Saturday, 24 August 2019

Odds and Ends

The blog has been a bit sparse lately, so here are a few 'odds and ends' from our recent walks. We begin with a couple of watery pictures, the first one is of the Nutbrook Canal, which has been rather full after all the rain.
Things have settled down a little now and the water level has dropped once more and with the sun glancing through the trees, it all looks quite nice.
In the wetter parts along the water courses and by the side of most of the ponds and lakes around here, Purple Loosestrife has been looking beautiful in it's colourful finery. The bees like it too!
The small brook which featured in the short video a few days ago, was still quite full the other day, which made it such a pleasure to just stand and listen for a few minutes.
Another common plant around these parts - and another one popular with the bees and hoverflies - is the Ragwort. Covered with hundreds of open, yellow flowers it's easy to see why it is so popular.
Lots to see beside the lakes of Straw's Bridge too, including more of that glorious Purple Loosestrife.

Saturday, 17 August 2019


Following yesterday's atrocious weather, the brook running through the trees of Shipley Woodside, was gushing through beautifully this morning.

Sunday, 11 August 2019


We've just been treated to the rare sight of the Lancaster Bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
One of only two left in the world, still able to fly, this particular aircraft came off the production line on 31 May 1945 and is one of some 7,377 built in total.
The sound of those engines is always a treat.
Just time for one more shot before it departed once more.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Wild Flowers

The wet weather this summer, has resulted in some very lush, hedgerows and verges. Last year, we were desperate for rain and the countryside was parched and brown. No such problem this year.
A walk along the old West Hallam mine railway lines this morning, proved to be extremely colourful. Yellow Ragwort and St John's Wort, rubbed shoulders with the purple of the Knapweed and thistles and the pretty pink of Common Centaury, while a few flashes of white Yarrow stood out above all.

Everywhere, the insects were enjoying this flowery abundance. Honey Bees...
and Hoverflies were particularly abundant.
It was all rather beautiful.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

High Summer

With temperatures soaring again this week, high summer has truly arrived and with it, all the associated bugs and beasts which conspire to make your morning walk, something of a trial. Malcolm and I got back from our walk this morning, sporting a few bites from various Cleg-flies, which will no doubt form itchy lumps! But for all that, the countryside is looking pretty good at the moment, especially as the Rosebay Willowherb is now in full bloom.
Creeping Thistles add a subtle touch of pale mauve colour to the otherwise green and (increasingly) beige scene.
In the wildlife gardens of the local nature reserve, the small ponds are decorated by these pale pink Water Lilies.
The flowers are very popular with all sorts of insects.
A few days ago, we found this wonderful Leopard Moth on our walk. Another new 'tick' for my life-list!

Monday, 15 July 2019

Summer Flowers

Our walk this morning, took us along the old mineral railway lines of the West Hallam mine, what we now refer to as the 'Donkey Walk.'
All along the walk, our senses were assaulted by the intense yellow of the Ragwort and Perforate St. Johns Wort. Vast quantities of both, seem to have burst into flower all at once.
It has been a very good year for wild flowers, especially those of the Vetch family, particularly the deep blue of the Tufted Vetch.
The Pea family is always well represented in the English countryside and they always deserve a closer look. These Red Clover flowers are easily overlooked, but are rather gorgeous.
As well as the flowers, there have also been lots of insects about this year. At the moment, these little, iridescent beetles seem to be on tree leaves everywhere. They are a type of Leaf Beetle (sometimes called Flea Beetles) called Altica palustris.
Back home and we're still being visited regularly, by families of House Sparrows, making the most of the seed we're providing. This little one was still displaying the yellow 'gape' which encourages the parent birds to feed it - even though its quite capable of fending for itself now.
More summer colour to come no doubt!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019


Yesterday, Malcolm and I decided we'd take a short trip and have a look at Dovedale. It has been some years since we ventured out that way and to avoid too many people, we parked the car at Milldale, rather than the main 'tourists' car park and set out along the river.
Last year, we were suffering the effects of the drought, but this year, everything is lush and green and despite the slightly overcast conditions, it was quite beautiful along the river Dove.
Surprisingly, there were still quite a few people about, but nowhere near the numbers we'd normally expect to encounter along the river.
Soon, we found our first Dipper (Cinclus cinclus). Britain is home to about 11,000 pairs of these active little birds and they're always a joy to watch. This one of course, flew off as soon as I raised my camera to take a picture, but I still managed to snap it from a distance.
In various places along the river, large clumps of Monkey Flowers (Mimulus guttatus) made a glorious splash of colour. A non-native species, it was introduced from North America, but has now established itself in most parts of the country.
Away from the river, among the rocky outcrops of the valley sides, Wild Thyme (Thymus polytrichus) was clinging on.
Great for the bees on a brighter day!
Back down to the river and a little digital 'bloom' gives the scene a different look.
On to Dove Holes, a couple of small caves, set a little way up the side of the valley and a perfect place to sit and have our lunch - after Malcolm had checked to see if it was safe!
The caves were occupied by hunters about 15,000 years ago and were used as tombs by Neolithic people around 4,500 years ago.
On a nice day, you can see why this was a popular spot. Indeed, given a few USB charging points and a flat-screen telly and a nice armchair or two, it would still have it's attractions. Even a niche or two for one's objets d'art!
And who could fail to be impressed with a view like this from your front door?
Soon it was time to start heading back. Passing Ilam Rock on the way.
Just time for a couple more pictures. Here, looking back at the caves from little higher up.
And another picture with a little 'bloom' for a magical effect. All in all, it had been a lovely trip out!