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After many months of collecting any wood that we might be able to use to surface our paths we have enough to justify hiring a chipper. The machine is due to arrive before the end of the week. Experience taught us that trying to drag a petrol driven chipper along our paths to where the piles of timber were accumulating was not possible, so all that had been collected had to be brought to the front garden.
With so much going leading up to and since the wedding, there have been fewer photographs of wildlife posted, but here is one of a kingfisher captured just before 12:20 today.
It's Thursday evening and almost a fortnight after the wedding. Both Roger and the Green Team have completed their work on the Tree House. The boardwalk now has a step to one side just before it ends from which four further steps rise, at an angle, to the Tree House floor. At the northern end of the Tree House platform the base aligns with the hexagonal roof. while at the southern end the floor is square. The idea behind that was to allow a BBQ to be sited on the outer edge just beyond the line of the roof.
By 17 September the bridge to the island had a strip of chicken wire added to form a non-slip surface and had been decorated with a string of coloured LED. The bulk of the boardwalk was complete but still stops well short of Tree House and there is no sign of the steps that was to be built. It is these photos that lead me to believe that, on our wedding day, rather than approach along the board walk our wedding guests would have walked round to the back of the Tree House.
We were distracted from recording what was going on in the grounds as our wedding approached. We have no photos of our own showing progress other than those taken on 4 September and 17 September. The one photograph of the Tree House, seen here, was taken by one of our guests on our wedding day, shows that by then the Green Team had managed to get the six main tree trunks into position on the base that Roger had constructed.
Things have moved on since the First Report about the construction of the Tree house. Roger has begun to construct the base which is rapidly reaching completion. While that first report showed that the Tree House roof is to be hexagonal and supported on six oak trunks, the base itself is to have two square corners. That is to allow for a slight projection that is intended to be used to site a simple barbecue.
After finding a damselfly in the kitchen earlier this month, today I was surprised to see a cricket on the kitchen window frame. It was just after 17:25 that I spotted it, as I had come in to prepare our meal. At first I tried searching for images of "grasshopper" but my example seemed to match a cricket better, so until someone corrects me that's how I shall think of it.
Having found our inspiration for our Viewing Platform back in June, things had moved on. Sand and paving slabs have been delivered and I had been busy trying to get them laid out in the agreed pattern ready for the structure that "The Green Team" think of as the "ISH", which stands for Island Summer House and we are beginning to call the "Tree House".
Close to the house the path round the grounds has a topping of wood chippings which are prevented from spreading with logs placed on each side of the path. It was the first time that I recall ever seeing lizards - and I don't just mean at Ruston House - but that is clearly what they were, sunbathing on the logs.
In front of the house work continued on the construction of our cart shed time for an afternoon tea break arrived I brought the drinks out to the side of the house near the newly constructed decking and spotted perhaps the biggest caterpillar I ever recall seeing. It was later I looked it up and after searching for images of large green caterpillars decided that the bluish spike on its tail identified it as an Eyed Hawk-Moth.
In my excitement of posting about the Small Emerald Moth yesterday, I forgot to mention that at just after 08:00 yesterday morning I took a photo of the apparently injured juvenile moorhen seen seen four days ago. Today's picture is also of a moorhen, but this time an adult. Now I have taken a photo that proves the lilies strong enough or the bird light enough for them to walk on the lilies.
David, our builder, drew my attention to what at first I took to be a butterfly, but not a variety I recognised. As ever, I had to research this one and it seems it is a Small Emerald Moth. It appears that it was not unreasonable not to have recognised it as I read "the adults fly at night from dusk and are attracted to light" and that it is "found fairly frequently in England and Wales, north to the Wash but more locally in Lincolnshire, the Midlands and the west coast of England north to southern Cumbria."
This morning, just after 09:20, I wandered out to the "lawn" - it's still a patch of mud beside the new decking - to take a photo of a young bird that was not behaving normally. It seems to have an injured leg and allowed me to get quite close. It took a bit of investigation before I managed to identify it as a juvenile moorhen.
This evening, just after 19:00 a damselfly flew into our kitchen through the open door. It appears this may be a relatively early sighting in Norfolk of a Willow Emerald Damselfly. I had to look this one up as it was very different to those seen so often on the lilies in the lake. Almost 12 hours before, as I drew the curtains I saw a moorhen. This one caught my eye as they don't often perch on one of the old fishing stands.
