Friday, 30 October 2015

Rained in

It has been a frustrating few days. After a fairly dry autumn so far, we have now been subjected to quite a lot of rain making our walks brief at best. It does however give me a chance to post a few pictures of the spectacular autumn colour, not yet featured on the Blog. First of these was taken a few days ago, looking down from the bridge across Shipley Lake, to the 'overflow' lake.
The Beech leaves overhanging the water, were looking at heir golden best, as were the Maples close by, as we looked towards Shipley Hill.
Playing with the images again (is this becoming an obsession?) you get some interesting effects. here, from a walk we took through Shipley Park a few weeks ago...
... And here, from the entrance to the old 'american Adventure' car parks...
With all the recent rain, the leaves have been falling and the colours fading rapidly, so I expect there will not be very many more chances to capture the colours of autumn. Next it will be the harsher beauties of winter frosts - something we have been spared so far this year. It's not often we get to the end of October without having had a frost!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Seven Years on...

Today marks the seventh anniversary of this Blog.  It certainly doesn't seem like seven years ago since I was getting to grips with the first Blog post of 'Random Jottings' and I'm sure I didn't expect to be still posting pictures and comments seven years later.
Seven years ago, I was just as gushing about the colours of autumn and the first picture I posted, caught the mood...
I was also taken by the colourful berries of the Guelder Rose...
And the heads of the Great Reedmace growing along the banks of our local lakes...
Shortly after starting this Blog, I posted some pictures from our walk around Ilam Hall. I seem to remember enjoying exploring that area and with the 'new' photographic technique I was talking about yesterday, My picture of Ilam Hall has been transformed. See the original HERE and now...
So, here's to the next seven years.!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Over the Hill

Our walk this morning, took us up and over Shipley Hill before returning home via Mapperley village. With the sun shining on us, it was a glorious morning for a walk. Sadly, it seemed that everyone else had the same idea, so things were rather more busy on the paths than usual. The Nottingham Lodge was looking good in the sunshine and with a little digital manipulation, it puts a whole new 'dimension' on things...
Over the other side of the hill, we viewed the scene looking north across the fields towards the opencast mine workings beyond.
Once again, looking at the same scene through a little bit of digital trickery, it looks like this...
You might have noticed that I've discovered a 'new' way of altering these images so you can be sure I will experimenting further with this technique in future.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Odds and Ends

Having not taken many pictures during the last few days - there are only so many views of autumn foliage that anyone can take - I thought I would clear up a few odds and ends from previous walks. Starting with that other indicator of Autumn, the Holly. Perhaps more suited to a Christmas theme, the dark green leaves and bright red berries are looking great right now.
It looks as if it has been a good year for this particular Holly bush. Berries cling to the branches all over it, waiting to provide handsomely for all those hungry birds. Lets hope it's not an indication of a bad winter to come.
Secondly, a creature with a face 'only a mother could love'. Commonly called a Harvestman or sometimes Daddy-long-legs (not to be confused with the Craneflies), this long-legged little arachnid becomes rather abundant at this time of year. This one was sunbathing on our wall a few days ago.
There are over 6,500 species of Harvestmen or Opiliones to give them their proper name and is difficult to identify them with certainty. When viewed close-up, they are the stuff of nightmares.
Another rather odd-looking creature was seen on our patio doors some time back. This is a Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis).
Its strange mouth parts are perfectly evolved for scavenging on dead insects which it frequently steals from Spiders' webs - a seemingly risky strategy, but one which obviously suits it well.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Golden Glow

Leaving aside the excitement of getting a last look at the wonderful Vulcan, we are returning to the spectacular colours of this year's Autumn. Dominating all others, the Maple family seems to be showing off shamelessly.
The vast range of colours is on occasion, breathtaking. From the palest yellow to the deepest reds and an over-all golden glow to the whole scene.
We've been lucky with our recent walks, that the weather has been kind to us. Without the strong sunshine, the colours would not 'sing' so well - even without a little 'digital manipulation'.
Getting in a little closer again....
Up on Shipley Hill, it's not only the Maples which are colouring the scenery. The Beech trees too, are advertising the onset of autumn with their own brand of golden hue.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


A rather curious title for today's post, but you'll soon see why.
There is only one Avro Vulcan still flying in the world. The plane has the call-sign XH558 and first flew in 1960 as part of Britain's strategic nuclear defence.  It has been flying ever since but this will all change very shortly when it's flying life will come to an end. Before that however, the Vulcan has been embarking on a number of fly-pasts, air displays and national, farewell tours. Yesterday's tour was supposed to fly directly above Shipley Hill on it's way back to base at Doncaster Airport, so Malcolm (who had never seen the aircraft) and I, set out for a walk up the hill yesterday afternoon, to have a look.
We joined dozens of others who'd had the same idea and waited for this iconic ex-nuclear bomber to fly over. Unfortunately, due to a bit of a mix-up at East Midlands Airport - where the Vulcan was supposed fly over before getting to us - the route was changed at the last minute. This meant that the plane didn't fly directly overhead, but slightly to the north of us, so our view was rather less spectacular than we'd hoped for.
I did however manage to grab a single photo as it flew by and with a little manipulation, it didn't turn out to be too bad. Despite the disappointment of not getting the promised view of this wonderful aircraft, it was nonetheless fabulous to see it for one last time.
What a fantastic plane this is!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Autumn Spectacle

