A short walk from home

The rhythm of the day has changed so much with the lockdown, it has slowed down and made things more noticeable. The garden is a source of discovery and I have been spending as much time as possible out there planting, weeding and exploring.

Each day we are walking to either our local park or pocket park with the dog. Tonight we saw a muntjac deer hop into the blackthorn hedges. There were lots of rabbits and birds. The sky was a bright blue and sparrows and blue tits were sailing through it in groups .

We came across a huge tree that had been felled and left as a pile of enormous logs.

A walk through a small green space into the local park was rewarded with a show of celandines shining in the sun. The ditches along the hedge were full of them.

These small green spaces are surprisingly full of wildlife and wild flowers . I will be spending time exploring these everyday areas over the next few weeks when doing our daily exercise in this difficult time. Stay safe.

Garden Exploring

With lockdown travelling out and about is not an option.

The garden is the centre of nature explorations for the next few months. The weather has been amazing and the garden has been full of life. This week there have been brimstones and comma butterflies. I saw a bee fly investigating the primroses.

I only have a small garden but there is plenty going in. The wood pigeons are flapping noisily and building nests. Sparrows are flying in and out in large flocks visiting the bird feeders. Red kites are hanging in the brilliant blue sky. I’m hoping blue tits will nest again in the terracotta bird house.

The blossom is coming out, plum above, ornamental cherry at the top of the page. This has been busy with visiting bees. The garden is small but has greengage, crab Apple , pear and Apple blossom still to arrive. Hopefully plenty of fruit this year.

I will be out in the garden as much as possible and looking even more carefully than usual to discover more .

A shield bug on the washing line !

Robin Bathing

A spring day , blossom is bursting out all over and the Magnolias are in flower in the grounds around Kettering church.

These grounds have a large population of squirrels who are always busy looking for food and entertaining everyone as they pass by.

We put a new bird bath in the front garden. I topped it up with fresh water yesterday and today a robin put it took good use !

A walk by the lake in the rain was brightened up by marsh marigolds (Caltha Palustris) I love these plants they are so bright and cheer up a grey day.

Newsletter on the way

The Spring newsletter will be complete today and will be posted out on Thursday . If you are not on the mailing list and would like to join please send your address to naturetableexplorer@yahoo.com.

Please share your newsletters with new people when you have finished reading and spread the NTX message EXPLORE MORE!

I will put an electronic copy on the website too .

Tea in the garden !

It is warm and sunny , I am sitting in the sun in the garden drinking tea, next door are mowing their grass and the birds are singing noisily. As Pa Larkin would say ‘perfick’! In fact HE Bates who created Pa Larkin in The Darling Buds if May books lived here in Rushden .

The bird feeders are busy with flocks of squabbling sparrows, I sometimes think our garden is a sparrow meeting point. They are amusing to watch .There are great tits, blue tits and chaffinches in the trees and red kites floating above us. The number of red kites has increased , we often have them flying and soaring over the garden. Driving down into town earlier there were three together .

Our chickens are enjoying the better weather and are looking healthy and inquisitive and busy eating any insects or worms they can discover.They are not roaming in the whole garden now as they are fond of digging up the spring bulbs!

This white chicken is called Olivia and she likes to climb and sit in the trees and enjoy the view !

There are not many insects in the garden this afternoon apart from some tiny flies and a huge bumble bee visiting the hellebores. I’m on the look out for butterflies and always like to see the brimstone in these early spring months.

The pond which we created last year looks good but needs leaves taken out of it and some of the plants cut back. I’m hoping that this year it will attract some dragon and damselflies.

These early spring days are brilliant as everything starts to grow again . Hoping for birds to nest or bumble bees to take up home in the terracotta house.

Spring is definitely marching forward.

Water World

A lake at Rushden Northants. The trees to the right edge have a heronry in and it is fascinating to watch the comings and going’s of the birds.

Sunday was bright and dry and skies were blue. The woods and meadow areas were however transformed into watery worlds by the rain of the past three weeks.

Ducks were swimming through these flooded woods , exploring new areas.

The River Nene flows behind these gravel pit lakes and it has burst it’s banks and created new wet areas. Herons are standing in them as well as the coots and moorhens and ducks.

The swollen river to the back of this photo and the normally dry scrub land now mini lakes.

This was a bright day and a noisy walk, the birds were busy and very vocal. Standing in a wooded area right next to a lake a flock of goldfinches were incredibly loud . There were great tits , blue tits and long tailed tits in large numbers as well. I like this small wooded area it always has something interesting to discover.

Right at the waters edge
An area full of birds .

The tree tops looked fantastic against the sky and buds are beginning to burst open. Pussy willow is appearing along the paths.

