Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Last of April

To see April out, just a few more pictures from our walks during the month. The Views across the parkland, towards Shipley Hill were just spectacular a few days ago....And we found a 'new' pond which we hadn't seen before!
The views across the grazing land which is being managed by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, was equally good.
Around Straw's Bridge, the geese, swans, ducks, gulls, moorhens, coots and grebes have been joined by several summer migrants.  The Willow Warblers, Chiff-chaffs, Grasshopper Warblers and Swallows were in evidence, as was this Carrion Crow.
At the moment, as well as the Bluebells, another blue flower has begun to brighten the parkland. These belong to the Blue Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens) and a beautiful show they make too.
Among all this burgeoning flora, it is often the most mundane which looks the best and right now, the humble Daisy is putting on a brilliant show.
All in all, it's been a colourful and floriferous month.  Here's to May!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Blues

It is a wonderful year for Bluebells in these parts.  I have mentioned them a few times already, but each time we venture around Shipley Park they just seem to get better...
and better.
These were growing near the Nottingham Lodge, on Shipley Hill and were spectacular both to look at and to smell as their fragrance filled the air.

One can never have too much of a good thing...

But that's enough for now, I think!

Monday, 28 April 2014


Contrary to the forecast, the weather this morning was fine and warm with the sun glinting through what few clouds there were.  So, we set out for a longer walk around Shipley Park, up Shipley Hill and along the footpaths of Cinder Hill, returning via Mapperley Reservoir and Mapperley Wood.  We stopped for a rest and a flask of coffee at the picnic site by Mapperley Reservoir, one of our favourite places for a rest - and with views like this, who can blame us.
The Silver Birches are putting on their bright green foliage and looked beautiful in the sunshine.
Along the paths, White Dead Nettles (Lamium album) are flowering their hearts out.
Closer inspection reveals a magnificent inflorescence of white flowers with some wonderful markings.
Further along the walk, in Mapperley wood where the Bluebells are so gorgeous (of which, more tomorrow), a close relative of the White Dead Nettle, the Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) flowers are also looking good among the plants of the woodland floor.
All in all, a lovely walk this morning and all thanks to the forecasters getting it completely wrong!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

My Lords...

Among the bright, cheerful Bluebells and the delicate beauty of the Cowslips, a deep, green plant is just beginning to open its flowers.  With arrow-shaped leaves - sometimes spotted with chocolate-brown blotches - there can be no mistaking the Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum).
The somewhat paler flower spikes are starting to poke above the glossy green foliage.  These flowers give rise to some of the plant's other common names, such as Parson-in-the-Pulpit as the central, purple flower spike or spadix, is surrounded by a pale green leaf-like spathe, but that will have to wait, as these individuals had not quite opened their flowers.
I mentioned the Cowslips and these too are looking even better by the day.  Around the lakes of Straw's Bridge large swathes of them light up the grassy areas.
Lining the small paths and surrounding the tree trunks, they are quite stunning.

Friday, 25 April 2014


The flowering trees of Shipley Park, are looking pretty good right now.  Among the best - as always - are the cherry trees atop Shipley Hill.  Not just the ordinary, single flowered varieties either.  In some places, the double-flowered forms are magnificent.
When the sun shines on them of course, they are at their best.  Both the pinks....
And the white varieties...
A closer look, shows how beautiful these larger flowered, doubles really are.
The first of this year's Rhododendrons are starting to open their blousy blooms too.  These too, are much earlier flowering this year than last.  Along with the Bluebells, Cowslips, Cherry trees, Maples, etc. the floral display is quite something.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


There could only be one topic today - Bluebells.
Through Dog Kennel Coppice at the northern end of Shipley Lake, they were looking spectacular.
And the views just kept getting better...
and better...
Then it was onward and upward to Shipley Hill and the Bluebells growing amongst the trees there.
Again, they were spectacular.
Stunning! Enough said, I think.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

All White

The theme for today's walk was definitely 'White'.  The first white thing which caught my attention was the Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), an attractive member of the cabbage family, which is starting to bloom along the path-sides of Straw's Bridge.
The name comes from the scent of garlic which you get if you crush the leaves.  The flavour, when used in salads or as an ingredient of pesto, is of both garlic and mustard.
Next, we encountered a beautiful Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) in full bloom beside one of the lakes.  The bark of the Bird Cherry was, in medieval times, left outside the door to ward off the plague.  How effective a deterrent this was, is in doubt!
Further on, and under the trees of Pewit Carr, the Bluebells are somewhat different from their more familiar-coloured cousins in the rest of the area.
Why the Bluebells here are almost all white, is a mystery, but white they are, with just an odd blue one among them.
Lastly, a plant which has broken free of a neighbouring garden and has established itself along the pathway of Pewit Carr.  A native of Southern Europe, around the Mediterranean, the Three-cornered Leek or Garlic (Allium triquetrum) is superficially similar to the Bluebells above, but closer inspection reveals it's 'onion' ancestry (as does the scent).
All white indeed!
Part two of Chris Packham's Malta Massacre - not a comfortable watch!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Black and Blue

In the hope that I can cheer up a wet and dull day, I thought I would look at two of the best indicators of Spring to brighten things up a bit.  Firstly, the 'black' - the Blackthorn trees, laden with white blossom and the promise of the Sloes to come.
The frothy, white flowers look good while the sun is out and the sky is blue, but with this morning's rain, they have taken a bit of a bashing.
Now for the 'blue'.  Not only the skies have been blue recently, the woodland floors in these parts have started to cover themselves with blue glory.  The Bluebells are looking great.
Turning to a somewhat darker subject, TV presenter Chris Packham is currently on the island of Malta, highlighting the appalling and disgraceful murder of thousands of migrating birds.  Any bird which is unfortunate enough to pick a migration route over Malta, is taking its life in its wings as the illegal mass slaughter continues every year.  A horrible situation and one which needs to be publicised.

Monday, 21 April 2014


Two inter-related species today, from our recent walks around Shipley Park.  Firstly, a small, beautiful Butterfly which is to be found flitting about the sides of the footpaths right now.  The Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) is a familiar species and one which is quite easy to identify - at least, the males are easy as they live up to their name.
This individual was feeding on a Dandelion flower and seemed oblivious to me pointing my camera at me. The female Orange Tip strangely, has no orange tips to the wings and is easily mistaken for a small white or green-veined white butterfly.  But, there is no mistaking the males.
The second part of the scientific name of the Orange Tip (cardamines) is a reference to one of the butterfly's main food plants, the Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis), which is also now making an appearance among the grasses.
This attractive plant is a member of the cabbage family or Brassicaceae and the flowers can vary quite lot from almost white to a deeper purple/pink.  This particular plant had unusually dark pink flowers for these parts, with paler pinks being most common.
The second part of the scientific name of the Cuckoo Flower (also sometime called Lady's Smock) pratensis, means 'meadow' which describes its growing habits perfectly.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Sunny Views

The nice weather over the last few days has certainly given us some lovely walks around Shipley Park.  Along the West Hallam Screens, where I mentioned all the tree felling and land clearance, it was nice to see that not all the Silver Birch trees had been felled.
These shady stands of Birch are home to hundreds of Fly Agaric fungi in the Autumn, a handsome sight and one which would undoubtedly be lost if the trees were to be felled.
Further along the trail and in the direction of the village of Mapperley, the surrounding fields of Head House Farm were also looking glorious in the Spring sunshine.  The large Oaks which stand guard over Slack Lane, are just beginning to open their leaf buds too.
I also mentioned having walked around Mapperley Reservoir for the first time this year and it was here that the delightful spectacle of flowering Wood Anemones caught our eye.
Always a welcome sight, these white-flowered harbingers of Spring are looking at their best now - particularly when the sun shines and the flowers open fully.
There is always room for another picture of Cherry blossom.  This one is from the Nutbrook trail closer to our home. The bees were rather glad of the sunshine and the abundant flowers too!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Bells and Slips

The sun was shining on us again this morning as we managed to get a walk around Shipley Park using the 'off piste' footpaths rather than the usual and often over-crowded, tarmac paths.  Around the lakes of Straw's Bridge, Cowslips are opening their delicate flowers among the grasses.
The meadows of Pewit Carr are drying out after the wet winter and here, the Cowslips are numerous and looking pretty good.
Last year at this time, we were still waiting for the Bluebells to make an appearance.  The very late Spring of 2013 meant that we had to wait until well into May before we could enjoy their wonderful colour among the woodlands of Mapperley.  This year has been quite different and the Bluebells are already popping out all over the place - and they are looking pretty good.
Around Mapperley Reservoir too, the Bluebells are showing off, but they are not the only blue flower to be putting in an appearance.  Forget-me-nots are also looking good along the footpaths.
With the great weather we are currently enjoying, all these wild flowers are looking brilliant - and so much earlier than last year!