Friday, 27 December 2019

Log cabin log book

We spent Baby Jesus' Birthday not in a stable but in a log cabin, kindly arranged by Jacqui, our daughter, and Dean, her husband.

South west of Cirencester lies a series of lakes, most of which are flooded gravel pits with one or two marl pits by way of variety. (Marl is a lime-rich clay which was often spread on to fields, especially where the soil was light and acidic, acting as a fertiliser.) Our log cabin lay on the margin of a biggish lake the edges of which are being sympathetically managed in order to support wildlife. Enjoying warm sunshine we walked around the perimeter track of our lake and it turned out to be approximately two miles.

The lake was tranquil throughout our time there. Poole Keynes,
Gloucestershire. 24 December, 2019
Dean, invoking the spirit of Christopher Columbus and James Cook, set off and did more or less the same journey by the boat with which we had been provided.
Dean would have preferred a Viking Longboat but a simple rowing boat
had to suffice. 25 December, 2019

The cabin was very cosy and well appointed; we wanted for nothing, and as a bonus our bedroom windows looked out across the lake. I did no serious birdwatching but I noted nuthatch and a group of about ten goosanders; cormorants were generally present. Jacqui and Dean spotted an otter but Chris and I were less fortunate.

The sides of the lake were well vegetated with Reed Mace (Bulrush)
present. 25 December, 2019
For birders midwinter is a good time to be beside a lake. Botanists are less fortunate. Leaves were scattered across the decking around the cabin and included those of a North American Oak, perhaps Quercus palustris, confusingly known in America as Common Sallow.

Quercus palustris? Probably but I couldn't be sure. I never located the
tree from which they came.

I frequently come across these leaves on country walks (around Byfield for instance) but usually, as in this instance, fail to find the tree from which they came.

I was surprised to find a specimen of the rarely-seen Betula medwedewii. It hails from the Caucasus and is sometimes called the Transcaucasian Birch.

An ordinary-looking little birch...
I would like to say that it was my outstanding botanical knowledge that allowed me to identify it but to be honest I took it to be just a common native birch until I spotted the label. I suspect it was an expensive purchase but to my mind it had little merit. Perhaps in the summer...
...but it turned out to be rather unusual.

The property was provided with a hot tub in which Dean spent an inordinate amount of time, wreathed in steam and contemplating the infinite. 

Dean spent so much time in the hot tub that his fingertips became quite

The nearby swans showed no alarm or even mild surprise. 

At this time of the year the swans are probably finding food quite

As for Chris, she had a mug of tea and was content with her lot. We all tend to find the waterside calming or stimulating, depending on the weather, and Chris has always loved being beside water.
A nice cuppa. Can't be bad!

A small artificial island near to our cabin was accessible by a short, low bridge and we used the island for a barbecue over a specially constructed fire pit. The weather was mild given that it was late December and we were surprised to find a significant frost had formed on the bridge.

The little footbridge leading to 'our' island became quite frosted.

Yet only a few yards away flies were basking on the wall of the log cabin. Almost predictably they were a species of Cluster Fly, Pollenia species, the golden hairs on the thorax being conspicuous.
Flies, in this cases a Pollenia species, basked in the sun having probably
become torpid during the night

Lichens, in this case Xanthoria parietina, were  developing
on tree trunks.
The trees around the lake had all been planted in the last twenty years or so but a combination of clear air and perhaps a raised humidity level caused by the proximity of the lake had encouraged the development of quite a good lichen community.

Lecanora chlarotera, very common on tree trunks.
Here beside lake at Poole Keynes.Gloucestershire

As far as my untrained eye could tell all the species present were commonplace but the signs were encouraging.

We only spent four days at Poole Keynes but they were memorable ones and I am tempted to make a return visit in late spring or summer. We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe your return could be planned to coincide with the Snake Head fritillaries at Cricklade: