This fox in our garden this morning was lazily lying down, occasionally sleepily moving around and even yawning. Always wary, possibly aware of the human near the kitchen window, he kept a beady eye on the house. Even so, he lay for some time with his eyes near-closed, soaking up the June sunshine. Here are some photos of the visitor. You’ll see he is far from the manky scavenger that is the usual urban fox.  He is well-groomed and with a good coat. These photos were taken through glass – I didn’t want to risk disturbing the fox by opening a window for a clearer shot.

City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)City Fox, West London (Keith Salvesen)

I’m terrible at keeping up with this blog. I’d take it down, but for the surprising number of people who turn up to view the contents – some themes are strangely popular. For which attention, much thanks. But I am going to try harder. I’m rejigging the format gradually, and will do some weeding, raking and transplanting. Let’s see how that goes…



Pale Tussock Moth, Dorset (Rolling Harbour)

Until a few days ago, I’m not sure I’d ever before seen a pale tussock moth Calliteara pudibunda that was on a wall inside our house. I took it outside and put it gently onto an old garden bench. 10 minutes later it was gone. As is so often the case I only had an iPhone with me at the time, so the photo above is a bit rough and ready. On the other hand, you get a good idea of the subtle and pretty colouring and marking of this moth – and as you see, it was intriguingly furry, with spotted legs.


I flicked through a couple of slightly basic butterfly / moth books we have, but could find nothing like this creature. So I checked out the FB page of UK MOTHS to find a match. Sure enough, others had queried the ID of this species so I discovered the name easily enough. I don’t think it is particularly rare. There were also plenty of other fascinating and indeed extraordinary-looking moths that are apparently quite common in the UK. A FB page that’s well worth taking a look at.

The pale tussock is a moth of spring / early summer, and its appearance seems to be distinctive enough to avoid confusion with other moth species. The other feature, only deployed once I’d got it outside the house, are its feathery antennae (below).Pale Tussock Moth, Dorset (Rolling Harbour)

To make up for my rather poor photos, here is a really good one to make up for it, showing a pale tussock in all its glory…

Pale Tussock Moth (Kurt Kulac - wiki) Photo credit: Kurt Kulac / Wiki



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Gonville and Caius College is one of the oldest colleges of Cambridge University. It was founded in 1348 by Edmund Gonville, who has suffered the cruel fate of rarely being mentioned nowadays; the college is almost invariably referred to simply as ‘Caius’, after John Caius, the man who re-founded the college in 1557 at a time when it had fallen on hard times.

The college has 3 fine gates that represent the stages of academic life: matriculation, with entrance through the Gate of Humility; undergraduate life, with regular passage through the Gate of Virtue during a student’s career; and finally graduation,with students passing through the Gate of Honour to the Senate House to receive their degrees.

The lower part of the Gate of Honourcaius-college-cambridge-sundial-gate-of-honour5

The middle section of the Gate of Honourcaius-college-cambridge-sundial-gate-of-honour4

The handsome modern sundial was installed in 1963 as part of the 400th anniversary celebration of the college’s re-foundation by Caius. There are in fact 6 vertical sundials, arranged in 3 pairs placed round the hexagonal tower. They were designed by an astronomer and fellow Dr Message, and the Junior Bursar Dr Powell. The bronze dial faces are painted with vitreous enamel. Of the original set of sundials dating from 1557, only traces remained.


There is something very satisfying about this set of dials. The symmetry, the proportions, the materials and the design all seem to work in harmony. Cambridge colleges have many sundials between them, many original and ancient. Of the modern dials, the Caius Gate of Honour is adorned by, arguably, the finest.** 


** The principal sundial of my own college is dignified but… somewhat undistinguished in comparison!

Photo credit: All photos Mrs RH during a recent academic festivity

For further reading, track down a copy of “Cambridge Sundials” by Alexis Brookes and Margaret Stanier (available from the British Sundial Society). It can also be found as a downloadable pdf. There is an equivalent book by Margaret Stanier covering Oxford


Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, Dorset


I met this remarkable-looking bird at an owl sanctuary near Bodmin. I saw a sign to the place on my way back from Cornwall to Dorset, and diverted to investigate. I found a large, well-kept enterprise with plenty of birds, visitors and school parties. There was a very informative open-air display of several species that were explained in turn, and which visitors were in most cases permitted to stroke. A very worthwhile diversion that I’d recommend to anyone trekking along the A30 with a bit of time to spare. The place is called THE SCREECH OWL SANCTUARY.

Great Grey Owl 1Great Grey Owl 4

Many owl species can rotate their necks through 270º or more. This one managed a 180º rotation effortlessly, with its feet in identical positions.Great Grey Owl 5Great Grey Owl 2 Great Grey Owl 6



I very rarely reblog, but this set of photos from Foraging Photographer are so intriguing that they deserve to be shared around…

The Foraging Photographer

Actually it’s an incomplete metamorphosis, as dragon and damselflies not have a pupal stage like butterflies. Nevertheless, seeing a fully formed dragonfly emerge from the body of an aquatic nymph is a spectacular thing to see.

I’ve photographed the emergence of an adult dragonfly from its nymph body before – HERE – but I was very pleased to get the chance to do it again on Friday. To see a creature go from this…


to this…

…is one of the most remarkable transformations in nature.

