Frogs, Fungus and Fat-balls

NATURE NOTES AT THE END OF JANUARY 2012

Winter still has not really had much of an effect on this little corner of Cornwall, it has been exceptionally mild and pretty wet too. I missed taking a photo of a row of early daffodils blooming against the backdrop of the Ginster’s Christmas tree outside their Pasty factory in Callington  (I didn’t have my camera with me and the next time I passed it was after 12th night)  But I have a shot of our first daffs to bloom – not an early variety but they were blooming by Wednesday of last week (25th Jan) and the snowdrops that line the bottom of the Cornish hedge these grow on were also blooming well.   The first snowdrops however had been those in the new wood, where these (see photo) were out before the end of December. In between I have noticed the usual spring blossoms, the camellias are already putting on a great show and primroses peeking out amongst the grass,  however there are also roses still in bloom in both the front and back gardens.

I couldn’t resist these two examples of fungi – amazingly attractive, one bracket fungus and some toadstools, which I believe to be a honey fungus but must check it out as it was close to one of our apple trees!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The frogs have returned to the water-feature (a run of very small shallow ponds going down through the new wood, fed by spring-water that runs into the main pond near the house) I tried to capture these on camera but the vibration of walking, even ever-so carefully, sends them scooting under the leaf-litter debris in the bottom of the pools. The frogs that inhabit here vary in shade and markings, from the usual green and gold, brown and gold to a dark liver red colour.  Their great clumps of frog-spawn, are, however, quite visible and, as they protrude above the shallow water, are also vulnerable to frost if we get one.

In the main pond (which also holds numerous shubunkin type goldfish, ranging from dark brown, through speckled to gold – none of which we have see at all since late November) the newts have reappeared.  I have tried to capture these on camera but being under-water means I always get a ‘light refraction’ shadow – so they are not that clear. If anyone out there can tell me how to take these photos in a clear way (using a simple old digital camera) please do!  Our newts range in shade from a dark olive green to a basic brown, through a russet red to a pale pinkish colour.  As the water warms up I expect to see more of them as they start their mating behaviour – where a female will  be followed around the bottom of the shallow shelf on the pond by a number of suitors.

My father has a new bird-feeder, it looks like a log with holes cut in the sides and you fill it with ‘fat-balls’ which are, much as their name suggests, balls of fat with seeds and grain in them. This has attracted two varieties of woodpecker, the green woodpecker and the greater spotted woodpecker,  to the garden where we can see them from the kitchen window (we often hear them in the area). They have been accompanied by the long-tailed tits, which usually fly in a group of about a dozen and flitter round the trees where the feeders are, feed briefly but then swiftly move on, however the fat-ball log seems to keep them here much longer.

Lastly a picture quiz: What is it? I took this photograph in very late December in our garden. A click on the picture will enlarge it for you. Can you identify the plant these fell from? Answers in the comment please – I’ll give the correct answer next week!

Clue 1: These came off a tree.

Clue 2: This tree belongs on the other side of the world – native of Australia.

Clue 3 This tree has silvery green leaves, round on young stems and elongated and pointed on older.

FIRST PERSON TO POST CORRECT ANSWER IN COMMENTS  WINs AN E-COPY OF  Divining The Line

And if you want to know more about the novels by Ann Foweraker ‘Divining the Line’, ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ and ‘Some Kind Of Synchrony’ just click HERE to be able to the first 3 chapters in pdf FREE !  Answer and Winner?? – See the comments!

SEE ‘Old Bottle – New Treasures’ post for February Picture Quiz!

Sharing:

The first Novel now available on AnnMade.co.uk

Now you must understand that this isn’t my first novel, the first will probably never be distributed, but this is the first to be available to the public in many e forms, as Mobi for the Kindle users, in EPUB for the SONY readers and NOOK and as a PDF for anyone else – I guess.

The novel is called Nothing Ever Happens Here and would, (if it was forced to – see my blog about genres) be in the crime and possibly the romance sections. The blurb reads:

Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder enquiry, drug raid and abduction.

DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.

This is a love story set in the early 1990s which combines the historic Cornish love of the sea and smuggling with hard faced twentieth century crime and detection.

So take a look – you can read the first three chapters free as a pop-up PDF * HERE *

Sharing:

‘Between The Tides’ Sand Sculptures

So I have been away, and when I am away I get to do three things more than I do at any other time of the year. Write my novels, body boarding, more about both elsewhere, and sand-sculpt. Now if you were expecting those magnificent semi-permanent structures created by teams of professionals in special sites all over the world then you may be disappointed, my type of sand-sculpture is ‘between the tides’ which means it is made with ordinary beach sand and in the time between tides, usually remaining on the beach only until the next high tide.

Beach sand is not favoured by the professionals, the grains are too round and do not stick together well enough or allow for the crisp outlines they require. The time between tides is also not sufficient for these elaborate structures as each must be built up over time, with formers being filled with the correct mixture of lake sand and water and tamped down until firm, where upon a second former is placed on top and filled and tamped down and only when that is firm and stable enough can the subsequent formers and layers be added. As you can guess this takes quite a long time and, indeed, a team of people. There may be only one named sculptor, though frequently there are the ‘rough sculptors’ who take the blocks of sand away and the finisher who does the fine work.

However, BTT sand sculptures are possible for everyone who has a bucket and spade and a knife (normal cutlery – not necessarily sharp) and a brush or two (the cheapest from the DIY store) and sand that will stick together – if it would make a reasonably firm sand castle tipped from a bucket – it can be used to sculpt. This year my husband and I have been away with family again, our eldest son, wife and two small grandchildren. This has changed the basic repertoire of my sculptures, which were getting more arty and less representational, back to where I started, sand-sculpture for my own children to play in.  So this year I have had to make a series of Thomas the Tank engines, boats and aeroplanes as well as having the lee way to make a stegosaurus, a shark and my trademark mermaid.

 

Sharing:

More Port Eliot Festival …..

Wow! What a great festival… the weather gave showers for the Friday but they soon cleared, and I ended up leaving my wellies in the car and favouring sandals all day.  So, if you’ve never been to Port Eliot Festival you have to know that most recently it was a Literary Festival with a wild past (known as Elephant Fayre in the 80s) that has now matured into a brilliant all round, family friendly festival, something for everyone, everyone pretty laid back and in such beautiful surroundings.

There is plenty of the literary festival still there with readings, discussions, interviews etc but is combined with music, to suit many tastes, wild swimming, cinema both in the house and at night down by the river, fashion, flower arranging, poetry, food from small Cornish frozen yoghurt business to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, cookery demonstrations, bars, comedy, cabaret, stalls, a whole area just for children to enter into a fantasy land of making  playing play acting, dressing up and doing wonderful stuff, wandering musicians, jugglers and dancers. Dovegreyreader (blog-site) even had a tent where you could sit while she did interviews and you could knit, should you wish to.

What did I notice… well people always dress a little differently when at Port Eliot (especially if they’ve visited the Fashion tent) and the stalls selling weird and wonderful hats, (vintage and modern) and the same in clothes attract a lot of people who obviously arrived and only then realised people treat the place like a big fancy dress event. Me? Well I went wearing one of my belly dance coin belts, over layered skirt and wrap and jingled my way about…. part of my reading included words describing a belly dance and so it was also a prop! Secondly… as I said the weather really didn’t need wellies…yet all through so many people were wearing their wellies (all sorts – multi-coloured to standard green or black)… even on the stage, as did Kate Winslet when she read to the children from Mr Gum … perhaps they didn’t bring any other footwear … it being a festival and all.

Our reading in the round room went well with nearly a capacity audience – everyone in bare or stockinged feet in there as have  to take your boots off at the door …. can’t wait for next year!

Sharing:

Enjoyed this blog? Please share :)