Tuesday, 23 July 2019

High Summer

With temperatures soaring again this week, high summer has truly arrived and with it, all the associated bugs and beasts which conspire to make your morning walk, something of a trial. Malcolm and I got back from our walk this morning, sporting a few bites from various Cleg-flies, which will no doubt form itchy lumps! But for all that, the countryside is looking pretty good at the moment, especially as the Rosebay Willowherb is now in full bloom.
Creeping Thistles add a subtle touch of pale mauve colour to the otherwise green and (increasingly) beige scene.
In the wildlife gardens of the local nature reserve, the small ponds are decorated by these pale pink Water Lilies.
The flowers are very popular with all sorts of insects.
A few days ago, we found this wonderful Leopard Moth on our walk. Another new 'tick' for my life-list!

Monday, 15 July 2019

Summer Flowers

Our walk this morning, took us along the old mineral railway lines of the West Hallam mine, what we now refer to as the 'Donkey Walk.'
All along the walk, our senses were assaulted by the intense yellow of the Ragwort and Perforate St. Johns Wort. Vast quantities of both, seem to have burst into flower all at once.
It has been a very good year for wild flowers, especially those of the Vetch family, particularly the deep blue of the Tufted Vetch.
The Pea family is always well represented in the English countryside and they always deserve a closer look. These Red Clover flowers are easily overlooked, but are rather gorgeous.
As well as the flowers, there have also been lots of insects about this year. At the moment, these little, iridescent beetles seem to be on tree leaves everywhere. They are a type of Leaf Beetle (sometimes called Flea Beetles) called Altica palustris.
Back home and we're still being visited regularly, by families of House Sparrows, making the most of the seed we're providing. This little one was still displaying the yellow 'gape' which encourages the parent birds to feed it - even though its quite capable of fending for itself now.
More summer colour to come no doubt!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019


Yesterday, Malcolm and I decided we'd take a short trip and have a look at Dovedale. It has been some years since we ventured out that way and to avoid too many people, we parked the car at Milldale, rather than the main 'tourists' car park and set out along the river.
Last year, we were suffering the effects of the drought, but this year, everything is lush and green and despite the slightly overcast conditions, it was quite beautiful along the river Dove.
Surprisingly, there were still quite a few people about, but nowhere near the numbers we'd normally expect to encounter along the river.
Soon, we found our first Dipper (Cinclus cinclus). Britain is home to about 11,000 pairs of these active little birds and they're always a joy to watch. This one of course, flew off as soon as I raised my camera to take a picture, but I still managed to snap it from a distance.
In various places along the river, large clumps of Monkey Flowers (Mimulus guttatus) made a glorious splash of colour. A non-native species, it was introduced from North America, but has now established itself in most parts of the country.
Away from the river, among the rocky outcrops of the valley sides, Wild Thyme (Thymus polytrichus) was clinging on.
Great for the bees on a brighter day!
Back down to the river and a little digital 'bloom' gives the scene a different look.
On to Dove Holes, a couple of small caves, set a little way up the side of the valley and a perfect place to sit and have our lunch - after Malcolm had checked to see if it was safe!
The caves were occupied by hunters about 15,000 years ago and were used as tombs by Neolithic people around 4,500 years ago.
On a nice day, you can see why this was a popular spot. Indeed, given a few USB charging points and a flat-screen telly and a nice armchair or two, it would still have it's attractions. Even a niche or two for one's objets d'art!
And who could fail to be impressed with a view like this from your front door?
Soon it was time to start heading back. Passing Ilam Rock on the way.
Just time for a couple more pictures. Here, looking back at the caves from little higher up.
And another picture with a little 'bloom' for a magical effect. All in all, it had been a lovely trip out!

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Fine Weather

We've had some lovely, fine weather over the last few days, so Malcolm and I have made the most of it and been out and about enjoying the sunshine and all the delights of the summer countryside. Starting with the lakes of Straw's Bridge.
Zooming in a little, we could see the beautiful Water Lilies more clearly. Not a native variety, they must have been put there deliberately, but they're very nice all the same.
Nearby, we thought we'd have a look at the meadows of Pewit Carr. This area is always filled with orchids at this time of year, but you have to make the most of the short season.
In fact, the whole meadow was bursting with wild flowers and grasses.
Buttercups and Clover, Meadowsweet and Common Spotted Orchids all made quite a spectacle, for us as well as the bees and butterflies.
Things have been equally colourful at the other end of Shipley Park, as we found out whilst walking around Mapperley Reservoir the other day.
Hundreds of tiny fish fry were swimming about under these (native) lily pads, keeping away from the coots and geese.
At Osborne's Pond, we were delighted to see a family of Mute Swans, mother, father and two small cygnets. One of which was feeling in need of a lift!
He looked quite comfortable from the vantage point of his mother's back.
But he wasn't giving up his post to his sibling.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Bee Friendly

We're going to start another new month, with a few more pictures from our recent walks around Shipley Park. As always, it's nice to see so many flowers in full bloom around the countryside, especially if they attract lots of bees. Some of the most bee friendly at the moment, belong to the Common Comfrey which is growing near Pewit Carr.
The flowers are small, but numerous and change colour as they open. They are also perfect little nectar vessels for visiting bees.
In our own garden, we have a couple of Common Spotted Orchid plants, both in flower right now. Unfortunately, one flower stem was broken in the wind and rain a few days ago, so it now adorns our kitchen windowsill.
Again, each individual flower is quite tiny, but there are plenty of them and the smaller Bee species enjoy them - when still out in the garden! Photographing them indoors, means you can choose the background and they look rather good lit by the sunshine and pictured against black.
The Bees and Hoverflies, have been enjoying the Cow Parsley along the byways of Shipley Park, but they're now coming to an end, to be replaced with the larger, Hogweed. This Cow Parsley was lining our path to Osborne's Pond a few days ago.
Lastly for today, we have to lapse into cuteness for a picture of an extremely inquisitive little calf, in a field at Mapperley Village.
Of course, once one has his picture taken, they all want to have a go.
Told you they were cute!