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 .

Here comes Spring

I have just got in from a walk in the sunshine with no coat!! What a lovely feeling. Yesterday we went for a walk in a local wood. It is a patch of ancient woodland mainly oak and ash. There is an interesting understory full of guelder rose and crab apples.

This wood is full of fallen trees covered in moss and lichen . There are thousands of ash saplings forming little low forests.

What was great to see was the signs of spring . There were bluebell leaves up, lords and ladies in leaf. There were dogs Mercury uncurling and primroses galore and some just in flower. A lovely feeling that spring is coming.

On this walk we encountered a stoat, bullfinches and a red kite. Looking forward to more walks where I can ditch the coat!

Golden crab apples

Wet feet

All walks at the moment are muddy and often through water . It has bought the lake and the river closer and closer together and the path is getting very narrow between them.

The swans were busy on the ‘new’ bank building an area of twigs and soil together.

A walk at Radwell needed the use of the raised pavements as the Great Ouse has burst its banks in a spectacular way. The floods are huge. The water is moving really fast across the fields.

A walk across the pavement

As we were on the pack house bridge at Radwell looking back a Range Rover made its way through the water. I was amazed , it had the high exhaust. We spoke to them as they landed in the bridge. They were grinning from ear to ear and water poured out the car as they opened the door.

Hoping for some drier walks soon and less mud . Thank goodness for welly boots !!

Water water everywhere

It has been so wet for so many weeks that the level of the local lakes are so high they have literally spilled over and are rushing into the river Nene.

We have been lucky here in this last period of rain that the flooding hasn’t affected houses as it did just after Christmas.

The footpath was straight across the centre of this quite fast flowing river of flood water.’

The rise in the level of the lakes has brought the swans and other water birds closer to the path as we walk round.

The woods have literally turned into swamps.

I noticed today that the herons are in the heronry on nests . The great egret flew over us landing on the far bank. There are large numbers of water birds on the lakes . The cormorants have increased in numbers and are always great to watch as the dive or sit drying their wings. I’ve also noticed the large numbers of squirrels running and leaping amongst the trees over the last few weeks.

At this time of year the Moss and the lichen are the high spots of colour . A recent walk at Oundle ( which also had plenty of flooding) had plenty of emerald green moss on the bridge. A high spot of colour on a really dull day.

At this time of year it is often the seed heads and structures from last year that catch your eye . On cold days they look really interesting.

Looking forward to the days changing and the spring beginning. More exploring needed , looking forward to it.

Felmersham after the rain

Felmersham Sits on the banks of the river Ouse and has a lovely bridge which in the summer is a spot for paddling, swimming and canoeing. After the rain the river was fast and high and was running a muddy brown colour.

We have often put our canoe in here and paddled up through tall reed beds full of lovely wildlife , dragonflies and kingfishers and people tell me otters( not seen one yet)

We walked along the raised up pavements ( lots of flooding in the winter) to a wildlife trust area of gravel pits that were dug in the 1940’s. They are a long string of lakes ranging from very large to pond size and are really interesting.

There are still plenty of leaves on the trees but the colours are changing daily and the flowers are fading. On this walk there was a lot of mud to negotiate after days of rain.

The fields have been ploughed and looked a lovely colour in the morning sun.

Back along the raised pavement and across the bridge. I though the mosses were really lovely on the bridge.

A nice walk early in the morning after the rain which had been keeping us in the house for days.