Deer Hunting: No Longer What It was

Long-term readers of this blog might remember that one of Ollie’s favourite activities was to chase Deer. Over the years, he has managed to chase the three main varieties found around Beetley; Roe, White-Tailed, and Muntjac.

Of course, he never managed to catch one, and rarely even got close. Their ability to jump outclassed him, often leaving him confounded by wire fences or wooden gates. Besides, I would have called him back if he had got too close, as I would never want him to hurt one.

Over the past year, my old dog has slowed down considerably. On some occasions when we have spotted deer as close as 60 feet away, he has not even bothered to run after them. But in the close confines of the woodland area on Beetley Meadows, there are numerous Muntjacs to be found. Often not much larger than Ollie, they tend to run short distances, then go to ground in Brambles or Holly. The sharp spikes don’t seem to bother them, but Ollie knows better than to hurt himself by following them in.

We are just back from today’s walk, and in the woodland area, Ollie flushed out three of them. The two larger ones headed east, and a smaller one ran north, passing a few feet in front of us. Ollie watched them go, and made no attempt to chase any of them.

So, Deer hunting is no longer on the agenda for my old friend, it would seem.

He has realised his limitations.

Out With A Camera

On Saturday afternoon, I took the Panasonic LX-100 out with me on Ollie’s walk. Before anyone asks why there are no photos of Ollie, he flatly refused to stay in sight of the camera! As that camera only has a 75mm zoom, I wasn’t even able to fool him from a distance.

(The photos are linked from Flickr. They can be enlarged there by clicking on them.)

The Snowdrops are out in abundance, especially in the sheltered area by the main road.



And in clumps by the riiver.


I promised photos of the new footbridge, so here they are. This goes across the river onto Hoe Rough.



The view from the bridge, looking west.


At one of the entrances to Beetley Meadows, the Crocuses are covered in leaves, and barely visible.


The Daffodils are standing proud though.


Next time I will try to capture Ollie with a longer zoom lens. 🙂

A Crunchy Walk

Yesterday morning was icy, and still below freezing at midday. The cars were iced up, and the road was dangerously slippery.

I headed out with Ollie before 1pm, heavily wrapped-up against a bitingly cold North wind.

But the sun was shining brilliantly, and the sky deep blue. So despite the cold, the walk looked promising. And it was.

That hard frost had frozen the mud. And the leaves, and the grass. The result was a nice ‘crunchy’ walk underfoot, and no slipping and sliding in sticky mud.

As a bonus, the local Wildlife Trust workers have finally installed the bridge across to Hoe Rough. They also cleared a path on Monday and Tuesday, so we could walk to the bridge from just inside the woodland on Beetley Meadows.

Once across the bridge spanning the small River Whitewater, we discovered another bonus. They have installed a solid metal gate, to stop any grazing cows finding their way across to disturb the peace on The Meadows. Well done to them!

This means we no longer have to walk up to the main Fakenham Road to use the road bridge to get to Hoe Rough Nature Reserve.

Bridge photos to follow eventually.

Ollie’s Latest Photo

Michele Smith is my near-neighbour, a fellow dog-walker, and treasured friend. She is an animal lover par excellence, and has always adored Ollie.

Just recently, we were chatting on Beetley Meadows, and she remarked that she had never taken a photo of him. She produced her phone, and managed to get Ollie to stand still long enough for this lovely photo.

(It can be enlarged, by clicking on it.)

Thanks very much, Michele. xx

The Beetley Meadows Wasps

The long dry summer has brought a new hazard to our regular dog-walks. Underground wasp nests.

A couple of weeks ago, Toby the Jack Russell Terrier was chasing his ball into the long grass when he screamed in pain and ran back onto the path. He seemed agitated and unwell, so his owners took him straight to the Vet, concerned he may have been bitten by an Adder, a poisonous snake. However, it turned out he had been stung several times by wasps. He was given some treatment, and made a good recovery.

His owners went back to check the area where he had been stung, and found a series of holes covered in wasps entering and leaving. They notified the Parish Council, who arranged for a pest controller to come and destroy the nest.

Then yesterday, in a completely different area of Beetley Meadows, a family group were making their way down to the river when they were attacked by a large number of wasps close to the main path. The wasps appeared from holes in the ground inside the long grass nearby, and a child and her mother were stung. The mother was stung 12 times as she attempted to shield her child.

Today, a sign has been erected warning people to avoid the area. Hopefully, someone will advise the Parish Council tomorrow.

I know they are valuable pollinators, but we can’t have openly aggressive wasps stinging small children and dogs on a family-friendly recreation area.

