River Nene Ramble

We have had a lovely evening walk along the banks of the River Nene. Always on the look out for otters but none tonight . We did see plenty of wildlife on this walk. The river was looking lazy and beautiful in this very warm and still night.

Walking across the meadows at the edge of the river the grasses are tall and full of electric blue damselflies settling down for the night. They are hard to see in the photo but there are hundreds of them.

As we walked across the meadow something caught my eye. It was a tiny toad making it’s way through the grass. I expect there were lots of them if we had spent time looking.

This meadow was completely different a couple of days ago in the wind. The grasses were swishing and swaying in the wind and looked amazing.

At the end of this walk we spotted these bright cinnabar moth caterpillars.

A lovely walk with lots to see .

Tales of the riverbank

The Great Ouse snakes around Bedfordshire near our house with some impressive bends. It regularly floods in the winter and lots of villages have pavements on stilts. It is a magical view looking along the tree lined river, full of flowers and reeds with kingfishers and evidence of otters.

A stroll along the riverbank is full of interest, dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies to name a few. There are caterpillars, snails, beetles and spiders all in the narrow strip between the river and the field.

We are walking regularly here and it is interesting to come at different times and weather conditions. In the sun there are clouds of damselflies. In the evening they are hidden away resting.

Peacock butterfly caterpillars have hatched on the nettles and are getting bigger fast.

Each time we go an Egret is always fishing or sitting in a tree and each time it flies off as we arrive.

The fields to the left of the river are varied and mainly meadow with some butterflies in them.

A lovely place to explore, keeping up our search for otters here 😀

Damselfly sleep

We have had a late evening walk along the banks of the Great Ouse in Bedfordshire. There were clouds of flies but no damsel or dragonflies. I wondered where they all were as the day before we had walked at this spot in the sun and they were flying in their hundreds.

I noticed a damsel fly in the field edge stationary with its wings in an open position . It was motionless and at rest.

From this moment in I started to notice that in the grass stalks and plants along the river there were large numbers of damselflies resting.

We had come out for this late walk in the hope of seeing otters. We did find evidence of otters , spraint and broken freshwater mussels near by but no otters in sight!

This was a good evening walk and hopefully one of these evenings we will see the elusive otter!

Damselfly Day

Monday was a really warm day with amazing blue skies so a walk by the river Great Ouse seemed like a good plan. We were not disappointed. The river flows under an ancient pack horse bridge and then snakes it’s way along the edge of fields and woodland. The path follows the river on it’s journey .

As we walked along the insects were busy especially the damselflies and the dragonflies. There were large numbers of the banded demoiselle. They were flitting about across the river, along it’s banks and into the field edges. They were also mating.

There were also a large number of dragonflies patrolling the river. The large Emperor dragonflies were flying down the river and occasionally fighting over territory. This Broad bodied chaser perched for some time close to the bank where we had a sit down and was fantastic to watch.

There were also a large number of mayflies often hidden hanging under leaves or on grass stalks.

This is the common mayfly also known as the Green Drake Mayfly. There are actually 51 species of mayfly in the UK which I didn’t realise.These flies are the adult stage and they often hatch out from the river simultaneously. They do not live long as an adult some species only a matter of hours. In this time they will mate and lay eggs.

Fishing flies are made from feathers and are made to look like mayflies as they are a favourite food off brown trout and salmon.

This river was quite fast flowing in places and varied in depth , some parts seeming quite deep and with steeper banks. a kingfisher flew past in a flash and we found otter spraint. There were plenty of Lily pads and flowers as well fish swimming in the shallows by where we were sitting.It was a busy beautiful habitat and a real pleasure to be part of.

The Emperor dragonfly

Wisley Common Walk

Yesterday we had a morning walk at Wisley common very close to the RHS gardens at Wisley. It was an amazing blue sky day and really warm. This heathland area is full of heather, bracken , silver birch and some amazing Oak trees. Some of the trees are incredibly tall. The walkers in the group give an idea of scale.

It has been such a dry May areas that are usually damp or wet have dried up however there was a large pond with some beautiful yellow flags.

There were literally hundreds of these lovely flowers around the pond and plenty of banded damoiselle damselflies.

