Saturday, 28 January 2012


I mentioned the delightful little Rumex plant yesterday and the fact that there seemed to be very few native, wild flowers to be found.  The most abundant plants were, as usual in these places, the Euphorbias.  On our walk up the Montana Guaza we encountered lots of cactus-like members of this large family, especially the Euphorbia canariensis.
They added a little bit of green amid the dull grey of the rocky landscape.  The 'greyness' was exacerbated by the dull weather we had that day.
As we reached the furthest point of our walk and while dodging the rain drops which were falling by that time, we got the view we were hoping for, looking East towards Las Galletas and the distant airport out of sight between the hills.

Friday, 27 January 2012


The smaller of the two 'ash cones' which offered us a little respite from the constant traffic, was Montana Chayofita.  At 377ft it was a fairly gentle and rather short walk around the rim of the cone.  A small cairn with a tatty wooden cross stuck in it, marked the summit.
From here, the views towards the huge bulk of the 12,198ft high Mount Teide was partially hidden by rocky peaks in the foreground and, usually, by cloud.  The view back toward the resort was mostly hidden by hotel complexes.
At least a few scrappy little wild plants were clinging to the hillside.  The most colourful was a diminutive little plant called Bladder Dock (Rumex vesicarius).  Related to the Docks which we rub onto nettle stings, they were rather lovely.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Rarely have we visited anywhere so bereft of wildlife as the Los Cristianos area.  No doubt because of all the over-development, there appears to be no place for many birds, plants (other than the cultivated type) and insects.  A walk around the harbour, with its fishing boats and general bustle, would normally throw up a good quantity of squawking Gulls, but even they were in very short supply.  A couple of juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls flew about the area, but that was all.
There was one highlight however.  As we set out for our walk up the lower slopes of the Montana Guaza, we were treated to the sight of a lone Osprey fishing in the shallows.  Unfortunately it was too far away to take a picture and was soon gone.
There were several Ring-necked Doves (Streptopelia capicola) and Collard Doves (Streptopelia decaocta) around the apartment block.  Almost identical, the the Ring-necks have a slightly thicker, black neck band.  All are rather partial to sharing your breakfast!
A few Monk Parakeets and Ring-necked Parakeets can be seen (and heard) through the palm trees as they search for dates to eat, although they too tended to keep frustratingly far away from the camera lens.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


It is always good to get back to your own home comforts after a holiday.  Particularly so when the holiday has not turned out to be the relaxing experience it promised to be.  So, it was in this spirit that Malcolm and I returned late last night, from our week in the resort of Los Cristianos on the island of Tenerife.
It is said that about five million tourists visit Tenerife each year and it seemed that they had all chosen to visit while we were there.  A more crowded, over-developed resort you wouldn't want to find.  We visited the area about ten years ago, that time staying at Playa de Las Americas.  That was a fairly alarming experience too, but Los Cristianos was supposed to be the quieter, more 'genteel' side of the tourist area.  Not so!  Malcolm and I found just two walks to try to get away from the congested roads and associated vehicle fumes.  The first was up the small volcanic ash cone known as the Montana Chayofita at 377 feet gave decent views across the island (avoiding the millions of buildings, roads and cars) toward the centre.
The second walk, involved a slightly more uneven scramble up the side of Montana Guaza at around 550ft.  A barren, rock-strewn plateau of grey.
More tomorrow...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

More Frost

Another frosty day today, although not quite as nippy as yesterday.  So, as promised, a few more pictures from yesterday's walk.
Leaving the sheep to 'safely graze' on the frost-covered grass, we were stuck by the amount of work which has been done in the area, by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who have recently acquired much of the surrounding countryside to form what is now referred to as Woodside Nature Reserve (named after the old Woodside Colliery which once stood on the site of the also defunct American Adventure Theme Park.  Slack Lane has been completely renovated with stones and other 'hardcore' which once formed part of the car park at the theme park.  
Part of the remit of the Wildlife Trust is to utilise animals in order to maintain the grassland habitat.  The introduction of some rare breeds of sheep and cattle is a wonderful way of keeping the fields trimmed and free of plants which would otherwise strangle the life from the grassland.  Among the best at this task are Highland Cattle and, sure enough, four these beautifully hairy beasts have been brought in to do the job.
Unconcerned by the cold, they wandered about, munching the grass and looking at us with utter contempt as we stood there telling them they were beautiful.  As if they needed reminding.  They're well aware of the fact!

