Friday, July 24, 2009

Birdwatchingwatching - a snore bore of a book

I read a few reviews of this book, no ravers, but I stilled requested it for my birthday. What a waste of a present! I got about a third of the way through and gave up! It was that dull.

Like many, I read books in bed. So no problems falling asleep with this one! If Alex Horne is a comedien I won't be bothering to go and see him live. I recall a couple of titters, but nothing more. Nope, I didn't get it. I didn't find it interesting. I didn't find it at all funny. I didn't understand why he couldn't refer to his dad as his dad instead of some pretentious made-up name of Duncton - is that meant to be funny?

Oh, and he's one of those non-Scouse, glory-chasing footie fans who follow the red half of the 'calm down, calm down' city of squeaky voices. Nuff sed!

Recent moths

Its been a good summer so far. No stunning migrants, but a good number of moths most catches and a few garden firsts.

Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, Farcet Fen, a new species for me, the garden and my square! Attracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Chinese Character, Farcet Fen, ttracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Double Lobed, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 13 July 2009.

Least Carpet, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Small China-mark, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Swallow-tailed Moth, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 13 July 2009.

Toadflax Pug, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 19 July 2009.

Copper Underwing, Peterborough, entered building during day, 16 July 2009.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

New garden moth

After two weeks away and missing all this great mothing weather, I was itching to get the traps out when I returned home. First up was the 160w MVB which brought me a 50+ species, 400+ individual insect catch, followed on Saturday night with the 15w actinic which produced the expected much lower numbers, but did manage a first for the garden - The Miller.

The Miller, Farcet Fen, 5 July 09. Attracted to light (15w actinic). New for the garden.

Birds Wing, Farcet Fen, 4 July 09. Attracted to light (160w MVB).

Pale Prominent, Farcet Fen, 4 July 09. Attracted to light (160w MVB).

White Satin Moth, Farcet Fen, 5 July 09. Attracted to light (15w actinic).

Yellow-tail, Farcet Fen, 5 July 09. Attracted to light (15w actinic).

Buff-tip, Farcet Fen, 4 July 09. Attracted to light (160w MVB).

A couple of days in the Highlands

After leading my group around Shetland & Orkney, it was great to spend a couple of days with Liz in the Highlands. Strath Connon and Strath Dearn were out chosen places. Great weather, great landscapes, great wildlife inc. butterflies, Azure Hawker, Northern Emerald, Golden-ringed Draongfly, etc, etc.

Strath Dearn

Juvenile Northern Wheatear, Strath Connon

Dark Green Fritiallry, Strath Connon

Golden-ringed Dragonfly burn, Strath Connon

Lady Poole of Loch Eye House

When you book into a B&B you never imagine that you'll be staying in the house of the aristocracy! Liz booked a couple of nights at Loch Eye House. I left it all to her. I saw the small photo in the Sawday's guide and read the blurb, but it didn't say much and I was focussed on preapring for my trip to Shetland and Orkney.

Loch Eye House

So, image my surprise when we arrive at Loch Eye House and are greeted by Lady Poole! And it doesn't end there. No, she announces she was so looking forward to our coming as she wanted to know if we were related! Errr? It turns out that Lady Poole was formerly Lucinda Dudley and has a full heraldic family tree in the downstairs loo going back to the 15th centuary and includes none other than Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester attendant to Queen Liz the first! Wow!

Well, there was no one on the family tree which I recognised (other than a few famous historical figures) so if we are related then it must be another branch. To her releif no doubt!

Our room with a view across the lawn and loch

Lucinda showed us our room - and what a view! - before inviting us to join her for a drink outside. We sipped wine (or in my case homemade elderflower cordial - made by the Lady of the house) and helped Lucionda shell fresh peas for our dinner before being joined by Michael Loch, friend of Lucinda's from up the road.

At first glance Lady Poole comes across as your typical aristo. Stiff, clipped voice, jaunty laugh, etc. But looks can be deceptive. No, Lucinda isn't one of those aristos that lets everyone run around after her. Definately not. OK, there was the odd mention of the great and the good during conversation (dear friend Michael Portillo for instance), her daily (who was holoday aso unable to help with us), her charity work for Marie Curie Cancer Research and we got to meet Ronnie her gardener-come-handyman) - but no, you definately got the impression that here was one plucky lady who turned her hand to most things. We caught her still recovering from a brain operation (!) but she still saw to our needs, cooked us a superb dinner and breakfasted with us each morning, up and down to make our toast, my boiled egg (done to perfection), making a new loaf of bread - she didn't stop! And her recounting of the day she was told about her brain condition would make a memorable comedy sketch! I now know where the likes of Messers Higson and Whitehouse get their inspiration from (e.g. Rowley Birkin QC).

The fabulous fabric-covered walls of the dining room

Lucinda knew the house and loch as a girl (she skated on the loch in winter) and when she marreid Lord Poole became Lady of the house and estate. But in these hard times, turning her hand to B&B was hope to save the house.

A homage to Lady Poole's beloved wee dog, Beetle

The house's grounds aren't bad either - Spotted Flycatcher, Woodcock, Buzzard. A memorable B&B indeed!

Lucinda was real fun to spend time with and partly blew away some of my pre-conceptions of aristos (only some!) and her wee dog, Beetle, was equally free-thinking and did as she pleased!

Shetland & Orkney, 21 - 30 June 09

Primula Scotica, Orkney, June 09 © Steve Dudley

I'm just back from an excellent trip leading a group around the northern isles. Birds, wildlife and Neolithic archaeology were all on the agenda, but the star of the show for me was finding Primula scotica in full flower. A carpet of them between the two main flowering periods. The best show I've ever seen!

For full report and lists see here.