Wednesday, 26 November 2014


What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday was bright, frosty and made you glad to be out and about, while today is mild, wet and makes you want to stay in with a bowl of soup and and a good book.
So, in the absence of any pictures this morning, I thought a couple more from yesterday would go down well. Firstly, those rather gorgeous Highland Coos in their frosty field. While 'mum' was busy nibbling, 'dad' was keeping his eye on us.
I love the air of haughtiness these creatures seem to have on their faces, as if they're looking at us and not liking what they see!
Close by, the tall, dead grasses were coated in frost and made a nice subject for the lens, especially when viewed against the blue sky.
This did however, require some scrabbling about in the tussocks on my part.
Turning for home and the sun was beginning to be obscured by some high cloud, but coupled with the still frosty conditions, it made a lovely, wintry scene.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


The sight of a sharp frost has become something of a rarity.  We managed to get all through last winter with barely an ice crystal in sight and this year has been lacking in frosty rime.  But this morning, we woke to temperatures of about -2 degrees and a layer of frost coating everything.
Grasses, heavy with their mantle of frost, bowed over the wooden fence along our route as we made for, what we know as 'the farm walk'.
Further along the walk, we were treated to the sight of some Spear Thistles - spiky enough without the frost, they looked even more misanthropic with a white coating of ice.
By this time, the temperature had risen above freezing, but the frost, clinging to all surfaces, made it seem a lot colder than it was.
One group of animals didn't seem in the least bit put out by the chilly conditions. A small herd (more of a family group really) of Highland Cattle were busy chewing the cud and looking down their noses at us as we passed their field. This handsome fellow's woolly coat was ideally suited for the cold - something you have to get used to as a Highland 'coo' I suppose!

Saturday, 22 November 2014


As mentioned a few days ago, there seem to be fewer fungi around this year, but among the few that we have found, a couple have been worthy of note. Walking through the very wet Pewit Carr the other day, as well as the Candle Snuff Fungus, we were (well, I was) delighted to find a large clump of brown-topped fungi.
It is notoriously difficult to identify many species of fungi, but after a lot of searching online, I think it is a Clustered Brittlestem (Psathyrella multipedata).
These were growing on some decaying wood, beneath a thick layer of leaf litter, among the gloom of the woodland, so I was pleased the pictures came out so well.
A bit brighter and far more colourful was this view along the Nutbrook Trail, which includes a handsome oak tree, still clinging to some of its leaves.
And here, with a little digital manipulation...A beautiful scene!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Autumn Shades

As mentioned the other day, the autumn colours are clinging on against the recent bad weather. It's still very mucky under foot and the deep layer of rotting leaf litter on the paths is not helping matters, especially when in conjunction with the mud and puddles. As we walked over the top of Shipley Hill on the way to Osborne's Pond this morning, the golden hues glowed through the mist which clung round the trees. Green moss on top of the suffragette wall adding to the colourful scene.
Turning to the right and looking down through the trees, the Beech leaves are still as bright when viewed against the shiny green of the holly and ivy.
On to Osborne's Pond and the views were dominated by a small flock of Black-headed Gulls preening on a wooden walkway which juts out into the reservoir. The cold of the water reflecting the colours of autumn beyond.
Looking at me with a distrustful gaze, they soon settled down and allowed be to take a closer photo. Such beautiful birds and so often overlooked or completely disregarded, they reward closer inspection with their blood red beaks and legs - once they've stopped squabbling!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Walking through the decidedly soggy Pewit Carr this morning, I was just saying we hadn't seen many fungi this autumn, when, as is so often the case. we stumbled upon a few growing among the rotting woodland floor. Usually, fungi, when they become visible above ground, take the form of the small, fleshy parasols so well known to us all. These however, were very different and took the form of matchstick-sized, slightly powdery spikes, sticking up from a piece of dead wood.
They turned out to be Xylaria hypoxylon otherwise and variously known as Candlestick Fungus, Candle Snuff Fungus, Carbon Antlers or Stag's Horn Fungus.
At about 2 inches in length, they can be seen all year round, but are more frequently seen in autumn when the undergrowth around has died back to expose them.
Starting off with a powdery coating of asexual spores or conidia. Later in the season, these fruiting bodies blacken as they mature, before producing sexual spores.
Candle Snuff Fungus is not poisonous, but their tough texture and small size, render them not worth while consuming.  They do however, contain a couple of compounds called  xylarial A and B which act on the cells of liver cancer and could therefore have some benefit in the treatment of Hepatocellular carcinoma.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Look Back

