Monday, 25 October 2010

Spoke too soon!

Just after I blogged that we had two more papers in submission at journals another one got accepted - this time to Ecology Letters. It's a very good journal to get an article in and Ian did most of the work so well done Ian :-)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bits and pieces of news

Autumn is well and truly on its way and suddenly there seem to be a million things to do. The greenhouse has had to switch from summer mode to winter mode which has meant removing the old tomato plants as they quickly become covered in mould and replacing them with more seasonal vegetables. All the pots that had to be removed from the greenhouse because it was too hot for them in the summer have now been put back and some of the heat-loving plants (including Ian's orange tree) will have to be tucked up for the winter.

Lots of toadstools have popped up in the greenhouse over the last couple of weeks. Being the first year we've had the greenhouse I've no idea if that's normal, but even if it's not I like them.

Yesterday we had a journal article accepted in Global Change Biology. It's the paper I first came to Exeter to write - the one I was hired for and yet it has taken several years to finish and publish the work. I now only have two more papers from my Exeter job left to publish, one of which is currently under review and neither of which I'm first author on (meaning that I'll have less work to do when they come back with reviewers comments).

Ian and I are currently working on a website for the Sharpham Estate on the river Dart. To obtain some aerial photographs of the estate Ian volunteered to go up in a microlight. After several weeks of waiting the weather was finally suitable last weekend and on Sunday Ian took a trip up in the sky. He enjoyed it immensely and not only got lots of fantastic photographs but also got to see a buzzard flying below him (the only bit I'm jealous about).

While Ian was up in the air I varnished the deck. Here's a photo after Ian had done the second coat:

We'll leave the deck as it is until next Spring when we'll extend it along the house and add some steps down.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Old Sludge Beds

On Saturday we went out for a walk around our local Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve: the Old Sludge Beds. The sludge beds are sandwiched between the River Exe, Exeter canal, a sewage works and a large reedbed that stretches under the M5. The sludge beds don't have many visitors - probably because you have to walk past the sewage works to get to them, but they're well worth putting up with the smell in our opinion.

At the driest time of year the sludge beds consist mostly of reedbed and trees with a few ponds, but in the Winter most of the reserve is underwater. There are paths with some stretches of boardwalk, but it is definitely a place that requires wellies. The sludge beds are home to lots of species of birds and insects and we even saw an eel there once.

Yesterday we were fortunate enough to see hundreds of dragonflies - mostly migrant hawkers, but also some southern hawkers and common darters. The weather was variable which was great because it meant that the dragonflies settled quite often and I was able to take lots of photographs.

Southern hawker:

Male migrant hawkers:

Migrant hawker pair in the wheel position (something I've never been lucky enough to see before):

Over the next few months we will be mapping the sludge beds as a demonstration project for our company website so I'll probably write several more blogs on the reserve.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Harvest time

It's been ages since I blogged and yet besides work, and other boring things like dentists appointments, not much has happened since Dad left Frog End.

We've had two papers back from review at academic journals, so that's required quite a bit of work - fingers crossed that they get accepted soon. Ian has taught a two day GIS course to volunteers on Project Lemur and is off to London this weekend to hand over his University work to his replacement.

I've been continuing to scan and sort old photographs - hopefully I'll be finished the end of this year. It's quite a lengthy process as I'm filing as many of the photos as I can by date and it takes a bit of research to work out when I did things. If only I'd kept a proper diary in my teens.

I've been continuing to cook lots of new meals as a result of having the new kitchen. You can see some of the recipes on my Frog End Food blog. This afternoon I'm going to make chutney for the first time. Our tomato plants have died as a result of a cold spell this week so I had to pick all the green tomatoes before they went mouldy. We have 2.4 kg of green tomatoes so green tomato chutney it shall be. A double thanks to Bryony and Mark who not only bought us a preserving pan last Christmas, but also sent us the tomato seeds.

It's been a very good year for tomatoes - probably because we grew them in our new greenhouse. Next year we hope to grow lots of aubergines and peppers too.