The rut


We hosted a party for Caroline’s birthday last night, this morning she and Helen managed to get to church (9:15 service), which impressed me give the partying the night before. I got up and watched the exciting Korean grand prix, had some breakfast and tidied up a bit. The weather was crisp and sunny so I headed out for a walk around Ashridge.

I parked in the small car park just up the hill from Alburgh, which is if the beaten track away from the monument area. I headed in the opposite direction from the monument the plan was to get some picture of fungi and see if I could catch site of some of the deer in the area.

I followed a bridleway, passed a very big house and eventually came across some smaller houses which were at the end of of a track. They seemed had a great location, a couple were semi-detached and bizarrely one of the front gardens had a couple of horses grazing. The garden was normal front garden size and the grass was nice and short!

I then headed towards the road that runs through Ashridge, which meant crossing the very large grassy heath area, when I spotted no less that 4 green wood peckers all very close to each other. You could see their red heads poking up above the grass. After crossing the road I headed in to the woods the other side, where I started to here the stags calling, which they do at this time of the year to attract females and make their presence known to other males in the area. I heard a few quite close but only got fleeting glimpses of the deer them selves.

Beeches in the sun

I got some some pictures of some fungi in the silver birch areas, but they were not at the best they were showing their age a bit. It reminded me that I need to read over the LX3 manual again I seem to spend too much time figuring out how to change settings which I know exist I just can’t figure out how to make contact with the right bits of the menu system.

I then heard a stag really close by so I slowly and quietly made my way toward the source of the noise, I was then lucky enough to see a stag and 3 females hanging around what looked like a stand. I was there for quite a few minutes behind a tree which helped support my binoculars, I got some cracking view of the stag calling. Eventually they got spooked by some other walkers in the woods. Time to head over to Hillside fro some of Caroline’s birthday cake.

Puff balls the size of sheep

Porcelain fungus

Helen and I have been looking forward to getting out for a walk all week. We decided to head over to Wendover then walk up the hill and cut round and come down via the road with the large houses on Bacombe Lane. The conditions and time of year are good for seeing mushrooms, and after last weeks fungi exhibition we felt we knew a bit more about them.

Cute fungus with ugly slugs

Conditions were possibly a bit dry, but as we went through the damper parts of the woods and as we got our eyes in we started to spot more and more. I was certainly on the look out for porcelain fungus as tit grows on beech trees and has a limy glazed look to it. We were in the Chilterns famed for it’s beeches after all. I took some pictures whilst Helen was busy bird watching, we managed to spot a Goldcrest a bird we have not see for some time and is one of our favourites.

Once we had the up hill part out of the way we walked on the level past along the old fence I have blogged about in the past, until we took a left which took us down hill to the middle of Bacombe lane then over the field to the bridge over the railway. On the way down Helen had to do a double take when she thought she had seen Giant Puffballs the size of sheep! It turned out they were sheep!

Once in Wendover I was despatched with twenty quid to get ingredients for lunch and then pizza’s for tea which Helen disappeared off to see if she could find a new coat. I was successful in my mission but Helen was not.

Up Norf weekend


Long weekend up to lovely Yorkshire.  Bright sunny day all the way up and the M1 was kind.  Got there in plenty of time for N to potter of to the school play whilst I babysat. An eventful afternoon involving one small child launching herself down the stairs (swiftly distracted courtesy of “Room on the Broom”) and a cat fight in the garden. On Friday we refused to let a very misty morn disuage us and matched off around a local reservoir (not that we could see said reservoir). Home made curry for tea & then on Saturday off for a brighter but muddy walk around another reservoir. Home made pizza and tiramisu for tea (decadence on a stick & no mistake) and a round of the really nasty Golf Game. I have not made that name up. Early start & back home via the delights of Costco. Birds: canada geese, blackbird, pheasant, tits, redwing, kestrel, greylag, woodpigeon, mute swan, magpie, buzzard, robin, starling, missel thush, pied wagtail,  gold finch, jay, mallard, chaffinch, coot, little grebe, common gull, black headed gull, red kite (must be back in Bucks!)

