Friday 28 April 2017

Escape from Alcatraz?

We have been on RED ALERT here at Straker Towers - I noticed a chirping behind the fishing shed and soon realised a Blackbird had made an impressive nest in a quiet and cosy space. Three to four young were about to leave the nest and the Corvids were circling. These opportunists would pick off the young at any given moment so a barricade was put up at the one end.

This did not stop them on their first forays out of the nest - a terrible commotion as Border Terriers aka the border patrol were watching the Ravens, Rooks and Crows decided enough was enough - this is our manor so enter at your peril. There is a slightly charged atmosphere.

No casualties as yet, I hope. But of course the two BT's are now aware of the comings and goings behind the shed and are patrolling here as well - it's hard work keeping the peace. Especially as Mr & Mrs Blackbird appear to be thinking about brood number two already. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Hawthorn time

The feast of Saint Mark commemorates Mark the Evangelist and today is St Mark's Day. A national holiday throughout Italy and a day that is celebrated lightly here - for me, the angler and especially one who is fishing for trout with artificial imitation flies at this time of year I give thanks to St Mark. 

I will doff my cap to St Mark the Evangelist, but raise my rod and a libation to St Mark the fly! A little known insect that gives me great pleasure at this time of year - the Hawthorn Fly (Bibio marci), also known as the St Marks Fly.

I have always had likings for it - a friendly sort of insect that usually coincides with my first real trout forays of the season. The large females hatch around now,although the males have been around for quite a few weeks on my local West Dorset Streams and the trout have been enjoying them. 

The nippers asked what do they do? Do they bite? The answer is no of course and they are one of the unsung heroes as far as pollinators go.

The deceased example you see on my fly box was not hurt as part of this post - it was found in a web on my fishing shed window. So, if like me, you are fishing today or this evening and using a Hawthorn pattern please give thanks to St Mark as well as the fly of the same name - it's always good to cultivate your luck where fishing is concerned.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

The Gorwell Circle

Like a Neolithic Bloomsbury group, this magical circle of stones stand high up on the chalk ridge west of Portesham. They still command great glimpses of the sea and Golden Cap to the west. Even though they are all fallen they are still a sight of true calm and beauty.

I think so, although the nippers cried "not another pile of stones" as we walked the most pleasant of walks in perfect peace and quiet only buzzed by swallows and soundtracked by skylarks. Red Kites are now making more of a comeback in this part of Dorset - they are regulars on the slopes of Cranborne Chase to the north, but are still a sight that gets me excited down here on the Jurassic Coast - today we saw five different kites and all so close they even made the youngsters gasp.

It was the stones that shone today - there are 18 visible stones, not all visible and in the end even the nippers enjoyed a frolic and gambol by jumping, inspecting and generally larking about in the presence of such antiquity.  

There is even a grotesque Friday Face in here somewhere - who says history is boring?

Friday 14 April 2017

Hello blossom!


This display of blossom is up country at the family orchard in Gloucestershire. They are a few weeks behind us in Dorset where the blossom is cascading like frothy cream everywhere. It does feel like Spring is earlier this year. The hawthorn especially is looking quite superb, but up north it is hardly out. The same is said of the apple blossom - nothing out in this orchard, but my few trees in Dorset are showing a magnificent display.

What you see here is cherry, plum and greengage. The greengage is a true delight - it came down in a storm some 20 years ago and only the stump was left. What we have here is it coming back slowly but surely....hello blossom!




Wednesday 12 April 2017

The Cellandine shuffle

I adore this time of year. It gathers pace. Blink and you miss things. The trout season started the other week and I am now getting twitchy. I usually take a little break before I cast a fly line, but I cannot wait any longer. My time will come this week. It is likely to be my local West Dorset streams and I will come to the Stour Valley a week or so later.

The swallows are here in growing numbers, the dace are thinking of spawning - large gathers of the silver lovelies are on the sparkling shallows doing the early spawning shuffle. Just thinking about it. They leave the group to sip at a fly and then get back to it. 

The church you see here is one of my favourite Stour Valley spots - nestled in a fold of nowhere its flint walls reflect in the pure chalk waters of the trout stream you can hear as you while away some time in the churchyard. This I do regularly whilst eating my lunch. The dace do a spawning shuffle as I do a cellandine shuffle. It is a special place. Much has happened here in days gone by and more is to come, but at this moment in time I could be the only person alive as I hear nothing other than the babble of the stream.  

Thursday 6 April 2017

Monday 3 April 2017

Watch where you tread

There has been much movement on my local beaches and cliffs - this fragile coastline has treasures to find one day and they disappear the next. Some are taken by the fossil hunter and others are lost to the sea.

This delightful find was here one day and gone the next - to me it looks like a very old foot / shoe inprint. Maybe a Victorian fossil hunter left their own mark in the soft Jurassic clay? The shape and size of the mark is interesting - we were much smaller then and shoes constructed in two halves, who knows? Poking around on the beach is as old as these rocks.