Friday, 20 April 2018

Hot!

Well! It seems we have left winter behind, skipped straight past spring and gone directly to summer. Where a couple of weeks ago, we were shivering in sub-zero temperatures and snow, yesterday and today we've been subjected to weather more usual for August. Ample opportunity for us to get out and about with the flask! So yesterday, we took ourselves for a longer walk around Shipley Park. Firstly, along Slack lane, there was time to admire the brightly coloured Gorse.
The summer migrant birds were obviously enjoying the weather too. Arriving back in the UK from their winter quarters in Africa, they must have been thinking they'd made a dreadful mistake over the last few weeks. But yesterday, they were singing their little hearts out and no doubt enjoying the insect feast on offer at last.
The Maple trees are at last beginning to bloom, opening their pale lime-green flowers to the sunshine.
And through the woodland of Shipley Park, a few late Narcissus were still looking good.
The Cherry blossom is beginning to show its hand now too. This particular tree has been a favourite of mine for several years, but it is not usually so late to bloom as it is this year.
Judging by the number of bees which were buzzing about the flowers, they must also be very glad to see such a profusion as this.
You can never get too much of a good thing!
By the time we reached the site of Shipley Hall, we were hot and ready for a sit down - and a flask of coffee too. Not a bad place to have elevenses!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Out Again

At last, things were a little more cheerful this morning, so we set out once again for a longer walk around Shipley Park. Despite the fine forecast, we did encounter a few spots of rain on the way and the sunshine which greeted us as we woke first thing this morning, soon gave way to darker skies and a few more threatening clouds. The chilly breeze too, made things seem a little less hospitable as we set out, but we persevered and were soon rewarded by the sight of a fine, pink blossomed Cherry Tree.
Like everything else, the flowers are quite a bit later appearing than normal, but considering the foul weather we've had in recent weeks, it's a wonder they've bothered to bloom at all.
It is still very wet under foot and the paths around the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's farm buildings, was caked in mud, so we had to watch our step as we headed along to see what was causing the cattle to make so much noise - we could hear them a mile away!
It turned out to be feeding time and a few Highland cows and Belted Galloway's were making it known that they were not impressed with the speed of service.
They soon had their heads in the feeding station and things quietened down a little as they tucked in to the fresh hay. Some days ago, during a rare sunny spell, some of the cattle were enjoying the sunshine.
And keeping it out of their eyes too by the looks of this one!

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Spring at Last!

It has been so wet and miserable lately, that it has hardly seemed like Spring at all. But this morning, we set out in glorious sunshine and blue skies, feeling more Spring-like than we have for some time. After a very chilly start, it soon warmed up and despite the mud under foot, we set out for Shipley Hill and Mapperley, ostensibly to check on the Daffodils. We were not disappointed.
These cultivated specimens, growing near Home Farm at he top of the hill, were enjoying the sunshine almost as much as we were.
Further on and we stopped to admire their wild cousins, growing among the trees of Shipley Wood.
Smaller and paler of colour, they are no less welcome as they add their own spalshes of sunshine to the woodland floor.
The daffodils are not the only flowers opening in defiance of the recent bad weather. The hedgerows are filling with thousands of Blackthorn flowers.
These beauties were found blossoming beside Straw's Bridge a few days ago.
As we returned home along Slack Lane this morning, the unmistakable scent of coconuts wafted at us from the Gorse bushes growing along the side.
Gorse is almost always in flower, but when the sun shines on the flowers and warms them enough to release their scent, they really come into their own.
The Highland Cattle in the field beyond, seemed to be enjoying the better weather too. This one appeared to be nodding off in the sun.
What a pleasant change!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Mother's Day?

Although it was a little belated, this morning, we celebrated Mother's Day by taking Malcolm's mum to Attenborough Nature Reserve.  The weather was unusually fine and the sun was shining beautifully as we walked around the wetlands and flooded gravel pits.
Near the visitor's centre, we were delighted to see a pair of Egyptian Geese staking a claim the best nesting place.
Floating around on the water was a gorgeous Red-crested Pochard.
Malcolm's mum noticed a small, brown bird picking about the shallows - a Water Rail was looking for food and being unusually bold for such a normally shy bird.
We have often heard the pig-like squealing of a Water Rail around the lakes of Pewit Carr, but never seen one there, so it was lovely to get such a good view of one here. A first for Malcolm!
Further on and a Bullfinch was posing on a branch, looking plump and round as he fluffed up against the cold breeze.
And a more familiar Robin seemed to be following us all round the reserve.
Soon, it was back to the car and off to have lunch to round off the morning - and the weather held nicely!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Bitter

Once again, I'm back, apologising for not posting very much recently. But, in my defence, it has been rather rotten weather and this morning, finally, we got out for a brief walk to Straw's Bridge. After the snow and plunging temperatures of the last few days, the countryside was looking a little worse for wear.
The few birds we saw as we slithered along the Nutbrook Trail, were desperate to find something to eat, but the Long-tailed Tits were still about as were several Robins - which gave the scene a look of Christmas rather than nearly Easter.
At long last though the snow was beginning to melt as a thaw set in and if it hadn't been for the bitterly cold wind which seemed determined to cut us in half, it would have been a much nicer walk.
Hopefully, as things start to improve this week, we will manage to get out and about a bit more, giving me the opportunity for some more blog posts.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Back Out

Recently, the weather has been particularly unkind to us. The severe frosts and snows of last week coupled with a biting wind-chill, were followed by a thaw, rain and very muddy conditions. All of which have left things extremely wet under foot and not very conducive to a  good walk in the countryside. But things have started to look up a bit this week, so with the sun shining onus at last this morning, we set out for a walk around the 'farm walk'.
A few green buds are starting to appear in the hedgerows, but the trees remain bare and wintry, but the blue skies were an improvement.
Along Slack Lane, it was a bit wet and in a few places, the snow was still clinging tenaciously to the ditches and paths...
... particularly where the sun hasn't yet managed to reach the ground.
But the birds were singing brightly from the tree-tops and the Ivy clinging to these Oaks, gave the impression of the greenery to come.
Back home and I was particularly pleased to see that the Bluebell seeds which I collected last year, have started to germinate. So, lets hope we soon have a colourful display of blue in the garden.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Snowdrop Time

Once again, we've arrived at that time of year when the woodland floor is coated with its usual array of Snowdrops.
Our walk this morning, although still very wet under foot, was at least brighter than of late and a little milder too. So, we took in Shipley Hill and Mapperley Reservoir as we checked up on these beautiful harbingers of spring.
On the hill, the gardens belonging to Nottingham Lodge, were liberally sprinkled with them.
And the Derby Lodge too had its fair share.
It seemed, everywhere you looked this morning, Snowdrops were waving happily in the breeze.
A very welcome splash of sunshine today, meant that the flowers were opening out to reveal their true colours - something of a rarity so far this year.
Today is also a special day for Malcolm's mum, as its her birthday. So, a very happy 87th to Mum 'P'- seen here with Malcolm, in Luzern in 2015.