Sunday, 19 January 2014

I saw a Mouse......

                                                       There on the stair......

Last night, I opened the back door to let the dog in and Lucy Cat rushed in with something in her mouth! I followed her half way up the stairs and managed to get hold of her and get her to drop her victim. A very wet, but unharmed mouse cowered in the corner while I took the hissing hunter and shut her into a bedroom.

I found an empty container and, with the help of Mr DW, we managed to herd the mouse into the pot. 
That was easier said than done when the mouse climbed up the stair carpet of three steps, but we enticed him in eventually and no harm seemed to have been done.

It wasn`t easy to tell if this was a house mouse, or a very wet woodmouse. 

We had no idea where the mouse had been taken from. Knowing that the cats will often visit our neighbour`s rather wild garden, Mr DW set off in the dark and let the mouse go free under their thick hedge. The mouse appeared to be an adult so hopefully it will survive. Lucy Cat was on curfew for the night and has only been out for ten minutes today, so the mouse might still be alive.

When I released her from her prison, Lucy rushed to the stairs and wowled indignantly. Her mouse had gone! She sniffed the corner where it had cowered.

She rolled and wriggled along the carpet.

She made sure that there wasn`t a hidden mousehole in the corner.
She ran up and down the stairs........

.....and then up again.

At this point, I took her into the kitchen and served supper to the cats. Lucy forgot all about her missing mouse and decided that food from a cat food tin was much easier (if not as much fun) to catch.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Lepe Beach, in Sunshine Last Saturday

After a week of stormy rain and floods, it was wonderful to wake up on Saturday to blue skies and sunshine. It was a perfect day to go down to the sea and walk.

We had never been to Lepe Beach, a seaside and country park on the coast at the entrance to the Solent, and just around the corner from the western entrance to Southampton Water.

The tide was out. Across the Solent, the northern coast of the Isle of Wight looked so near in the clean, bright air.

People were out exploring the mudflats. Children paddled and peered into rock pools 

On the cliffs behind the beach, there are areas of scrub and trees. A path leads inland to a wildflower meadow. We hope to go back and walk that way in early summer, to see the flowers.

Lepe Beach is in the direct line of prevailing south westerly winds and tides that funnel up between the Island and mainland coast. Sea defences include lines of breakwaters made from wooden posts.

We found the remains of an old slipway and jetty.

This was a wartime telephone cable that allowed communication between the Isle of Wight and the mainland.

Signposts visible from the sea warn sailors of hazards from the underwater cables.

Lots of people and dogs were out walking, but a detour onto the mudflats soon  led down to calm, gentle waves and a sense of solitude.

In the far distance, beyond the shingle spit where families were exploring and across the Solent,  the white Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth Harbour shone against the sky.

A cargo ship turned at anchor, waiting for its turn to enter harbour in Southampton.

Wooden breakwaters, in various states of decay, made natural sculptures and a myriad of shapes and shadows.

The storms had eroded soft sandstone cliffs. Trees seemed to teeter on the edge.....

.....while thorn and gorse had tumbled down to the beach in recent days.

Old bricks made a crocodile that protected more pipes on their way to the Isle of Wight.

The coast curved round into a bay, where the shingle spit stretched out to sea..........

........and a young black lab was having such fun, swimming into the waves to fetch her stick.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

From West Dorset - A View of Jupiter

Last week, on a rare clear night, my son took this photograph of Jupiter from his West Dorset back garden. He has been watching the stars for some years, but it was only recently that his new camera equipment enabled good photographs to be taken through his telescope. I have his permission to post this on my blog. He was really pleased with the result and the image quickly arrived here via i phone!

We have been watching the BBC Stargazing Live series and I have just looked at their pages on the BBC website. There is so much information and some amazingly beautiful images from space.

Back here on earth, we are in the grips of grey, drizzly weather with a band of heavy rain due overnight. Yesterday was beautiful. Sunshine and blue skies for a day! Despite the wilder weather of our winter, one look at the constant, rolling storms of Jupiter puts things into perspective.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Christchurch Avon in Flood

On Tuesday we walked up onto St Catherine`s Hill in Christchurch, to see the extent of flooding after the recent heavy and persistent rainstorms. 

Up through the pines and silver birches, the ground underfoot was wet and slippery.

When we reached the top of the hill we saw the River Avon`s floodplain stretching out to the east and southwards towards Christchurch Harbour, where it meets the River Stour and then flows into the sea. This week, with a new moon and high Spring Tides, the already swollen river waters from both the Stour and the Avon have met incoming tidal seas on high winds. The valleys of both rivers are now saturated and flooding for miles inland. Homes have been flooded, farmland is under water and many roads have been closed across the region.

Looking across the flooded Avon Valley, towards the villages of Burton and Winkton.
At Burton, a small herd of grazing horses became marooned in floodwater this week. They were rescued by a specialist animal welfare team.

The flooded farmland below the hill is watermeadow pasture during the summer months. 

We were sorry to see graffiti sprayed on the familiar old trig point.

Looking north, flooding stretched on up the valley towards Ringwood.

A view downstream towards the Harbour, where the hill of Hengistbury Head can be seen in the distance and the tower of Christchurch Priory Church is just visible to its right.

We knew that another belt of storm clouds was due to arrive later that day, so we went for a brief, brisk walk around the top of St Catherine`s Hill.
Below is one of the Bronze Age burial mounds, behind a stand of silver birches.

An orange jelly fungus, bright against a wet woodland background.

On the hilltop there are still a few garden plants growing wild, like this red berried cotoneaster. There was once a sand quarry on this hill and it is said that there was a workers cottage too. The plants are thought to be from the old cottage garden.

The sand quarry now forms a crater on the summit of the hill. Rain has collected into a pond.

The flooded Avon Valley looking north.

Several trees showed branches snapped in recent high winds.

Moss beneath a tree.

The track downhill.

                        By the time we reached home, rain was pouring from the skies yet again.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Shy Dog and Friend Caught on Camera

Whisper Dog hates being photographed. He used to have a very low opinion of cats. The Ginger Puss has decided to become a friend. He used to share a basket with Old Dog and has missed him.

First attempts by the cat were met with snarls and the showing of teeth. Gradually, over many months, Whisper has come to accept these quiet and persistent overtures of friendship.

Whisper is also camera shy, so we tried taking these with an i phone camera. It didn`t take long for him to realise that he had been fooled..........

...and seconds later he was gone!