Pink

Thrift, or Sea Pink, Red Valerian, Bell Heather,Foxglove and Red Campion, all flowering in North Devon the day I walked some of the costal footpath at Mortehoe.

The Valerian was everywhere, tumbling out of walls and gardens and seemed less likely to favour the cliffs, which were a delightful riot of shades of pink against the rocky background of grass, sea and blue sky.

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Colours in the garden

Things are fair bursting out on our patch right now. The pond has active newts and there are damsel flies about, hovering over the water.

What’s especially pleasing is that there are plenty of bees around in the flowers that are out, and the baby blue tits in the nest box have fledged. Still looking a bit dusty as their full colours haven’t quite come through yet, they’ve been joined by baby great tits, all of them tucking into the sunflower seeds in the feeder.

Meanwhile, a young pigeon has been sitting on the fence, looking a bit miserable on its own in the rain, but nearby one of the parents has been keeping an eye on it, sitting a discreet distance away on another fence.

 

Parenting is hard work

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I took this shot a while back of a blue tit in our garden gathering my dog’s hair, following a grooming session, to use in making a home in the nesting box we put up.

Since then there’s been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with both parents busily entering and leaving the nest box, bringing food for the babies. No idea how many – we don’t have a camera in there –  but we get good views from the kitchen window of all the activity. Recently, it’s been ramping up. I guess the little ones are getting quite demanding.

I’ve noticed that one of the parents looks quite bedraggled. Now that could be something to do with heavy rain we had earlier in the week, or it could be because that little bird is working so hard to feed the young, and the constant search for food is taking its toll. Yesterday I managed to get a shot of one of the parents at the entrance.

He or she looks scruffy and overworked. I could just see a small shape inside, waiting for the next beakful of food, so maybe these babies will be fledging soon. I’ll be watching!

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Ubiquitous plastic

P1070199Ubiquitous: present everywhere or in several places simultaneously

Plastic: any of a number of synthetic polymeric substances that can be given any required shape

(The Concise Oxford Dictionary)

This lone plastic water bottle floating in a sea of green gunge in Brazos Bend State Park in Texas caught my eye. The park is pristine, tidy and well-kept. Staff and volunteers do a great job keeping it clean so visitors can enjoy the wildlife. So this lone bottle jarred.

It definitely should not have been there and I wondered which unthinking clown had thrown it into the lake rather then into one of the bins (there are plenty of them).

It jarred especially because of the context it was in. I was watching a Great Egret at the time. It was still and peering into the water at the edge of the green and gunky lake. Here it is peering – it let me get quite close but not too close. What a beauty.

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And here it is in context with the discarded plastic bottle

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It just doesn’t go. It shouldn’t be there and it’s a reminder of the vast amounts of discarded plastic we humans are allowing to overtake our planet. Recycling helps of course, but do we need SO MUCH plastic I have to ask.

You’re probably already aware of the plastic problem so I won’t bang on about it. While I was in the US I refused plastic straws given with any drinks ordered in cafes and restaurants. One place didn’t offer them – a small start but it was encouraging to see it nonetheless.

 

Roseate Spoonbill

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That flash of pink in the treetops…..what was it?

We’d just embarked on the walk along by Forty Acre Lake at Brazos Bend State Park, when a ruffling kerfuffle of pink erupted in the mid-distance treetops.

My brain said “Flamingoes? Here?” My binoculars said “Roseate Spoonbills – 4 of them!”

This was a first ever sighting of these rather weird large waders, with their prehistoric-looking spoon-shaped bills. What a treat! A trip to Brazos Bend is always rewarding, but the spoonbills made this trip even more so.

These birds were heavily persecuted in the late 1800s when feathered hats were in vogue and they all but died out, thanks to vain fashion and plume hunters. Thankfully they have made a recovery but the message is clear: persecute and destruction and/or extinction will follow.

What a treat it was to see these birds. The photo isn’t great – I was lucky to get it – but you’ll get the overall impact of this stunning, peculiar, wonderful bird.

A strange gurgling in the night

P1060986There it was again –  a loud, odd gurgling sound – a bit like the warble of a bird but far more urgent. I was suddenly wide awake. Confused too, as I briefly wondered if I was at home and hearing the dawn chorus. But no, I was definitely not at home because I was sleeping in a cabin-style house in the desert, surrounded by mountians. And it was dark.

Something was definitely going on outside. Scuffles? That gurgling noise again, like an alarm call. It stopped and I went back to sleep.

Next morning there was excited talk amongst our family party about the noise which I’d heard, husband had heard, son and daughter-in-law had heard. The grandchildren slept through it all.

Our cabin’s location was just outside Big Bend National Park in the far south of Texas. Wildlife in that area includes deer, road runners, javelina and mountain lions. The conclusion was that what we’d heard was a mountain lion in pursuit of prey. The gurgling sound could have been the prey, or the alarm call of a bird aroused by the lion.

Our son, sleeping at the front of the house, had got up and looked out, shining a torch into the blackness of the night. He’d seen the lion attacking something else; the light from his torch had startled the lion and it (and preseumably the prey) hadP1070004 (2) run off.

We went to look at the loose sand and soil outside the cabin where he’d seen the activity and found the evidence – paw prints and what looked like deer hoof prints. No blood.

Just another night in the desert maybe – but a real bit of colourful excitement for us.