Wednesday, 29 April 2015

More Bells

As chilly as it was again this morning, when we managed to get out of the wind and in the sunshine, it didn't seem so bad.  On Shipley Hill, the Bluebells are still looking beautiful.
As they nodded in the breeze, it was just a little too windy to be able to smell their scent.

On the 'Ilkeston' side of the hill the sunshine was a little better and as a consequence, the blooms are more numerous.
These were growing by the Nottingham Lodge.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Cheery Cherry

It was a swift walk this morning due to the bitterly cold wind which cut through us like a knife. So it was through Pewit Carr and round Straw's Bridge before returning home for a hot coffee and a tot of brandy.  Along the Nutbrook trail, the cherry trees were in full bloom, despite the wind trying to knock all the petals off.
The paths were covered with white petals, like confetti.
All rather beautiful - while it lasts!
Among the trees around Straw's Bridge, the Cowslips were still making a brave show in the cold wind.
By now, we were cold enough to be in need of that brandy, so it was off home past the Manor Floods - coated in a nasty, green scum of algae after the few warm days last week.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


This morning, we saw our first ducklings of the year. As we stood looking out across 'Swan Lake', a new mother mallard came swimming up with her small brood.
Looking very proud - and rightly so - of her four babies, she came along with them to see if we had anything to eat.
As a child, I lived near a small river where ducklings bobbed about every spring and a good proportion of these were born (hatched?) yellow. Lately, we don't seem to have seen so many yellow ones, but of this little family, three of the four had that colouring.
On another of the lakes of Straw's Bridge, two families of Coots were swimming about, but it was the mallard family which caught our attention most.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Woodland Flowers

It's all go in the woodland on Shipley Hill right now. The ground is covered with the first flush of Bluebells. Here, as we walked through 'Beggar's Walk they were just beginning to look their best.
A little further on and things just got better...
... and better.
Close to the Nottingham Lodge, a one or two Rhododendrons are in flower too. This pink beauty made a lovely contrast to the surrounding blue.
In the sunshine which was filtering through the tree canopy, they looked spectacular this morning.
On the site of the old Hall itself, a large Pieris bush was also in full bloom, eager to show off its best side.
From the same family as the Rhododendron (the Ericaceae, or Heathers), these Pieris flowers display a much closer  resemblance to the heathers to which they are related.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Straw's Bridge

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, we set out in warm sunshine. Today, we shivered along towards Straw's Bridge in a foggy gloom and temperatures several degrees lower. But we were pleased when we got to the lakes as one of the first things we saw was a lone Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus).
A native of the Nile Valley and sub-Saharan Africa, they were introduced to Britain as ornamental water fowl in the 18th century and escaped to form small populations around the country.
The Swallows (Hirundo rustica) are back too. As we walked around the lake, Swallows and House Martins were swooping across the water, sipping from the surface with expert flying skills. Some Swallows, having had their fill of water or insects, were perched in a nearby willow tree. An unusual sight, Swallows, in a tree.
Arriving from Africa and finding themselves in a rather chilly Derbyshire, must have been a shock to the system for these poor little birds.
They say 'One Swallow does not a summer make', that certainly was the case this morning.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Beetles

Yesterday found me adding two new species to my life list. Both new 'ticks' were added to my 'invertebrates' list and both were of the Order Coleoptera - or the Beetles.
The first was found toddling along the edge of our patio doors at breakfast time. As I tried to take its photo, it kept jumping out of shot - unusual behaviour for a beetle. But as I found out later, this leaping habit gives the beetle its name of Flea Beetle (Altica lythri).
The second beetle was found later in the day as it was taking a stroll across our patio table. This one was a Pill Beetle (Byrrhus pilula).
This little chap was rather colourful when viewed close up, with an iridescent quality to its wing cases or elytra. Pill Beetles get their name from their habit of retracting their legs into grooves on their underside when alarmed, thus giving them an almost smooth and pill-like appearance with nothing 'sticking out'.
I thought these were both charming little creatures. But Malcolm was not so impressed! And my life list has increased again - "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" as Lewis Carroll might have said.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

More Flowers

Another beautiful day today, so it was out with the flask and off for a longer walk through Shipley Park, stopping for a coffee by Mapperley Reservoir. Spring flowers are blooming everywhere. These Primroses were glorious.
There was unfortunately only one clump of these wonderful little flowers this morning.
A little further along and we got a wonderful view across the parkland, back  towards Shipley Hill. The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust were busy clearing the ground to give the wild flowers more of a chance in future years.
Back home via the hill and the garden of Nottingham lodge has a lovely flowering currant in full bloom.
The currant was made to look even more spectacular as it was growing in juxtaposition with a forsythia bush. The pink of the currant flowers and the yellow of the forsythia look good together.

Friday, 17 April 2015


There was a chilly breeze this morning, but at least it was dry and bright as we took our walk. We thought it was about time we checked on the progress of the Bluebells, so we set out for Mapperley Wood - more usually known by us as Bluebell Wood. We were delighted to see that they have indeed started to flower on the woodland floor. Down by the steam which runs through the wood, there are still very few Bluebells in flower, just a few hidden among the grasses and bushes.
So, it was onward and upward to Shipley Hill and here, with a little more sunlight reaching the ground, things were looking a bit better.
Still, not the beautiful carpet of blue we have come to look forward to, but a good start nevertheless.
The Celandines are in full bloom though and their cheerful, yellow flowers are brightening up the woodland floor.
This 'Spring Messenger' is always good value in the first few weeks of the season, but it seems particularly so this year.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Walk in the Park

This morning saw Malcolm and I being joined by Mum 'P' for a short stroll on Locko Park.
The parkland belongs to the privately owned Locko Park House and Estate and dates back at least the mid 1500's. The house itself dates mostly from about 1725 and was built on the site of an old hospital of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem (an institution set up for the care of lepers), which was on, or near the site as far back as the early 1200's.
According to Wikipedia, the house is currently occupied by Lucy and David Palmer (of Huntley and Palmer biscuits fame).
In the middle of this lake, a small island caught the eye as a large group of brightly coloured daffodils made a handsome show.
On a sunny morning such as this, the views are rather good across the water.
Malcolm and his mum were certainly enjoying the sun...

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Blossom Time

Once again, the sun shone on us this morning as we walked through the woodland atop Shipley Hill. It's cherry blossom time again and the recent good weather has certainly brought the blossom out in great numbers.
Seen against the blue sky, the pink of the blossom was rather beautiful.
The Shipley Hill cherry trees are always good value at this time year.
Close by and the Maple Trees are also beginning to bloom but in their case, the flowers are, at first glance, not so colourful.
As usual, a closer look reveals the true beauty of these shiny, green flowers as they appear in large groups at the ends of the branches.
There will be more blossoms to come no doubt over the next few days.