Sunday, 31 May 2015


Despite the continuing poor weather, which is making it feel more like March than May, there are quite a lot of baby birds about at the moment.  A few days ago, we encountered a family of Mute Swans which had got themselves into the old Nutbrook Canal.
Looking down on them from one of the old bridges which cross the canal, it was rather too dark to take good photos, but these cygnets were just crying out to be photographed.
Soon, they were off (as were we) as their parents took them away, under the bridge.
Yesterday, we found several family groups of Coots. This family were at 'Swan Lake'.
Coot chicks are famously curious to look at (some would say rather ugly) and these little charmers certainly had the appearance of alien life forms.

Despite their young age, they were quite confident as they picked around the shallows waiting for their parents to supply food. One individual looked as if he didn't want to get his bottom wet, preferring to stand tall as he waded about.

Saturday, 30 May 2015


It's that time of year, when the meadows are starting to bloom. The usual culprits are all there, with Buttercups among the prime movers.
Backed by the clouds of Cow Parsley, they always give good value.
Interspersed among the Buttercups, the rather less obvious flowers of the Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata).
On the fringes of the meadows hereabouts, the Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) adds its pinkish-purple flowers to the scene.
Traditionally, these pretty little plants were used to treat such things as toothache and nosebleeds as well as helping to heal various wounds. So quite a useful plant to the herbalists and quacks of yesteryear.
On the subject of pink flowers, perhaps the most unusual have to be those belonging to the Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi).
Part of the Pinks or Carnation family, the name comes from the rather ragged nature of the flowers, which look like they have been torn apart in a strong wind. Sadly, like most things in Britain, these beautiful plants have become more scarce due to 'modern farming techniques'. This means that our farmers - who would have you believe they are the guardians of the countryside - have systematically destroyed almost all of it. Thankfully, farmers have not managed to get their hands on these individuals yet!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Another Tick

A few days ago, I was thrilled to find another new species (new to me anyway).  Lurking in a Hawthorn bush, this small, white moth caught my eye.#
Further investigation back home, revealed it to be a White-pinion Spotted Moth (Lomographa bimaculata). This is usually a southern species and as such, is close to it's northern limit here in the midlands. Hawthorn is one of the main food plants for the larvae of this moth.
Not anew tick, but just as pleasing to see, was a Speckled Wood Butterfly (Pararge aegeria), resting on the ground, among the fallen cherry petals.
Always worth finding, was a group of Wood Anemone flowers, growing beside Mapperley Reservoir. Normally white, these were displaying a pinkish, purple tinge as they reach the end of their flowering life.
More wild flowers to follow in the coming days...

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


The Cherry Blossom has nearly all finished now. But as a parting shot, I still have a few pictures to share.
High winds always take their toll on these lovely blossoms and on recent walks, we have found ourselves walking through what looks like confetti as the fallen petals, carpet the paths.
Hot on the heels of the Cherry blossom, comes the Cow Parsley.
Frothy white flowers which sway in the breeze fill the air with their distinctive scent.  Along the trail towards Osborne's Pond, they line the waysides.

The Hawthorn trees are in full bloom now. A quick glance at these familiar trees, might make you think they are simply another white flower. But a closer look, reveals quite a lot of colour.
Many of the flowers are flushed with pink, but many more have bright red or pink anthers.
Even when these colours are not visible, the sheer quantity of blossom on the Hawthorns, makes them well worth taking another look - and a picture or two!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Spring Colour

Yesterday, I mentioned the Hawthorn which is now in full bloom.
Among the more spectacular flowers to adorn the countryside around these parts right now, are possibly the least likely. Horse Chestnut trees have wonderfully colourful flowers, if you can get close enough to them.
This tree is to be found near the top of Shipley Hill and some of the lower branches droop low enough to allow a close look at the 'candelabras' of flower.
While on Shipley Hill, you can hardly escape the charms of the Azaleas and Rhododendrons.

All very colourful and much more to come....

Friday, 22 May 2015

Home Turf

Back to more 'domestic' matters and things have been moving on a pace while I have been preoccupied with all things Swiss.
On Shipley Hill, the Bluebells are still flowering bravely, although now sadly past their best.
Despite that, when the sun comes out, they still have the ability to make you stand and stare in wonder at their beauty.
The heady scent still fills the air on a warm day.
Close by, the cherry trees are still showing some gorgeous colour too.
This large, double flowered specimen is particularly fine, but this morning's walk revealed an awful lot of petals on the ground and not so many still attached to the tree.
The Hawthorn too is is in full bloom, adding its scent to the breeze.
No doubt there will be much more of these in the days to come.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

To Finish...

We will finish with Luzern today, with a final look at a few more pictures. Our last full day in Luzern was the Sunday, which turned out to be Mothers' Day in Switzerland and it was also the day that Pat and Malcolm's family came to see us and spend the day.
To start with, we were taken on a delightful paddle steamer cruise on Lake Luzern, to the beautiful little village of Weggis which sits at the foot of Mount Rigi. It was here that we were all treated to a lovely lunch, on the lakeside terrace of the Hotel Central am See.
Once again, we were left rather green with envy at some of the water-front properties.
Some came with pillared frontages...
Some even came with their own vineyards...
Most were typically Swiss.

From our vantage point having lunch, we looked across the lake to BĂĽrgenstock and the higher, snow-capped mountains beyond.
It was simply beautiful. What a place to sit and have lunch!
All too soon, it was time to return to Luzern and to say goodbye to the family.
The last thing we did was to take an evening stroll along the river Reuss and the old city walls as the sun went down.
The walls were built in the 14th century and the nine towers still stand overlooking the city.
From the ramparts, you get some wonderful views across to the mountains
Various gardens and terraces bring a lot of colour to the area too.
Wisteria was blooming along some of the trellises.
A beautiful end to a wonderful few days in Luzern...