Friday, 28 November 2014

Greenhouses and gulls

Last week I welcomed autumn - this week it feels as though it would have been more appropriate to have welcomed winter. The temperature has plummeted and we have had our first hard frost. As I mentioned last week, the greenhouse suffered in the wind and that means everything was exposed to that cold which is a pity. I had sown a few things in late autumn (notably sweet peas) with the idea that they would be that much ahead come spring. Well, we can forget that idea and now need to take some decisions regarding that greenhouse.

Working on the principle that you would not wish to see pictures of a damaged greenhouse, I thought I'd offer you photographs of three Dartmoor Tors taken at this time of the year.
Being honest, it is way beyond economical repair and is there any point? When we moved in I had no idea of just how that corner of the garden would be hit by the wind. I should have realised. There are two 'internal' hedges in the garden which I assumed were there for decoration or, possibly, to make parts of the garden more private. Not so. I am now convinced they are there to protect the house from those winds but, as I am sure you will have guessed, the place where the greenhouse was erected is on the wrong side of one of those hedges and the other one is not long enough to offer it much protection. We both feel that we need something more sturdy but the question is what. Cheap - well reasonably cheap - would be to take down what is left of the greenhouse and put up a polytunnel. I have been trying to find out how sturdy they are and it seems from what I have read that these are actually sturdier than greenhouses.

Well, we shall see what will happen. The polytunnel should be here next Friday and then it will have to wait until Ben (who helps us in the garden) can find time to come and put it up. I shall keep you informed.

Meanwhile in the field behind the house there is something very odd going on. Two herring gulls are behaving as if they are intending to breed. We are, of course, quite a long way from the sea but you will always see gulls in Totnes (at the head of the tidal part of the River Dart) and there is a small flock that comes up here most days. Now, there is nothing unusual in that – they forage in the fields for whatever they can find – but a flock of herring gulls is just that: a group of gulls in which there is usually a typical ‘pecking order’ but in which the individuals tend to keep themselves to themselves getting quite cross if any other bird invades their personal space.

One of these two gulls on the lawn a few weeks ago.
Not so the two in the field. It seems they want nothing to do with that flock which, in any event, rarely comes into that particular field although it does visit the fields below the house. Added to that they are displaying most of the time and often touching (although I have yet to witness any mutual grooming). To make things even odder, neither appears to be at all submissive to the other – in other words a part of their usual display (where the hen bird crouches in front of the male in the hope that he will (a) not attack her and (b) will regurgitate some food for her to eat) is just not happening.

It is, I suppose, possible that they are muddled as to the time of the year or that they are two very mixed up youngsters (but in their adult plumage so not that young) engaging in a bit of experimental behavior. Perhaps it is just as well that we do not know the answers.
This chap was in the market place and you couldn't really see him against a very muddly background so I did away with it.