That bluebell time of year

I love this time of year and one big part of this love is bluebells. They deliver on all fronts , eye saturating colour in swaths and carpets, sweet scent in the air and the extra happiness of spotting a white bell ( something we always hunted for as children out with Nanny and Grandad)

This year early in the bluebell flowering I visited a wood in Cambridgeshire I hadn’t been to before. It was a gorgeous day and we had our first picnic of the year.

The wood was a series of gently undulating long ridges. In amongst the bluebells there were wood anemones, cowslips , false oxlips and Oxlips.

We came across a tiny frog beneath the bluebells.

My next venture into bluebells was much closer to home to a woodland on a small ridge , a narrow strip really at Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire literally a few minutes down the road. This woodland has areas of real wet ground and ponds. It has large patches of stitchwort which were very lovely.

This weekend I’m hoping to see the bluebells on the sides of the Malverns , I caught a glimpse in the rain last year and they looked wonderful even through the downpour. Also hoping to see the bluebells in the Forest of Dean Roman road. Went last week but they were not out. Fingers crossed they will be tomorrow .

Spring has Sprung !

It has been a glorious Easter weekend with wonderful sights and sounds of spring. Good Friday started with a lovely walk at wareley woods in Cambridgeshire. These were full of bluebells at the first flush of blue with a wonderful scent throughout the woods.

The woods were also full of wood anemones and plenty of primroses and cowslips, false oxlips and even I think some oxlips.

There were plenty of brimstone butterflies flitting around and we saw several bee flies.

A walk on Saturday at the Lakes at Rushden in Northants was full of butterflies in the meadows amongst the milk maids. There were lots of orange tips, several peacocks and red admirals. There were lots of large bumble bees bumbling about.

The geese and ducks were busy making plenty of noise and swans were out in large numbers. This grey lag goose was full of character .

Walking back we stopped to look I. Another lake and we’re rewarded with a grass snake swimming between clumps of reefs which was brilliant.

Looking forward to more days out and about exploring in Spring .

London beach surprise

We recently visited London and had a very long walk along the bank of the Thames. There is so much to see everywhere you look and it is surprising how many steps you walk without realising.

While walking past the Tower of London we noticed it was possible to walk down onto the beach . This was really interesting and full of finds.

The beach had areas of large numbers of shells, lots of oysters and periwinkles.

There are some interesting industrial and historical objects on the beach . I am really interested In mudlarking. The view from this beach was looking straight at the Shard and HMS Belfast.

There were some rather lovely shells on this beach in the very centre of the city. We will be exploring these beaches again.

Wonderful Spring colour

A trip to Wisley Gardens the headquarters of the RHS was full of colour and amazing plants.

The large glasshouses were closed for maintenance but there was still plenty of brilliant things to explore. The Alpine house was packed full of beautiful brightly coloured gems.

This small greenhouse with gravel beds is surprising , full of colours and shapes. The fritillaries were especially lovely.

Outside in the garden the magnolias and camellias were starting to flower along with lots of other flowering shrubs.

This really was a kaleidoscope of a walk so early in the Spring . Wisley is a fantastic place to visit throughout the whole year and the tropical glasshouses are amazing. We will be going back soon now they are reopened.

A peak through the windows into the warm tropics.

Amazing Leaves

Every day leaves are all around us. Amazing organs of photosynthesis . Last weekend I visited Wisley the gardens of the RHS in Surrey.

The Leaves were the star of the show. The Autumn colours were still stunning even though it was nearly the end of November.

The leaves in the glasshouses were stunning in all shapes and some incredible sizes.

There is a very large glasshouse at Wisley with a temperate area full of fantastic tree ferns which I really love. There is a tropical area and a dry desert zone. It is brilliantly planted and worth a visit.

The flowers in the tropical house are rather good too !

Changing zones and walking into dry desert.

The Alpine houses are a short walk through the grounds and were also full of colour and some wonderful plants.

Wisley is a fantastic place to visit. It is signposted at junction 10 of the M25. A world tour of plants ( and leaves) all in one wonderful spot.

Leaf Glow

The weather has been blue sky and amazing today. The leaves are changing into even more vibrant shades. At times today they seemed to glow.

A walk this afternoon along the edge of a field near home showed that the hedges are loaded with berries and hips.

This has been an amazing day for colour and the sky tonight did not disappoint.

Batsford in glorious technicolour

October the 31st did not give a good impression as we woke up . It was grey , windy and raining hard. However the weather forecast from the met office promised that at 10.30 on the Cotswolds at Batsford there would be sunshine and a few light showers.

Putting our faith in the met office the four of us set off in search of colourful leaves after some rather tasty blueberry pancakes !

