Highlight Of The Week – A Red Kite Flies Overhead

I was waiting at the bus stop after visiting my father this morning and a red kite sailed over my head.  I have seen one or two patrolling the tiny village in the past but this was the closest it had got – unfortunately it looks very small in a hurried smartphone photograph.

They must be in the top ten of the most majestic sights to be seen in the English countryside – the phrase poetry in motion being completely accurate in this case.


Red Kite

Red Kite

An Unusual Sight (And A Return To Blogging)

This is an unusual sight theses days: a corn field full of poppies! I photographed this last month from the upper deck of a moving bus at Perham Down between Tidworth and Ludgershall in Wiltshire.

Apologies for not posting during the summer months (I had planned to).  Pressure of work meant I had to prioritise my art and writing blogs as these relate to my career.  I have been gardening – although not as much as I should have – and I will take some photographs and share some horticultural experiences shortly.

Also, the wildlife conservation season begins again soon.

Poppies In Corn Field

Poppies In Corn Field

Taking Out Tree Seedlings At Little Durnford – 2009

The task at Little Durnford in 2009 was dedicated to removing tree seedlings from the important hillside grassland.  This ranks along with ragwort pulling as a severely boring job – although the views across the Avon valley made up for this.  The seedlings were mainly ash and there were thousands of them!  The reserve is owned by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and is actually grazed by Jacob’s sheep and also (I think) cattle but obviously they needed a hand!

These photos and the ones done a year earlier at the same reserve are my only record of the hundreds of conservation tasks I did from 1990.  I wouldn’t have taken these except I was by then a proud owner of a mobile phone with a camera – now replaced with a smart phone which is even more flexible.  I do wish smart phones and blogs were around earlier!

Nature Reserve Maintenance At Little Durnford – 2008

Little Durnford In The Avon Valley was the first nature reserve I worked at in the Autumn of 1990.  It was a lovely day with glorious views and I have been a practical wildlife conservationist ever since!

Although it has some nice stands of trees including beech the reserve is managed for the very rich downland above the trees – sheep and cattle are used as part of the management scheme but our group often worked at the site during the Autumn/Winter cutting down tree seedlings (especially ash) and cutting back scrub as it encroached on the grassland.

At the illustrated task the group was clearing up and burning branches from felled trees.  The trees were taken down by contractors some time earlier.  The slope got steeper as the day went on!

Scrub Clearing At Coombe Bisset Down – 2011

This task took place at the beginning of the  2011/2012 conservation season (now finished) we were cutting down small isolated hawthorn and rose plants that would, if left to their own devices, shade out the grass and other flora.  The site was extremely steep and we were stacking the cut scrub at the bottom – so extremely hard work (it wasn’t too bad coming down but then you had to go all the way up again!).

Scrub Clearing At Coombe Bissett Down – 2010

A Return to Coombe Bisset.  Clearing hawthorn and blackthorn again but at a different site on the reserve.  The views were lovely.

Scrub Clearing At Coombe Bisset Down – 2009

This is a picturesque reserve close to Salisbury.  It is owned by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and has a large array of wild flowers and associated fauna (butterflies etc.).  During the Autumn and Winter months scrub is cut back to stop encroachment into the important grassland.