Stover Country Park nr Torquay Devon..beautiful,peaceful and calming.

Stover Country Park is a short drive from Torquay. There is a large lake there and several streams. A forest of tall conifers and older deciduous trees surround the lake and line the streams. 
My favourite site is the wooden walkway. There can be seen Grey Squirrels and a large variety of birds. Here photos of just some of the birds I saw this week.

The grey squirrels sneak up and pinch the bird seed.Some times a bird of prey will crash through the trees. This Buzzard, a mere shadow in the photo, was heading towards the small lake which can be seen from the walkway. It was after the frogs and toads living in these waters.
This Grey Heron too stood stock still on a log on these waters searching for fish or frogs. It’s first appeared as just a white dot in the distance.


Patience is needed to see the birds especially as shouting children and dogs frighten them off and they disappear completely. But if quiet there is so much to see and children get a kick out of seeing so many varieties. 
Water birds are abundant. Mallard Ducks, Mute Swans, Coots, Moorhens, Crested Grebe, Tufted Ducks, Mandarin Ducks, Cormorants and Black-Headed Gulls and Grey Herons can be seen. 

Butterflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies can be seen flirting across the lake sides. There is a designated Damsel and Dragonfly pond, though it was empty of both yesterday.
Here a rare Small Butterfly seen yesterday and a comma butterfly and several dragonflies I filmed last month.

There is a visitors centre with information and plenty of information boards. Picnic areas have been placed under the trees.
A lovely place in spring and autumn, relatively busy in summer, but worth a visit all year around.

Polly….my seven month old granddaughter 

Polly..

She looks at me,

I see myself,

She smiles at me,

And warms my soul.

She takes from me,

My very best,

And in her wisdom,

Leaves the rest.

She touches her world,

with fingertips,

And tastes her world,

With tongue and lips.

She sings and claps,

And stands and crawls,
And climbs and bumps,

And falls.

But just like me, 

She’ll take the knocks,

And just like me,

She’ll stand up tall.

And smile…

She is my future,

I am her past,

My 7month old granddaughter…

Tessier Gardens..Torquay adult only Park…so quiet you can hear an acorn drop

Tessier Gardens is an adults only park..the first I’ve ever known..in Torquay. It is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever walked in.
Small, but overflowing with the colour of flowers tended by volunteers. It’s a place where people can sit and read a book, students can do do their homework, lovers can giggle together, people can do yoga or tai chi. The elderly have no fear of being knocked flying by balls or skateboards or bikes, but can sit and daydream and reminisce.
It’s a place where you can shut your eyes, breath in the perfume of roses and drift off.

There is a small pond filled with blue flowered pickerel and in the summer azure damselflies and green darter dragonflies can be seen and if you’re lucky, the largest dragonfly in the U.K, the wonderful emperor. Tadpoles and newts are plentiful but hidden from view, though on a sunny day they may venture out.

Bees hum around the flowers and occasionally you might see something unusual like these red-tailed bumblebees mating. When there is is a concern about our loss of bees in the countryside it’s nice to see them thriving here. 

Don’t read this bit if your afraid of spiders….but I was delighted to see this web of tiny spiderlings in the garden in spring.
Squirrels climb the trees and sometimes come down to pick up nuts to bury. Dogs are not allowed so the squirrels can frolic without fear and people can walk barefoot and picnic on the grass.

Tessier Gardens is a dreamy, quiet place for people who need to de-stress from everyday, often noisy, life…I love it.

Undersong of the rainforest..the word describes the sound of a landscape or the murmur of an environment often hard to hear or tune in to..

Undersong of the Rainforest…describes the sound of a landscape or the murmur of an environment often hard to hear or tune in to.

Beneath the cathedral roof of tall trees,
In the clear, cool water of rippling streams,

In the humid heat and brilliant sunlight,

I felt it.
Amongst the rustling leaves,

And quickening showers of rain,

Darkening the earth and soaking the air,

I heard it.
It touched my skin,

Entered my heart.

Found a place and settled.

The rainforest.

Great Crested Grebe nesting in Stover Country Park Devon this month..late May, 2017…Podiceps cristatus.

The male brought the female twigs, sticks and then grasses from the lake bed.The female tried to incorporate them and tidy the nest which floated on the lake. She wasn’t a very good nestbuilder, but then Grebes are known for their untidy nests. Nevertheless she still took some time to place them exactly where she thought they would be needed, turning this way and that until it felt right. Both the parents take their turn building the nest and sitting on the eggs.
Two or three eggs will be eventually laid. The chicks will be fluffy, striped black and white. The parents carry the chicks on their backs within hours of hatching to protect them from predators.
This photo from 2015.
It was fascinating to watch the Grebes building their nest. The male went some way away to get just what he wanted whether twigs, a log or wet grass and they swapped places during the time I watched.

These fascinating, beautiful birds were nearly exterminated because of the fashion for their ornate feathers. Thankfully in these enlightened times their numbers are growing. They are said to be common but for most of us a sight of a pair of these lovely birds is still an unusual and exciting one, especially when they have their young on their backs.
Grebes eat fish, crustaceans, frogs, and insects.

Grey Squirrel extermination…

So now grey squirrels are to be exterminated…. No longer to be the first connection with nature that the vast majority of children have, but to be considered vermin, to be shot or bludgeoned to death. A fine way for a child to be introduced to wildlife, almost as bad as the sickening practice of ‘bloodying’ them during a fox hunt.
What next? Mandarin Ducks, Black Swans, Green Parakeets, Peacocks, Rabbits, Hares, Fallow Deers, Pheasants, Harlequin Ladybirds, Goldfish, even wild Horses, all species introduced from abroad and who compete with ‘British’ animals for space and food. Not to mention domestic cats, again introduced from elsewhere, which decimate populations of small song birds in spring. 

Immigrants’…living locally and wildly in Torquay..seen on local ponds, fields and garden.


Are these to be exterminated too….where will it end. I certainly see a need for control especially where cats are concerned, but total extermination of a delightful species….or are we only to going to keep those aesthetically pleasing or useful to the hunting brigade for target practice.

Oyster Catchers…Haematopus of Torquay Devon 

I’ve walked on the local beaches of Torquay for more than ten years and not once during that time did I see an Oyster Catcher until last year.I was sitting on a ledge overlooking the beach when I saw a flock of black and white birds descend onto the rocks. Curiosity got the better of me and I rushed down and looked over the stone wall and there they were, Oyster Catchers. Dozens of them. 

They were watched over by local seagulls.
I’ve seen them since on the rocks…the last time last week. A pair of Oyster Catchers flew in. One settled down on a rock which was being battered by high waves. The other bird pecked amongst the rocks and seaweed while keeping an eye on the resting bird.
Oyster Catchers are sea shore, waders. Their outstanding characteristic is their red, carrot shaped beak which they use to smash or prise open molluscs. They also eat limpets, crabs and fish.
These attractive birds are mostly monogamous and lay just one set of eggs in the summer.

Im trying to convince our council to  make the area that the Oyster Catchers favour along with other waders..Herons, Egrets, and birds that pick amongst the rocks Pied Wagtails, Rick Pipets…, a designated bird area…fingers crossed.