Literally Rubbish builders

These coots were spotted in West London on a section of canal. They have a nest which is literally built from the rubbish tossed into the canal. It is a construction of plastic bags and plastic and paper. This film shows the coot grabbing what looks like a Mac Donald’s bag and at high speed taking it to the nest platform with the other adult and chicks. Just previous to this video the coot had already dragged two plastic bags to the nest area.

This Nest should be made from reeds sticks and leaves. It is sad to see the amount of rubbish discarded . The birds have used it successfully and built a functioning nest. You have to admire their ability.

Problems caused by the rubbish apart from floating in the canal include, the chemicals seeping into the water and the danger of birds eating the plastic or even feeding small parts to their young.

Think about litter , take it home ! Recycle ! Keep it out of the environment.

Fantastic Foxgloves

A few years ago my Dad and I stumbled upon a wonderful sea of foxgloves that covered steep slopes in the Forest of Dean. We have been hoping to see the same fantastic foxglove haze again.

Mum and Dad were out in a drive and they found them again at an area called Dancing Green.

These foxgloves were really tall and were growing through the entire woods as far as the eye could see.

On then to a favourite area of mine in the Forest called wigpool. Part of this area has had a lot of trees cut down and is open and sunny. These foxgloves were short and filled the open ground.

The week before I had been in Norfolk at Holkham beach. Along the back of the dunes there is an open woodland of pine and Holme oak. Foxgloves were making an appearance here too.

Foxgloves are a favourite flower for bees and there were plenty buzzing in and out in the sun.

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 !!!