Thursday, 29 September 2011

And in the late summer sun

It is bloody hard to run.

As I found yesterday when hauling myself round the length of the cycle path, and the somewhat dispiriting haul from the old British Gypsum place across to Sconce Hills.

I was proud of having outpaced a couple of teenage lads training for some vaguely militaristic looking exercise with their rucksacks and boots, but after a few miles I was flagging rather badly in the late afternoon early autumn unexpectedly frazzling sun.

The butterflies weren't flagging, a few of them had popped out for a final frolic before hibernation or death in a few days time. Whites, the sturdy Red Admirals, and unexpectedly a few speckled woods! All doing better than I was.

My neighbours bird feeders are attracting some chubby squirrels. Their much vaunted intelligence seems to be belied by the fact they haven't put any nuts in them yet.

The neighbours that is, not the squirrels.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

pink flowers at willow holt

sunset looking flowers

Another bike trip to Willow Holt

As predicted I was a bit late out of bed this morning to contemplate a trip to Langford Lowfields so headed on this nice warm day to Notts Wildlife reserve at Willow Holt. Typically, with the weather taking us for a trip to an Indian Summer, I will be back at work soon and miss out on it.

I actually cycled gently right the way through the sight, through the cropped paddocks with the grazing cattle, through the field that two months ago was filled with Meadow Brown and Ringlet, and then to the river. Took pics of these late blooming pink flowers and of some rose hips. Beautifully peaceful, one very loud chiding call from a bird nearby but couldn't see it.

After a little sit down and a think, cycled towards the marina and was passed by a vivid greeny blue Southern Hawker again, flying in spiy zig zags into the Willow. Cycled back along the river.

Took in a flock of chaffinches speeding to keep ahead of me; a couple of Common Darters startled up from the path. A couple of proud as ever looking Goldfinches. Another Hawker taking in the beauty of the river. The maize ripening on the tall, alien looking plants, like the pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Tioday's prize spot though, and a new one to me, was what I thought as the time was a Dipper opposite the Power Station weir that flew up from the river bank as I came past. That would be a very unusual spot for round here, although I can see that weir and the rapids beyond being an attraction for it.

Psyching myself up for afternoon run. Pics later, I hope.

Monday, 26 September 2011

And there was a Southern Hawker!!!

Right on cue, as I went running late afternoon, there was a big happy Hawker of the Southern variety again by London Road Lake. I'm sure a few years ago you used to see many more of these and other big Hawkers and Dragonflies down on the cycle path, but I've not seen many this year.

It was a pleasant run on a warmish evening, started off my me noticing some more Dandelion and Ragwort flowers in my garden, and down on the cycle path there are clumps of these orange flowers  about a centimetre across without any petals that look like sunset suns! I'm hoping that if I can get out of bed early enough I can get a trip into Langford Lowfields tomorrow.

Big if, I know. I'm an owl, not a lark.

Southern Hawkers

Aha, thanks to a pic on the headers page for the RSPB Langford Lowfields alert, the most common dragonfly (along with the Common Darter) I've been seeing all year is revealed.

Yes, those steampunk zeppelins, those miniature versions of the Lexx from the weird sci fi channel show, those delectable sky captain bombers, are Southern Hawkers;

And yes they do seem curious of people - they come to me at Farndon at Willow Holt, down by the river, hovering up like buzzy little spying devices.

Beautiful creatures.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Night Sky

Another traitorous post about The Sky at Night, as it were!

Well, it is nature, it just doesn't breath, although sometimes it seems as alive and vivid as any furred or feathered beast upon the earth.

The skies at the moment are beautiful. A few nights ago I was walking home and 3 brilliant, brilliant meteors flashed across the sky in the space of ten minutes. September Perseids I think rather than the more famous August variety. Orion is rising late on. Auriga with the bright yellow white Capella, the star that in December will dominate the overhead. Gemini is rising, Jupiter the brightest thing in the sky at the moment apart from the moon.

There is always much to see and appreciate. Even without a telescope.

Friday, 23 September 2011

A cold hello

Looks like I'm picking up some new readers again, so I thought that as I'm sat in a library looking for jobs, and a mixed assortment of green, greeny brown and brown trees are blowing in a stiff breeze outside, I'd take the time to greet you.

It seems that even with supposedly warm temperatures in the air, the brightest of days at the moment are still decidedly chilly. There are still a few reminders of the summer gone - windswept butterflies seemingly trying desperately to keep warm on the wing; moorhen chicks on the lake; brightly coloured dragonflies still on the wing. But the flowers have been replaced by berries and the lush foliage is pairing back to reveal brown stubbly farmers fields along the tracks and paths I run along.

I'm desperate to go out to Langford Lowfields RSPB reserve, but fear the strong winds and bustering rain as I thrash my creaking bicycle along the sustrans route 64. Running out to Willow Holt seems a major effort, headwinds making me run backwards as a stitch twists my side, skewered like a knitting needle.