Since we built our pond five years ago, we’ve had a variety of dragon and damselfly nymphs in there. As the pond has developed from bare sand substrate with a few plants through to its current state of abundant overgrown vegetation, different species have made it their nursery, the size of the nymphs (and eventual adults) increasing in size year on year. In the first…

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Between Louisburgh, Co. Mayo and Killary Harbour to the south – the boundary with Galway – is a fertile plain. This gives way to an area of wonderful high mountains and loughs, and some of the best salmon fishing in Ireland. The plain is drained by rivers, and is the perfect location for one of Ireland’s great natural resources: PEAT.

Peat Country, Co. Mayo

The backdrop to the north includes the spectacular conical pilgrimage mountain CROAGH PATRICK, rising more than 2,500 feet almost directly out of the sea. Peat workings can be seen from the main road south, but they are best viewed by taking a side road through boggy countryside to the more remote areas.

Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 1Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 6Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 2Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 5

In places the cut turf is stacked like old-fashioned corn stooks,  in gently curving rows. The effect is of some organic work that the sculptor ANTONY GORMLEY might have dreamed up.

Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 4 Peat Country, Louisburgh, Co Mayo 3


Dorset Fields 1

Dorset is to a large extent farming country. We are lucky enough to be in the middle of it, in an area where some farming routines are little changed for centuries. Not in terms of mechanisation and modernised practices, obviously, but simply the question of moving livestock from A to B. Before the arrival of Messrs Tar and MacAdam, most of the  ‘roads’ were mainly cattle and sheep droves. Many of the original un-made droves still exist today, a criss-cross rural network of broad green lanes between thick hedges. These historic byways, mostly designated footpaths or bridleways,  have become the joy of visiting off-roaders who tear them up for their sport and generously leave them for the rest of us to enjoy the aftermath. They meet from far and wide, enthusiastically and noisily make the complex of droves unwalkable, then zoom off again proudly mud-scarred from their recreation…

Dorset Drove 2

I’d have no problem with that at all, if after exercising their ‘right’ to off-road, they would discover a reciprocal ‘responsibility’ to reinstate the land and leave it exactly as they found it. This sound principle is not, apparently, mentioned in “The Off-Roader & Mud Warrior Handbook”. Maybe it should include a page showing Hohfeld’s Analysis of correlative rights and duties. *

Dorset Drove 3Dorset Drove 4 Dorset Drove 5 Dorset Drove 7

Returning to a more pastoral theme, there are several farms in the village that use nearby fields outside the village for their stock. This entails the regular herding of cattle from farm to field, and in due course back to the farm. Gates are shut. Men with sticks are stationed at junctions to ensure the kine don’t charge down a side road. A tractor precedes the procession, discouraging overtaking by its Massey presence. A van drives behind the herd to encourage the slow forward progress, the sides being banged vigorously when cows begin to hang back. And so they move along the same route as they did in Thomas Hardy’s time and before that, passing our house and leaving copious evidence of their healthy diet in their wake. As they did last week.

Stately progress down the hill to the villageDorset Cow Drive 1

One of  several complete cow-panics, and consequent mayhemDorset Cow Drive 2

All sorted out and moving generally in the right directionDorset Cow Drive 3

What of the bovine behaviour mentioned in the heading? I expect I have hinted at one sort. There’s another, though, that is a recent development in the last 10 years, and is increasing in frequency and insistence. I took the brief video below on my phone last year. The cows were mooching along the road, from farm to field, in the usual way. I pulled the car tight into the grassy side of the road to watch them pass. Frankly, there was no other option. The line was long and quite slow – this was indeed a classic lowing herd winding slowly o’er the B-road. I opened my window. Only one animal actually tried to push her head inside the car. Almost as soon as I had stopped the film, a car behind me started hooting. And then the car behind that. They were joined by the approaching cars on the far side of the herd. This impatience is regular and increasingly fractious occurrence, so the farmer told me. So the question might be posed: whose right of way? The cows, with their age-old prescriptive right to wander, supervised, down the road from farm to field; or people in their shiny motors and in a hurry?


Hohfeld, a jurist, attempted to disambiguate the term rights by breaking it into eight distinct concepts. He defined these terms relative to one another, grouping them into four pairs of Jural Opposites and four pairs of Jural Correlatives.

(1) (2) (3) (4)
(1) (2) (3) (4)

This use of the words right and privilege correspond respectively to the concepts of claim rights and liberty rights. Hohfeld argued that right and duty are correlative concepts, i.e. the one must always be matched by the other. If A has a right against B, this is equivalent to B having a duty to honour A’s right. If B has no duty, that means that B has a privilege, i.e. B can do whatever he or she pleases because B has no duty to refrain from doing it, and A has no right to prohibit B from doing so. Each individual is located within a matrix of relationships with other individuals. By summing the rights held and duties owed across all these relationships, the analyst can identify both the degree of liberty (an individual would be considered to have perfect liberty if it is shown that no-one has a right to prevent the given act); and whether the concept of liberty is comprised by commonly followed practices, thereby establishing general moral principles and civil rights. (Wiki-sourced edit for brevity)