Saturday, 14 January 2012


At last, we've had a decent, hard frost.  The first this Winter.  We woke to a temperature of -2.6C (the lowest we've had so far this season) and a good coating of frost on almost everything, including the Pyracantha at the front of our house.
Stepping out, suitably wrapped up with hats, scarves and thick coats, we decided on a longer walk than usual and it wasn't long before our decision was rewarded by some stunning, frosty sights.
 The bright, crisp sunshine and the 'Champagne cold' of the morning was just superb.
Walking along towards Mapperley Reservoir, the farmland scene was every bit as beautiful and despite the cold, the sheep didn't seem to be put off munching the frost-covered grass.
More pics of today's walk, tomorrow...

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Once again, it was a rather breezy walk this morning, threatening to rain.  Thankfully, the rain kept away, but we had a rather shorter walk than we would have liked - just in case.  So it was off around Straw's Bridge again.  The lake was busy with around 80 Canada Geese, at least as many Black-headed Gulls, a few Mallards, just one Common Gull and a goodly number of Coots, Swans and Moorhens.
The wind was ruffling the water as well as a few feathers and a couple of Swans were feeling a bit belligerent, pulling the tails of their contemporaries.
Back home for coffee via the branch and twig-strewn Pewit Carr.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


You might have been forgiven for thinking there was more than a touch of Spring in the air this morning.  Malcolm and I set out for a walk through the newly named Woodside Nature Reserve, up and around Shipley Hill.  There has been a rumour of a Goshawk having been seen in the woods hereabouts, so we kept an eye open for that - without success unfortunately, but our walk in the woods with the sun shining and the temperature climbing was well worth it.
The birds were singing like a Spring day too.  Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits were flitting through the bare branches looking for lunch.  The trees were also alive with squabbling squirrels.  It seemed everything was in the Spring mood.  There was even a small clump of Snowdrops in full flower - very early.
I even managed to capture a picture that most elusive woodland creature, Malcolm!

Saturday, 7 January 2012


Malcolm and I had a short walk this morning, after doing the housework and looking at the ever-darkening skies trying to work out if we were going to get drenched.  Well, it did rain a little, but not enough to spoil the walk.  The wind was picking up all the time which helped to create the most wonderful skies and as the sun's rays peeped though the gaps, producing the most wonderful displays.
The fact that the wind was making the clouds scurry across the sky, made it tricky to capture the scenes.  A certain speedy 'point-and-snap' technique was needed before the moment was lost.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

No Fun

The New Year has certainly got off to a dramatic start with high winds and copious amounts of rain in the past few days.  Malcolm and I did just manage to get a walk yesterday afternoon, but having dodged a shower and sheltered under a bridge and then under some trees while the wind howled, we decided to call it a day and head for home again.  At least the Ducks are happy on the Straw's Bridge lakes.  All the rain has begun to refill the lakes and brooks and the Shovelers can feed happily in circles, watched by a curious Black-Headed Gull...
And attracting the attention of a nosey Mallard.  This particular Mallard seems to be a hybridised bird, crossed with a Wigeon perhaps.  Judging by it's size, it is certainly the product of Mallard and a smaller duck with a much daintier bill.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year

It's still unseasonably warm.  The sun was peeking slyly through the clouds as we walked past Shipley Lake this morning and looked behind us to where it was doing it's best to illuminate the new year.
From this high vantage point, you get a good panorama across the now disused car parks of the old theme park, towards (from left to right) the Ratcliff Power Station, East Midlands Airport, the village of Mapperley and Shipley Hill.
Happy New Year to all - lets hope it's another good one.