10 M NaOH and the Red Squirrel

The blockage in the drain to the septic tank is refusing to budge. {Metaphor?} Therefore, it is time for some chemistry. I have bought three litres of commercial septic tank friendly drain unblocker and two litres of ~10 M NaOH at the local DIY store. It was sat on the shelf next to concentrated ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. The fact that you can buy this stuff off the shelf, without a license, still amazes me. That concentration of NaOH in the hands on the wrong person could end in an unintended soap opera, to saponify a little. The plan is commercial product first followed by hot water tomorrow morning. If that fails, I’ll nuke it with the conc. NaOH.

After this I was walking down by Le Jaudy, and the red squirrel appeared. It was only a few metres from me. It then went up an oak about three metres in height, to be at eye level with me. In the spring sunshine the coat was a lush reddy-brown and it looked to be a youngster. It followed me along the bank jumping daredevil like between trees so close to me and seemingly unafraid. We walked together for a few seconds and then it pegged it up the last oak.

I felt privileged to have experienced this. It was lovely.

It was a nice contrast to sewer chemistry… Back to the DIY this afternoon. I have ordered the spares for the sit on mower but they might be delayed thanks to the fuel shortages and the general strike. We have enough to keep us busy until the start of next week and no need to venture out.

The Hungry Heron, Birdsong, Ducks and Coypu

It seems we are getting close to our winter range of wildlife.

The foxes are back, as are the owls and the badger comes visit when it is cold and icy. I feel a little sorry for the hungry heron. The river, Le Jaudy, has been flowing deep and fast for several weeks now so there is no dinner there. The fish in the pond are inactive and keeping largely to the warm deeper waters, so no breakfast either. When the sun is out, he sunbathes looking at the pond, wistfully.

The coypu was there this morning sat in “coypu corner”. It was the adult. I have not seen junior for a while. Junior #2 was shot by the hunters.

In the swamp Mr and Mrs Canard are back for the third year in a row. Last year she had seven ducklings. Now when I walk past the swamp they are not startled particularly if I ignore them. Looks like there will be ducklings again in due course.

Yesterday I had a go with my new microphone recording the birdsong from over the fence. There are quite a range of noises. The software I have is sophisticated allowing one to adjust gain differentially over frequency range. I reckon if I turn down the microphone input gain on a non-windy day, I should be able to get a decent recording using post-hoc “studio” techniques. We shall see…

The river is currently a bit too loud and noisy to record. Later when it is more gentle and bucolic I will try to capture its song…

River is High – More Rain Due

The puddle outside my “office”. I will go and get the water pump for the basement / vide sanitaire. There is already some water in there.

Le Jaudy is about 15cm below the footbridge, we are due another 1 cm of rain today…

It is hacking it through from the mill, le moulin…

It is a bit freaky standing on the bridge with the torrent underneath…

Les soldats are bending in the wind…

Looking downstream, it is a good job they removed the fallen tree otherwise it would be backing up…

Late November Pondscapes

After the drought the pond is very nearly full, at last. Today there is high pressure and no rain.

As you walk around the pond the lighting changes.

Les Soldats have little leaf left.

Spot the stray cat, top left.

If we sell the house I want this image to be in the blurb.

Next to Le Jaudy looking through the Oaks.

The Oaks on the bank of Le Jaudy taken from Coypu corner.

The Pampas mirror. So far they have survived the Autumn gales…

The Oaks from the football pitch…

The Oaks from near the greenhouse.

Two Herons, the Cormorant, Davinia Bowie and Felix

Seems like Felix does not need Viagra anymore. For the first time ever, we saw him spraying a bush in daylight, like a proper dude cat. This has perhaps been brought about by Ziggy or Davinia Bowie. He lets her eat and does not attack. Perhaps he is now marking his territory because he wants to cop off. The white duke (duchess) seems to be resident also now.

Yesterday there was the cormorant and today the heron. There are two herons. One is more scaredy cat than the other. Today it was the slim heron in the pond and in Le Jaudy, the wife got to see “her (?)” take a fish from the pond. The other larger heron will not let you watch it. “He (?)” was here first.

They have taken to strutting about on the lawns and I have seen them together several times now.

They seem less and less concerned with us.

Yesterday there was owl sound late afternoon…

If things go like before, as the nights and winter draw in, there will be more animals.

There is fox sign too…

I am thinking about getting an infrared camera trap…

That reminds me is Autumn Watch on the BBC soon / now…?

The Unhappy Heron

When I went out to work on the pond today, the heron who had been sitting in an oak, flew off in an unusual direction and complained at me. I am pretty sure he was not happy with me. I have been working on the pond on an off for the last week or so. He might be a tad peckish.

Le Jaudy is half way up to our footbridge and in demi-flood.

By the cat bowl method we had ~2cm of rain overnight.

No lunch for Mr Heron from Le Jaudy today..

The nasty human being has been tidying up around the pond and removing my weed cover.

We had beautiful light for a couple of hours. One more session and the pond is done.

Irises Rushes Wind and Rain

Outside the wind is picking up and Ventusky says we are due ~25mm of rain overnight and into tomorrow morning. I am about 85% done with the pond clearance and because the water levels have been low due to the drought, I have been able to pig-pen by kneeling on the iris and reed beds. I did not find any abandoned babies in the reeds.

The irises are starting to shoot already! There are several very confused plants in the garden, including one rhododendron and two very confused white flowering bushes.

If there is an hour window in the rain, I may get the last of the irises done tomorrow. This year we had a bumper crop. As you can see from the photos elsewhere on the blog we get dragon flies, damsel flies and butterflies. There are still a few dragonflies around in November! It really is worth the effort and when finished it won’t need doing for another year. We will get to see the pond transform from stark and bare, to vibrant and colourful. The calla lilies will be first. So far, the pampas grass has withstood the winds.

In one part of the pond there are three trees in which one of the big branches have split. They are leaved and swaying heavily. It is possible one might be down overnight. Which will mean firewood patrol.

If the predicted rainfall lands on Menez Bre the level in Le Jaudy will rise sharply and we might get close to a bank breach. This will clear out the oak leaves and leave a tide mark in the conker leaves. It may not come to that, usually it takes several days of continuous rain, but 25mm in a few hours is quite a bit.


In the Dictionary


MENEZ & en vannetais g. -ioù (& -ier) mont, montagne (& Montagne, soit koumene breton).

BRE (h-br.) g. incantation, l. -où magie, breoù (loc. (la) goutte).

BRE g. (nl) mont, mont war vre (war grec’h).


So Menez Bre is magic mountain or mountain mount.

I like magic mountain best and it is consistent with the role in exorcisms….

Strimmer Frenzy

Oh dear the grass looks long…

If I cut the bank now it will be ready for the primroses early next year….

This is going to take some shifting…

It is about 50m down to Le Jaudy…

It is time for strimmer frenzy, the lawn needs a cut soon too…

The strimmer is 2m long and weighs 15kg…it makes a mess…it has a high vibration 2 stroke motor.

That looks better…

I swept up the cuttings….

Two hours later … I now feel like the strimmer looks…knackered…