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Having done a Christmas post, I thought I might as well record something for New Year's Eve - and it's just a view of a frozen lake. It was around 09:15 when I stepped out of the patio doors in the lounge to take this picture. The water level is about as high as I've known it and the frost pretty deep, as you might expect given the clear sky. Looking forward to 2015! Post message
Christmas day and shortly after 14:00 it's time to get a breath of fresh air I start my tour passing behind the cottages. The satellite Dish that I photographed a couple of days ago, was still outside one of the cottages. I find myself asking who spends money to get away from home yet still can't live without what they have at home. Why get away from it all in the first place? The comment of Sid Kipper, the Norfolk comedian, comes to mind. "Motorway? What do we want one of those for? Aren't we already where we want to be"?
It's time I showed another collection of photographs of the view from the bedroom window. We'll start with today's image, taken just before 08:30. The most obvious change from the earlier photographs on today's post is the path on the early part of the path round the lake. With the late autumn rains the ground just beyond the house had become saturated. On moving in, in the spring of 2013, all my time was concentrated on the house and I didn't notice how low the ground was at this point.
Today, for the first time this winter the lake was frozen over, and was still frozen at 12:30 when this photograph was taken. As is often the case, the ice sheet appears to be made of up of a number of smaller ice pieces frozen together. I have to assume that, earlier in the night, when it began to freeze, there was a breeze that ruffled the water surface and broke the ice into pieces. Then, later, the wind dropped allowing the ice pieces to freeze together into a single sheet.
The clearing of nettles and other vegetation from the end of the island nearer the house has continued and is now complete. In a photograph taken three days ago you can see how, from our bedroom window, we can see right across the island to the tip of the peninsula that is a favourite spot for some holiday makers to fish from. The other thing you notice is that now all the vegetation has been gathered together in what I now refer to, inappropriately, as the "long barrow"!
As mentioned earlier this month, we now have The Green Team helping us with the grounds around the house. Work has been concentrated on the island. So far, work has been concentrated on the side of the island facing the cottages, so if you go to get a closer look then not much seems to have changed as you first cross the bridge to the island. But go a few steps further and you find the ground cleared and huge piles of vegetation.
I've been reporting on Our "Resident" Cygnet, Its Walk About, and the Visiting Adult Swan for a number of months. Today, for the first, time they have been together. At least, I assume it's our two regular visiting birds. I'm not skilled enough to identify individual swans yet. They were feeding on the weed amongst the lilies just behind the house at around 09:15 and stayed all day.
Last night I was captivated by a glorious sunset and couldn't resist taking a photograph of it. The sun sets directly behind the house on equinox days. That's around March and September 22ed. Because the trees have less leaves then than in high summer, it means that if the sky is clear we setting sun illuminates the whole wall at the back of our lounge and for a couple of weeks either side, just before the sun goes down, we can get wonderful calming reflections on the lounge ceiling of the rippling water in the lake.
As it was a bright sunny day, my first photograph of the day had been my traditional lake view from our bedroom window. Later I toured the grounds and was surprised to see a Common Darter. The prompt for the tour was amount of weed on the lake behind the cottages. I'm no angler, but I am sure that this much weed is not a good thing. I felt that some record of the volume of weed was needed as there's far more in this our second year compared with our first in 2013.
As usual I have been taking my periodic general views of the lake from our bedroom window. However, I have decided that, normally, it is better not to publish them the day I take them, as I have tended to do in the past. From now on I'll try to upload a number together, so it is easier to spot the changes. Today, this is the view you get of the duck house. Experience suggests that at "normal" water level you see, not just the whole ramp that leads to the duck house, but some two inches of the supports for the low end of the ramp.
It was shortly before 14:00 that I realised the adult swan, presumably the same one that Appeared On Saturday, was back, but possibly not as it was behaving a little differently. This time he (or is it she?) came as close as possible to the house and apart from seeming to be enjoying snacking on the duck weed also appeared particularly tame and not in the least put off by my taking a number of photographs.
