Saturday, 13 January 2018

New Year

It seems to have been quite a while since I posted anything on here, but seeing as the weather has pretty grotty so far this year, it's not really surprising. However, we managed to get a good walk yesterday, round Shipley Hill and then down to Osborne's Pond - avoiding the construction work which has started around Shipley Lake - and a good thing we did too! As we got to the water's edge, we were delighted to find a drake Mandarin Duck in fine form, preening on a rock.
On such a dull day, it was tricky getting a good shot, particularly as he was under a large Oak tree which made it even darker.  But such a brightly coloured bird will always shine out, even in the deepest gloom.
He really was a little stunner.
Turning for home, we found that the Hazel trees are gearing themselves up for the Spring ahead and have started to produce catkins already.
The long tassels of the male flowers are in stark contrast to the tiny, red female flowers sprouting from the tips of the twigs.
Back home, the Squirrel is plundering the bird feeders as usual.
Caught you!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Look Back 4

October was dominated by the colours of autumn and the display was pretty good around Shipley Park.
 As always, the fungi made a welcome return, the most attractive of which had to be the Fly Agarics.
 Woolly Milk Caps were in abundance...
 and Turkey Tails adorned the rotting tree trunks.
In our back garden, a ferocious little beast caught my attention - this turned out to be a specimen of Enoplognatha ovata.
At the end of October, I turned my attention to the rather more attractive animals to be found around these parts, particularly this magnificent Mistle Thrush.
Everywhere, things were starting to shut down for the winter season - although not before one last hurrah!
November came along and we had time to reflect...
 as did this gorgeous Mute Swan.
 The autumn colours were still very good....
but were beginning to be outshone by the shiny berries.
 A few Winter visitors were starting to turn up too.
 And at the end of the month, Malcolm had a birthday - and looked rather pleased about it!
And so we made it to another December. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially during our quick trip to the Christmas markets of York.
Things then looked a lot more seasonal as we had a little snow...
and the countryside was gripped (temporarily) by misanthropic ice.
So we come to the end of another year, this time on a rather chilly note.
Lets hope there will be plenty more opportunities for photos in 2018.

Happy New Year to all who deserve it.

See you on the other side!

Friday, 29 December 2017

Look Back 3

Continuing our look back at the last year, we arrive at July and the meadows were just bursting with colour. Meadowsweet was full bloom...
 and on the Hogweed flowers, soldier Beetles were doing what soldier Beetles do.
 A new 'tick' was added to my life lists, courtesy of this Twin-lobed Deerfly.
All was colourful by the waters of Osborne's Pond...
 and Straw's Bridge.
Malcolm and I,took a trip to Cannock Chase around the middle of the month. It was a hot, sunny day and we had a great time exploring a part of the country new to me.
 It was nice to get some shade under all those pines.
By August, we had started to harvest this year's crop of blackberries - earlier than usual - and what a bumper crop it turned out to be!
The Willow trees were coming under attack from these colourful little devils - Buff-tip Moth caterpillars.
Malcolm and I had fun feeding the Konik ponies some delicious alfalfa which as growing just out of their reach and they loved it!
By the end of August, I had turned fifty years old - goodness knows how that happened so we'll draw a veil over that and concentrate on the mini beasts which were found all over the trees around Shipley Lake. Leaf Beetles...
 and Parent Bugs aplenty.
September rolled around and we were off on our travels again, this time, to Edinburgh. we visited the botanical gardens...
 and we were lucky enough to be there at the right time to see the Giant Victoria Water Lily in flower.
 A stroll along the waters of Leith was very rewarding as usual.
 Malcolm was enjoying the views too.
Back home and things had started to show signs of autumn. Berries were ripening...
 the leaves were turning...
 and the hay was baled up and ready for the winter.
In the garden, small Harvestmen were busy preparing for the colder weather. Frightening little things they are too!
More tomorrow, as we approach the end of the year.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Look Back 2

By April, the countryside was bursting with flowers. Foremost of all were - as usual - the Cherry trees.
 On Shipley Hill, the Pieris bushes were holding their own in spectacular fashion...
while, back home, I was interested to find a tiny visitor to our home - Malcolm wasn't too impressed by this little Carpet Beetle.
A small flock of Waxwings livened things up a bit.
The hedgerows were filled with Blackthorn blossom.
 and the Cherries got ever more beautiful as the month went on.

By the end of the month, the woods were filled with the colour and fragrance of Bluebells....
 The Rhododendrons were beginning their annual show...
 and Apple Trees were adding their assistance to the floral display.
May came along and the Bluebells on Shipley Hill exploded in colour and scent.
 Thousands of them...
Also in May, we were treated by Malcolm's Mum, to a holiday in Switzerland again.
 as usual, the scenery was spectacular...
 and we gained some fine vantage points from where to view it.
 It was all rather lovely.
When we returned home, we found the trees were in full leaf and the Oaks were beginning to suffer from a proliferation of Gall Wasps.
 The Rhododendrons were ostentatiously showing off their colours.
 As were the Azaleas.
 Malcolm wanted a closer look at this one...
Soon, it was June and our focus shifted from flowering trees, to the smaller flowers closer to the ground. Ox-eye Daisies...
Dog Roses...
and the first of the year's Orchids.
An artificial floral display was to be found tumbling out of a high window at Derby's Silk Mill as part of an art installation called 'Weeping Window'.
 Thousands of ceramic poppies made a wonderful sight.
Back to the wild flowers of Shipley Park and the more lowly members of the floral world, were now in full bloom too. Common Centaury...
 Red Clover...
 White Clover...
 and Spear Thistles. All common plants, but no less attractive for that!
 It was also time for us to start looking out for the Bee Orchids.
That's it for today. More to come tomorrow.