If you've been following the Lake Views for July you'll have seen that the work on the decking had been completed by 27 July. However, it was not until today that we might have really called the work complete. It's not just that the timber is all in place, but now extra soil has been brought in to fill the area behind the decking to bring it up to the right height.
Apart from the vegetation, on which my comments normally concentrate, there are other changes to note this month. You'll see that the first photo, taken on the 3 July, is the last I took with the pergola under the bedroom window still in place. Looking back I realise that it is strange that although you can see the signs, in the last of the photographs of the Lake in April, I have made no reference to the way the decking was beginning to disintegrate.
Just one image today, taken at close of work. The basic quay heading is complete, although the step is still to be constructed. The tie rods are also sunk into the ground, and the first of the boards to form the inner rail for the decking is in place.
I didn't take a photograph at the end of the first day's work on the decking, but as I opened the bedroom curtains this morning I grabbed my camera to take photographs of the swan family that came cruising into view from behind the cottages. You can see their tracks amongst the lilies! The photo also shows the state of the decking before the men arrived this morning.
It's was around 10 weeks ago we realised that the decking around the lawn was rotten enough to require replacement before the wedding. More recently we discovered boards would give way when walked on. What was a surprise to me was to find leeches in the wet mud where the decking turned the corner. I hadn't realised that they have suckers at each end of their bodies until I read up about them after finding them today.
In my post two days ago I failed to mention that I took some photographs in the previous week. Then I took what turned out to be three completely black images and one with the flash. Now I also post a second edited version that gives a impression of what you might see in the dark.
It was a warm dry night a week ago and for some reason Diana decided to pop outside and walk down the path beside the lake. When she came back she asked me to come out with her again. A few steps down the chippings path beside the decking and then she got me to look in the undergrowth to left and right We counted eleven greenish lights glowing in the dark.
At this time of year if the water level drops after a period without rain the lilies behind the house seem to rise out of the water and appear to form a forest in which moorhen and ducks can easily be difficult to spot. Having commented, yesterday, about how, last year, I managed to photograph Norfolk Hawkers mating, this morning I managed to photograph a pair of Azure Damselflies mating.
Having seen the First Kingfisher of the year around midday today, shortly before 15:20 I was out standing on the decking behind the house taking photos of Norfolk Hawker dragonflies. Last year I managed to photograph them a number of times in June, most memorably getting a picture of a pair mating on 7 June and on 13 June reporting that they are so often seen that I wouldn't bother posting more pictures in the year.
Only the other day I was asked about the kingfishers that we see from our lounge. I had checked and responded that in 2014 I had posted my first picture in Late August, so we shouldn't expect to see them yet. However, now I have checked the blog again and see that in our first year here, 2013, I photographed our first on 19 July. Today, it was 13:15 and as I passed through the lounge to the kitchen I spotted my first Kingfisher of the year.
Compare the first of this months views, taken on 3 June, with the one taken a few days earlier, on 30 May, and you realise that I've managed to make a start on clearing the lilies, with some further minor progress able to be seen in the photos taken on 18th and 30th of the month. The trouble is, at this time of year cut lilies re-grow, so the job never looks complete.
After the surprise of seeing the cygnets Riding Their Parent's Backs last month today they were back again. When I first saw them it seemed that the parents were trying to encourage them out of the lake as they were on the bank where they usually cross to the dyke at the side of our grounds, but they gave up on that and rejoined them in the water. At one point I thought the cob might be concerned about my presence on the decking and was going to try to chase me away.
Today Diana and I travelled to the Midlands. At the pub where we had lunch we saw a structure in its Beer Garden that we felt was perfect inspiration for the "viewing platform" we had been talking about having built on the main island. It's all beginning to turn into part of our wedding plans!
Mid-summer is approaching. The cottages next door begin to fill with holidaymakers. It's on a Saturday afternoon that you often see most activity as the newcomers explore what Ruston Reaches has to offer. I usually reckon that you are lucky to have more than one week in three where you will see even one angler amongst them, which reflects, perhaps, how the quality of fishing has diminished since the arrival of the otters. a year or two before we took on Ruston House.
It's this month's collection of photographs of the lake taken from our bedroom window. This month there are just two, taken on 20th and 30th of the month. Their main feature is to show how rapidly the lilies are growing, but there's also reference to the "Long Barrow".
