Saturday, 29 September 2012

Trying Out

We had a nice walk around the lakes of Straw's Bridge this morning.  Of course, I was eager to try out my new camera and took some nice general views of the lakes.
The nice, blue sky didn't last very long unfortunately, but it did remain fine long enough to give us some sunny scenery.
Further on and we walked around 'Swan Lake' to find a feeding frenzy as someone was throwing bread and seeds to the ducks, geese, swans and gulls.  The Black-headed Gulls have all lost their summer plumage now and are looking clean and tidy in their fresh feathers, especially when the sun's on them.

Friday, 28 September 2012


No new pictures this morning as we had some shopping to do.  So no country walk today.  Instead, I have a new toy!
I have been thinking of upgrading my camera for some time, so this morning I have taken the plunge and bought a smart, new machine with a much better zoom and lots of 'bells and whistles'.
As always, these things take some time to get used to and having downloaded the user manual from the Samsung website (you never get a user's booklet in the box any more), it looks like I have a lot of reading to do.  Hopefully, there will some pictures tomorrow, so stay tuned...!


Have had a quick 'go' with the camera and am already impressed with the results.  Taken through the window, this House Sparrow seems to be impressed too.  The picture has been reduced in size to make a more manageable file size.
So far, so good.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

All Change

It certainly made a refreshing change, to be able to get out and about for a long walk this morning.  So, we set out for a stroll through Shipley Park, up Shipley Hill, down to Osborne's Pond and back around Shipley Lake.
Everywhere, the colours of Autumn are beginning to take hold.
As always, it's those members of the Maple family, which provide some of the best colour and when seen against a bright blue sky, they are quite stunning.
The Derby Lodge on Shipley Hill has a wonderful Virginia Creeper growing up its walls and this too is currently providing a glorious splash of vivid red.
Things are certainly changing rapidly - Winter draws on!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


After the dreadful weather yesterday, it was good to get out for a walk around Straw's Bridge this morning.  It was cold, dull and still rather windy and things are looking - and feeling - very Autumnal.  The chill in the air wasn't noticed by the ducks and geese on the lake.
Having recently acquired their new plumage following their annual moult, they are almost constantly preening and bathing to keep the feathers in tip-top order.  Although, one Canada Goose is still having trouble with its deformed wings.  This poor bird has had no primary feathers all of its adult life, so has been confined to the ground (and water) and has never taken to the air.  But, despite this, it seems happy enough and fits in with all the others.
Another of the Canada Geese seemed to be entertaining the rest with a little 'goose-stepping' dance.
He was entertaining the ducks too.  Though this one appeared to be unimpressed.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Remember my post of 9th September, about the Long-winged Conehead?  Well, as I mentioned, I passed on my sighting to the website and had a reply from them, thanking me for the report, confirming my identification and to tell me it was only the second sighting ever in this area!
It turns out that the effects of global warming are being calculated and studied by the spread of creatures such as 'my' Conehead and we are, as I said at the time, close to the Northern edge of this spread.  With this in mind, we may well see more of these impressive insects in the future.
Looking again at, it would seem that a report of another Long-winged Conehead, was sent in, by another 'insect spotter' at 'Straw's Bridge' on 12th September and there has been a report of one at Warton Crag in Lancashire.  So, it would seem that the spread northwards continues.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


The weather was 'mixed' as we walked around Shipley Park this morning.  We set out in the sunshine and a brisk wind.  Shortly after that we had a light shower, followed by more sun, then cloud, more sun and another light shower as we got closer to home again.  As Malcolm said, all four seasons in one morning.  Things are looking increasingly autumnal around the park and the Great Reedmace (Typha latifoli) plants are looking delightful in the sun.
Often referred to as a 'Bulrush', they are in fact not a member of the rush family.  The rhizomes of this plant are edible and there is evidence that they have been ground into flour and eaten in parts of Europe, for 30,000 years.  The bases of the young leaves are edible too as are the unopened flower spikes, which can be eaten like corn-on-the-cob.
When I was a child, the brown flower/seed spikes were popular as dried flowers.