But I promise, I will. There will always be new things to see, and write about.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Told a lie

There are still some butterflies about! When I was running along Clay Lane yesterday there were a few whites around, and I also startled a couple of Red Admirals out from the soggy undergrowth. Got to be on their last legs though, the nights are starting to frost over a little bit.

The rich variety of berries about are attracting big flocks of song birds. Walking up the cycle path from the railway the Haws, Damsons, Sloes and Rose Hips were set upon by a large flock of long tailed tits, "zupping" across the path from West to East and rattling delicately about in the trees and shrubs.

There was a flock of greenfinches as well. Busy birds feeding up for the crueller months. A squirrel is finding the acorns from my youngish oak tree irressistible, and was today cutely scoffing one in the branches from between its front paws.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A solitary splash of colour

Ran about 10k today, maybe 7 miles, out down Lowfields Lane past the Egg stall with the honesty box. Love those things, keep meaning to get some - £1 for a half dozen free range is really good these days. I don't have much money but I can't buy anything that says "Eggs for Caged Hens" it just sticks in my throat.

After I emerged onto the cycle path had a little sccot round IDP's little fishing lake looking for dragonfly, but no dice - the very children's book looking lilies and lilypads looked very nice. And as I ran along here, a solitary bright pink flower, kind of like a sweet pea, shone out at me. Nothing much else with this kind of colour is around, I was surprised to see it. There's a few greater bindweed out, but you know I don't count these trumpet shaped blooms.

They are too damned ubiquitous!

Further down the cycle path noticed a fair few finches, might even have been greenfinches which I have seen precious few of this year, and the squirrels are getting even more frantically active. All the Conker Trees here a blighted by that moth pest, and have all but shed all of their diseased leaves. The little oak on my garden, well its leaves are changing colour in a most attractive fashion, must photograph it.

Friday, 16 September 2011

As the grey skies closed in

Tonights run was past the lake, where a family playing with a radio controlled boat didn't seem to be bothering the Coots, Grebes, and Tufted Ducks, and then through Beacon Hill Park where the only flowers now showing are the Wild Garlic and the ragwort slash groundsely stuff has turned into the cottony seeds that the strong winds must be spreading far and wide.

The sky was blue and pleasant above, but far in the distance gun metal grey clouds were dropping feathery looking curtains of rain to the south west. I had to get a shift on to avoid a soaking. And as it turned out I was right to.

Today's star sighting was by the bushes next to the river opposite the castle. As I thundered by, I startled out a Banded Demoiselle damselfly, which flapped agitatedly flapped around me before settling on the privet for not long enough for me to get a photo.

Still had a super view, of the deep metallic blue blody and the darkened wingtips. The blue is beautiful, much deeper than the Common Blue damsel, the colour of bottle of Babycham!

Ah Babycham, is it still around, delighting somewhat rough girls with its illusion of sophistication.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

holly berries growing up

Still Dragons but no Butters

Did 7 plus miles, counted at least 4 little moorhen chicks, or are they coot chicks, down on london road lake.

It has been a nice day but by the time I had hit the road things had gone a little greyer. No swallows or martins to be seen. No butterflies to be seen, not even a white. Clay Lane is a mass of fields harvested and cropped down to brown stubble, the beautiful yellow and red field of early summer a memory. The colours are dark, berry hughes amongst the brown and greens.Shaggy Inkcap mushrooms out by the castle, a sure sign of the seasonal change.

Still with us though, are Dragonflies. I'd never seen any in Beacon Hill before, but there were a fair few (Common?) Hawkers flying around, there yellow striped thoraxes reminding me of the titular spaceship of "Lexx" for some reason. If only they were flown by Eva Habermann...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

So yeah, I ran

I ran in a beautiful golden yet crisp early evening light, glowing over a London Road lake that was alive with waterfowl.

There was the largest group of Tufted Duck I've yet seen on there, loads of Coot, Moorhens plus chicks, out of eclipse Mallards, one of which's bottle green head registered quacked up surprise as an immature great crested grebe surfaced directly beneath it and nearly sank it. The Coots were really crying out, a sound I haven't really heard much of on London Road. Martins Pond you could hear them calling all the time.

Lots of berries out, Hawthorn, Elderberry, Rosse Hip, other really warming and dark looking crimson berries. The Holly berries on my tree are just starting to redden, but will barely survive ripeness for a day before the Woodpigeons descend like a biblical plague.

A biblical plague of Woodpigeons...there's an image!

Back in trainers

Right, the wind is howling, but the sun is out and I'm ready to get my creamcrackered trainers back on and hit the roads and tracks after my little holiday at home and in Brighton. Curious to see what's out there in Willow Holt, Langford Lowfields and Beacon Hill, as the season changes.

