Ruston House

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You may notice that, in some years, the Lake & Grounds area have relatively few posts. However, the photographic record was maintained and you can expect new material to be added when time is found. This means the new posts may appear anywhere on the site and not just in the current year's page. The best way to ensure you miss nothing is to visit the What's New page where you can find how you can subscribe to our newsletter.

Go to Top 2013

The Cottages 20 December 2013 - Christmas Is A-Coming

It was a good bright day and I'd been promising myself a walk around the grounds for some time. If I was going to get one in before Christmas then I felt I wouldn't get a better opportunity. So just before 13:00 I started out and couldn't resist a view of the cottages but there was not much to get excited about on the rest of the walk. It all looked ordinary with nothing obvious changed from last time, and in spite of the splendid light in open ground, nothing shone or reflected in the same way once in the shade of the trees round the back of the lake.

Frozen Lake 13 December 2013 - A Fully Frozen Lake

So, after the first ice seen on the lake on Wednesday, this morning we awoke to find the entire lake frozen over, not just immediately behind the house but also right round behind the cottages as well. I suppose, as we approach the first winter here, the question is will we get worse as the new year comes round. I guess I should be curious and take a wander round the grounds to see what is going on but, given the gloom and the cold I never summoned up the enthusiasm for it.

Icy Lake 6 December 2013 - Views Of A Partially Frozen Lake

Clear bight days in December usually lead to chilly nights. It had been such a good day on Wednesday that a night cold enough for ice was inevitable. I took these pictures shortly before 11:00. They show the whole of the bay behind the house covered in a sheet of ice. The more open water, beyond the shelter of the quay heading, remains ice free. Any trace of frost had long since gone, if indeed there had ever been any.

The Lake 4 December 2013 - Around The Grounds And Lake

As it was a bright sunny day, and fearing that the weather may not last, I thought it was a good idea to take a stroll around the grounds. I set out from the house going anti-clockwise round the lake. It looked splendid in the sunlight, with the still surface reflecting the trees on the island. The trees themselves still have the last of their leaves still hanging on them. Nearing the furthest of the cottages you come to three holly bushes. Their glossy leaves, enhanced by the reasonable crop of berries, gave them a wonderfully healthy appearance.

The Lake 1 December 2013 - Autumn Is Not Over

I've been taking photographs over the last three weeks wondering if, with hindsight, I'll be able to work out that point when I could say winter was here. This morning's photograph shows that all the birches are now pretty well shed of all leaves, although the willow still has a good proportion of its leaves in place. Yet the leaves on some other trees have not even begun to turn brown. It's difficult to make out, but the material floating on the lake are the leaves of the willow. The willow drop seems to have started in the last three days.

Swans 14 November 2013 - A Swan Invasion

I had to run upstairs and grab my camera to get this photograph of what I begin to think of as our resident swans. The first adult was a little bit too quick crossing from the dyke to the lake for me to manage to include the whole family of nine birds. I have to assume that the adults will continue to bring their family to visit the lake over the whole winter. Neighbours tell me that come February, if I'm up early enough, I will be able to spot otters using much the same route to bring their family to enjoy the lake too.

Stoat 24 October 2013 - That's Not A Squirrel

Passing the bedroom I spotted what I thought was a squirrel coming down the mown path from the summerhouse towards the house. It certainly had all the attributes I expect to see in a squirrel's motion. As it came closer I began to question my identification. I thought it was a weasel!

A few weeks later I got some feedback on the page. It turns out It was a stoat.

Cormorant 9 October 2013 - A Third Visit By A Cormorant

A little after 11:40 this morning and once again I saw the Cormorant. I say "the" cormorant, but I can't really say that I know it's been the same one that has visited the lake each time over the last week or so. It was sunny again and this time I spotted the bird perched on the balustrade of the bridge to the island. I dashed upstairs to the bed room to get my camera. This was the first time I managed to photograph the bird in a pose that showed that a cormorant is not black all over.

