A sunny morning at Badbury Rings

Friday 21st February 2014

Bright sunshine this morning meant that Jez was staying put to snooze in the sun, so I took the opportunity to take Max and the camera and go for a proper walk. We went to Badbury Rings, which is just outside Wimborne Minster on the National Trust Kingston Lacy estate. For those of you new to this blog Badbury rings is an Iron Age hillfort. Oh, and this post is for my friend Lindsay, who says she likes my landscape photography. This is mainly about the landscape, as we did a circular walk to the north of the Rings. For that reason there will be mainly photos with little commentary.

But first we have Max on the lower part of the Rings themselves. This was taken as we headed out to the bridleway that runs north to The Oaks (an old oak wood). I should have thought and taken video as overhead was a skylark, singing it’s heart out. Such a beautiful sound.

Max at Badbury Rings

This is a gate leading into The Oaks (although all the gates are locked as you’re not allowed to walk in there – I believe because they leave the old trees to fall and decay so it is not safe).

Gate into The Oaks

A hazel with it’s catkins on the edge of The Oaks.

Hazel with catkins

King Down farm.

King Down Farm

The view across to Lambing Cottage.

View to Lambing Cottage

Tree on the path out to Lambing Cottage (I’m not sure what type).


The path leading up to King Down.

Path leading west to King Down

Looking north east from King Down. I like this photo. It looks as though it’s been taken with an ultra wide angle lens, but it hasn’t. The effect is caused by a natural dip in the land.

Looking north east from King Down

View towards Old Lawn Farm from King Down.

View towards Old Lawn Farm from King Down

A rider coming past one of the two barrows on King Down. I am assuming these are Bronze Age like the three barrows at Badbury Rings.

Barrow on King Down

Another view of King Down Farm.

King Down Farm

And lastly, Badbury Rings themselves, taken from the east entrance.

Badbury Rings, East entrance

I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk. It was just under 5 miles so not too bad. Chris was beginning to think we’d got lost we took so long though.

Chocks Away!

Sunday 27th October 2013

Today was another one of those Sundays which was supposed to be relaxed and wasn’t. I had planned to finish listing what I had in the freezer in the kitchen, but it was so badly frosted I had to stop and defrost it first.

The wind is still building in anticipation of the coming storm and the forecast was for heavy rain from mid-afternoon onwards, so I tried to take the dogs out fairly early. I can confirm that it was pretty windy, although you wouldn’t know it from this photo of Max standing in the pond near Steeple Close.

Not rain yet, so an opportunity to play in the pond

A little bit further on and Max was starting to realise the problems caused by having large flappy ears in high winds.

Wind's getting up - watch those ears Max

We climbed the hill, and looking back over Poole you could see the storm clouds gathering.

Storm clouds are gathering

On top of the heath it was really blowing, and by this time Max was in danger of taking off in the high winds.

Flaps away!

We continued on round though. and managed to finish our walk in the dry. Jez was really pleased about that! Before we got back to the car though, I spotted this tiny, brightly coloured fungus, which I think might be a wax cap of some sort, at the side of the path.

Tiny wax caps

I’m glad we went out early. We had a nice walk, despite the clouds, and not too long after we got home the rain started – and boy did it rain!

What a difference a week makes

Thursday 25th October 2013

Last Thursday I took Max to the River Stour at Cowgrove (“We went down to the river”), and today I did the same. There wasn’t quite as much sun this morning, but it was still sunny for some of the time. And just like last week Jez decided that she preferred to stay and snooze on the bed in the sun. But after all of the rain this past week there was a huge difference in the river. The little shingle beach where the dogs play has disappeared under a foot of water. And there’s no way I can wade out into the middle of the river to play with with dogs anymore: around 2 foot out from the bank the river gets too deep for my wellingtons. Here’s Max in the little play area, and you can get an idea of just how much deeper it is.

The water level is a lot higher today

It’s also flowing an awful lot faster too.

In Max’s favourite swimming spot the higher water meant that it was easier for him to get in and out, since the water now comes over a little ledge on the bank. As ever, he was at his happiest swimming after his cones.

Max having a swim

And here he is a the bank.


This is a shot of the trees to the left of his little swimming spot.

Max's favourite swimming spot on the Stour

I had taken the EDO 6D with me today as the weather and light conditions looked good. It was a good choice. This morning along the river bank there were lots of cobwebs on the last of this summer’s long grass, and many of the plants were covered in dewdrops.

Here’s a good example of a cobweb.


And another.

Cobweb on grass

Here’s the dewdrops.


And the two combined.

Dewdropts and cobwebs

The river, itself, was looking lovely in the early morning light.

River Stour at Cowgrove

Aided by the swans.

River Stour at Cowgrove

And, once again, the early(ish) low light provided a wonderful backdrop.


Meanwhile, up in a tree, a heron was keeping a watchful eye on proceedings, while balancing on one leg.

I think I'll rest that other leg

One thing that did surprise me, though, was that the leaves on the oak I’ve been photographing are only just starting to turn.

The oak tree

Poor Max. I thought the river would give him a good wash off and ease his itching, but in the afternoon and evening he was extremely red on his chest, under his armpits and between his legs. and I’ve found another big blood-blister thing (well, a burst blood vessel) between his legs. I just don’t know what’s going on with the poor boy. He’s got another check-up on Monday to have blood tests run again, though. I just hope we can get him sorted sometime soon, since as time goes on he’s getting progressively worse and it can’t be very nice for him itching all the time.

There’s water on Canford Heath again

Wednesday 23rd October 2013

It’s not that there was no water anywhere on the Heath: rather, most of it had gone and only one or two isolated ponds were left. But after all of the rain we’ve had recently, it’s back.

Max’s favourite gully is once again filled with water, so he’s a happy boy.

There's water in the gully again

And the stream is flowing once again…

The stream is back

… although Max had to fight his way through the long grass to retrieve his cone.

Playing in the stream

It’s a really nice time of the year to take photos, as the light can be really good. Here’s a couple of photos I took walking up the hill from Hotchkiss Cross towards the gully and the stream.

Heading up the hill from Hotchkiss Cross

And this one was taken a few yards further up.

Heading up the hill from Hotchkiss Cross

This shot was taken between the gully and the stream.

Heading across to the stream

And here’s Max, nicely lit by the low sun and clutching a sweet chestnut casing in his mouth.

Max posing

There is a little mystery, though, that I don’t know if anyone can help with. Near Hotchkiss there’s an old, moss covered tree stump.

What's growing on the tree stump?

If you look to the bottom right you will see something is growing on it.

A closer look

And finally an even closer look at that ‘something’.

In close up

Anyone know what it is?


Someone has kindly told me that that is Candle Snuff Fungus, also known as Stag’s Horn Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon).

Guess what the weather was doing today

Tuesday 22nd October 2013

Yes – it was raining. Well, it was raining up until about 10.30am, when it started to clear. And then in the afternoon we had sunshine up until about 5.30pm when we had a huge thunderstorm and lots more rain. So, raining in the morning meant Jez walked to the front door, looked out, and then walked back inside again. That meant that it was just Max and I went to Upton Country Park this morning. It may not have been particularly pleasant weather for me, but it seems it was great weather for ducks (and Max).

Nice weather for ducks ... and Max

As we left the carpark we met an elderly gentleman we chat to sometimes, with his dog, so walked a short way with him. We were discussing sweet chestnuts as we wandered through the Woodland Walk, and he said that one of the trees was producing particularly nice chestnuts this year and that he’d picked up quite a few yesterday, so we both went off foraging. Here he is with his dog.

Gathering Sweet Chestnuts

Max, of course, was in sweet chestnut heaven, while I picked up quite a lot for Chris who likes them. The only problem is Chris doesn’t quite believe that I’ve picked up sweet chestnuts (as opposed to horse chestnuts, the casing of which are completely different) and that I’m not going to poison him.

Even though it’s raining, its surprising the number of things you can find to photograph if you look. Like this shining, wet sycamore leaf, for example.

Sycamore Leaf in the rain

In the woods near Hamworthy, which I have discovered are called Grove Woods, I found this really nice, ruffled looking fungus growing.

Ruffled fungi

And do you remember that slightly hollowed out tree stump that was collecting water? Well this is it today, with me reflected in it.


Further on, the rain had stopped, but the stream was flooded, which Max seemed to find very confusing (although I don’t know why as he’s seen it flooded loads of times in the past).

Max is confused by the flooded stream

By the time we got round to the board walk the sun was starting to peek through the clouds and was lighting up the reed beds.

Reedbeds at High Tide

As you can see, the tide was really high this morning. This shot is taken from the other end of the board walk, looking north east.

Reed Beds

On round the front of the house, the leaves are finally starting to turn on the trees, providing some autumn colour.

Autumn colout

Apparently this process is running some 2 weeks late this year.

The front lawn in Autumn

Once back home I had a quick bite of lunch, then had to take Jez for a physio appointment. We are seeing Rachael up at the vets now, and on the whole Jez seems to be enjoying it more. She’s certainly moving a lot more freely, and her vet is going to use the video of her I took recently in a talk he is giving next week which includes a section on arthritis in dogs. I’d taken my iPad with me to Jez’s appointment so that I could show the video to Rachael, so while I was there I took the opportunity to get a photo (this one is slightly better than my last attempt to photograph Jez receiving her massage).

Jez getting her massage from Rachael

I’m quite impressed with the quality of the photo. Perhaps I should take them on the iPad more often!

Sweet chestnuts for breakfast anyone?

