Saturday 4 March 2017

Not Safe in Taxis

Bird survey form (top section only).
Regular readers will know that I spend some of my time out observing local wildlife and I am quite keen to add any observations to the National Biodiversity Database. As part of this I count the birds on this 'farm' through the winter months and survey bumble bees on three walk-routes in the summer. This week is change-over week, when the birds finish (the survey only wants winter residents) and the bees start.

Last year's bee survey map. My three 'transepts'
are arrowed. I have to walk these three walks
at least once a month from March to October.
As well as these formal multi-month surveys, I also record any mammals I see (including road-kill), any birds and amphibians anywhere in my travels and input these to the database(s). I enjoy doing this 'observing' anyway (always have been a bit of a naturalist) and the database thing gives it an extra flavour of usefulness.

The sheep are currently on the front lawn - they have almost
eaten the East Field bare. This is Myfanwy. 
We have 'breaking news' in the pig department, though no photo's so you will have to put up with some wet sheep. Our breeder (Adrian) had a bit of a set back when one of the sows (Plum), who was due to 'farrow' in January failed to do so. She was last heard of being shipped back to Wicklow to be put back with the boar to either accept him (a sure sign that she was not pregnant) or to farrow a bit later than planned (just wrong dates recorded back in October). These things happen and it is always "in the lap of the gods".

(L to R) Rosy, Polly and Lily NOT enjoying the constant rain.
We (and Sue and Rob, who are also in the market for piglets) had to stand down and wait for the 2nd sow (Iris) which was due in March. Well, better news this time, says Adrian - Iris is due on 5th March (tomorrow) after her 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days and she is showing all the signs, restless nest-building, full of milk etc. Nobody count any 'chickens' just yet as nothing is certain but we MIGHT, just might, get word and a photo soon and then a collection date for our gilts at the end of April. Woop woop!

Polly is unimpressed by the rain. The ewes are on the front
 lawn for the grass but there is no shelter-building for them
to retreat into. 
Meanwhile, Friends of the Blog will know that I had been trying to introduce our three young ducks to the established adult pair, who happen to be their biological Mum and Dad. I gave them a couple of hours (loosely) supervised a couple of days ago while Liz was at work and the drake (William (of Orange)) spent as much of it as possible chasing his 'children' around intent on mounting them and giving them the benefit of his amorous appetites.

Puddle Central here at present. 
When I reported this to Liz via text, she clocked the fact that the youngsters are probably not just his children but also his DAUGHTERS, so he is something of a wicked aul' pervert and, as she phrased it, "Not safe in taxis". We'll get round it. New animals always get chased around by your existing adults just as part of establishing dominance and 'pecking orders' and the drake will, in the end, accept the new-comers into his harem. Ducks are known for being a bit boisterous and drakes in particular can be bullies and rapists. It's all part of being a duck. I've not seen any attacks with intent to wound in these encounters.

Slicing up the fallen tree. 
Finally, a 'schoolboy error' with which I have confused Vendor Anna. The tree blown down here by Storm Doris had been cleared from the drive and I have sliced up that section for logs but the top 55 feet or so is still lying on the lawn with its nice cut end looking at you as you walk down the drive. I didn't think, and counted the tree rings on this end before reporting the age of the tree as 53 years. Anna was rapidly back on saying that this must be wrong as her father (TK Max on this blog) planted no trees at any time around 1961, so this must be a self-seed. Unlikely for a black spruce.

The base of your tree is a much more sensible place to count
I realised that this cut I was looking at was made 10-12 feet up the tree and would include no rings created when the tree had not yet reached this height. Ooops. Having dropped the tall stump and being able to now see the cut surface of the base, the growth rings are less clear but there are more like 65-70 giving the tree an start date around 1946. That might fit better with Anna's memories of her father's tree planting projects.

That is probably enough for this post. I am sure you do not want to hear about our rain, rain and more rain.

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