It was a glorious day and I wandered around with my camera in hand. What brought me out of the house initially was an adult swan. I was surprised to see a Southern Hawker still about. On the other side of the path is the dyke that separates us from our neighbours. Today there were two new holes that could clearly be seen in the far bank. These holes seem to appear and disappear with equal speed.
We had had a taste of what we saw this morning back in August when I took a photo of the lake behind the cottages. Then, earlier this month we saw a rather different seed drop. This morning we found that the wind overnight had blown yet another seed drop onto our side of the lake creating the most impressive drop seen since we moved here. However, the seed drops don't float for long. Within a few hours they had all sunk, which always makes me worry about what the implication is for eventual dredging of the lake.
It was a beautiful warm afternoon and Diana and I were taking a tea break. There were dragonflies about so I had my camera with me. I only had to walk a few feet down the path beside the house before I found my first one, a Southern Hawker. Diana called me back when she noticed a Brown Hawker settled on the wall beside the lounge patio doors. Both of these creatures are impressively large and it made a change to see them settled. Most of the hawkers that I have photographed earlier in the year have been on the wing.
It was around 17:30 that I decided it was time to pop outside and take this photograph of an unusual white sheen on the surface of the water, caused it seems by some tree shedding its seed which, as so often happens, had then been blown into our end of the lake. After that, we took a stroll around the whole grounds, finding our young resident swan preening itself by one of the cottages.
After yesterday's post describing a Walkabout by a Swan, today it seemed to be the turn of a family of ducks. At around 08:50 three were spotted making their way along the grass path towards the house, following the same route as the swan had yesterday. However, unlike yesterday, it turned out that these seemed to know what they were doing. The leader took a right turn through the longer grass and the others soon followed. It seemed they just wanted to get to the dyke separating our property from the neighbour's.
It was shortly after 16:00 when I spotted that young swan had climbed out of the lake. That's not unusual. What was unusual this time was that instead of making her way almost directly across our main path so she could slip into the dyke, she made a left turn and started towards the house. Then she turned back, as if thinking better of straying too far from the water's edge, but then she turned again and this time kept coming...
It was A Fortnight Ago that I opened the curtains to see a cormorant on one of the fishing stands. This morning the same thing happened again and again the bird was on the same stand. I didn't mention it then but last year I reported two more visits during that week in early October. If this is a repeat of the pattern of several visits then it is definitely happening much earlier this year. The cormorant continued to stand with outstretched wings for a while. Quite how long it stayed I can't tell as the next time I looked, it was gone.
It was at 11:20 this morning when I spotted a kingfisher perched on the last upright of the fence at the end of our decking. It was the first time I had seen this used as a perch. I was able to rush upstairs to grab my camera and take the image from there. A few moments later and the bird had flown, but staring down into the water made me realise what I had missed in the photograph I'd taken when I woke this morning.
About 13:20, I saw a Kingfisher on the decking outside the patio doors. I rush to get the camera to find the bird still there on the edge looking this way and that, presumably for food! Twenty seconds later the bird is still there and I manage to get an image that stands up to some closer cropping. Ten seconds after that I press the shutter again. However, after the slight delay, while the camera processes and stores the image taken, what the screen on the back of the camera reveals is something a little different.
Returning to the bedroom after breakfast, on my way to brush my teeth, I noticed a family of ducks, making their way down the dyke that borders the grounds of Ruston House. The sight reminded me of the Motor of Swans that we'd seen last year - although ducks don't appear as attracted by the weed as the swans and don't make that distinctive rapid chomping sound as they lap it up from the surface of the water.
It was just before 09:00 this morning when I looked out of the bedroom window to see a sight I first saw on 3 October last year. On the same fishing stand as last time stood a cormorant. I watched it for about a quarter of an hour. After a few minutes on the stand it took to the water and then dived. It made a number of dives and it was near impossible to track where it was going to emerge. It would stay down for up to around 20 seconds before re-emerging at anything up to 20 metres from where it had gone down.