Cormorant 7 October 2013 - The Cormorant Is Back

It's back! It was about 17:50 when I noticed that the Cormorant I'd spotted the other day was again to be seen, with outstretched wings. Bang goes the theory that that posture was anything to do with it warming itself in the sun. This time it was further away and it was going to be too dark to get any acceptable shot with my lens fully zoomed so there was nothing for it but to go outside and try to get a closer shot with a wider angle lens. I approached slowly. A few steps and the bird was in the water.

Cormorant 3 October 2013 - A Cormorant Calls

I saw a large bird standing on one of the fishing stands close to the house. I grabbed the camera and took some typically blurry shots through the glass. I was surprised at the posture with wide outstretched wings.

I learnt later that they need to stand like that to dry their wings as they aren't waterproof!

Grass Snake 22 September 2013 - Rustling In The Undergrowth

I stopped to take in the view across my neighbour's plot. I'm always impressed how tidy he keeps it and the dykes that run along his boundaries. As I stood there I heard rustling in the undergrowth between the path up the embankment and the dyke. I assumed it was a small bird ferreting about for insects, grubs or seeds. Then there was more rustling and I just had time to lift my camera to my eye as I saw the body of a grass snake loop across a gap in the undergrowth a couple of feet from my shoes.

Speckled Wood Butterfly 12 September 2013 - Speckled Wood Butterfly

It was another bright sunny day and time to go patrolling the grounds round the house to see if there was anything to photograph. By the bridge that crosses to the island I turned up a bee collecting nectar from a thistle as I had a couple of weeks ago. The only other thing to catch my eye nearby was what I later read is a Speckled Wood Butterfly.

kingfisher 3 September 2013 - More Kingfishers

It's still not as crisp as I'd like, but this must be one of the best pictures I've managed to get so far of a Kingfisher. Twenty seconds earlier I had managed to capture him on top of the four foot high lamp standard found on the corner of the decking. Today's Kingfisher pictures were all taken at around 09:20 through the patio doors of the lounge. I dared not slide them open as experience has taught me that the birds instantly fly away if you open a window.

Southern Hawker 29 August 2013 - A Common Darter and Southern Hawker

Today was another warm and sunny day and once more the dragonflies were patrolling the shallow area of the lake immediately behind the house. One was rather red another that, as it flew by, sometimes appeared to be green and other times blue. Back in the house this evening and looking at the various web sites that help me out, I concluded that what I had been taking pictures of were Southern Hawkers.

Brown Hawker 26 August 2013 - Dragonflies, a Toad, Blackberries and Buddleia!

Inspired by yesterday's attempts at better photographs I made two excursions round the grounds today. There were various dragonflies flying round the lake immediately behind the house to land. The next creature I was pleased to spot was a toad. I nearly stood on it. It was also time to show a indication of this year's poor crop of blackberries and attempt pictures of the fleeting movement of butterflies landing on a buddleia bush.

Bumble Bee 25 August 2013 - Bumble Bee On Thistle

Fed up with the number of hurried blurry photographs I have been taking for the blog I thought it time that I tried to get some pictures of things that I could reliably focus on, so this afternoon I wandered round the grounds and found some bees at work on the thistles near the house. Not being an expert on bees I don't know what kind they are but suspect they are nothing special. All that amazes me is that they seemed to enjoy the thistles!

Kingfisher 18 August 2013 - A Kingfisher On A Fishing Stand

It was another weekend with guests. Diana's daughter and her partner were due to leave after breakfast. At around 09:20 I managed to get to my camera, kept in our bedroom, before the kingfisher that I had spotted disappeared. I've now learnt that is it not worth trying to open a window to get a better view of your subject until you have at least got one usable shot through the glass. So it proved this time. I really wanted the bird a little further along the fishing stand and in full sunlight.

Swan Family 10 August 2013 - The Swans Return!

After a Saturday morning lie in we got up at around 09:40 to find the Motor of Swans was back. This time they were in the lake behind the house, sucking up the weed and and nibbling the growth from the decking. They soon moved on round the corner to spend the rest of the morning behind the cottages. We spotted them again at around 12:20. This time the adults were gathering together the youngsters and encouraging them ashore. But there was also a Canada goose involved that wasn't caught on camera.

