots in the mud, beds of flattened grass where they have slept at night, nibbles on crops but also damage to tree bark where they have been having a feast.

 

this sapling has been targeted all up it's trunk until they have finally snapped it

this sapling has been targeted all up it’s trunk until they have finally snapped it

 

It is inevitable and one of their many wild habits although it is not very popular with anyone growing saplings.

 

freshly planted fruit tree with no protection has already been targeted

freshly planted fruit tree with no protection has already been targeted

 

I like seeing the secret signs that the deer are about and know that as long as the damage is not extensive the saplings will survive.

 

small areas of damage on lowu nprotected branches

small areas of damage on low unprotected branches

 

A deer damaged sapling will never grow to be the perfect specimen but this is nature and this is what happens – good, bad and indifferent.

 

self seeded whitebeam being stripped

self seeded whitebeam being stripped