Another of the now traditional view of the lake from the bedroom window was overdue. The most recent I posted before today's was taken on Monday 21 July. In comparison with the last picture, today's shows a lake almost completely cleared of the native lilies. In one way that is a shame. I prefer the idea of having only native plants, but as can been seen from the post made on Wednesday 2 July, if you don't keep the native lilies in check then they would rapidly take over the entire lake.
Last year I reported Sighting a Heron on 15 June and mentioned, at the end of the report, having seen kingfishers but not had time to grab my camera before it was gone. This year is much the same, although I can't believe that I have been seeing kingfishers since as early as June. However, today I did manage a blurry shot through the lounge windows of one perched on the fishing stand near the house. At least it proves they are around this year.
After discovering the great beetle last week, yesterday once again I tackled more of the pond weed that accumulates around the edges of the lake and particularly under the lilies. Compared to last year, which may have been abnormal, growth this year has been phenomenal. I piled on the decking all I pulled out of the lake, so it could dry out a little before carting it round to the composting area near the reed bed.
After the recent rain there four inches or so of water in the bottom of the small boat I use for lake maintenance. When I went to bail it out I discovered a large beetle swimming around in it. It was probably the biggest beetle I had ever seen, around 35mm long, and was clearly fully at home in the water as I could only think that it had come on board swept up in the weed I had been clearing from the pond earlier in the week.
It was around 08:25 this morning when I spotted a bird of a breed I didn't recognise that seemed to struggle amongst the lilies at the back of the house. Some 20 minutes later, the same or a similar bird was to be seen a few yards away on one of the fishing stands.
An upload of the image to "ispotnature.org" soon provided an identification.
For the first time, I managed to get a picture of a holiday maker landing a fish. It was small but was told it was rewarding to have had any catch so soon after casting the line. I also took several pictures of a dragonfly and a butterfly. I was fairly sure that the dragonfly was a Ruddy Darter and the folk at "ippotnature.org" agreed. Similar research confirmed the butterfly as a "Gatekeeper".
It was just before 14:20 When I spotted a family of four geese on the lake. I was passing through the lounge on my way to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. They soon all climbed out of the lake and the ones that appeared to be juveniles promptly sat down on a fishing stand, encouraged there by the parents. The next time I looked out the family was gone. It was only when I came to write up this post that I realised that today is the anniversary of the last post that I made concerning a group of geese.
It seems a bit of overkill to take another view of the lake just four days after the last one. While there may not be anything significant that has changed in the lake or the trees around, there are differences in the photographs, the most obvious being that this one was taken at midday. That on the 17th was taken around 08:15. That does remarkable things to the shadows as can be seen if you make the comparison.
It was another warm sunny day and I took a tour of the grounds with my camera shortly before 11:00. I found a female Emperor laying eggs. In a second shot I caught a damselfly flying past and although not a crisp I liked the way that the shadow of a passing damselfly seems to catch your eye before the creature itself does. Moving round the grounds I took a series of pictures of the lake beyond the peninsula. This area has been allowed to become considerably overgrown, making it impossible for any fishing to take place.
Sometimes you get a feeling that something you see on the lake is going to be around for some time. The cygnet I took the photo of a couple of days ago is a case in point. As I mentioned then, it's been around for a while now and it seems that each time it comes it stays for longer. I am just beginning to wonder if "our" cygnet is going to be with us right through till winter. Time will tell!
It's been almost a month since my last early morning view of the lake so it was time for another! I took a number of trips round the grounds today. There were a better than average collection of what I take to be deer prints on the path in the north-west corner of the grounds. Later I realised that we have both ducks and a swan on the lake and that prompts me out onto the decking to get another view.
It was on Saturday 15 June last year that I reported sighting a heron for the first time and looking as if it thought our lake was a good place to try for a meal. Here, a little more than a year later, was another, standing in the very same place, and at much the same time of day. I haven't seen one at the lake-side since, although it is not that rare to see them overhead.
Back on 11 June, I reported seeing a family of ducklings and wondered if they were Resident or Visitors. Today I saw them again - at least I suppose it was the same family - as this time there were only three little ones following the mother. It really is quite surprising how well camouflaged the colouring of their feathers make them. Often it is only movement that draws your eye. That is true even when they are in open water if they are surrounded by lilies and pond weed.