Monday 14th October 2013

It was back to the vet first thing this morning for a check-up for Max. I was pleased to hear his temperature is back to normal, although we’ve got to go back in 2 weeks time so that they can check whether his calcium levels are still high. Meantime we had a discussion as to whether the Metacam he is on for his temperature is the reason that he has been bouncing around like a spring chicken – or even like a Springer! The arthritis in his elbow is a lot worse, so it’s possible he’s in pain now and the Metacam is helping. So we’ll see what he’s like when he finishes it, and if he slows down again we’ll put him Trocoxil longer term (which is what Jez takes).

After all that we were a bit late getting out on our Monday morning walk to Upton Heath, but at least it had warmed up a bit and we had some sunshine. As soon as we got to the Heath Max tracked down some nice juicy sweet chestnuts and proceeded to chew them up.

Max gets to grips with a sweet chestnut

How he can chew through those prickly cases I’ll never know. He enjoys the nuts inside though,

Time for a quick snack

although sometimes he just like to carry them around and play with the cases.

A little bit further on we met our friend Jasper the lurcher with his Mum, so we walked on round with them.

Jasper wants a treat

And here’s one of the 3 dogs all lined up.

Max, Jasper and Jez

While we’d stopped there for me to take some photos, our other friend Janet came along with her lurchers Cindy and Oakley, so it was a bit of a lurcher fest.

We were joined by Janet with Oakley and Cindy

And it wouldn’t be autumn unless I included at least one photo of some fungi would it? So here is todays. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I think it’s a member of the Cycstoderma family.

Fungi, Upton Heath

A very blustery day

Thursday 10th October 2013

The sun was shining onto the bed this morning, and Jez decided that she’d rather stay there and soak up the Autumn rays than come for a walk with Max and I, so it was just the two of us that headed out to Badbury Rings. The kind people at Dorset Dogs had warned us that the sheep are grazing on the Rings now, rather than the cattle, so I was prepared and on the lookout for them. Fortunately when we arrived they were all huddled in the lea of the bushes near the main road. They were the sensible ones. When Max and I got out of the car and headed north for our walk, we were nearly blown away.

My first photo today is a slightly different shot – it’s of the gate as you leave the Rings on the bridleway heading north.


I took loads of photos today, so I’ll try and limit them a bit, but if you want to see all of them just head on over to my Flickr account (click on the Flickr stream to the right of your screen) and take a look.

So, heading up the hill, the Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba) was looking lovely.

Old Man's Beard (Clematis vitalba)

In an old oak trunck near The Oaks wood I found this lovely Beefsteak fungi (Fistulina hepatica).

Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica)

Back in the open countryside, we found a large number of crab apples on the ground alongside The Oaks, so clearly it’s not only oak trees that grow in the wood.

Max in the windfall crab apples

As we turned the corner to head back towards Kings Down Farm we saw the farmer out planting a new crop – there is a tractor at the top of that field, honest! I was waiting to get another shot as he came back closer to us, but a woman (his wife?) drove up and parked in the gateway – very inconsiderate.


An arty shot now – of the barn at Kings Down Farm.

Barn, Kings Down Farm

Moving on, this is the field next to the farm where the younger cattle tend to graze.

Sunlight and Shadows on Kings Down Farm

And Max wandering into a field which has a new growth of a winter crop.

Winter crop (and Max)

This is the same field, and I managed to take a photo of the tramlines in the crop just at the right time to catch them leading straight to this little puffy cloud.

Tramlines to a lone cloud

And so onto High Woods, where I was searching for fungi. There weren’t that many, but this mottle sycamore leaf caught my eye.

Mottled Leaf

As did the sunlight on these sycamore leaves.

Sun and shade

I did find some fungi though. Firstly a common puff ball (Lycoperdon periatum).

Common Puff Ball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

What I think is a Jersey Cow Boletus (Suillus bovinus).

Jersey Cow Boletus (Suillus bovinus)

These Lumpy Bracket fungi (Trametes gibosa)

Possibly Lumpy Bracket fungi (Trametes gibbosa)

And these bracket fungi of the Ganoderma family.

Bracket fungus of the Ganoderma family

As well as fungi, we also saw a couple of butterflies on our walk today. There was a Comma…

Comma Butterfly

and a Red Admiral.

Red Admiral

I’ll leave you with a final shot of the sheep, by now out from under the hedge and grazing around the Rings.

Sheep grazing on Badbury Rings

I hope you enjoyed our walk today.

An old walk on Canford Heath

Wednesday 9th October 2013

What with Max keep having problems limping, and Jez having stiffened up and plodding along so much, we have tended to stick to one or two fairly short walks on Canford Heath for the past 9-12 months (although Jez’s plodding and sniffing means they can take us up to 90 minutes). Today, though, as Jez seems so much better following her physio, and since the sun was shining, I thought we’d take one of our old routes. It’s not too much further – it just takes us across the centre of the Heath and back.

