Saturday, 29 January 2011

Woodpecker from my Window

Now I know why there are bits of bark missing on this Rain Forest Pansy tree....... A pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers feed on the peanut bird feeders and they nest somewhere in the woods nearby. This week I saw one of them pecking away at the bark of this young tree , which has beautiful, deep maroon- red, heart shaped leaves in the summer. I shall have to find a tree trunk guard when I next go into town, and I must keep the peanut feeder filled up!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Snapshots from the Oceanarium

The Oceanarium at Bournemouth is just a few steps away from the beach, the main pier and the Wintergardens, so it is a popular place for visitors to go. We decided to go there for a few hours on Sunday. A good variety of marine fish and reptiles are kept and displayed in large aquariums that allow shoals of even the largest fish to swim freely and naturally.

In the Amazon River collection, perfect camouflage.......

A Freshwater Stingray

Eye to eye......

Glittering Red piranhas from the Amazonian Rainforest.

The huge (70cm long) , vegetarian Pacu, who is a distant relative of the piranhas.

An Amazonian Redtail Catfish (134 cm long). These catfish, which naturally eat crab, fish and fruit, have very large mouths and will swallow anything that comes in their way. Because of this, plants have had to be removed from this aquarium and only the huge Pacu fish are safe companions.

Another stingray

One aquarium houses creatures from the River Ganges, which drains the Himalayas and flows for 1,56o miles across Northern India before it meets the Indian Ocean.

The Snake-necked Turtle (30cm) eats frogs, tadpoles, fish and crustaceans.

A mouth made for suction......

....and another.

From Africa, a Soft Shelled Turtle, who is well adapted to finding its prey (fish, snails and worms) in the gaps between underwater rocks.

One of the two great Leatherback turtles who swim together in a huge and interesting aquarium that mimics the environment of a temperate sea. These two beautiful animals were washed up on the beach in Cornwall several years ago. Rescued and nursed back to health in Torquay, they were transferred to Bournemouth when the Torquay Aquarium closed.


Fast swimming shoal.......

Green coral

Sea urchin

Another turtle....
Fast shark....

A moray eel peers out from rocks.

A Tang in a hurry......


....and time to go home. Looking out to sea and wondering about the fishes in the deeps of the English Channel. The little blue rubber dolphins in K`s left hand are going home to play in the bath!

Information was taken from Bournemouth Oceanarium`s Guidebook.

More details at

Monday, 24 January 2011

Five Minutes on Bournemouth Beach

Last Sunday was a cold, dry day. After a family outing to the Oceanarium, we walked across the sand towards the sea. Across Poole Bay, white chalk cliffs at Old Harry`s Rock rose up into the gently sloping hill of Ballard Down.

A few, well wrapped up people were out for a walk along the beach and children played under the archways of the pier.

A kite had fallen to earth.

The air was hazy to the west, where the wooded, sandy cliffs meet the sea at Canford Cliffs.

Gentle surf broke with a surging rush of foam that sizzled up the sand.

Stones and shells lay in a line at the water`s edge........

........ and someone`s stout little dog explored damp sand, well prepared to face the cold!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Christchurch in Winter Sunshine

After so many days of rain and grim, grey skies, this morning dawned as bright and sunny as a late spring day. This afternoon I drove down the Avon Valley road to Christchurch, and walked through the lanes near the Priory Church, towards the harbour quay.

Nineteenth century cottages, where the people who worked in the town and on the water once lived, are spruced and painted in pastel shades.

Looking back towards the High Street, the ruins of the Norman castle keep still tower above the shops and cottages.

The cottages are mixed in style, reflecting their ages. Bow fronted Victorian , pastel painted Georgian and earlier thatched roofed houses line the narrow lanes.

Winter trees in the garden of The Red House Museum.

The grand, red bricked vicarage of the Priory Church.

The Red House Museum, once a private house, is on the left of the street.

A kissing gate into the churchyard.

The tower of the Priory Church.

Christchurch Priory Church, as fine and almost as large as a small cathedral, viewed from the south.

The pretty old cottage to the west of the Church tower.

Sunlight on bark......

....and a squirrel quarreling with its neighbour .

I walked through a gate in the old brick wall and there was the River Stour, its birds and its bobbing small boats beside the quay.

Yachts raised out of water for the winter.

To the south and east, a view across Christchurch Harbour to the marshland at Hengistbury Head. Behind this lies the sea, and the shining white chalk of the cliffs and The Needles of the Isle of Wight.

Swans paddled the green water beside the quay, or waddled across the grass to beg for food.

Black Headed Gulls are regaining their black heads. A sure sign that spring is not so far away.

A coot feeds in floating weed......

....but look what the tide brought in!

Along the riverside........

....small rowing boats are full of water from the recent rain.

The Stour Ferry.....

....and the other side of the river, in the village of Wick.

I walked beside the River Stour, almost to the bridge, and then turned back towards the town.
People of all ages were out beside the water, or walking on the grassy field called The Quomps. Faces were turned upwards, soaking up the warm afternoon sun.

An "Ugly Duckling" is almost an adult swan.

Families were feeding the birds.

At mooring in the river.

The old stone bridge by the mill stream, where water from the River Avon rushes through towards Place Mill.

Place Mill....

The space where the great wooden mill wheel turned.

I turned away from the quay, refreshed and feeling so much better after time beside the water. Taking photos slows me down, so I put the camera away and entered the garden through wrought iron gates. It was time for a brisk walk beside the Avon and back into the town, before I left on the Valley road and drove through rain soaked fields and heathland, heading for home.