It was just before 19:50. We were watching TV in the lounge when something outside caught my eye. "It's a fox!", I cried digging Diana in the ribs with my elbow, and dashed to the office where I'd left my camera.
Fearing it would soon make a dash for it I took a quick picture from through the patio doors. I shouldn't have worried it stayed a full hour in the grounds.
It's taken almost a month but now the work is finished. The summerhouse has gone replaced with a small patio and arbour. It was on Monday 26 May that work started, with Diana taking photographs.
The fate of the summerhouse had been sealed last October, when one night the wind took off a sheet of roofing felt revealing the roof panels were as rotten as the floor.
Sometimes I wonder if Norfolk Hawkers are really as rare as I read they are. Certainly, at Ruston Reaches you can spot them at almost at will, if you pick the right time of year and a warmer brighter day. Seeing them outside at around 13:40 I went and I stood on the decking behind the house for a short while until I managed to find one that was going slow enough over the pink lilies to get any kind of picture worth taking. They are so frequently found that I probably won't bother to post any shots more this year.
After saying Last Week that I had never previously managed to catch a Norfolk Hawker at rest, now I manage it again. This is another shot taken with the house behind the camera while crossing the bridge to the island. At around 15:50 it's not the ideal angle for a photograph as the sun tends to silhouette the object you are taking. However, this shot is just about acceptable and sufficient to identify a Norfolk Hawker.
It was around 20:30 and I spotted something unexpected out on the lake. OK, a mother with a clutch of young ducklings is hardly a rare sight, but it was the first time I had seen such a thing on our lake - and I'd no idea where they had come from. Naturally, I grabbed the camera and went outside, but with a handheld camera on maximum zoom and it being late in the day it was difficult to get reasonable shots of them. The mother seemed quite wary and she took the youngsters round the far side of the island.
Much as I did yesterday, it seemed a pleasant day to walk the grounds with my camera. However, again Diana and I were stopped short by the activity immediately behind the house. After a few minutes of that we stepped off the decking to proceed round the grounds, and immediately I spotted a pair of Norfolk Hawkers mating. For me it was a double bonus as this was also the first time I had a change to photograph a Norfolk Hawker that wasn't in flight.
These days you keep hearing about the decline in honey bees. I don't recall seeing many around the grounds at Ruston Reaches, but today I stepped out of the house and found one of many bumble sees that you see. Last year I photographed them Around the Foxgloves near the summer house, but I realised I hadn't taken any similar pictures this year. To my eye the irises that grow by the decking behind the house are now past their best, but clearly this bee still thought there was something worthwhile to be had from the flower.
We're another 10 days on from my last Comparison Photo, so I felt it was time for some more. Once again you can see that there's more growth in and around the lake. The lilies are continuing to produce more leaves and trees around the lake are looking bushier still, but the profusion of yellow flowers between the lake and the mown path are past their prime. I did wonder, last year, if the way the pink lilies, the ones in the right foreground, seemed to grow above the water level because what was really happening was that the water level was dropping.
With the recent photo in mind showing the Goose on the Ramp of the "Duck House", I thought it was time for a view from the goose's viewpoint. Last year the reeds had not started to grow and it was quite easy to walk to the tip of the island to where the Goose still guarded her Nest.
Elsewhere around the grounds there's been a development that was completed a few days ago. The Summer house has been taken down.
It's been just ten days since my last bedroom window Comparison View, but the further growth in the lilies can easily be seen, perhaps, most noticeably, in the leaves in the centre foreground with the pinkish tinge to them. These are a cultivated variety that produced a pretty white flower last year. Looking at the earlier photograph it can be seen that the trees are continuing to leave up as well and now there is a profusion of yellow flowers between the mown path and lake edge. You'll also see that the irises are in bloom.
In truth, occupation is a bit of an exaggeration. I didn't see the goose go inside. But if sitting on the threshold counts then it was occupied for at least twenty minutes.