Swan Family 8 August 2013 - A "Motor" of Swans

It was around 19:20. We were relaxing, with drinks to hand on the small table on patio, taking in the view of the lake, thinking that we definitely had made the right choice in moving to Ruston House, when we both became aware of noise we couldn't identify. It sounded a bit like a distant outboard motor on a small day boat. It was a steady multi -pitched drone, overlaid with a continual splashing sound almost alongside us. I went to investigate.

Peacock Butterflies 4 August 2013 - Masses Of Peacock Butterflies

We had had guests at the house over the weekend. They had left by the time I took a walk around the grounds just after 16:30. That was a shame because I came across this profusion of Peacock Butterflies. The largest collection I recall ever seeing on one plant. I reckon there may have been 30-40 all told, upon or circling these flowers while I was looking.

Five Canada Geese 28 July 2013 - A Gathering of Geese

It was in late March after the ice melted that the Duck House was investigated and our pair of geese got very territorial. The male chased away every other goose that remained or visited the lake. Once the female was on her nest all challengers seem to have been dispatched and the pair was left in peace to raise their young. After their arrival last month the second pair of geese have been come and gone with no challenges being made by either of our resident pair.

Kingfisher 19 July 2013 - First Kingfisher Photographed

Back last year when we were viewing the house and considering purchase, one of the photos that the owner showed us was of a Kingfisher sitting on the decking outside the lounge. This morning I saw a Kingfisher, and took a hurried shot through the window. Unfortunately, the camera appeared to focus on the bars of the pergola above the decking rather than the bird, and the image I got was quite blurry.

Small Fish 13 July 2013 - The Little Fish Are Growing

Since finding that large pike head a month ago, I haven't managed to spot any of the larger pike that were so often seen earlier in the year. That's not entirely surprising. The lilies have continued to grow and the cultivated varieties now form large blocks of dense cover under which they can hide. However, small fish continue to swarm in shoals that appear to be up to a couple of hundred in number.

Male Emperor 8 July 2013 - An Emperor And A Toad

I count today as a success! After Friday's failure to capture a male Emperor on film (if you can call it that these days), this afternoon I managed to get one. I was also pleased when Diana noticed a toad this morning. Last Time I had only managed a a semi-obscured shot. This time I managed a couple.

Norfolk Hawker 5 July 2013 - Three Species Of Dragonfly

Today I managed to get a number of photographs of dragonflies. I posted my images on iSpot and, sure enough got a couple of identifications back which confirmed what I had hoped. We had a Norfolk Hawker and female Emperor Dragonfly. I didn't notice any of the larger dragonflies land in the fifteen minutes I was taking the photographs, although the slightly smaller Four Spotted Chasers did land - always right on the edge of the decking.

Heron 29 June 2013 - Foxgloves And Bees

The one area where we've seen flowers from the time we moved in is the bank just beyond the summer house. Back in February there were displays of Daffodil. As they died away Bluebells came into bloom and now Foxgloves have replaced them - and the bumble bees are having a field day. You will find that area swarming with them. I had to post just one picture to remind me of these few weeks while they stay in full flower.

Geese 27 June 2013 - A Second Pair of Canada Geese

I awoke at 05:30 this morning early disturbed by the geese. That was unusual so I got up to have a look. Now that the grass is growing tall on our side of the lake and the reeds block access to the island and they are rarely found on the land around our side of the lake. It's a puzzle to me why the cottage owners choose to have the grass mown so short right up to the edge of the water as this is known to encourage Canada geese to come ashore and feed on it.

The Lake 23 June 2013 - Two Views Of The Lake

Sunday meant a lie in and although there were plenty of dark clouds about when I looked out from our bedroom window the lake was bathed in sun light. Looking at past posts I realised the last time I had posted this view was on our first morning in the house. Living here you forget how much things change. The trees were all in leaf, but now the foliage is so much denser. Back then I hadn't needed to mow the grass.

Gosling 22 June 2013 - Now You See Him...