It's easy to get carried away with the vast array of colourful autumn views. Over the last few days, I have waxed lyrical about the wonderful display we are enjoying this year, but anyone witnessing the spectacle this year, would forgive this indulgence.  This morning for instance, we set out for Mapperley Reservoir in bright sunshine and we were greatly impressed by the view across the water.
Without a breath of wind, the water's surface was glass-smooth, reflecting the colourful trees on the other side of the reservoir.
Only the occasional ripple from a jumping fish, diving grebe or squabbling coot, disturbed the scene.
Peaceful and beautiful.
Just as beautiful, but in a very different way, was the view we had of the scrubby ground just off the estate. Being still fairly early and having had a chilly night and a heavy dew, hundreds of spider's webs were coated in water droplets which caught the sun and sparkled.
Difficult to capture on camera because of having to point straight into the sun, it was a spectacle which needed to be photographed.  It's turning into a great autumn.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Bright and Beautiful

Our walk this morning, took us through Shipley Park and on to Osborne's Pond before returning via Shipley Hill. But the walk was dominated by one thing. Following the wet and windy weather of the last few days, this morning's sunshine highlighted the magnificent autumn colours again. The spectacle began as soon as we'd left the estate and started on our walk proper, with a row of tall trees which border the houses beyond.
Further on, we reached the old theme park car parks and here, the Maples and Ash trees were every bit as gloriously coloured.

One small Maple in particular, seemed to be trying to out-do it's neighbours with its own, spectacular display.

It was just crying out to be photographed. Getting a bit closer, I was surrounded by the most brilliant golden glow as the sunshine filtered through the leaves. Simply breathtaking!
With a little 'bloom' added, it all becomes overwhelmingly colourful...
No doubt, we've not seen the last of these autumnal colours, so there will surely be more pictures yet to come...

Monday, 5 October 2015

Rain Stops Play

We're stuck in today. Following a prolonged spell of warm and sunny weather, things have changed dramatically over night and this morning, it's wet and windy. But that gives me a chance to share a few more fungi pictures from last week.
The first of these was new to me and has taken some identifying. I knew it was a puffball of some sort (that much was obvious) but which one?
Well, it turns out to be a Spiny Puffball (Lycoperdon echinatum). Classed as being edible, but not good to eat, they are fairly common in Europe and the US. The young fruiting body at first has spiky protrusions all over the surface, but these beak down and drop off as it matures, leaving behind a net pattern on the top, surrounded by a 'collar' of brownish spines. Not forgetting the central opening through which spores are released.
Next, yet another new species for me. Much larger and far more impressive, this fungus was growing close by the Puffballs, close to stands of Birch trees. Pale brown, with a convex cap and a distinctive thread-like pattern around the rim, it turned out to be a Woolly Milkcap (Lactarius torminosus).
Milkcaps are so called because when damaged, the gills beneath the cap, exudes a milky latex fluid. The scientific name 'torminosus' means 'causes colic' and indeed if eaten, they may well cause a nasty stomach upset. Some say they are edible if salted and pickled, but the wisest thing to do would be to think of it as poisonous from the outset.
Still, a very attractive mushroom all the same.  And that's two more ticks for the life list!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Fungi Time

It's that time of the year again. Fungi of all types are beginning to send up their fruiting bodies above ground level and among the best of these have to be the Fly Agarics.
There can be no more iconic toadstool than this. The bright red cap, dotted with white spots has to be the most easily recognised of all fungi.
Unknown to me at the time, I caught a Leopard Slug in these photos as it slimed its way around the base of the toadstool.
The Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is most often associated with Birch trees - as indeed it was here. The flesh contains various psychoactive substances and is classed as poisonous, although deaths are very rare, even when they've been ingested. The main hallucinogenic substance found in the Fly Agaric is a thing called Muscimol (or sometimes Agarin) and as little as 1g of dried mushroom has been enough to have an effect.
In more Northern parts, Reindeer have been known to accidentally eat small quantities of Fly Agaric as they graze on various lichens. The resulting 'drunken appearance and behaviour' of the poor animals is said to be quite comical!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Another New Month

Well, that's September done with and another new month started. We ended September with a long walk in the sunshine - we seem to be spoiled with the weather lately. As we skirted Cinder Hill we were struck once again by the vivid autumnal shades of the trees and hedgerows.
These pictures were taken, looking across the wild bird-seed meadow I mentioned a while back. The yellow of the sunflowers and corn marigolds along with the blue of the chicory, made a wonderful foreground to the turning leaves in the trees beyond.
Getting down for a closer look, is always rewarding.
A little further round the hill, brings you to the visitors' centre and along the pathways here, a few of the Maples were simply breathtaking in their autumn finery, whether they chose a 'red' look...
... or a more traditional 'golden' hue.
It's easy to get carried away with the colours of autumn, especially when, after a disappointing summer, you were not expecting much of a show at all.