First of all we headed down to Hotchkiss Cross as normal, where the low autumn sun was filtering through the trees.

The path to Hotchkiss Cross in the morning sunlight

After we’d passed what is sometimes the stream, we headed up hill towards the old Coach Road across the Heath. This is the view looking back to the west.

A sunny autumn morning on Canford Heath

Here’s Jez cresting the hill. That’s the old rubbish tip you can see in the background to the right of the photo.

Jez at the top of the hill

We then turned north and headed downhill again, where I spotted the cows. Clearly, all the best grass grows underneath the bracken.

The best grass is always underneath the bracken!

Heading back towards the stream we met this little soul, whose name is Charlie. I think they said she’s about 5 months old, and she’s a Jack Russell / Shi Tsu cross. She is a bundle of energy though and just wouldn’t keep still, so this was the best shot I got of her.


A little bit further along I was surprised to come across this Common Darter Dragonfly; still out and about.

Common Darter Dragonfly

And after we crossed the stream this moth caterpillar crossed our path.

A moth caterpillar of some sort crossed our path

Well that was our walk. I hope you enjoyed it. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a couple of shots of fungi, so I will leave you with, firstly, the Fly Agaric…

Fly Agaric

And secondly the Amanita pantharina.

Amanita pantharina

A day for cobwebs and spiders (and a few fungi, of course)

Monday 7 October 2013

The reason why it was so good for cobwebs this morning was that it was very misty first thing, and then the sun broke through, so all the cobwebs shone in the sunlight like sparkling jewels.

Webs after a misty start

That was taken over Upton Heath, of course, since it’s Monday morning, bin day, and so time to walk on Upton Heath. One of the things I love about walking the dogs and taking a camera with me is that it makes you very aware of the subtleties of the changing seasons. And I think it helps you to appreciate them, and their beauty more.

Here’s another, denser web for you, this time in black and white.


Of course, some of them have spiders in them. Firstly in silhouette…

Jewelled web

and then lit up by the sun.

Orb Weaver Spider

And one last spider – this one a Four Spot Orb Weaver.

Four spot orb weaver spider

Sorry to all you arachnaphobes out there. I actually don’t really like spiders myself, but like all insects I find them fascinating to photograph.

And so onto the fungi, like this one.


Or maybe the Fly Agaric, now they are finally out on the heath.

Break on through

Fly Agaric

They are back in their usual spot in the little birch copse, after a notable absence last year (which I put down to the very wet summer).

There are some nice Amanita pantharinas there too.

Amanita pantherina

Further on along the Roman Road I found these Roll Rim Fungi (Paxillus involutus).

Roll Rim Fungi

And a rather nice boletus.


My best find of the day, though, was these Amethyst Deceivers (Laccaria amethystea).

Amethyst Deceiver

Fungi, dogs and spiders in the Autumn sunshine

Sunday 6th October 2013

But first, as it was Sunday morning, there was some baking to be done. Today I attempted custard tarts. I was a bit nervous after the disasters the contestants seemed to have with these on a Great British Bake Off, but my only problem was that I didn’t have a cutter big enough. That meant that the pastry didn’t fill the muffin tin and so the tarts were a bit on the small side. But they seemed fine otherwise. Here they are with my Sunday morning loaf of bread.

Bread and Custard Tarts

In the afternoon I took the dogs to Canford Heath, where, once again, we had a lovely walk in the sun.

Cirrus and Cumulus clouds over Canford Heath

As usual Max made a b-line for the pond.

Max in the pond on Canford Heath

So after a while Jez went in to cool down too.

Making a splash

Wandering round I spotted a spider, laying in wait in its web.

Laying in Wait

And another busy repairing its web.

Repairing the web

Towards the end of our walk Jez took the opportunity to have a little rest in the sun.

Jez, Canford Heath

And so onto the fungi. I’ve left them until the end so that if you’re bored with them you can skip them without missing out on the other photos.

This little fungi has a hover fly on it.

Fungi and visitor

And I found this nice purplish fungi, which I think is a member of the Russula family.

Fungi, Canford Heath

I’m pretty sure these are Saffron Milkcaps (Lactarius deliciosus), but they are unusual in England. That said they normally grow under pines and there are lots of pine trees on the heath.

I'm pretty sure this is a saffron milkcap

I rather liked these, nestled in the moss on a rotting log.

Fungi on log, Canford Heath

And these are some nice examples of the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).

Fly Agaric

And this one, I think, is a Russula integra.

Russula integra, I think

Finally, I think these colourful little fungi are Gasworks Tricholoma (Tricholoma sulphureum).

Gasworks Tricholoma

So that’s it for today. We’ll be back on Upton Heath tomorrow.