In a bank of reed and nettle there were plenty of Azure Damselflies to be seen. It may seem strange to call them azure as the females have almost no blue about them at all. In the same area there are a couple of rape plants in full flower. Both Green Vein White Butterflies and Hoverflies seem to enjoy them. At lunch time we find a frog on the border of the lawn and decking just behind the house.
This morning, just before 08:40 I drew the curtains to see a pair of swans cruising towards us on the lake. At first, that didn't seem unusual, even after the fight we'd seen with The ASBO Swan on 4 May. But as they got closer it was clear this was different. It seems, we have the solution to why ASBO behaved as he did. Somewhere nearby must have been his lady sitting on a nest.
I had taken a walk around the grounds earlier but I returned with my camera as I wanted evidence of what surely must have been the presence of an otter. I then took a turn around the island, stopping to take a photo of the bluebells. It something of a disappointment that these are the Spanish variety, which I read hybridise easily with our native Bluebells, meaning we are slowly losing them from our woodlands.
The signet that has been with us for about a week now seems to have been adopted by the geese. It is almost always within a few yards of them as if it feels they are its parents.
The geese don't seem at all disturbed its proximity - but a newly arrived adult doesn't like it at all!
It was just after 12:20 when I was out in the sun staring into the water and saw a pike. It must have been around 8" long. I know anglers always judge fish by weight, but I'm not an angler, so you'll always find me reporting length. Over the next minute in moved slowly forward in the water. I normally reckon that pike stop with their head under a lily leaf. I hypothesise that this helps them to see better, without the sun's glare spoiling their vision.
This month there are four "Lake Views", taken at very roughly weekly intervals. The first image from 7 April was taken just before 08:10 and it looks very similar to that taken last week. Even the dinghy is in an almost identical position. The only difference seems to be the wind. By 28 April we have virtually full growth on all the trees and now there is no mistaking the lily growth with many having broken the surface.
I drew the curtains this morning to see a range of waterfowl. We still have our pair of geese with us, but this morning there was more to see. Grabbing the camera I first captured a pair of Canada geese and a lone swan. Dropping the camera angle I found three Mallard. It was only moments later as the swan got closer I realised that it was a youngster, still with its ugly duckling plumage.
Looking back I see I didn't take a version of this first image last year. The closest I got was taken on 11 April and concentrated more on the Daffodils in the Foreground than the cottages further way. This view was taken just after 18:25 at the start of a walk round the grounds. Reaching as far round the lake that you can I then took another view that shows the smaller island and the neighbouring houses in the background.
It was soon after getting up this morning that I spotted a hen pheasant. What made it unusual was that it had approached the edge of the lake and almost appeared to be about to act like a Kingfisher and dive in. Perhaps it was just intrigued by its own reflection?
Today was another bright day and this time I was to concentrate on seeing the how much of the trees and shrubs had succumbed to the wind over winter and what had been done to tidy things. I started my round by taking the "High Road", the path that runs along the southern boundary of the site. It passes the reed bed and then drops down suddenly as you need to turn at the corner of the site.
I took five images from the bedroom window this month. It will seem to some that if it was sunny then I took a picture. In truth, I can't remember what the weather was like in the days between. All the images are remarkably similar. The first was taken on 1st of the month shortly after 09:10 and the second on the 4th a little after 09:00. About the only difference you notice is that the water level in the dyke is marginally higher in the second image recovering from the situation during February.
On 15 February I reported on the duck house being in use. Well, here we go again! It was just after 15:10 when I managed to capture this pair of mallard making use of the Duck house. I suspect it is the same pair that we saw before and, as before, it was only the ramp outside that was in use! The water level is exactly as it was six weeks ago too! About the only thing that's changed is the cobweb that now hangs vertically inside the duck house.
At school I was taught in Geography lessons that our prevailing winds come from the South West. Since moving to Ruston House, I say they are from the north. Dead reed and weed that gets into the lake often ends up in the bay behind Ruston House. Here are piles of such stuff that I managed to retrieve from the lake over the weekend after the wind had changed to a more southerly direction so that it blew up against the quay heading running away from the house.
