Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Blue Sky and a New Tick

This morning, with the sun shining and the breeze blowing, we decided to do 'the Donkey Walk'. As usual, it was a good decision.
It's difficult to imagine as we enjoy these surroundings, that only 100 years ago, this was the site of the West Hallam Colliery. Looking down the slope to the left, there would have been a reservoir on the site, fed by the Mapperley Brook which is still down there somewhere.
Malcolm was keen to test out the capabilities of the camera on his new phone and as he was thus engaged, my attention was caught by a rather drab little butterfly nearby.
It was a little tricky getting a good shot of it as the breeze was interfering with the focus, but it seemed like something I hadn't seen before and after a bit of a search, it turned out to be a Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica). So that was a nice new 'tick' for my life list.
On the abundant flowers of the Cow Parsley plants, many insects are busy collecting nectar and among them, Ladybirds can be seen preying on the unwary. This one is a Harlequin Ladybird - the well-known Asian interloper.
One last picture for today and another from along the 'Donkey Walk' where White Dead-nettles are in full flower right now.
No doubt we will be back to do this walk again, very soon.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Ponds and Panoramas

It was a glorious morning again, so Malcolm and I set out across Shipley Park to take a closer look at a new pond. This area was until very recently, part of an opencast mine. But since the mining has come to an end, trees have been planted, grassland opened up and a few small ponds have appeared.
Many, circular walks have been signposted and footpaths created around here, so we will have to investigate them over the summer. For today, we were just happy to enjoy the weather and the view. It afforded me the opportunity to use the panorama setting of my camera.
... and again!
On our walk yesterday, we stood and took in the view of another, smaller pond, which has been planted with reeds and generally landscaped, close to the visitors' centre.
Back to this morning and as we walked through the woodland around Mapperley reservoir, a beautiful, yellow flowered plant caught the eye. It is a Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus). Unlike the Lesser Celandine which is a member of the Buttercup family, this Greater Celandine, belongs to the Poppy family and is in fact rather poisonous.
The fields are now filling with the 'clocks' of Dandelions, glowing like small, white, fluffy globes in the sunshine.
We will have to return to these walks at a later date.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Spring - still!

Despite the considerable dip in temperatures and the dull, wet weather we've had recently, Spring marches on apace. At Osborne's Pond this morning, we stood for several minutes, watching a Mute Swan gathering dry reeds for nesting materials, to build up its nest.
The nest already contained four wonderful eggs but there could well be more to come as clutches can number up to seven.
On Shipley Hill, the grounds of Derby Lodge, are filled with the perfume of this gorgeous Azalea Luteum.
Always good value, the Rhododendrons and Azaleas in the gardens of the old Hall itself, are still a little way off their best, but here, you can't ask for better.
Back home, clutching a bag of 'mixed salad leaves' (mostly Dandelions) for our neighbours' bunnies, who tucked in straight away!
The only difficulty is knowing where to start. Dandelion? Garlic Mustard? Alfalfa? Perhaps a Ribbed Plantain leaf for starters!
Oh! The agony of choice.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Wet Day

On such a wet and miserable day as today, it's worth looking back few years to brighter days. It's hard to believe that it is four years since we were in Luzern, Switzerland. It was a wonderful trip with some great sights...
 All the traditional things to do....
and see...
Some breathtaking views from our trip up Pilatus.
We got to see some snow...
and it was great for Malcolm and his mum to meet up with family - and for me to meet them for the first time.
It was truly a wonderful trip, all thanks to Mum 'P'. Still can't believe it was FOUR years ago already!

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

May Day

It was a lovely morning, so Malcolm and I decided we'd do the 'Donkey Walk' today. Everywhere along the verges, Garlic Mustard (Alliara petiolata) is coming into flower. The cruciform shape of each individual flower, gives away that it belongs to the cabbage family.
In the fields belonging to the Wildlife Trust, Highland Cattle are enjoying the new grass, as well as the fresh hay, provided gratis!
These two fine specimens are sporting some pretty impressive headgear.
Gentle as their reputation is, you still wouldn't like to upset them and find yourself on the receiving end of those horns.
Back to the hedgerows and the Horse chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) are also coming into full bloom now. They are easily overlooked, but well worth closer inspection.
Things were definitely looking more like summer this morning as we took in the view from Slack Lane, across to Shipley Hill.
And just to finish with for today, a couple of pictures from yesterday's walk past Mapperley Reservoir where we were delighted to see this happy family...
one very proud mum and her eight little charges.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Yet More Bells

Our local Bluebells just keep getting better...
...and better.
When back-lit too. There seemed to be millions of them around Shipley Park this morning and among the trees on Shipley Hill, their fragrance was intoxicating.
It was also quite nice at Osborne's Pond today. The old Oak is in full flower now and the leaves are beginning to appear now too.
A passing Coot was in a hurry and kicking up quite a fuss as it scampered across the water.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Bells and Bugs

The recent warm, dry weather has been good for the butterflies. Already this year, we've seen Speckled Woods, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells and at least one Common Blue. But probably the most numerous at the moment have to be Male Orange Tips.
This one was keeping his distance so a certain amount of zoom was required, but what a beauty!
Another insect which seems to be having a good year, is the Bee Fly (Bombylius major). We usually manage to see one or two during the spring and early summer, but this year, they seem to be all over the place already. Easy to recognise, they resemble a bee with a long proboscis, which may look scary, but is used for sipping nectar.
Back to the Bluebells and Mapperley Wood is beginning to fill with their heady fragrance.
... go on then, just one more!
And one from this morning's walk, which took in the viewing platform, giving a fine view over much of the surrounding countryside - with some developing rain clouds this morning.