Walk to Weybourne

The plan was to walk from Salthouse, with the wind behind us, to Weybourne. Saw a seal in the sea but he did not hang around for long. Nothing much else to report so we headed into the center of Kelling, where we knew there was a tea shop. After coffee and cake headed back to the Quag via a conservation area. Helen spotted a Cuckoo. We passed what looked to be a weather/environment monitoring station. It had the usual wind monitors and slated cupboards that meteorologists use. There was also a parabolic shaped aerial (possibly microwave) pointing skyward, and a white box shaped instrument that made a strange whistle every 30 seconds. Further on we can across a load of Wheatear, Whimbrel, Stonechat, and a Mistle Thrush. Headed onto Weybourne to catch the bus to Cley NWT, for lunch.

What a day!

Today, Sunday was glorious. After a night on the tiles at the Wool Pack pub in Stoke Mandeville,we managed to get up early. Headed out to the hills around Ivinghoe beacon. The atmosphere was really clear and the clouds were white and fluffy, great day for taking photos, which I did and you can see here.

Walked from the NT car park towards Incombe Hole (where a Ring Ouzel had been reported which we failed to find) , and saw Whitethroat and Willow Warbler, spring is definitely here. Went back to Helen’s folks for coffee and cake, then saw the start of the Grand Prix.

After the Grand Prix we headed out on the bikes to a small nature reserve nearby where there are lots of butterflies. Today we have seen Small White, Large White, Green Hairstreak, Peacock, Tortoise Shell, Spotted Wood, Brimstone, Orange Top, and Comma which is a good start to our butterfly list.

The Independent is running a promotion where you can get a butterfly chart. Goto enter your details and a the promotion code BUTTERFLIES, and they will send you the chart.

Stop Press — The Woolpack burnt down over night see the link

No prostitutes here!

Black door

That’s the sign on a residents door just on the edge of Soho, “This is not a brothel there are no prostitutes at this address”. Went to London today, it has been a long time since Helen and I took the time to go as the draw of the countryside always seems to be stronger.

Got the train from Hemel to Euston (where they were filming in the departure hall, big cameras looks like they had real film in them) and then a bus to Exhibition Road. Quick look round the Formula One bit of the Science Museum then decided it was too crowded and headed off back to

Pink drink

the Photographers Gallery in it’s new location just off Oxford Street. Before finding the exhibition we had lunch at Apostrophe which sells French stuff, I had a Marseille (Tuna, Mayo, Green Beans), Helen had Paris (Avocado, Tomatoes and Parmesan), not sure how that is Paris but there you go.  The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2009 quite good a mixed bag of photo’s from the 70’s to date. Next we headed on down to the Frith Street Gallery, which took some finding as it is 15 minutes walk from Frith Street in Golden Square! Some great photos’s of the London landscape, many pictures had both urban concrete and nature in the same frame.

Back at the Eels Foot Inn

Eels Foor Inn room

We are treating Helen’s parents to a weekend away, the pub at Eastbridge is just the ticket. Arrived at around 7:00 on Friday.

Had breakfast the headed off towards Dunwich Heath. Weather showers which seemed to be showering when we were walking. After a tea break at the coast guard cottages we headed off round the hides of Minsmere. Late lunch at the visitors centre, I had the lovely spinach bake. Quick trip to Southwold for the papers then a rest and into the pub for a well earned beer.

Sand dunes and grey sky

Blackbird, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Wood Pigeon, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Mute Swan, Greylag, Mallard, Moorhen, Goldcrest, Robin, Green Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, Stonechat, Kestrel, Cormorant, LBB Gull, Red-throated Diver, Black-headed Gull, Gadwall, Black Tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Avocet, Little Egret, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Shelduck, Herring Gull, Coot, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Wigeon, Shoveler, Knot, Oystercatcher, Jay, Coal Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Snipe, Starling, Curlew, Pheasant.

Dancersend walk

Yellow Flower

Another great day, so went for a walk round Dancersend, the same walk I did a couple of weeks ago but the other way round, which is a better way to do it. Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Rook, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jay, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Red Kite, Yellowhammer, Black-headed Gull, Robin (13). Yellowhammers seem to stay where they are, again today I saw them when I had seem them before.

Purple flower

Contented cat


Todays picture is of my cat, who spends a lot of time sleeping. What a life! By the way I have created a slide show from my Flickr account, you can also click on the link above. Currently you will only see my public photo’s but if you ask nicely I can give you a password to see them all.

I’d rather be out walking

Footpath sign

Another luchtime walk, it helps clear the mind. Took a walk down the new bridleway, it is very ugly and not half as good as walking donw the stretch towards Aylebury.