Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Preparing for Winter

The unstoppable march of autumn, carries on apace. The trees on Shipley Hill, are taking on their golden colours and look gorgeous, even if it is for only a few days.
All too soon, the seasonal winds, will strip the branches bare, so you have to make the most of this short season.
The fungi - as mentioned the other day - are making the most of the time available too. This Woolly Milkcap caught my eye.
In the garden too, preparations are being made for the winter ahead. Not by me in this case, but by an impossibly cute little Wood Mouse who seems to have set up home here.
This adorable creature, has been entertaining us for some days now. He appears from under the shed, dashes across the patio with his his cheeks full of bird seed, then disappears down a hole in the ground, amongst the shrubbery.
Soon, he's back across the patio and under the shed, before popping out the other end to gather more seeds, dropped by the sparrows from their bird feeder hanging above. Capturing pictures of the little fellow at long distance and through the glass of the patio doors, is not easy, particularly when he doesn't sit still for more than a second or two at a time. But these didn't turn out too bad.
If there was a prize for the most active or industrious animal in the garden, he would win it by a mile!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Toadstool Time

You always know Autumn has truly arrived when you start to see the various fungi appearing in the countryside. So with that in mind, we set out this morning to check on the Toadstools along the 'Farm walk'. It looks like we got our timing just right.
Several different species of fungus can be found in this area, but as always, the Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria) are probably the most numerous and certainly the most colourful.
Ask any child to draw a picture of a 'toadstool', and chances are, they will produce something like a Fly Agaric with a red cap, spotted with white dots. But their beauty hides a dark secret as they are rather poisonous - although not deadly so. They contain various psychoactive substances including Ibotenic Acid and Muscimol, which give the fungi their hallucinogenic properties.
So, best to just enjoy their colourful addition to the countryside rather than picking them for lunch!
Much smaller and easily overlooked, was this little collection of Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon.)  The name comes from the fungus' resemblance to the wick of a snuffed-out candle. As the fungus grows, the tips branch out, giving rise to their other name 'Stag's Horn Fungus.'
That's it for today. Hopefully, there will be lots more fungi to come in the next few weeks.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Contrasting Weather

Once again, this morning has reverted to being wet and windy, incomplete contrast to the last couple of days. Yesterday, we had to curtail our walk slightly, as we were expecting the installation of our new front door, so we set off for Straw's Bridge. On the way, we passed Pewit Carr, starting to look somewhat 'bronzed' as the leaves turn.
At 'Swan Lake' the trees are taking on an even brighter range of colours....
whilst the birds keep a sharp look out for any food being brought by visitors.
The Tufted Ducks are always entertaining and this little fellow was keeping his plumage in tip-top condition, in readiness for the winter to come - as well as enjoying the sunshine.
The Spindle Trees are looking at their best right now. Their bright orange and pink fruits are spectacularly colourful.
Heading back, we passed the Manor Floods and this beautiful Swan, busy preening and also enjoying the sunshine.
Lastly, a picture from a few days ago - brace yourself  if you don't like spiders, because it is of a 4-Spot Orb Weaver which Malcolm spotted on the path as we walked along. A spectacular, if rather frightening specimen.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Turning Leaves

As Autumn continues to spread throughout the countryside, the leaves are turning rapidly and on a breezy day like today, they are beginning to fall too. Along our walk this morning, the Maples were starting to look spectacular, particularly when viewed against a bright blue sky.
Sunny days have been a bit scarce lately, so it was nice to get out and about this morning without a cloud in the sky.
In the shade on Shipley Hill, the sun filtered through the leaves, lighting up the Autumn colours here too.
Around the village of Mapperley, the cattle were looking comfortable in their field, also enjoying the sunshine.
Another source of bright colour, is the abundance of berries which are ripening in the hedgerows. These Holly berries were making things look a lot like Christmas!
Much more Autumn colour to come - we hope.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Family Visit

We've just spent a wonderful couple of days, enjoying the company of Malcolm's lovely cousin Christine and her (equally lovely) husband Hansüli, over from their home in Switzerland, for a few days' visit. Of course, traditional English food was on the menu...
and the mushy peas were a revelation!
We needed a walk after such a large meal, so we explored the delights of Shipley Park...
not forgetting the snail!
Yesterday, we had a trip into Derby where we met up with Malcolm's mum, his aunt Wendy and cousin Karen. It was good timing, as our visit coincided with the exhibition of the 'Knife Angel' outside the cathedral.
An impressive - if somewhat chilling sculpture, it was attracting quite a crowd. More details HERE.
The second exhibition of the day, was inside the cathedral. The Museum of the Moon...
This stunning artwork is on tour around the world and well worth a visit if you get the chance. More about it HERE.
Just time for a stroll around town before Christine and Hansüli had to catch their train.
But it was a wonderful couple of days spent with truly lovely people. Let's hope it's not too long before we see them again.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Rare Sunshine

We've been battling against some pretty dreadful weather recently and as a result, some of our walks have been a little truncated. They have also been rather wet under foot, so it was very nice to get out this morning, with the sun shining and the sky blue. As we stood under the canopy of the Oak at Osborne's Pond, the reflections danced across the underside of the leaves.
It is of course, berry time in the hedgerows and along the paths leading up Shipley Hill, these Pyracantha bushes were laden with fruit.
The bright orange, looked vibrant against the blue sky.
Looking out across the wider landscape, signs of autumn on the farm, are impossible to miss. Hundreds of neat rolls of hay, have been baled up ready for the winter chill. This picture was from a few days ago.
Also from a few days ago and on another of those all-to-rare sunny days, this was the view across The Manor Floods as the sun sparkled on the water.
Just one more picture from this morning and it's a colourful shot of turning leaves near to the building site of Shipley Woodside.
Here's hoping that we see plenty more bright days this autumn, so we don't miss out on the colours to come.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Autumn Is Coming

It's beginning to look a bit autumnal in the countryside. Leaves have started turning colour, fungi are poking up from the leaf litter and the Spindle trees at Straw's Bridge, are pink with ripening fruits.
Everywhere, the bright flowers of summer, are turning to gold and brown seed pods.
There was at least one thing still in full colour, unaffected by the coming autumn and that was this gorgeous Kingfisher. He announced his presence with his piping call, long before we saw him.
Frustratingly, he remained far away on the opposite side of the lake from us, but I managed a couple of half decent pictures nevertheless.
At the same lake, the Hawthorn berries provided another splash of colour.
Back home, something else to catch the eye is a neighbour's cat, who seems to spend much of the day staring in at the front window, willing Malcolm to supply the treats.
She's still a bit wary of us, so these pictures had to be taken through the window, so are not as sharp as I would have liked, but with eyes like this, who could resist?