Saturday, 15 September 2012


There are many Martello Towers around the British coast and nowhere more so than around the South-East corner of the country.  Here in Folkestone, proximity to the European mainland has meant that the area has always been on the 'front line'.  Built during the 19th century, these towers were built to house an officer and up to 25 soldiers and were to provide an artillery base.  They were built to withstand cannon fire and so have very thick walls.  This is one of many which still remain to this day - although it now seems to be defending a golf course.
Folkestone was well worth defending and, paradoxically attacking, because of its harbour- still in use today as a fishing base.
There is still a railway line which runs across the harbour wall and onto the dock area where steamers would once have taken tourists to and from France.  This rail link necessitated the construction of a swing bridge to allow boats in and out of the inner harbour area.

Friday, 14 September 2012


More on our little trip to Folkestone.
Walking west along the seafront, we reached the smaller village of Sandgate.  This little village has a long history and has been on the front line of defence of the British Isles for centuries.  As proof of this, there is a castle next to the promenade which dates back to 1539.
Built by Henry VIII as part of a chain of coastal defences, it is well documented and the British Library holds all the details about it's building and use.  For example, the cost of building the castle is known to have been £5,584.7s.2d.  Quite what the 2d. was for is not made clear!
Keeping the French at bay has long been a priority for Britain and the ornamental - and rather small - canons dotted around the castle all seemed to be pointing that way still.  In later years, the top was removed and the whole building was converted to a 'Martello' type tower and used as a coastal battery during the Napoleonic Wars.  The building is now a private residence.  Very smart!
Sandgate has been the home of several notable people including H G Wells, politician William Wilberforce and Hattie Jacques and with views like these, who can blame them?

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Malcolm and I returned late last night, from our brief jaunt to France with an overnight stay in the delightful town of Folkestone.  I can't say what I was expecting Folkestone to be like, but what a lovely place it was!
Certainly the weather helped.  Sunny and warm when we arrived, we walked along the seafront towards Sandgate and were afforded fine views across the sea to Dungeness and the nuclear power station which dominates the horizon.
There are some wonderful walks along the cliffs as well as the promenade.  In fact there are several different paths to take along the cliff-top and the beautiful gardens which run half way between the cliff-top and the prom.  There aren't many places left in Britain about which you can say Lovely!  But Folkestone was certainly a revelation.
More tomorrow perhaps.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


A strange name for a strange insect.  Last night, while Malcolm was preparing dinner, a large, green insect buzzed into the garden.  Its flight was a little 'unsteady' to say the least and it eventually flopped onto one of the leaves of our grape vine.  I of course, grabbed the camera and pursued it around the foliage, snapping as I went.  The little perisher was tricky to photograph and kept hiding, but I managed a couple of shots.
It turned out to be a Long-winged Conehead (Conocephalus discolor).  New to Britain in the 1940's, it has spread up the country from its 'foothold' on the South coast and is now to be found up to a line across from The Wash.  So here, in the East Midlands, we are at about the Northern limit of this invader - at least for the moment.  The Long-winged Conehead is a species of Bush Cricket and its spread is supposedly due in part to global warming.
I have this afternoon, recorded this sighting on the Orthoptera and Allied Insects recording website.
Our walk this morning took in some nice views again.  This panoramic view across the farmland towards Mapperley Village was well worth taking in.

Saturday, 8 September 2012


After few days of no Internet connection, it is nice to be back to normal again (don't speak too soon).  Indeed, if the 'technician' who stumbled blindly about the house yesterday, had done his job properly, we would have been back on-line a lot earlier.  But, the Neanderthal who arrived and grunted "alright mate" at us yesterday morning, was barely able to stand upright and string more than two monosyllabic words together, let alone sort out an Internet-based problem.
So, this afternoon, another technician has been out to sort out the problem and, so far, everything is working well.
Before I tempt fate too much, lets just see a couple of pictures from our rather sunny walks over the last few days.  Firstly, a view across the grass of the picnic site adjacent to Mapperley Reservoir.  We sat and had a coffee here on Thursday having walked around the reservoir and before we returned via Mapperley wood.
The second picture for today, is one taken from the top of Shipley Hill looking South towards Ilkeston and the wonderfully green landscape hereabouts.
Hopefully, our Internet connection will be solid enough now to allow some more posting from now on.  Fingers crossed!

Monday, 3 September 2012


Peace had broken out on 'Swan Lake' this morning.  We had a short walk today, with a sit in the sunshine on the way back and all was peaceful.  The ducks were particularly relaxed.
Even the sight of me pointing my camera at them wasn't enough to stir these sleepy heads.
You could almost hear the snoring... Bless their hearts!  Just the sort of day for a snooze in the sun.
Then someone appeared with a bag of bread and that put an end to the slumbers.