Saturday finally felt like Spring...even though thursday will be Summer. So it felt good to start the Otter Census in balmy sunshine. The first part was a walk upstream for about a mile, which was through lovely, traditional grazing meadows. Absolutely no sign of recent Otter activity, but I did see a Roe buck, a Stoat [redder than a Fox,with it's little black tail whirling around like a windmill] a Brimstone butterfly,lots of Orange Tips and a wonderful number of Peacock butterflies.
The second part took me downstream about a mile and a half. This was through mainly arable fields, which are down to oil seed rape this year. It is such a vivid yellow. The stream winds about much more here, then becomes a river, when it is joined by another stream.The banks become shallower, and where the edge has silted, I finally found two clear otter paw prints. About a quarter of a mile further on, near the bridge which marked the end of my patch, I also found spraint.
The walk back was much quicker, with nothing to look for. But I did see a Fox within sight of my back gate!
At home, a routine check of the Bees- we made a nucleus on Hive one. As usual they were bursting at the seams.The others making up nicely.
Sunday started as beautifully as saturday. I had to repeat the checks I had carried out for Otters. Part one was done swiftly and uneventfully. As I was leaving the house to start part two, Best Beloved called out 'The bees are being silly'. Despite our work yesterday, they swarmed. Not far, twenty-five feet, into the nearest apple tree! Now,there's not a lot one can do until they really settle. So we put our bee suits on[our white overalls and hoods]and wedged a skep above them in the tree, then left them to it.
So, on with the final part of the check.This yielded a spraint at a different point,but no more pawprints. Then a brisk walk back in search of a cup of tea.
The bees had settled down, but as you can see from the photo, instead of spreading INTO the skep, they had started to go up the OUTside. As I walked home, the sky had been getting darker by the minute. It now started to rain. Not a little drizzle, but big, fat drops. The bees were very hurriedly brushed into a clean brood box, and with little ceremony, dumped into a hive and a roof dropped on. I am sure you will be pleased to hear that by six p.m. they were humming like a choir at vespers. [That means they are happy]. We got soaked to the skin.
A funny old weekend.