Saturday, March 30, 2013

First orange-tip butterfly

A surprise visitor found indoors one afternoon.  It may have come in on the wood for the fire as it was found sitting indoors on the windowsill.

Lovely markings and a fresh, bright colour - the first orange tip of the year and a bit of a surprise this far north.

It was very chilly outside but it was still there the following morning and got moved to a more south facing, sunny spot.

Hope it survives.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Walk around Kildwick and Farnhill, Yorkshire

Headed up north for Easter and staying near Skipton on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.  There's still snow around, mainly up on the tops of the hills and around the edges of the fields and it's VERY cold.

Farnhill Moor, Yorkshire
Started our walk just above Kildwick village and a track up through the woods and onto Farnhill Moor crunching through the snow on the ground in the 'Spring' sunshine although feeling more like Winter in the Alps.  Great views across the Aire valley, if you ignore the industrial estates at the bottom of the valley.
buzzard flew up across the moor but there wasn't much else about - a few blue and great tits in the woods.  A slight scramble down the hill through the silver birch trees and on to the road to Low Bradley where we joined up with the Leeds Liverpool canal for a flat but muddy walk back along the two path to Kildwick and a lunch stop at the White Lion pub.
Leeds Liverpool Canal at Kildwick

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 19

Gills have totally disappeared today and they're now air breathing - coming up to the surface to breathe.

Frogspawn Day 19
Their body shape is becoming more oblong and they're pretty active most of the time and now in their new home.
Frogspawn Day 19

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March - Telscombe Tye dewpond

VERY cold today although at least all the snow has now gone from up on the Tye.  Almost sunny but a cold wind.
Telscombe Tye dewpond
Good to see how clear the water is in the pond now that it's settled.  No sign of any frogspawn or newts but a few small creatures and beetles swimming around the edge.  Hopefully more will re-appear when it finally warms up.
Telscombe Tye dewpond
Rather a lot of algae growing in the pond, which might need removing if it starts taking over.

Telscombe Tye dewpond - March

Frogspawn - Day 18

Great activity today.  They're all in motion and swimming all around the tank - top to bottom, side to side.  Probably helped by the water being warmed up in the sun.
Frogspawn Day 18
You can see that their gills have all but disappeared - they were there yesterday and today they've gone!  Except for a small stump.
Frogspawn Day 18 - gills disappearing
As they're rapidly outgrowing their little tank, I've transferred them all to a larger storage crate where it looks like there are far more than the 400+ I originally estimated.  Probably nearer the 1000 that are the average 'cluster'.
Frogspawn Day 18 - very active
Not so easy to see them now, as it's a coloured plastic crate, so I'll transfer a few back to the smaller clear tank for observation purposes.  It will be interesting to see if these then develop at a different rate.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 17

They're much more active and wriggling all over the tank today - up and down and sideways.
Frogspawn Day 17
Give the tank a nudge and they all dive to the bottom. Doesn't take long for them to get moving again now, rather than just lie on the bottom.
Frogspawn Day 17
Got the ruler out today, slightly smaller than estimated - around 1.5cm in length.

Frogspawn Day 17
Watch the live stream of frogspawn on Channel 4 - Easter Eggs Live. What mine would look like if I had an egg cam.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 16

Not a lot of change today chez tadpoles.  Still wriggling and grouping together, mainly clustered around the jellied mass.
Frogspawn Day 16
There's some green filamentous algae now growing in the tank, possibly introduced with the pond water.  That'll keep them going when they've done with jelly, although I'll have probably moved out of their current home by then.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Telscombe Tye scrub clearance

Despite the threat of snow and/or rain, we didn't have either, so a smaller group than last time headed back out to the same area of the e-Piece to clear more of the scrub.  Very muddy and slippery going down to the site.

Telscombe Tye e-Piece scrub clearance - before
Freezing cold, although out of the wind, so pretty glad we got the bonfire going quickly.  Moved the fire site along from the last task, so it was nearer and less distance to drag.

Telscombe Tye e-Piece scrub clearance
Most of the scrub was pretty easy to cut, as a lot of it was elder and much of it dead, with a few bushes of hawthorn and blackthorn thrown in, along with long, straggly privet and the inevitable bramble.  This particular patch has a lot of nettles, which will come back over the summer.

Telscombe Tye e-Piece scrub clearance - after
Slow to burn but we got there in the end and cleared another good area which, with careful management and grazing, should revert back to chalk grassland.  We didn't manage to scrape down the whole area we'd cleared but at least made a start.

Frogspawn - Day 15

Growing by the day and becoming more active and all close to the surface this morning.
Frogspawn Day 15
Pretty much everyone is wriggling today and moving around the tank more rather than just 'wriggle, wriggle, hang'.
Frogspawn Day 15
Not a great deal of difference in size from yesterday - maybe I should start measuring them - although there is a difference between individuals.
Frogspawn Day 15
There's still a mass of jelly floating in the tank.  I'm leaving that in there as they're meant to eat, although they haven't done yet.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 14

A mass of black - clinging to the stem and much more wriggling going on today.
Frogspawn Day 14 - more active
They're getting bigger by the day - growing slightly in length (about 2cm) and definitely getting rounder in the body.
Frogspawn Day 14 - triplets
There are a large number of them on top of the spinach leaf.
Frogspawn Day 14

Even the ones that were just lying on the bottom of the tank seem to have moved upwards.  One or two undeveloped eggs.
Frogspawn Day 14
Later in the afternoon, they were all strung in a row on the weed. Although it might not look it, the water actually seems a little clearer today.
Frogspawn Day 14 - a rope of tadpoles

Friday, March 22, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 13

The view from the top is now totally different (and getting a little murky), lots of green algae growing on the sides and in the water.
Frogspawn Day 13
Much more wriggling going on today from the mass of hanging tadpoles.  They're now expanding in size both in length and width.  They were totally flat just a couple of days ago.
Frogspawn Day 13
Larger gills and differences in sizes between individuals, some longer and fatter than others.  They almost seem to change every time I go and check on them.
Frogspawn Day 13 - gill development
Still a few dozen just lying on the bottom - don't know if they're just slower to develop.

Frogspawn Day 13
Will have to think about transferring them outside soon into different containers as they'll soon outgrow their current home.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 12

Well, today they're all pretty much hanging vertically either on the sides, weed or egg cases.  Including all the ones that were just lying on the bottom, so not dead then - just look like it.
Frogspawn Day 12
 A very rough count, there are over 400 tadpoles that have hatched out but as a lot of them are in clumps it's hard to be too accurate but considering the initial climb of spawn was the size of a large grapefruit - that's a lot of tadpoles.
Frogspawn Day 12 - gill development

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 11

More have hatched out today and are either hanging from the top or lying on the bottom.  Much more wriggling going on from those that have hatched and the ones still in their egg cases, although not free swimming.
Frogspawn - Day 11 growing rapidly
More distinct differences between them now as they grow rapidly. The spent egg cases still seem to hold their shape in a jellied mass and may be the first source of food for the tiny little tadpoles who don't seen to have much in the way of an egg sac to keep them going, they're very thin.
Frogspawn - Day 11 gill development
Those that have hatched have larger gills than the ones that are still in the egg cases and there are still some that are two or three blobs of cells and a few potentially unfertilised eggs that haven't changed at all.
Frogspawn - Day 11 gill development in the unhatched egg
I've added more water from the pond and a small amount of weed to keep them going.  Not much movement from those on the bottom and I'm wondering if they're dead, just lying in a black mass.

There are so many more tadpoles than seemed to be in the relatively small amount of spawn that was collected.  I haven't counted them -  but there are definitely hundreds.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 10 - they hatched!

Came in today to see that several tadpoles were now free from their eggs and hanging in a cluster at the top of the ball of spawn.
Frogspawn Day 10 - free hanging tadpoles
Slightly bigger with more distinct tail and gills, although not moving much, the occasional twitch.
Frogspawn - Day 10 free swimming tadpoles and gills

Monday, March 18, 2013

Frogspawn - Day 9

I wasn't able to take photos yesterday as I wasn't around but today there's a more significant tail visible and gills on some of them.
Frogspawn - day 9 more visible tail
Movement in some of them twitching from side to side.  As development is so quick, you can see that some are developing slower than others.  A few of the eggs haven't developed at all ... yet.
Frogspawn - day 9 developing gills
Green algae is growing on the sides of the tank and the eggs.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Malling Down - last task of the year

Back up to the patch we've been working for the last few tasks.  The slope has now been completely cleared - we left a small patch of bramble last month and the stumps cut down and most of them have been treated.