Later, I took another tour round the grounds, spotting a snake and taking a pair of photographs of the lake from the side that those in the cottages would see.
There are holes! They are appearing in the bank of the lake near the house. They are all almost identical in appearance, about 2.5-3 inches in diameter and many with a rim of dead bleached grass around the mouth, seemingly caused by having the roots chewed away from the inside as whatever is digging them emerges into the air. It seems that either more have appeared over the last few days or, maybe, I am just looking out for them now or getting better at spotting them.
It has been a while since I posted my usual "comparison picture" of the lake taken from our bedroom window. It will be seen that the trees, not to mention the Lilies, have developed rapidly since a picture I took on 27 March. Checking back earlier this year, I see the last time I posted a picture it was taken on 12 January. I really must get round to taking regular pictures of this view! You can see that things are quite dramatically further advanced this year..
Today I felt it was time for another session photographing some of the grounds. In particular I wanted some showing the progress on the new path at the very back of the site. In the end I made a couple of circuits of the grounds as the weather got progressively brighter in the hour after I first started out and it prompted me to emerge from the house again. I passed through the gate in the fence that leads to Ruston House's private grounds where I took the photos of the path I planned to do.
While taking my stroll round the lake yesterday, I noticed that something had attacked the goose nest so, in a few spare moments this evening, I took my boat round to the island to examine it at close quarters. The sight that greeted me only provided the final confirmation that the nest had been abandoned.
I had completed a walk around the grounds and had already taken a couple of pictures of a resting swan on the lawns behind the cottages.
However, it was the later encounter of the geese that had me most excited. This was the first time I had seen them so close together in an area that seemed a potential nest site.
Each time I passed yesterday the goose nest was vacant. This morning, around 08:50, I took the picture here, which seemed to confirm it is abandoned. This leaves a bit of a mystery.
Did the oiling of the eggs last week been a cause of the abandonment? Did the mother goose detect that the eggs were no longer live? Did she find the oil unpleasant?
Looking at our little dinghy today I found a clump of floating irises. I had to assume they had broken free from the those growing on the other side of the bay at the back of the house. I didn't feel they could be left where they were so I decided to move them over to the island where they might take root and anchor themselves. I loosely wrapped the mooring line around the floating mass, grabbed the oars and rowed round the corner. The line came free once, but it only took moments to get them to the site where I planned to leave them.
Three weeks ago I took a collection of Photographs of the Daffodils found in clumps around the grounds. They are nearly over this year but, looking at this year's photographs, I realised that they weren't taken in the best of light. I went to the area I have previously described as My Favourite View of the lake. Last time I took it in the overcast gloom of a mid-June evening. This time there is a trace of a building to be seen as the foliage has not quite bulked out yet. Then it was on to see how the Mother Goose was getting on.
A Fortnight Ago I described how the water in the lake appeared to be clearing, although you really had to stare hard at the picture before you noticed the slightly greener patches where you could just make out the "cabbage leaves" just below the surface. Now the first flat leaves have appeared on the surface. I took the picture mainly to attempt to create a record against which to judge things in future years. Looking at the image of a fortnight ago almost more interesting than the water surface, and the few lily leaves now to be seen, are the reflections of the trees surrounding the lake.
Bernie appeared today, he who helped out Clearing the Trees felled by the wind. He brought the pair of oars that he mentioned he had, or had access to. I was never quite sure if they were his or he simply knew someone who had a surplus pair. We agreed a price and I now I have a boat that should do all I need in terms of lake maintenance. My first trip wasn't without incident and is why there is now a new pair of rowlocks on the boat and a Sea Searcher magnet in my tool box.
Last Year there was talk of a cull of the Geese. Instead the eggs were oiled, which means the eggs don't hatch. With news that a goose nest was on the small island, the Cottage Owners called in their man to do the job.
This year I could offer my boat, though I hadn't yet got any oars to go with it.
With a picture of the cottages in the bag I made a tour of the grounds. I found the lone goose, this time sitting on further back on the peninsula. Passing through the gate to our private grounds, I made a startling discovery, which accounted for so much over the last few weeks. On the small island beyond the peninsula "Mummy Goose" was sitting on a nest. So the arrival of swans and "loss" of one of the geese over the recent weeks were not linked, as I had once thought. I simply had not been using my eyes.
