Sunday Morning

After my rather grey post on a grey day bemoaning the greyness that February can be… sunshine!  Sunday morning really was all about the sun and it was so warm there was no need for coats as I strapped Arty to my back and set off with Minnie to walk to the North Notts Ploughing Match (held, confusingly, not in North Nottinghamshire, but our little village in South Yorkshire – although admittedly, close to the border).

I don’t know much about tractors.  They haven’t really factored heavily in my life (save for them being a regular sight motoring back and forth on the roads around here).  However, Arty is a big fan (well, of anything with a motor really) and so, going along for a nosey was a natural choice, bearing in mind it was being held a short walk from our home.  There were all sorts of tractors on display, from the modern, to the vintage and, also demonstrations of pre-tractor days, with a small number of heavy horses, what I think were mules and two very lovely Fjord horses.

We paused and ate some homemade cake before trundling back home to get some bits done in the garden.  What a difference a bit of sun makes!

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12 Months of Nature :: April 2016

blue_tit

It’s been a very unusual month – from brilliant sunshine, warmth and sunbathing one week, to snow, hail and thunderstorms the next.  Of course I remember there being snow in April before and last frost dates are in May for this part of the country, but even so, as someone who generally has to walk daily from this village to the next to take my youngest daughter to nursery, I’ve been a tad miffed at snow in the last days of April (plus I never know what to put on – I leave the house in sunshine  and sunglasses and return in a torrent of sleet – and as a prescription glasses weather, I imagine I look rather odd, my sunglasses still in situ under glowering, swirling grey clouds).

As we walk to nursery, we pause along the way to notice the changes in nature that are happening all around us. Sometimes I’ll give her the camera and she’ll take some photos of her own (the dandelion and blossom), giving a child’s-eye view of the world.  She picks red and white dead nettle and we talk about the differences between them and the various stinging nettles we see growing.  We note the heart-shaped seed pods on shepherd’s purse, the differing speedwells, the celandines under the trees and she picks flowers to take into nursery to tell them what she has seen on her way.  We talk about the daffodils fading and passing, making way for the first poppies (just hatching from their hairy cases a couple of days ago) and how the blossom that is scattering across the trees will become fruit (and the anticipation of cherries to come, although there is other blossom to be seen).

Sometimes there are particular surprises.  She always thought that ladybirds are red, but by chance we found a yellow one, its markings more merged than spots and we talked about how there are many other kinds of ladybirds and that, by chance, she will come across more, in time.

We’ve seen the first swallows of the year and even a deer, breaking from cover as we approached the bridge between the villages.  It was a little way off and I doubt bothered by us as it galloped from cover across shorter grass and towards the trees beyond.  I’d have loved to get a photo of it, but I’m just not fast enough!

first_swallow

pheasant

There are a lot of pheasants about – this one close by the side of the road (and the brick wall in the background is the wall of a house, its drive just out of shot to the right).  Being so close, even Arty noticed it and hung out of the side of his pushchair to get a better look.

sparrowhawk

I also see a couple of regular sparrowhawks, one a frequent visitor to my garden (where it sits on the back fence or on our, currently empty, coop) and another usually sitting on the telephone lines over the fields and river between villages at the time I’m walking home from dropping Minnie off at nursery.  I often pause a little while and it generally flies off after a few moments.  I suppose it has its daily rhythm and this is a stopping off point as it patrols its territory that just happens to coincide with my usual returning time (as I will sometimes see it every day at about the same time – I guess that when I don’t see it it’s  maybe because I’m running a little later or earlier and have missed it).

There’s always so much to see on this daily walk and we always leave a little earlier to give time for us to pause along the way and investigate anything that might take our interest.  Minnie loves noticing new flowers and insects and learning their names and little Arty just loves being outside, wind in his hair, enjoying the fresh air (but always watching, watching, watching as we explore, learning that we love and value the nature that surrounds us).

Last year we took part in 30 Days Wild with The Wildlife Trusts and this year, the event will be running again in June.  Please consider getting involved and, if you don’t already, making some room for nature in your life.  You can sign up HERE.

Chilly Days

Great Tits

The days have been chilly and at times rather grey – it seems that every time we try to get out and get some work done when J has time off work, the heavens opens and it pours with rain or snow (as I type droplets have started to patter on the conservatory roof).  There are planks waiting for painting to make into raised beds and J has made a start with the patio, all on hold for better weather.

But, every so often the sun breaks through and there is the promise of warmer weather to come.   We have moved currants and gooseberries from their temporary positions last year to their new temporary positions this year (yes, I know, not ideal for it to be a second temporary, but the addition of raised beds is a new thing based on some potential big changes that mean that raised beds now make more sense).  I also took a moment to take some further cuttings and pushed them into pots for potential new plants and also popped a cutting in a jar of water which has sprung roots – much to the children’s delight – so I think I shall now have to plant that one as well!

Moo has separated the various new springs of bay from their mother and most appear to be successfully rooting (a couple look a tad ropey, so I’m assuming if the others were in trouble, they’d look similar, but they don’t, they look fresh and green, so I’m taking that as a good sign).

watering

The conservatory salad is doing well and Minnie has been doing a great job of watering them (she’s very pleased to see “her” plants grow!)  Our “Grow Your Own Potatoes” education pack arrived from The Potato Council and Minnie has set them to chit, ready to plant later this month. She’s very excited to watch how they get on (as one of them is for a special “what happens beneath the ground” example).

chitting

potatoes

52 Weeks of Nature :: February 2016

Left: Mallard duck (female)/Right: Canada geese looking shifty

Left: Tufted ducks (female)/Right: unsure save for it’s a duck.

Left: Coot/Right: Moorhen

Left: Great Crested Grebe/Right: Little Grebe (winter plumage)

It’s been quite some time since I wrote a post about being out and about and observing the beautiful nature that surrounds us here.  Partly due to lack of mobility due to an injury to my knee and then my back (both much better now), but also due to shoddy weather (and without a decent rainproof coat that fits over my larger post-baby frame, I didn’t fancy getting very cold and very wet!)  I’ve also been without a mobile phone – that oft used and very easy way to snap a pic wherever you are – so have to remember to bring a camera (and then remember how to use said camera).

In a bid to shift the additional weight that has crept on, we made a decision to have a weekend “family walk” somewhere a little further afield than the immediate surroundings (as I’m a non-driver, any walking I do tends to be in and around the village) and so, steadily, we are getting out (unless it’s absolutely throwing it down).

The birds are all from a chilly walk around Lakeside, Doncaster.  We also saw cormorants, but I couldn’t get a decent picture from such a distance.  Throughout the year there’s always something to spot there, even though it is an urban location, surrounded by flats, a football stadium and offices.

Moo has also been busy with the camera, getting very low to the ground at Hatfield Moors (Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum).  We still need to identify most of these, although the dried flower head is Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris).

Hopefully as the weather (and my strength) steadily improve I’ll be able to get back to being out more and more (roll on warmth and sunshine!)