The bracken is a beautiful lime green and tender and on a day like this looks amazing in the dappled sunlight.

The stars of the walk for me were the oak trees .

There were plenty of rushes and grasses in areas that are usually a lot damper and there were areas where heather has burnt. Running over these surfaces were plenty of spiders.

This is a great place to explore and we will definitely be back to explore more!

Umbels galore

Walking at the moment you can’t help but notice umbels.

In botany, an umbel is an inflorescence that consists of a number of short flower stalks which spread from a common point, somewhat like umbrella ribs. The word was coined in botanical usage in the 1590s, from Latin umbella “parasol, sunshade”. The arrangement can vary from being flat-topped to almost spherical.

Apiaceae or Umbelliferae is a family of mostly aromatic flowering plants named after the type genus Apium and commonly known as the celery, carrot or parsley family, or simply as umbellifers. It is the 16th-largest family of flowering plants, with more than 3,700 speciesin 434 genera

The cow parsley that has been in flower for the past few weeks is now finishing and seed heads are developing

Insects are attracted to the tops of these umbels and often on a warm day they become tables of insect visitors.

The winter skeletons of umbels look beautiful covered in frost .

This group of plants contains poisonous varieties such as hemlock and photochemical reactions such as giant hogweed. Be carefully not to touch hogweed the sap in the sun will cause terrible blistering to the skin.

Greenway wander

Not far from home , only 10 minutes in the car there is an area of woodland and a greenway to explore. We have often walked down this route but today we followed it much further. We have discovered over the last few weeks just how many footpaths and routes there are. We have been using a website that maps all of them which is a real eye opener.

This wide greenway is bordered by tall oaks and Ash trees . Many of the ash trees are dying or dead. On one side there are fields and on the other a damp wood which must have been a carpet of bluebells a few weeks ago. There is a small bridge into this wood, the midges and mosquitos were so thick we didn’t venture in , instead stayed on the sunny ride.

The hedges are full of dog roses as you wander along and there were surprisingly some cowslips still in flower.

Along the damp edges there was plenty of batchelors buttons too.

While walking along this wide path full of deep ruts we were passed by off road motorbikes , these paths criss cross the area and we are surprised how many there are. We will keep exploring as it’s great to uncover more things locally.

Out in the woods

A twelve minute drive to some woods for a walk at last. The bluebells have finished with only a few pale flowers still intact. However the wood was full of Stitchwort which is bright and lovely in its own way. Underfoot the celandine leaves have turned yellow and the primrose leaves are putting on a growth spurt.

This woodland at the top of a slope is full of tall oaks that give way to areas of coppice and wet pools. There is plenty to see and the light is fantastic .

Tall oaks
Coppiced area which is surrounded by a ditch , much wetter area of the wood.

In this wetter area even though the bluebells are finished there are large areas of colour.

This is a long stretch of woodland but it is narrow and it is only a short walk out into fields that at the moment are filled with buttercups.

This field was also full of forget me nots and plenty of vetch.

Coming back down the hill from the wood the field was full of Peacock butterflies ( to quick for me to catch a photo) The horse chestnut trees are in flower and look spectacular.

At the bottom of this field ( which is huge) you walk over a small wooden bridge and follow a lovely stream.

It feels great to be out exploring again.

White wood walk

Our Exercise walk today took us on a new route exploring local footpaths never trodden by us before.

We walked through a long skinny copse that was white with cow parsley and Hawthorn blossom . The effect was stunning, like walking through a painting.

Cow parsley has a strong scent when there is a lot in an area and this wood was definitely scented !

Exploring local footpaths has been really interesting , on this walk we came across a small area of willows and a stream in a field , as we walked near an egret took off from the steam and flew ahead of us. The path followed the railway line for a while and wild flowers were growing on the stony embankments , I loved the forget me nots and white campions.

While trekking around a field I found a great fossil bivalve. It is Jurassic in age from 170-152 million years old. I love finding fossils, this was only discovered because I moved off the path in a bit of social distancing for a cyclist !

This walk has sent us home with ideas of exploring in other directions from the house. We have looked online at footpath maps and on Friday hope to walk to a bluebell wood ! Fingers crossed. This was an interesting stroll full of delicate cow parsley and flowers.