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Chilling by the pond

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Continuing our theme of posting short videos to make up for the fact that you won’t be able to visit for quite a while yet, we hope that this little clip of Sue’s sailing boat on the pond might make your lockdown a little easier.

The boat is quite amazing in it’s ability to keep itself going.  Once launched I had no hand in it’s movement at all – there’s a short bit removed when it was stuck for a few moments, but even then it freed itself and set off on another journey round it’s own little ocean.

Turn the sound up to enjoy the silence and birdsong – no traffic, no planes.  Let us know if you can identify the birds – we are hopeless at it!

The water is crystal clear as the marginal planting does its clever job, allowing us to see loads of tadpoles, newts, great diving beetles, dragonfly larvae and others.

As well as, hopefully, giving you some enjoyment, the other reason for these posts is to ask you to help the National Garden Scheme (for whom we would have been opening for the 15th year at the end of the month) to make up the massive expected shortfall in the funds which they are usually able to give to a raft of really deserving – especially at this time – health and nursing charities.

The NGS is the biggest single contributor to both Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie, usually donating around £500,000 to each every year.  Other major beneficiaries include the Carers Trust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute and Hospice UK.    At present a shortfall of around 80% is forecast with gardens being unable to open.

Instead of visiting us you can simply click here or scan the code below and make a much needed donation directly to the National Garden Scheme. Please be generous at this time.

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Thank you

Here’s the video.

 

June is busting out all over

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Well, it’s certainly all happening down at the pond.  The wildlife are almost taking over. After the millions of tadpoles came the newts, popping up to the surface for a breath of air then diving back down.  There seem to be more great diving beetles this year including some smaller ones which I take to be babies, or more probably something altogether different.

Then a couple of weeks ago we started to see the damselflies, red ones and blue ones. Firstly singly then more recently coupled together as they lay their eggs around the marginal plants.

But the great delight has been over the past few days as I was able to witness the amazing metamorphosis of the scary looking nymphs into that most beautiful of flying machines, the dragonfly.

These early ones are Southern Hawkers.  Later on we’ll get Gold Ringed and the magnificent Emperor, which ‘patrols’ around the pond, checking out who’s daring to swim in their territory!

So back to the Hawkers.  The first thing to see are the nymphs waiting in the water for the right time to clamber out and up an iris leaf.  We make sure there are always sufficient tall stems for them – leaving last year’s flower spikes on the purple loosestrife for instance.

Once up the leaf they somehow cling on and start to dry out in the sun.

Now the magic really starts, firstly a thin white line appears on the back of the nymph and the head and eyes force their way through the narrow opening.

First glimpse of the green head

Once the head is out, the body starts to emerge ….

A bit more comes into view

…slowly, very slowly, the body sort of wriggles its way further into view.

On the way

Almost done

Then in the blink of an eye it flips up and grabs hold of the now empty nymph case – just missed that bit with the camera!

Wings emerge

At last it looks a bit like a dragonfly.

It takes a while for the wings to fully dry out and fill their final shape

wings still folded

Apparently this is the last time those wings will be in that position.

Then a final ‘battery charging’ with wings fully extended…

Ready for take off

..and it’s gone.  leaving behind just the empty case.

All done!

A fantastic experience and one which could easily be missed.  Fortunately they emerged across three of four days so I was forewarned when the later ones were due and was poised with the camera.

I’ll be keeping an eye open for any further larva cases in the hope of seeing an Emperor emerge.

What a wonderful wildlife pond! It pays to work with nature.

Is all wildlife friendly?

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As you will know, we pride ourselves on our wildlife friendliness.  But is all wildlife as friendly as we’d like? We know that our local badgers have a liking for the occasional tulip bulb – OK, have a liking for a LOT of tulip bulbs – but have they now forsaken vegetarianism for a liking for a bit of flesh and blood?

Over the past few nights there’s been a lot of ground disturbance around the duck house.  So we dug out the night vision camera and here’s the result.

Anybody about?

 

Is that a camera? Do I get royalties?? Should have brushed my hair!

Tricky-looking catch on this door

 

Oh well, I’ll have a little dig here then.

Ah! This looks a bit more promising. If only I can move this old garden fork…..

 

…that’s better.

Bit of a squeeze

 

I’m sure there’s something down here

 

Mmm, don’t think I can get any further. Maybe have another look tomorrow!

Fortunately, we don’t think he was after the ducks, maybe a mouse or three, but I can imagine the consternation in the hutch.

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that the dates on the pics are a bit in the wrong order, but it makes a better story that way.  We’ve now moved the hutch a few yards and the latest pics suggest that the ducks are quite safe, but we’ll make sure they are safely in bed every night for a while!