Alien Urns, or the sordid secrets of Mother Nature

I’m posting this just to share the skin-crawling sensation we’re feeling. If you’re of a squeamish disposition, don’t look at the photo.

Among the useless rubbish in the barn, husband found the previous owner’s besace, the bag he used when he was out on patrol. We learned from several neighbours that old André was not a hunter, put up barbed wire to keep them out, was a bit of an ecolo and liked the wildlife. It has earned him a mitigated memory, but endeared him to me. Anyway, husband found an old leather bag of his and thought it might be useful for putting his whetting stone in and all the other bits and pieces he has to have about his person when he’s scything.

He took the bag out of the barn, cleaned it up and hung it up on the porch near the wood pile. And forgot about it. yesterday, he remembered it. Opened it, and this is what he found on the underside of the flap.


A mud dauber wasp had been busy over the summer and constructed these alien objects like mud urns each about an inch long, with the remains of a wasp pupa inside. There is something really creepy about these things. Maybe it’s the association with Alien but nobody so far has volunteered to clean the bag up.


Pyramid Orchids

This is what I mean about hundreds of orchids. A bit of the meadow in front of the study window before the storm started. You can only see the pyramid orchids because they’re big enough for my camera to pick up, but there are dozens of bee orchids in there too.


lots more pyramids

More poo and percussion

To get back to poo. On several occasions I have seen bushy-tailed critters about the size of a cat and thought they must be stoats even though they are rather bigger, bushier and have bigger ears than your average stoat. We don’t have pine martens because there aren’t any pine trees, but there is a lot of poo left on the parapet by the side of the road where it crosses the stream, and that is a feature of martens and not stoats. The poo is often full of cherry stones which isn’t really a stoat thing either.

Today I learned that there are two kinds of marten—the pine marten and the stone marten. Different habitat, slightly different colouring, and I recognised my bushy-tailed friends. Looking for a you tube video, I found this, and was reminded of the beast in the culvert, that ate dead voles, dog biscuit and took a potato to play with, and I knew I had discovered who the neighbours are.



Other interesting discoveries, the bird that makes the gentle poo poo poo noise (poo again) is the hoopoe. I see them often now on the roof and round the front of the house.


and what I thought was a night bird  or an electrical noise of some kind is in fact a midwife toad.


While getting this post together, I was disturbed by a knocking coming from the attic just over my head. The cats were in the barn and don’t generally knock anyway, so I went up to have a look. The knocking stopped and looking through one of the many holes in a shutter saw the cause hopping about in the grass down below.

It’s all go here, isn’t it?


Twittering Tales: Takeaways

This cautionary tale (280 characters) is for Kat Myrman’s Twittering Tales. If you don’t know who the Groke is, you ought to. Go straight away to the bookshop and buy a copy of one of Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories.

Photo by Leirdal at


The Groke sat so still her great bulk made not even a ripple on the lake’s surface. She had spat out the boat part but she still had terrible stomach ache. The juicy part inside was tasty enough, but the rubber waders and the fishing tackle were playing havoc with her digestion.


Haibun: This place

An extreme haibun (less than 55 words) for the NaPoWriMo prompt.

Looking east

Here is green, stalk and leaf, the bright splash of flower heads, a jay’s blue wing feathers, and layers of sun like honey on a wafer. Here, trees bow, breeze-blown, spreading unfurled flags of many nations, speaking myriad tongues to the water.


Noise is bird-babble,

water trickle where ducks splash,



#Twittering Tales microfiction: Flash!

This 279 character story is for Kat Myrman’s Twittering Tuesday Tales (late).

Photo by leoperezwildadventure at


The sudden rattle & flash from the tourist cameras disturbed the birds of paradise. They disappeared into the tree canopy in a blaze of colour. It also disturbed something else. Something that wasn’t frightened. Something that was angry. The guide took one look and jumped ship.


Spring flowers

Spring is here and the vegetation is shooting. The deer are about again during daylight hours, and the hares, briefly—it is March after all. We see rabbits in the early morning and stoats and weasels. The drainage ditch that runs parallel to the stream is full of running water that drains down from the fields above the house and from the pond in the next field. So we now have frogs too. This would have been my idea of heaven when I was a child. It’s hard to believe that I am living it now.

This afternoon, when the showers were over, I took some photos of the wildflowers I am learning about, and discovering that some of them are quite rare, like these gorgeous wild tulips growing on the bank of the stream.

Wild tupips.jpg

and this stuff, that I thought was some kind of tulip is the lizard orchid. It’s not common, but we seem to have more than our fair share. These leaves that last over the winter will die back when the flower spike grows.


The pulmonaria (lungwort) is still flowering,


and in the ditch, the first buttercups are appearing.


I came across the Clandestine, the weird parasitic plant that grows out of the willow and alder roots last March and I’m pleased it’s back again.


The Euphorbia is already tall beneath the alders along the stream bank.


The wild plum blossom has all but fallen now,


but the dandelions make up for it in colour.