I love these blue skies

It’s great to spend more time outdoors not wrapped up in a waterproof, hat, gloves etc let’s hope that spring will sweep in soon.

Tim listening to the incredibly loud birds and trying to spot them in this watery wood.
EXPLORE MORE

Bat at Batsford !

It has been an amazing blue sky afternoon out exploring Batsford. There were drifts of spring flowers, crocus, daffodils and snowdrops and beautiful blossom. While walking along the stream at the base of the hill a strange bird caught my eye. It turned out to be a bat which was flying up and down the stream bed. It was about 12.30 and was unusual. There were plenty of birds flying too, chaffinches, bullfinch,, blue tits, robins, blackbirds and noisy pheasants were in large numbers and busy. I noticed a magpie carrying a very large twig flying off to build a nest.

The sky was a brilliant blue and the trees looked fantastic silhouetted against it.

Pine surrounded by blue.
Magnolia buds
Batsford skyline

There is a large collection of magnolia trees at Batsford and the buds are growing and filling out now. They are often hairy or downy. Some of the buds look black .

Magnolia buds covered in hairs.

The flowers were beautiful especially in the sun. A short tour of them for you below.

Celendines
Primroses
Tiny cyclamen
Amazing hellebores in huge numbers
Daffodils large and small

As all the new growth is bursting forth and everything is sprouting and greening there is still interest from last year. This perfect leaf skeleton was laying on top of some leaf litter. It almost sparkles in the sun.

A perfect leaf skeleton
After recent weather the water full was thundering, impossible to pass without a splash.

I couldn’t resist a sit on a bank of daffodils , they smelt lovely. I noticed what I thought was a bee diving in the golden trumpets but it was a hover fly. It ventured deeper and deeper into the flower .

Moving down into the daffodil
The hover fly was covered in pollen

I often stop for a walk at Batsford often on my own and I love it. There is always something new to see and discover , today a stream flying bat! The magnolias won’t be long until they put on an amazing show so a revisit will be in order.

Soup and coffee in the sun post walk , a real treat.

Spring is definitely marching on, looking forward to being out more as the weather improves discovering and exploring.

Blossom appearing

Museum portraits

I had a short visit to the Natural History Museum in Oxford this week. It is full of amazing specimens and is a treasure trove of interest.

I particularly liked the four birds below and took their portraits.

Number one- the Kiwi

Flightless birds with a great sense of smell

Number two -the Albatross

These birds can weigh 12kg and have the longest wingspan of 11 ft

Number three- the shoebill

Found in East African swamps hunting fish and baby crocodiles.

And finally number four- the Kakapo

This is the largest and flightless parrot.

There is always something new to discover at this museum, even on a flying visit !

Hurrah for Hellebores

The weather has been so dreadful , we have been lucky compared to lots of people just some fence damage and a very wet garden ( under water in parts)

To brighten up this miserable weather the hellebores are flowering and they are beautiful.

There are two native hellebores in the U.K. they are stinking hellebore and green hellebore.

There are lots of wonderful varieties for the garden , we have some lovely ones in ours . I’m looking out for a yellow one to add to the ones we have.

Other signs of spring poking out of the bad weather are increasing. In the garden there are bulbs flowering, buds bursting and leaves unfolding.

Snowdrops grow wild in the U.K. and naturalise and spread . These are the first I have successfully grown in the garden .

Magnolia buds, furry and swelling. This is a magnolia Stellata, which has small white flowers .

There is a sweet scent of primulas promising spring’s arrival.

Colour and fresh greens are cheering us up.

This is an exciting time of year as plants and insects start to grow and increase in numbers. A huge bumble bee was exploring the flowers yesterday . Frogs and toads are spawning . Change is afoot !

Issue 2 of Explorations moving forward

Issue 2 of Explorations magazine has been out for a few weeks and people are really enjoying the range of articles, photos and information. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the issue.

This Issue is full of new features and some amazing articles from all over Britain and even Iceland.

I am trying to bring the magazine to school libraries and develop a love of the natural world with young people. A school Subscription is three issues plus newsletters three times a year. Information can be found in the schools and groups tab. Email- naturetableexplorer@yahoo.com I am looking for schools to become ‘explorer schools ‘ and deliver natural history focussed projects at them.

Please think about becoming part of the naturetableexplorer (NTX) project . If you would like to send ideas or photos, notes or an article for issue 3 email in naturetableexplorer@yahoo.com . If you would like to subscribe to the magazine Explorations use PayPal with the same email .

I am also looking for outlets for the magazines , if you have any ideas let me know !

I have set up a Facebook group page called nature table explorers and would like people to share their photos on this page and build a virtual nature table of discoveries.

Explore more !