Langford Lowfields in particular should be interesting as migrants pass through and winter visitors begin to appear. Out on the tracks, I wonder when anything will apear to munch all the big fat berries that are out. Redwings and Fieldfares to look out for. Wonder if Waxwings will also appear, this is a bird I haven't been lucky enough to see yet.

Also, how long will summer sights still be seen. Dragons, Darters and Damsels? Any Martins or Swallows left. The Willow Holt Sedge Warblers? Interesting times

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Song of the Gulls

With apologies to King Crimson...

Spending a few days in Brighton of all places, and have been spending time walking the entire 4 mile length of the seafront. Wildlife not really a feature apart from enormous and rather evil looking Herring Gulls patronising the sea front cafes, and standing still in the air as they face up to a sea gale.

Inexperienced younger gulls harry their elders for food, and get short shrift amidst a fusilade of offensive "yarks". I'm disappointed not to have seen any waders or black backed gulls, although it is a busy beach and as gravel not wader. There was a lesser black backed gull in a flea market, but it was wearing a Brighton and Hove Albion scarf and was in a taxidermy case along with a Jay in a straw hat.

It's a lovely city, but too expensive for me to live in. There's always something interesting to see, the cafes and bars are great, Nick Cave's favourite coffee shop divine, and as I write this kite surfers replace Hobbies and Kestrels, screaming along the waves as the wind strengthens by the second.

I can see them from my window

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I am debauching

I am around, but on holiday from running, as I've been ill and have a friend visiting who is pretty hot on high culture, architecture and retro arts and technology, but probably doesn't want to be dragged through muddy fields and up and down dale to look at not terribly exotic butterflies.

And frankly it has been quite easy to avoid running for a few days, and instead have nice teas in cafes with a river view and in the evening enjoy a few glasses of wine while dancing away to old goth tracks on youtube without having to worry about doing a ten mile trot the next day. I apologise to all lifeforms in the fields for my laziness, but I'll be back in my trainers soon.

In the meantime, as I worry about the number of readers I have, and whether this blog has anything worth reading in the first place, here's the Roman's guide to blogging

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Moorhen Chicks

Dinky report! Had a very chesty heavy legged run late this afternoon, was surprised to spot at least three moorhen (I think) chicks on London Road lake! Bit late isn't it?

Delightful little things moorhen chicks, black pom poms with comedy feet! Cold breeze today, the wind was fluffing their down up even more!

Cold wind at Langford Lowfields

Luckily I had the wind on the way there! Surprised to see plenty of my fellow humans, a birder with big binoculars, a couple with a very friendly bike loving Collie, and a warden ranger guy of whom more later.

Even before I entered the reserve area proper, the 64 path was littered by "Common" Darters, both male and female. Seem to keep lower to the ground than other dragon fly, still can't photograph them for toffee though. I tried stalking one, looking like an idiot in the process to passing birdlife. Many Yellowhammers flitting in and out of the hedges.

On the path, more "Common Darters", only they might be ruddy! And some common blue damselfly too. As soon as I arrived at the hide and looked out, the Hobby did exactly the same dragonfly noshing scything flight along the bed as it did last time, but aside from that not a lot to be seen and a freezing cold wind blowing.

Then a nice warden gave me a heart attack by popping up as I had a look at the flowers and scanned the ground for damselfly. He was really helpful and listened to my imbecilic observations with a lot of patience. He told me that yes the Common Darters were Common, but could be Ruddy and they are damn difficult to tell apart, something to do with waisted abdomens that captain slow eyes here is never going to see! He also said that there were bigger Brown Darters, and Brown Hawkers common too - I'd thought I'd seen these bronzey metallic looking things and was glad to have it confirmed. On the way out, as I spotted a couple of Egrets and a Heron on Lake 1, and did I see a couple of bright blue Emperor Hawkers? Maybe...Also some quacking ducks flying in echelons round and about and I'm not sure they were Mallards either. Couldn't get the field glasses onto them.

One thing I noticed as I left the site. On the corner past the portaloos, on a big weedy bank of earth, a big flock of 50 plus little birds erupted startled by my bike and circled round and about. Don't think they were finches, maybe a flock of warblers getting ready to head off? No idea!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The last of summer

It wasn't supposed to be sunny and warm today, but it was. I ran 6-7 miles, a bit painfully I've overdone it a bit the last few days.

How I miss the hope of seeing really summery birds and butterflies. The warm rays are now mixed with autumnal berries and colours, the last few whites and red admirals are still strong, but I think I saw starlings beginning to flock on the footbridge over the river.

The Holly berries are now beginning to redden on my tree, awaiting obilteration by woodpigeons before any far more interesting Redwings or Fieldfares. Cold days and nights in my flat are upcoming.

But I will enjoy every damn thing I can. I found a little shield bug on my old gap jacket, an emerald green photographic subject!