Diana and I were taking a tea break this afternoon and saw, for only the second time, the geese in the lilies. I guess there is something maturing there, which we can't detect, making the place more attractive than before. However, it wasn't until I looked at the first photograph I took of "Baby" that I realised how good Canada Goose plumage can be as camouflage.

Toad 19 June 2013 - Goings On In The Lilies

Our builder, David, spotted another new creature. It was a lone toad sitting in the curve of a lily leaf. With my camera in hand I became interested in the Damselflies that were also in profusion. It seemed that a major mating event was taking place. I learnt a while ago that Damselflies can be differentiated from Dragonflies because they fold their wings back when at rest, whereas Dragonflies always hold their wings at right-angles to their body.

Toad 18 June 2013 - The Gosling Is Growing Fast

I had read that after raising their brood the adult Canada Geese go through a moult and lose their flight feathers. During this period one can expect them to move onto the water and are rarely be found ashore. It seems that our residents are not like that! They don't appear to spend significantly more time on the water than they did before although it's clear that the geese are now well into their moult.

Heron 15 June 2013 - A Heron Inspects the Lake

I got out of bed just after 07:30, scanned the view from the window, and exclaimed "Heron!". It was the first I had seen from the house on the ground. The bird stood on the edge of the furthest fishing platform visible from the bedroom, the one where I had found the pike's head. It was tricky working inside the bedroom while holding the window open at maximum zoom but it stood remarkable still only moving its head every few seconds.

Pike Head 11 June 2013 - A Pike Head Is Found

Mowing the paths round the lake at the back of Ruston House I saw something that hadn't been there two days before. Just beside the first fishing stand beyond the bridge was this pike's head and a few bone fragments. I brought the remains back to the house to get a measure so these photos were taken on the decking, not where they were found.

Pike 31 May 2013 - Pike Are Still To Be Seen

While we may have moved into the house there's still much to do and the builders are still here, so I have been distracted over the last couple of weeks and not been out with my camera. However, I did have it with me today when I saw a large pike half way down the side of the lake. I was hoping that it would move so I could see the head and estimate the full length of the fish.

Gosling and Geese 14 May 2013 - The Gosling Is Growing

As we move into the first full week at Ruston House, I find I'm keeping my camera in the bedroom. This morning I woke up to see the three geese together and thought it was time I took a photo that showed how the gosling was growing. Comparing this with the pictures taken on the day the chick hatched, just a fortnight ago, it's probably around three times the size. I suppose that means it's now beyond the size when it might be taken by the pike. We'll have to wait and see!

Duck House 11 May 2013 - The Duck House In Use

After an exhausting couple of days for me and Diana's first night in our new home it was planned that we should have a bit of a lie-in. It was around 09:00 when I took a look out of the bedroom window. I was to see "Mummy Goose" taking an unusual interest in the building a few feet from her nest. I really have no idea if what I call the Duck House was ever intended for ducks. I does seem rather large for them.

Lake View 10 May 2013 - We've Moved In!

Yesterday was moving day! It hadn't been the original plan but I booked the removals early. Diana was working on the Isle of Man this week and not due back till this evening. With the furniture now here I had chosen to sleep at Ruston House in order to be ready to greet BT who were supposed to be installing a phone line and ensuring that my broadband connection was active today. That didn't happen, but that's not a story for this blog.

Pike 3 May 2013 - Spotting Pike In The Lake

One of the lunch break relaxations for our little team working on Ruston House is to go pike spotting. We've taken to taking breaks on the decking at the back of the house. If the sun is strong, then it usually doesn't take much staring into the water around the lily leaves on the surface to spot a pike. David is the best at it. Usually, it is the tail that you notice first as the pike don't seem to like the sun in their eyes so always settle with their heads under a lily leaf.

The Goose Nest 3 May 2013 - Investigating The Goose Nest

It had never occurred to me that the eggs would be covered with down, but I suppose it must help both keep the eggs warm while Mum is away and help make the thing a little more comfortable for her to sit on.

Then Mummy Goose decided to return to the nest. It was time to call for reinforcements.

