I had a surprise visitor in the downstairs loo, also in February! I think it is the same moth as I found indoors around Nov time in 2014. It's a Golden Twinspot (Chrysodeixis chalcites) and it must have come in on my geraniums like the last time, maybe as larva. This year as the geraniums were still flowering I kept them downstairs for a few weeks before transferring upstairs to a cooler room. The poor geraniums are not really having a dormant period this year.
Whilst on the subject of insects, here's a really interesting little video showing a Potter Wasp building its nest - remember the pics I posted back in January of the pot shaped nest K had found on a chopping board in the barn? Thanks to Ragged Robin for sharing it with me via Twitter.
Above are some pics of my ducks zoomed in through the kitchen window. The top photo shows two Mallard drakes with Dirk for size comparison. We've had a number of Mallards visiting regularly, both male and female, and they seem to get on ok with Dirk and Rachel (bottom pic is my two). When they see us however, they fly off and it's amazing seeing how they do an almost vertical ascent to get up over the trees to get away. With much quacking, of course!
Below is my wiggly hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'), which flowers long after the wild hazel. The wild ones flowered really early this year, but it seems like spring has slowed down a bit and now certain plants are flowering at a more normal time.
These are the flowers on the purple leaved Prunus that is so common everywhere. I have very few flowers on mine this year.
The weekend before last was motorhome testing out time before we go real camping! We wanted to get out and about whilst the weather was dry and sunny and check out the water tanks, taps, boiler, heating etc. It doesn't look obvious from this view why it isn't possible to get it in here, but the slope is too much and the overhang of the van beyond the back wheels would bash on the ground getting up this slope. That's beside the fact there's nowhere to turn it around once up the drive! But at least there is room to park it outside off the road temporarily.
Hallie happened to be below me, checking out the emerging cat mint no doubt!
That afternoon (Sunday before last) we went off to check out a couple of lakes, to test the central heating and to have tea and birthday cake, as it was K's birthday. He always jokes about me taking him to lakes hundreds of kms away on his birthday only to see just one Mallard (this did happen once!). This particular lake has a bird hide, but the only birds coming anywhere near us were a lone Coot and a Great Crested Grebe. Yes, as usual, the birds were over the other side of the lake..... But I could just about make out the Grebes doing their courtship dance, although I didn't realise there were Shovelers there until I saw my photos. And in one photo I'd also captured a distant male Common Merganser, which is interesting, as we haven't seen any of them since Lake Geneva days. Worth checking out this lake again - it's the Etang de Chatillon at Chatillon en Vendelais, between Fougeres and Vitre.
Cormorants on dead tree branches in the far distance.
Well I ended up taking photos of the hide as bird photos were fairly impossible!
Here's the church in the village. We also checked out another lake near Vitre but it was getting late and we were more interested in putting the kettle on and getting out of the wind, so we just enjoyed ourselves sitting in the warmth. Although the central heating didn't work. K kept trying but it would go whir..... phut. Back home he RTFM'd and bashed his head with a big 'duh'. He'd forgotten there was a button he needed to push back in after draining the boiler previously...... easy when you are used to it but there is so much to learn at the beginning!
Back to home and this last week I've been attacking some neglected shrub beds. I'm not very in the mood for this sort of thing but nothing got done last year, so anything is better than none. I asked K to dig out the now overgrown clumps of Montbretia/Crocosmia, which promptly broke a wooden shafted digging spade, they were so tough! Most of them will be taken to the tip, but I am replanting a few of the now divided clumps as I really like them; both leaf and flower are attractive. I just hadn't realised how much they could spread. I'm now removing corms from right in under shrubs, which is really annoying.
I'm also taking this opportunity to add lots of compost and leaf mould to the soil. Afterwards it looks so neat and tidy, so I'm putting wire cages around everything to try to protect from cats and chickens, who just love digging in nice patches of bare earth.
Over the last few months our tidying up has produced tons of woody matter that needs to be disposed of - after numerous visits to the tip, I had a brainwave! The veg patch is an open area with bare earth (i.e. not lawn) where we could have a bonfire. It's just a weedy mess this year but if I use this patch again in the future it will have a nice lot of potash already added. One hour of burning has rid us of about five trips to the tip!
I saw this Thrush out of the window - is it a Song Thrush? I find it hard to tell, because it kept stopping and standing very upright, which I know Mistle Thrushes do. Anyway I thought it fun that there was a Green Woodpecker there too. Photos not very clear in places due to double glazing.
And because it is spring now...
More MoHo photos to come from a day out by the sea, but bear with me as I've been feeling really low ever since our outings, so sorting through photos and putting a blog post together is taking me ages. I'd rather sit in front of the fire and play games on my new phone as I am completely unmotivated. :-(