Welcome to my blog.
Don't expect anything too high-tech or flashy, this is simply a 'diary' to share some of my photos, thoughts and observations - with a particular bias towards the natural world and the countryside around my home.
The recent downturn in the weather, has meant that the local flora has put on a bit of a growth spurt, making the whole countryside, green and pleasant. Many of the wild flowers are in bloom too, from the lowly Birds-foot Trefoil...
to the Common Spotted Orchids. Sadly, these little beauties do not seem to be flowering in such abundance as usual this year. Perhaps the hot, dry spring didn't agree with them.
Thistles are starting to flower all over the place too, with Marsh Thistles being particularly well represented. Normally these have fabulous purple flowers...
But occasionally, they throw up in a white flowered version for good measure.
Amongst the wetter parts of the countryside, where the ground doesn't dry out too much, the Meadowsweet is filling the air with its own delightful fragrance.
And it's time for the Rosebay Willowherb to join in the summer fun too.
Tall stands of pink-flowered loveliness - who could want more?
The sun was shining this morning, so we decided to brave the rather chilly breeze and take a slightly longer walk than of late - and we took the flask with us too! Setting out across Shipley Park, we encountered lots of insect life, some of which, Malcolm was not too pleased about. But to start with, there were several Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies on the Blackberry flowers near to Flat Meadow Farm.
Despite the stiff breeze doing its best ruin things, I managed to get a couple of decent shots.
Even caught a small Ladybird in the background as well.
Nearby, a clump of Nettles, was playing host to a colony of Peacock Butterfly Caterpillars.
Nettles are the primary food plant of these spiky little critters and hey provide a fairly safe environment for them to grow.
The large, flat umbels of Hogweed flowers are beginning to fill the sides of the paths and almost every one had its share of a great variety of insects. Among the most impressive of these was a large parasitic wasp known as Amblyteles armatorius.
The females deposit their eggs inside the bodies of unfortunate caterpillars of other insect species, but the adults feed exclusively on pollen and nectar - as this one was doing.
Finishing on a rather less macabre note, as we walked round Mapperley Reservoir, a bank of Meadow Cranesbill was looking spectacular as it swayed in the breeze.
Time to crack out the flask before setting off for home again. Just one more picture of these cranesbills.
Following some heavy downpours over the last couple of days, yesterday's walk was a little damp and muddy under foot. So we decided to take a turn round Straw's Bridge. On the way, we passed the Manor Floods and as we stood looking across the water, a family of Mute Swans came steaming over to see if we had anything for them.
The six cygnets in this family were growing fast and have started losing their fluffy down and becoming more like mum and dad.
On the back lake of Straw's Bridge, another swan family have hatched five cygnets, which we first encountered a few days earlier.
These little charmers, are quite a bit younger and still had their downy, fluff-ball appearance
It was nice to see them all still happy and healthy yesterday, growing fast and with their parents keeping them well out of harm's way.
Of course, as soon as you point a camera at the swans, the local coots...
and mallards turn up to get in on the act. And why not?
The weather, having been hot a sunny for a few weeks, has been cold and wet for several days now. But with things warming up again today, we were once again out and about round Shipley Park this morning, primarily enjoying the wild flowers - like these Red Campion, which seem to be everywhere at the moment.
These were growing along the old Nutbrook Canal, making the most of things before the Blackberry bushes and Nettles take over and crowd them out.
Part of the Carnation or 'Pinks' family, they're quite charming and always reward a closer look.
Also growing along this path, we found a few Herb Robert flowers starting to open...
and several spikes of Hedge Woundwort.
This is a member of the same family as Mint and Deadnettles, as a closer inspection of the flowers will indicate.
There are lots of fallen trees along this stretch of the old canal and where the wood has started to decay, some fungi are beginning to show. One of particular note, was this fabulous Dryad's Saddle.
Almost hidden amongst the nettles, we nearly missed them, but they were well worth finding!
Heading back home again, we crossed the main Nutbrook Trail, avoiding other people as much as possible, but taking in the joys of Elder Flowers...
and even the grasses are worth taking a closer look!
Our walk this morning, took us along Slack Lane and around Mapperley Reservoir, something we hadn't done for some weeks. Along Slack Lane, the views across to Shipley Hill, were dominated by Buttercups.
This particular meadow is always filled with Buttercups at this time of year but a little sunshine always makes them look magnificent.
On to Mapperley Reservoir and we encountered a small family of Canada Geese - mum, dad and just one gosling.
Having just the one youngster, the parents were able to lavish all their attention on it as they picked their way through the emerging lily pads...
Never letting junior get too far away.
The pathways around the reservoir, were bordered with Red Campion.
Such a beautiful wild flower.
More Cow Parsley too, making a fantastic display of frothy white flowers.
Back at home, the Azalea in our back garden is looking almost unreal at the moment. I swear it would glow in the dark!
Quite lovely and magnificently over-the-top.
And to finish, a single Calendula flower, doing its best not to be outshone.