Newly Hatched Gosling 30 April 2013 - We Have A Gosling!

Well that was a surprise! The egg oiling done earlier was supposed to stop the eggs from hatching, but it seems at least one managed to escape the treatment!

Given the date and the fact that Canada Goose eggs take 28-30 days to hatch it looks as if this bird's egg was laid after the oiling.

Grass Snake 24 April 2013 - A Grass Snake Takes A Swim!

The weather was warm and sunny. I had my camera with me. David, our builder, was a few feet ahead of me and spotted a grass snake. It slipped into the water as we approached. By the time I located it in my view finder it was already halfway across the "bay" at the back of the house. It had no chance of climbing the quay heading and turned left and crossed to the island where we lost sight of it.

Nest and Gander 23 April 2013 - Commemorating St George's Fishery

Before Diana and I bought the house the signs, outside declared "St George's Fishery" so, just after six o' clock at the end of St George's Day and another day's at work at Ruston House, I just had to take some photos. Now it is the remaining lake, to the north of Ruston Reaches, that bears the signs and just through the opening in the hedge that leads from the road to its lake, is the Portacabin intended to provide the office for the fishery staff.

Ruston Reaches Cottages 20 April 2013 - A Bright Day at Ruston House

It's been another day working on the house - can't afford to take the weekend off - but today I did finish reasonably early and took a walk around the grounds. On getting home I compared the first of today's pictures with the one I took on the first of the month. Both are taken in clear skies but it's still amazing how just three weeks later and an hour earlier makes to the quality of the light Ruston Reaches.

Ruston House Lake 17 April 2013 - A Dull Day At Ruston House

Back on All Fools Day I thought that spring had finally arrived. Clear blue skies suggested that we might, at last, get some warm weather. However, at the end of another long day working at the house, I wandered the grounds taking photographs again to realise, when I got home things look much the same as they did on the day we completed the purchase of Ruston House.

Goose on Nest 6 April 2013 - Still Sitting On The Nesting

Having walked the grounds I could understand why holiday makers might complain about the goose droppings on the lawns. A quick search on the Internet told me that, due to their inefficient digestive system, each bird produces droppings every six minutes. Having them nest has further implications. No wonder they are regarded as a pest in some quarters.

Goose on Nest 3 April 2013 - The Geese Are Nesting

Having walked the grounds I could understand why holiday makers might complain about the goose droppings on the lawns. A quick search on the Internet told me that, due to their inefficient digestive system, each bird produces droppings every six minutes. Having them nest has further implications. No wonder they are regarded as a pest in some quarters.

Ruston Reaches Cottages 1 April 2013 - Is Spring Finally Here?

Approaching five o' clock and after a day working on the house, I took a wander round the grounds. For the first time it had begun to look like spring. Such a change from a fortnight ago! Mind you the water level is still high (I use the ramp outside the Duck House as my guide to level) and hasn't fallen to the pre-flood level yet.

Ice on the lake 14 March 2013 - The Ice Stays All Day

The swans that had been hanging around the lake with all the geese were gone with the warmer weather. Now we had ice covering most of the lake. But there were clear areas and a pair of geese investigated the duck house.

Floods March 2013 11 March 2013 - High Water

A month's rain had fallen in 24 hours according to the EDP and the water levels were high, partially flooding our neighbour's field. Then we had a dusting of snow and the flock of geese hung about around the lake.

Front Garden -February 2013 6 March 2013 - More Birds

Work began on the house the day after purchase. I concentrated on basic redecoration while other knocked walls down and refitted the kitchen and bathrooms.

It did mean I was on site all the time and able to take photographs of some of the wildlife outside.

The Lake - Day One 25 February 2013 - A New Owner Takes A Look Around

On 25 February 2013 Diana and I took possession of Ruston House and its lake. The entire site was developed a a venue for fishing and people staying in the neighbouring cottages have the right to fish the lake. They must also pay towards the maintenance of the lake. We have no interest in fishing, but hope to benefit from the wildlife that we are sure that it will attract.

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