I was once told that over summer you could expect the water in the neighbouring carp lake to be cloudy. Carp are bottom feeders and churn up the mud. In winter, you would expect the water in the carp lake to clear as the fish stop feeding, allowing the water to clear. This hadn't been true for our lake. It seemed to get cloudier as all the vegetation died back and disappeared from the surface of the water. Looking out of our bedroom this morning I realised that I could see the beginnings of the under water "cabbage leaves" that showed that growth had restarted.
My friend Bernie called, bringing his chain saw. He knew the plan was to clear space for the boat for its, rather late, winter maintenance. I had the more ambitious plan of clearing much more to create a completely new path. However, the biggest surprise was to hear a rustle in the undergrowth and see a grass snake.
For some reason, last year, I didn't take any photographs of the daffodils that bloomed around the grounds at Ruston House. So this year it's time I made amends. On the island there are a number of clumps, all of which are on the side that face the cottages, though, not all have been visible from there because of the reeds which have not been cut back as they were in the autumn before we moved in. There are quite a few more clumps on the embankment between the summerhouse and the reed bed.
It seems a pair of swans may have taken up residence on the lake. They arrived a day or two ago and this morning I caught them apparently having a general clean up after sleeping somewhere round the lake. It's good to see swans. Last year they never did more than visit with the Last Visit being in November. That had been by the family of nine that had been regular visitors from Early August. Let's hope this pair make their home here.
As Diana and I took a walk round the grounds we stopped a cottage as Diana that spotted a pair of pheasants that appeared to be having a fight in the rough ground just to the north of the cottage grounds. I took what photos I could. It was difficult getting a decent shot as when I zoomed in the camera it tended to want to focus on the vegetation between us and the birds rather than the birds themselves.
I was awoken this morning by the squawking of geese. Getting to the bedroom window I saw not three but four geese. They were all manoeuvring behind the house, some with the characteristic horizontal neck that appears to signify a threat posture. I was too late to the window to work out which of those I caught in my first shot were our resident pair, which was "Baby" and which was the newcomer, but I suspect that "Baby" was the one in the rear and the new comer was heading for "Daddy Goose", who initially was refusing to respond to the threat.
It was just before 08:00 when I heard the quack of a duck. I pulled back the curtains to see a pair of Mallard. I still find it surprising that you don't often see more than one duck on the lake. In fact, it is rare to see ducks at all, although you often see a number of them on the neighbour's field and in the dykes around his plot.
The last time I recorded a Walk Around the Grounds was in early December. That was before the succession of storms that we have suffered so with some sun to encourage me it was time for another tour of inspection. On the main path round the back of the lake you now encounter a fallen tree. I have yet to inspect it properly to see if this is a long dead tree like the one on the island that I mentioned when writing about the Lake Freezing Over on 13 December.
I remember a year go, some time between exchange and completion, receiving an excited message from the then owner of Ruston House, "The geese are back"! Now they are back again. Yesterday I noticed a pair in the lake. It was around 10:30 when I first saw them, cruising down the main body of the lake towards the bridge. They didn't go under but turned round and came into the bay behind the house. It was as if they were doing a full tour of inspection to see all was as they had left it.
"Otters in lake" said the text! I dashed upstairs. My camera is kept by the bed, ready to take anything of interest that I spot on opening the curtains. I was astounded to see one on the Duck House ramp and managed to get a blurry photograph. Forty minutes later there was another text, "They are back", followed by another which read "4 of them". They certainly were back and all of them very lively.
What with the excitement of Christmas and the new year, I have not been recording all that I might have done. The first picture, is not quite from the usual angle as this time I was downstairs when I took it. There's something about the lake in the morning, especially when there's blue sky and sunshine, that makes the view irresistible. After all, it is the main reason we moved here! I excuse myself taking so many with the justification that today's will come in useful as a comparison for another taken in some month's time.