My Latest Camera: First Impressions And Some Photos

As some readers may recall, I recently bought another camera, a secondhand Panasonic LX100 Compact.

It took me some time to actually remember to take the camera out on a walk, so with the benefit of a bright and windy afternoon yesterday, I put the camera into the pocket of my fleece jacket, and set off on the usual walk with Ollie. I took 50 photos, and these are the seven I have chosen to show you.

They have all been uploaded to Flickr, so clicking on them will take you to the photo on that site. Using the magnifier icon, you can enlarge them greatly on there, and move around them too. They are all standard j-pegs from the camera, with no post-processing applied.

An impressively large lone mushroom, spotted on Beetley Meadows.

The cap of the same mushroom.

A black and white version.
Black and White Mushroom

The river bend at Beetley Meadows.

Ollie on the riverbank.

Ollie standing in the river.

A fallen Silver Birch, in the woodland area.

My impressions of using the camera? Well, let’s say it has pros and cons, like anything.

*It is very light. Despite metal parts, it sat easily in my jacket pocket, was unobtrusive, and the weight was hardly noticeable.
*All the main controls are set using dials and buttons, so no need to explore the electronic menu whilst taking photos.
*The electronic shutter is completely silent, very useful in some situations.
*Zoom action from the 24mm-75mm lens is smooth, especially using the lever around the shutter button.
*Buffering to load the image onto the Pro-spec memory card was almost immediate.
*The electronic viewfinder shows all the information I need, and gives a completely accurate representation of the final photo.
*The Leica lens renders true images as seen in the viewfinder.

*Focusing is not perfect. I had 3 completely out of focus images from the 50 taken, and changing the setting around the lens to Macro focusing made very little difference to the close-ups of the mushroom.
*The small size of the camera can make it fiddly to hold and use. My hands are comparatively small, and I was still able to inadvertantly move dials or press buttons. This size also makes it potentially easy to drop, so I had bought a Paracord wrist strap and attached it before taking the camera out.
*The Panasonic 1-inch processor chip seems to favour browns and greens, with little colour ‘pop’ on brighter colours.

So, all in all, I am very happy. If you can find one of these old-model cameras for less than £250, I recommend you consider buying it.

A Non-Summer Summer Dog Walk

Summers in England cannot be guaranteed. Ask anyone who lives here.

But this summer has been the worst for a long time, especially in the East of England where I live, which has languished under gloomy cloud cover for what seems like months. Yesterday, It was dark while I was making breakfast, and the sun hadn’t appeared by the time I took Ollie out for his walk, at 1:40pm.

The temperature was only 16C (60F) and it was unusually windy for August too.

Since he had his Vet treatments on Wednesday, Ollie has improved immensely. He was pleased to get out over to Beetley Meadows, and it wasn’t too long before he was running into the river for a refreshing drink. As we walked around the riverside path after, the shoulder high nettles were on the move. Stirred by the wind, they seemed to be reaching out to others across the path, in the hope of stinging me as I passed by.

Like some kind of anchored monster, their tendrils waved in the breeze, almost as if they sensed my arrival. I had to weave in and out of the extended nettle heads, stopping occasionally to bash down some of the most impassable ones with my trusty dog-walking stick.

Oblivious as ever, Ollie trotted on, sniffing and marking. But he had no canine companions yesterday. Local dog-walkers were either away on holiday, or not willing to chance the possibility of rain.

When that rain arrived, it was nothing to speak of. Little more than tangible moisture in the air, followed by a few very determined individual drops that had escaped the heavy clouds overhead. Not even enough to wet my uncovered head.

After less than ninety minutes, Ollie’s enthusiasm waned, and I sensed he was preferring the idea of his dinner, to more walking. So we headed out of the alley at the far end of Beetley Meadows, with Ollie sniffing and marking the spots he had missed earlier.

I was left reflecting that it hadn’t felt much like a late-August dog walk. More like late March.

“Old Man! Old Man!”

As I was finishing the walk with Ollie yesterday, I was heading past the small playground on Beetley Meadows in the direction of one of the exits.

Two young mums were sitting on a bench inside, watching their children playing on the swings, roundabout, and climbing frame. The children were aged around four and five, and very noisy. Ollie was trailing behind me, sniffing and marking the rows of shrubs along the wooden fences of the houses that back onto the playing field.

Just as I got past the playground’s wire fence, a little boy shouted out to me at the top of his lungs.

“Old man! Old man!”

I turned to see him up at the fence, obviously wanting to say something to me. So I smiled at him, and walked back.

“What is it?”, I asked him. He pointed at Ollie. “I like your dog”. I grinned, and asked him a question.

“How did you know my name?”

He didn’t get it, but his mum smiled.