Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Trip of Hares

Brown Hare - Lepus europaeus

We have had a lot of hares in the garden all summer but yesterday afternoon there were six of them right outside the conservatory! Too good an opportunity to miss, so I got the camera out and got a bit carried away.

Hares are one of my favourite creatures and they seem to be thriving these days, which is very good news. I think they like the combination of fields in front of our house, woods to the side, lots of luscious lawn grass and windfall apples.

Brown Hare - Lepus europaeus

Brown Hare - Lepus europaeus

I was wondering what is the collective noun for a group of hares? So, I looked it up and there are lots of them - husk, flick, drove, down, leash, mute, trace, and probably my favourite, a trip of hares.

I am hoping next spring to get some photos of them "boxing".

Brown Hare - Lepus europaeus

Brown Hare - Lepus europaeus

For late October, the weather has been unseasonably warm. I am happy about this because the grass seed that we planted by the pond is coming through nicely. However, on Monday we had a very bad storm, predicted well in advance by the Met Office. It was forecast to be the worst storm since the hurricane in 1987 when we lost six big trees and had no electricity for a whole week.

I am happy to say that although very wild, it was not as bad as 1987. We lost part of our electricity supply for a day and a half, but suffered no other damage. Surprisingly, there were no trees uprooted, just quite a few branches down.

The clocks went back last weekend, so sadly, the darkness of winter is closing in :(

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Fruitful Autumn

Roe Deer eating windfall apples It is a long time since I have posted due to other commitments, but this year has certainly been interesting.

We started with a dreadful spring followed by a summer that was better than average, temperature-wise. Autumn has been fairly changeable but certainly not cold. We have had no frosts here yet and probably less than average rainfall.

However, the conditions have obviously been just right to produce a massive harvest of fruit, nuts and berries. The apple trees are groaning under the weight of fruit. I have stashed bags full of blackberries in the freezer. The oak trees are laden with acorns and the horse chestnuts have more conkers than I have ever seen before.

Of course, this is all good news for the animals who are constantly present under the apples trees gorging themselves on windfalls.

The photo above shows a couple of roe deer.  The photo below shows a muntjac and even the hares have been getting in on the act along with crows, jackdaws and jays.
Muntjac eating windfall apples

Hare eating windfall apples

Roe Deer eating windfall apples

The recent rain has also brought out the fungi - various types of inkcaps, parasols, honey fungus, boletes and sulphur tuft. Here are a few photos.

The Hare's Foot Inkcaps are intriguing. They are very delicate, open up like a flower and only last a few hours.

Shaggy Parasol Mushroom

Glistening Inkcaps

We have been very busy with some long overdue reorganisation of the garden. We have had the pond dredged and tidied up and it is quite transformed with a new bridge and waterfall. The banks of the pond were quite steeply sloping which made it difficult to get close. We have reduced the slopes and hopefully next year I will be able to get better photos of some of the pond life.

It was very frustrating this summer. There were huge numbers of dragonflies but I was unable to get any photos.

We are also planning to create new flowerbeds around the pond but we will not be planting until the spring.

Look out for better pond photos next year!

We have also been reorganising the flowerbeds around the house. They had become rather overgrown and untidy.

We have created a fern garden below the kitchen window in a spot that does not get a lot of sun and is usually quite damp.

We have planted Hellebores for winter colour and hundreds of new spring bulbs. I really cannot wait to see the results next spring. I will be sure to post some photos.

The garden reorganisation does not stop there and we will be working outwards from the house to get the other flowerbeds in better shape next spring.

Let's hope that the winter will be kind to us.