The weather threw everything at us ( I had volunteered to drive) rain , floods almost zero visibility!! Our positive thoughts were a little dented but as we got onto the Fosse way and headed into the Cotswolds the weather improved and as predicted by the weather app we arrived in sunshine .

After a coffee and very nice pumpkin and sultana cake we started to explore the arboretum. I have visited here many times but there is always something new to see and today did not disappoint.

The colours were so varied and vivid and leaves were glossy from the earlier rain.

Batsford is a fantastic place to visit and I will be back there soon.

You can find Batsford arboretum by driving through Morton in the marsh follow the brown signs . It’s about £8 for adults, the season ticket is fantastic value. The cafe is brilliant.

Chicks,chicks and more chicks

It has been a busy few weeks at the lakes in Rushden. There have been nests galore and now chicks exploring and discovering.

Very close to the shops on the boardwalk along the main lake right next to the bewitched coffee shop there is an area of reeds which is surrounded by raised previous years it would be dried up in this area by now. This year the lake has been so high that the area is a mini lake of its own.

In this small triangular area there has been a swan pair build a nest and this has been amazing to watch . They spent ages cutting down reeds with their beaks and building a huge island. For about 6 weeks they have been sitting on eggs. So far there is one cygnet hatched.

Along with the swans the close neighbours are a pair of coots. Their nest is much less grand they have had seven eggs and then seven chicks. They are down to three chicks now . The antics of the moorhens are interesting and they seem full of character.

On the other side of the area quietly tucked away is a moorhen nest. These chicks are tiny and fluffy and much harder to spot . They seem to enjoy the muddy areas.

The interactions between these three nests is interesting. The coots seem to be very interested in the swans nest. The swan sees them off . The swan has left the nest with the cygnet for a while . When she is not there the coots arrive and graze the nest. The coots and moorhens seem to often be in disagreement and having almost fights!!

It has been a lovely experience watching this process of nest – egg – chick. Lots of people have been coming to get and update. It is definitely better than a TV box set !!!

Swan diary

There are lots of swans at Rushden lakes. This is a series of gravel pits that now is home to a outdoor shopping and leisure destination and nature reserve with walks all rolled into one. I probably walk around the lakes every day.

There is a pair of swans that have built an amazing nest next to a coffee shop in an area that usually stays dry. This winter and spring the lake has been extremely high and the area has attracted the swans.

They spent weeks together biting off reeds and completing a platform and then started laying amazing blue eggs. Eventually there were nine eggs.

Watching these swans everyday along with passers by has been wonderful and we are waiting for the arrival of the cygnets.

The male spent time on best maintenance.

At about five o’clock a couple of nights ago I watched the swan change over. The female stood up and spent time carefully covering the nine eggs with the layers of feathers and down. She moved off the nest and swam off . The male climbed in to the nest but didn’t sit on the eggs he stood as if on guard. This was the first time we had seen this change over.

Along with the swans there is also a pair of coots very close by . They have seven eggs .

There are a lot of swans at the lakes and there are several nests as you walk around. Watching there behaviours on a walk as they see off geese and ducks and younger swans is always really interesting.

Really looking forward to the cygnets.

Holme Fen exploring

Holme Fen is not far from Oundle and Peterborough and is a National nature reserve full of interest.

It is part of an area of fen containing two National nature reserves being developed to create a larger more sustainable area of fenland . The project is called Great Fen.

The Great Fen is an expanse of nationally significant fen landscape between Peterborough and Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. The area contains many farms and villages as well as two National Nature Reserves, Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen, home to some very special wildlife.

My first visit was to an area near the Holme posts. These are tall metal posts that were driven into the surface of the peat in 1850. These post stand tall above the land surface now as over time the peat has shrunk due to drainage. The peat shrunk dramatically changing the landscape.

Tim is pointing to the peat level in 1870 the top of the pole is 1850!

There is a really varied environment to discover here on one side of the track , woodland mainly silver birch . On the other a mere with water birds. Both our trips have been in February, there are thousands of foxgloves ready to look spectacular in June. Definitely worth more visits through the year.

One of the features of the woods are the horse shoe bracket fungus . There are a large number of fungi to discover at this site. While walking woodpeckers are drumming and small birds are flirting around constantly.

The colours of the bracket fungi in the leaf litter is fantastic.

Looking up at trees with fungi making fantastic shapes.

There is plenty of green in these woods with bright green mosses and fungi.

The ditches that run along side the woods promise to be full of dragonflies and damselflies as the year progresses.

Snowdrops carpeted an area of wood which wasn’t dominated by silver birch and looked fairy tale like in the the moss.

There is so much to see and discover at this amazing place . We will be back through the year .