Patents, Swallows and Yet Another Snake

A slightly odd day so far. We are not long back from the seaside where we saw some German number plates. The beach we went to is only a few kilometres from the high technology industrial park. Not sure if the Germans are here to work or to holiday.

Last night the wife had a dream in which she was talking to people about patents and financial forecasting, which are not subjects that she knows much about. Sometimes the wife’s dreaming is of a prescient nature, she can sense things incoming ahead of time. This kind of dream is very different to her normal fayre. Thus, it kind of stands out, it follows on from my “dodgy deals” dreams, perhaps.

It is now pretty obvious that we are going to have to surrender our passageway from the back door to the garages over to the swallows. They have started building a nest in the rafters. So, I guess for the next month or so we will be walking the long way round to the cars. If I sit in the veranda, I can see the nest building site. I may be able to get a direct line of sight with the telephoto.

I have just walked around the pond in my crocs, this means I am very quiet when walking. I often startle the wildlife. And guess what? I saw the large grass snake again. I think it must live at that end of the garden because that is where I / we have seen it before. It slithered off towards the water only a few feet from my toes.

That is a whole lot of snake sighting in one week.

And There Be Ducklings!

Earlier this year the breeding pair had their nest on our pond predated. They lost four eggs. After this we did not see Madame La Cane for a while. We did see Monsieur Le Canard and from time to time three adolescent males.

A bit later on we saw Monsieur et Madame swimming upstream on Le Jaudy during one of our walks.

Soon enough I began to see the lady-duck swimming in “the swamp”. Of all the ducks she has been the most chilled around us. Boy duck usually flies off.

The swamp is just the other side of our boundary fence and there is a path around the pond which passes between the pond and the swamp. The swamp is much more covered with trees and is more overgrown.

This morning whilst I was circumambulating I glanced over into the swamp because I could see something moving on the surface.

Most excellent news!

There was Madame La Cane with at least three ducklings swimming behind her.

Fingers crossed she will bring her brood for a swim on our pond at some time in the future.

What a nice start to the day…

The Slow Worm {l’orvet} and the Sacrificial Tail

It seems like the slow worm had both me and the Magpie fooled. On escorting the wife past the “dead” snake this is what we saw.

This is the fourth one we have found on the property and this one is possibly male the others were female with a much more distinct stripe.

From Wikipedia

The slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is a reptile native to Eurasia. It is also called a deaf adder, a slowworm, a blindworm, or regionally, a long-cripple, to distinguish it from the Peloponnese slowworm. These legless lizards are also sometimes called common slowworms. The “blind” in blindworm refers to the lizard’s small eyes, similar to a blindsnake (although the slowworm’s eyes are functional).

Slow worms are semifossorial (burrowing) lizards, spending much of their time hiding underneath objects. The skin of slow worms is smooth with scales that do not overlap one another. Like many other lizards, they autotomize, meaning that they have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators. While the tail regrows, it does not reach its original length. In the UK, they are common in gardens, and can be encouraged to enter and help remove pest insects by placing black plastic or a piece of tin on the ground. On warm days, one or more slow worms can often be found underneath these heat collectors. One of the biggest causes of mortality in slow worms in suburban areas is the domestic cat, against which it has no defense.

{What I thought was a missing head is a missing tail. I guess the slowworm played dead to outsmart the Magpie.}

Size and longevity

Adult slow worms grow to be about 50 cm (20″) long, and are known for their exceptionally long lives; the slow worm may be the longest-living lizard, living about 30 years in the wild and up to at least 54 years in captivity (this record is held by a male slow worm that lived at the Copenhagen Zoo from 1892 until 1946, the age when first obtained is unknown). The female often has a stripe along the spine and dark sides, while the male may have blue spots dorsally. Juveniles of both sexes are gold with dark brown bellies and sides with a dark stripe along the spine.

Protected status in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the slow worm has been granted protected status, alongside all other native British reptile species. The slow worm has been decreasing in numbers, and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to intentionally kill, injure, sell, or advertise to sell them is illegal.

Les Hirondelles à Mach 2 and Protector Birds

We have a passageway between the house and the garages it is about 120cm wide and 250cm tall at the entrance and exit. In between it rises to around five metres.

Of late entering the passageway often results in a swallow {une hirondelle I think of them in French and not English} whizzing past your head at Mach 2. Well not really Mach 2 but pretty damn quick. They fly close to your head; you can hear the wings.

The pair may be nesting in the passageway. One of them was on the ladder in the atelier yesterday afternoon, so they may be looking for a spot. Like the Red Arrows they are very acrobatic fliers and to watch them drink from the pond on the wing is a marvel. They fly ten centimetres from the surface, and they dip to sip. It is almost worth buying a new video camera just to capture it.

It is possible that these are the same ones, back from Africa, we had in residence last year.

We have been speculating that the Magpies are acting like “protector” birds just like Russel and Sheryl. Back when I was having my “conversations” on the Ashridge estate they said that they would send protectors and sure enough two crows, Russell and Sheryl, nested just above our back door.

Maybe I need to think of some names for our current corvids…


Three Snakes in Four Days – The Magpie Assassin

This morning we were treated to a rare spectacle in nature. It was our third snake in four days.

Sat with our morning coffee watching BBC Breakfast I caught in the corner of my eye one of the Magpies pecking at something in the grass about four metres away through the large floor to ceiling window.

“What is he pecking at?”

We both watched and sure enough it was pecking at a small grass snake. The Magpie backed off and attacked several times I could see the snake curl around its beak. The display went on for several minutes.

The Magpie seemed to lose interest and flew off up into the tree.

I opened the widow / door and went to inspect. Where the Magpie had been pecking was a small now headless snake still writhing a bit. I offered the wife to come see but she declined.

A little while later one of the blackbirds arrived, near to the place of snake assassination. It had a long pecking session with something that was the same size as a snake’s head.

A bit later the Magpie returned and inspected the battlefield. It then flew off, satisfied.

It was quite a spectacle played out only a few metres from our sofa.

As an aside I am convinced that one or both of the Magpies can imitate a cat’s meow. One of them can do duck quacking as well.

Pretty clever these creatures. This display was made for us to perhaps learn from. A lesson from the dreaming?

The Magpie Totem.

Some Macro Textures

Delicate Dandelion Fluff
Purple Alien Proboscis
Introverted Iris Unfurl
Birched Reality
A little imperfection
Twist – Uncork the Wine
Orinoko Flow
Adolescent Bamboo Flex
Laughter Lines
Highly Strung

Transformation by Human

When we arrived here in January 2019 the garden was more than a little overgrown.

This is where we are at May 2021.

The wife did the rose garden whilst I was incapacitated. It looks ready to bloom.

This is “the bowl” I cleared most of this on my backside when I was having difficulty walking. It was overrun with ivy and brambles. We discovered hidden plants.

Here is “the central section”. We have been working on this for around seven weeks now.

You can see “the orchard” between the two sheds.