It seems that no matter how careful you are when clearing the banks of reed and other vegetation, it will always find its way into the lake, sometimes weeks after the work is done. Where does it come from? Well, obviously, the wind has been blowing it into the corner near the house this morning, but the original source must surely be the banks of the lake where cut material has not been fully gathered up and once dried it becomes so light that almost any breeze will have it in the water.
I would like to say that I'm continuing the habit I started last month, but that's not really the case as I've only taken three of my standard "from the bedroom" images and the latter two were taken within two days of each other. The last of the January photographs, taken on 29th, showed leaden skies and the grounds with a light covering of snow, but by 08:35 on the first of the month the snow had gone.
This week the "Green Team" have been clearing vegetation from the banks of the lake. They started work beyond the bridge. Today, by midday, they had completed almost all the western bank. The work is needed to ensure that alder saplings and other trees are kept clear of the water. There are enough trees dropping their leaves in the lake as it is without allowing more to develop. Later, after they had left for the day, I walked the grounds again and took a picture from the northern end of the lake.
Opening the curtains this morning it was to see the duck house in use. Perhaps not "in use" so much as taken advantage of or being inspected. I'm never sure if I do want ducks to nest in it. It would seem so unnatural. To me it looks much more the size of a kennel than somewhere that ducks would find cosy. That may be why I can't recall ever seeing ducks go inside, although the Canada Geese most certainly do. We've also once spotted an otter on the ramp outside.
I've been talking with my neighbour whose lived in his cottage for almost 50 years and says he doesn't recall ever seeing the dykes as low as they are at the moment. He reckons it's because "they" have opened sluices a little way down river in order to flood the fields. I'm not sure if that means the Broads Authority or Environment Agency. I have always said that the dyke water level goes up and down at a surprising rate while the lake is much slower to adjust.
Yes, It's just a pair of swans! They were seen behind the house at around 13:40. There's nothing much remarkable in that other than it reminds me of the estate agents brochure that we were given before buying the house. Although we first came to view the house in October 2012, the photos in the brochure seem to have been taken around this time of year, so seeing a pair of swans always reminds me of the decision to buy the place.
It was just after 08:30 when I looked out of the window to take my regular "Lake View". It seems that since the ice of a week ago has gone the geese have returned. It was only later, around 14:00, that I started a stroll round part of the grounds to get a sense of how much more you can see and how the Green Team continue with the clearance of reed and weed from around the site.
In what may become a habit, I've saved up all my photographs of the lake taken from our bedroom window for the month and am putting them in one post. I figure that makes them easy to compare. It was on Saturday the 11th, just before 08:40, that I took the first of the pictures this year. It was a bright day but, with the sun only recently risen, the ground behind the house was still almost entirely in shade.
It was just before 15:00 that I saw a Woodpecker - but it wasn't pecking wood. Standing on the edge of a mole hill it seemed to be digging deep into a hole in the surrounding grass. It seems it's not unusual to see a woodpecker behaving in this way, but up till now I'd only seen them in trees.
This morning was bright but chilly and the lake was frozen. The "Green Team" arrived to continue with with the business of trying to remove the remains of the fishing stands from the water. Having removed most of the platforms earlier in the week, the plan for this morning was to remove as many as possible of the uprights which had been left in the water. There were two approaches were tried.
It was around 14:00 when I noticed that an adult male swan was now cruising the lake and I managed to take this photo as it came through from the cottages side as the geese were inspecting the Duck House. The geese seem more interested in the Duck House this year. Whether that has anything to do with having cleared the nearby reeds remains to be seen.
Shortly before 11:00 I noticed a lone swan on the lake. As it came closer I saw that it had the rather grey bill of the cygnet that we last saw in November. However, this time it was on its own - if, indeed, it is the same bird that we saw then as that one appeared paired.
Since the summer the reed has been cut back along the edge of the peninsula, so you can now see the water and the island beyond. With the reed gone from the main island, it is now possible to see the bridge. This is something most holiday makers will be unaware of as, in the summer, everything will have grown back again, completely hiding it. I stopped to take a photograph of some new holes that have appeared. I'd love to know what creature might have made them.
One of the effects of having cut all the reed down around the edge of the island is that now, not only can see see easily all the way across to the peninsula beyond, but this morning a goose was seen inspecting the "Duck House". One of the discoveries that we made during the reed cutting was that we may have killed off the one Mountain Ash that is found on the island. The tree tie had never been removed long after the stake was past doing its job.