We moved the fire site further up, so there was less distance to drag it.  As the weather was due to change by lunch time, our aim was to get the fire going as quickly as possible and then burn as much as we could.

However, there was a small patch of scrub - elder and bramble, just across the path which a few of them went to work on and quickly demolished, while the rest of us worked on clearing and burning what had been cut earlier.
Malling Down, Lewes
Luckily the fire didn't take too long to get going and most of the time was spent dragging the already cut branches to the fire and cutting them up until the fire was big enough to take them as they came.  It piled up so high that the ash tree was getting severely singed.

Malling Down, Lewes
Every now and then we were hit by wintery showers but the worst of it held off until after lunch by which time we were all cold and soggy and ready to quit.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Frogspawn Day 7

Developing quite quickly now - already turning into little blobs with a tail.

Frogspawn - day 7
Even after just a few days it's possible to see the different stages in development between them all.

Frogspawn - day 7

Friday, March 15, 2013

Frogspawn Day 6

After a few days of nothing much happening - today there are double and even treble blobs in the eggs.    Not all of them, some are still just a single blob of cells.

Frogspawn - day 6
It's like being back in school again!  I'm so excited - ah, the simple things.

Frogspawn - day 6

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Telscombe Tye dewpond - March snow and ice

Snow still hanging on in places - especially where it got blown up into drifts and in shaded patches along the edge of fields or along the bridleway on Telscombe Tye.

Gate on Bridleway 8 - Telscombe Tye
 The dewpond is mainly iced over with just a small patch that's starting to melt.  No sign of any frogspawn unless it's under the ice.  There were certainly plenty of tadpoles last year, so hopefully there will be some later.  With any luck the frogs haven't made it up there yet.

Telscombe Tye dewpond - March
There was a small flock of meadow pipits in the field on the way back through the playing fields and I'm sure I heard a skylark briefly.

Dogs on Telscombe Tye and sheep worrying

Out on the Tye on a very cold and windy afternoon - what happened to the morning's sunshine!

Talking to the local farmer and with media in abundance - Meridian TV (look out for it tomorrow ... maybe), Sussex Express and eventually the Argus.

Telscombe Tye - dog patrol
Raising awareness with dog walkers of the serious risks of their dogs worrying sheep.  Of course most dog owners say their dog would never chase sheep.  I've spoken to people having seen their dog chasing sheep, they always say it's the first time it's ever done it and they've never done it before.

Most people think they can control their dogs but I see too many people shouting at their dogs to call them back and being completely ignored.

It's not the dogs fault.  When instinct kicks in - very few people are able to control their dogs, so don't let it happen in the first place.  Keep your dog on a lead around livestock.

Sheep worrying isn't just about dogs attacking and killing sheep.

Dogs that chase aren't always larger aggressive dogs - ALL dogs have the instinct to chase, as joggers,  cyclists and horse riders know only too well.  The small ones are often the worst.

Dogs don't always chase to kill, the owner may think they're just playing or excited and wouldn't attack but that's not the point.

Sheep on Telscombe Tye
Dogs don't have to attack and kill to cause death, injury or illness.

Even if your dog isn't actually chasing the sheep, sheep still see it as a predator and will run away if it comes close - putting them under stress.
  • If a sheep is stressed by being chased or feeling under threat - it can abort the unborn lambs.

  • A sheep that is ready to give birth and is disturbed by a dog, may miscarry, abort or have premature lambs.

  • A sheep may well die of stress after it's been chased or run away from a dog.

  • Stressed animals are more susceptible to disease and if they have lambs the growth and quality of of the lambs may be affected.

  • New lambs separated from their mother can also die from cold and hunger if they aren't reunited quickly.
As a responsible dog owner and in order to ensure the safety of your dog and livestock you MUST have your dog under close control or on a lead.

A dog owner (or person in charge of the dog) has committed an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (the act was added to by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) if their dog worries livestock on agricultural land.

Worrying livestock means:
  • attacking livestock
  • chasing livestock where it may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering to livestock, in cause abortion, or cause loss or problems with their produce
  • being at large (i.e. not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep
If you allow your dog to worry livestock or you don't have it under control, your dog could be shot - you could be fined £1000.

If you're out on the Tye or in any area of countryside, please keep your dogs on a lead when around livestock - especially sheep and lambs at this time of year.

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