Following a few days of showers, fog and general damp, dreary weather, it was nice to be able to get out and about once more this morning. Following an early downpour, the clouds cleared and the sun actually put in an appearance (we were pretty sure it was still up there somewhere) so we donned coats and boots and headed out.  It's incredibly wet under foot, causing us to have to splash through puddles and avoid the worst of the mud (whenever possible). The maples however are still managing to hold on to their leaves and with the sun shining on them, they looked lovely against a blue sky.
Looking back.
Four years ago, we were experiencing much the same sort of weather, with foggy mornings being the norm. Then however, it was bitterly cold too, something we have not had to cope with yet this year. This picture was from 19th November 2010...
Back then, the Black-headed Gulls at Straw's Bridge were looking a little confused by the foggy conditions...
...But those around Manor Floods were still flying around, appearing and disappearing in the mist as they circled round the lake.
Getting back to today, we are still struck by the total lack of winter wildfowl so far this year.  This is a phenomenon not only observed in these parts. The wildfowl sanctuary at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire has recorded the latest arrival of its Bewick Swans (their annual winter spectacle), since 1969.  It seems that the unusually mild weather has considerably delayed migration this year. Still, there's plenty of time yet.

Saturday, 15 November 2014


The weather forecasters tell us that this year has been the warmest on record - so far!  Certainly, despite the rather dreary conditions this morning, which prevented our normal walk routine, it remains very mild for the time of year. It is often said that a heavy berry crop is indicative of a harsh winter to come. I can't help thinking it has more to do with a good summer just past. The hedgerows around these parts are quite laden at the moment and among the most fruitful are the Pyracanthas.
These will provide much needed sustenance for hungry birds during the coming few months.
It's not just the Pyracantha either. These Cotoneaster bushes, growing around the disused car-parks of the old theme park site, are just as heavily laden.
So mild has it been, that we are still awaiting the usual influx of winter migrants - the Redwings, Fieldfares and Waxwings (hopefully), which will soon make short work of these colourful fruits.

Thursday, 13 November 2014


While we were strolling past Mapperley Reservoir this morning, Malcolm spotted a surprising invertebrate on the top of one of the wooden posts.  It was a Geophilid Centipede going by the name of Stigmatogaster subterranea, previously known as Haplophilus subterraneus. and sometimes going by the more common name of Western Yellow Centipede.
Having between 77 and 83 pairs of legs, these charming creatures are the longest of the British Geophilid (soil loving) centipedes and an active predator of other small soil-living creatures.
It's unusual to see a soil centipede in any other environment, particularly on top of a wooden post 4ft above the ground, but no less delightful for it.
One more picture, this one shows rather nicely, the darker head of the centipede.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Over the past few days, we have been treated to the sight of a fantastic new aircraft, flying over our house on its way into East Midlands Airport.  Several times a day, Virgin Atlantic's brand new Boeing 787 'Dreamliner' has been landing and taking off, on pilot training exercises prior to going into full service with the airline.
Delivered to Virgin Atlantic on October 9th, this particular Dreamliner is a variant of the original 787 design and is known as a 787-9.  It has a stretched body, some 20ft longer than the original and is able to accommodate up to 280 passengers.  
Yesterday, we had a particularly good view as it came past our house at about 6000ft - and the skies were clear too, which made a nice change.
What a dream!

Sunday, 9 November 2014


Following yesterday's enforced sloth due to the rain, we set out for a wet walk this morning with a certain amount of trepidation - Sunday cyclists and joggers are always a bit of a pain, but on a sunny morning following a rainy day, they can be insufferable. With this in mind, we decided on a stroll through the usually cyclist-free Pewit Carr. The normally flooded woodland was even wetter than usual, making it look even more like the primordial swamp.
It was foggy when I opened the blinds first thing, but the fog had lifted, leaving a slight mist clinging to the trees and as the sun broke through the branches, it made a lovely sight.
On the main footpath of the Nutbrook Trail, the effect was much the same - and here comes another of those cyclists...!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


In contrast to yesterday's misty walk, this morning's ramble around Shipley Park was completed in glorious sunshine with a bright blue sky above us. Several horse-riders were also enjoying the day.
As we approached Osborne's Pond, we were greeted by the sound of ducks quacking loudly and Greylag geese honking.
The autumn colour has passed its best in most places now, but in a few spots, there is still plenty to be enjoyed.  This delightful tree was to found on Shipley Hill...
...and these from around the old car parks around Shipley Lake.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


With the 'joys' of Hallow e'en behind us and the shops filling nicely with all sorts of Christmas goodies, it was nice to see a bit of seasonal weather this morning. Having had temperatures well above the average for so long, it was a bit of a shock to the system to have to don the thermal hat for the first time this autumn as we ventured out into the mist.  We headed for the lakes of Straw's Bridge and were greeted by the sight of a thin layer of mist hanging just above the water's surface.
The mist had been lifting all the while, but before the sun broke it up all together, I managed a few 'arty' shots through the Dog Rose hedges which surround the lake. Not much colour to speak of this morning, except for the red of the rose hips.
Back home for a hot coffee and a bit of digital manipulation on the pictures to turn this one into something a little different.
Looks like winter is well and truly on its way, so it must be time to start my letter to Santa..!