Sunday, 20 January 2019

Torquay

As usual, we did plenty of walking while we were in Torquay.
We certainly had plenty of fine views across the sea and with the water being so calm and blue, you could have almost believed we were in the Med.
The cliff-top walks were lovely.
as were the views through the pines, back across Torbay.
Some interesting rock formations on the mainland...
some more rugged than others...
and everywhere, those beautiful yellow Coronilla flowers.
and plenty of good-looking red sand beaches too. Just a shade too chilly for a dip!
More to come...

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Back Again

Malcolm and I have been away for a few days enjoying the delights of Torquay. It can be a little risky (to say the least), taking a break in Britain in January, but we were remarkably fortunate with the weather.
The waters of the marina, were calm and clear and attracted not only the boats and yachts, but quite a number of Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) too.
Among the leisure craft in the marina, some larger, support vessels were 'parked'. It would seem that these boats are used in maintenance of off-shore wind turbines.
The low sun highlighted the many masts as the gently swayed in the light breeze.
We were delighted to see a large number of plants in full bloom. Considering that it is still only mid January, it was surprising to find Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) in flower. Back home, you would be lucky to find them blooming much before April, but here they were.
Also in full bloom around the cliffs, were these bright yellow beauties - they belong to a Crown Vetch Coronilla glauca. This is more normally found around the Mediterranean but here in Torquay, it was doing very nicely.
More to come...

Friday, 11 January 2019

Mandarin Morning

I am currently getting to grips with a new camera and as a result, snapping away merrily as I learn all the ins, outs and gizmos it has to offer. But, it didn't need a miracle of modern technology to realise what the topic of conversation was going to be today. Just look at this!
A drake Mandarin in full plumage is always a wonderful thing to behold and this one on Osborne's Pond this morning, was just superb.
Even in the shade of an oak tree, this little beauty was a feast for the senses.
And I was very pleased with the way my new camera handled the situation - even having resized the picture for the blog!
Tearing ourselves away from the Mandarin, I tried out some tricks the camera will perform, such as adding sparkles to a scene.
It seems a shame to compare two different birds and ordinarily a drake Mallard would have been quite a head-turner, but when put head-to-head with the Mandarin, dare I say even this seemed just a tad dull?
Plenty more to get to grips with as I find my way around the new camera, so 'watch this space'.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

New Year

At long last, the sun was out this morning, so Malcolm and I set off for a walk around Shipley Park. Up and over Shipley Hill, it was nice to see the countryside bathed in weak, winter sunshine.
It seems like ages since we had blue sky above us.
Down the hill, we came to Mapperley Reservoir. Bobbing around on the water were several Tufted Ducks.
Always a little wary of people, they were keeping a beady eye on us, even when they appeared to be asleep.
Close by, a pair of Cormorants were busy diving for fish...
and a Great-crested Grebe in winter plumage was trying to get to the fish first.
Back home and the bird feeders were busy too.
As always, the Sparrows were in attendance in numbers.
But the Robin was doing his best to look seasonal and very cute.
A nice start to the new year - even if we've had to wait for the sunshine.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Review Part 3

Where were we? Oh yes! September found Malcolm and I away for a few days in Llandudno. We walked around the Little Orme...
 we walked around the Great Orme...
 and up and over it too!
 We enjoyed the Gardens at the foot of it...
 and the Goats which roam around all over it.
 We also made some new friends - but only while we had something to eat!
Back home, we had plenty of late colour in the countryside. Rose Hips...
 Lucerne...
 and these beautiful Buckwheat flowers.
Autumn was definitely on its way by the end of the month.
By October, things were beginning to change colour in the trees and hedgerows.
 More fungi were appearing...
 and we started to get a few more misty morning walks.
October also saw the tenth anniversary of this blog. Where does the time go?
By November, the leaves were falling, but we still had a some lovely weather to enjoy.
 At this time of year, you have to make the most of what good weather you get.
 It was Malcolm's birthday at the end of the month, so we had a nice day in Buxton once more.
 Buxton is a lovely town at any time of year, but it was considerably colder than our last visit.
And so we come to December and the end of another year.
I seem to have been rather lazy of late and not posted on the blog very often. So I will try to do better in 2019. So here's to another year and see you on the other side!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Review Part 2

By May, the Bluebells were in full swing...
and the Cherry blossom was looking better by the day.
After a shaky start to the year, it was all rather beautiful.
The Rhododendrons and Azaleas followed with their own display of colour.
But the real highlight was undoubtedly the Hawthorn. The combination of a wet and cold start, followed by a very warm sunny spell, certainly benefited these glorious trees. They were simply smothered in blossom.
Into June and Malcolm and I set off for a few days in Norfolk. The weather was picking up even further and we made the most of our walks around some of the Broads.
We had some lovely walks taking in the old mills...
some in better 'nick' than others.
Of course it was Orchid time too and they always give great value.
Not so many Bee Orchids this year, but what there were made up for it.
By now it was getting so hot, we had to spend a lot of time looking for cool, shady walks through the trees.
By July things were getting very dry everywhere.
 Those Highland Cattle were wishing they could take off their woolly coats.
 Some Soldier Beetles were looking for a little privacy...
 and a large Bumble Bee was sunning itself on the fence.
We also had a nice trip out to Buxton and enjoyed the botanical gardens.
Things were still very warm and dry as July turned to August. The reservoirs were beginning to look somewhat depleted (they are still low, even after all the autumn rain).
At Mapperley Reservoir, we were treated to the sight of a Fox coming down to take a refreshing drink as we stood looking out across the water.
 The warm weather meant it was a better year for butterflies.
But the countryside was still showing signs of drought. But that was about the end of the summer and I could at last look forward to the Autumn - although Malcolm was in no hurry to see the end of the hot weather.
Last part tomorrow...