Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sweet Sweet Honeysuckle

The smell of honeysuckle is glorious; sweet yes, but with an added sharpness and freshness that means it avoids the cheap air freshener cloyingness of some flowers.

It is now out, I found a large clump of it in full bloom out near Cotham FLash pond. I've been walking and cycling again today, my injuries still preclude running, and it was a two hour walk I had along the Owl Road.

Grey, cold and windblasted the day may have been, but if anything the rain has freshened up the flowers and the colours on view today were spectacular. They stand out more on steely days like this one. Birds foot trefoil has now also made its first appearance of the year, its little yellow-orange flowers standing out in the grass.

But the bluebells now are over, outlived by the stitchwort and forget-me-nots in the cemetery.

Despite the chill in the air, plenty of bees were out today, including the super furry common carders who's jackets must keep them warmer than the sluggish looking tree bumblebee I met today.

I couldn't criticise the bee; I felt pretty much the same myself.


Giant poppies

Wisteria Lane

Harlequin among the blue


Buttercup tomb

Fishing in the wind


Birds foot trefoil

Common speedwell

I think this slug has just got married

In a poppy

Glorious honeysuckle


Sneaky carder

Chilly tree bumble

Bright flowers

How glorious is this in Hawton?

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Today's Cricket Observations

Well, we were in action at the Elm Avenue ground today, my first game there. I wasn't supposed to be playing, and frankly my wrecked body was quietly hoping I'd get a day off today, but I got the call at 930 this morning when all I was thinking about was a post shift lie in.

Well I would have been thinking that. If I had been awake. Which I wasn't.

So I arrived at the ground, and we fielded first. It wasn't long before I noticed a flash of colour on the ground as I patrolled the region at square leg. At my feet, a little tawny mining bee - how many of those have I seen this year! - was hunting for a burrow near what I fervently hoped was not a very old and dried out dog turd.

These solitary bees are so attractive, with their russet throraxes and yellow striped abdomens. This male was also sporting its noticeably yellow legs as it trundled about the hard ground. I've loved spotting them this spring.

A thwacked six into the undergrowth meant a lot of trampling looking for the ball. We failed in this regard, but we did flush a few moths up, and perhaps disturbed some sleepy rodents or frogs, for not long afterwards, a kestrel made its way over the ground and hovered above that very spot, its long thin tail fanning out as it wings swept the air to maintain its position. No joy for the kestrel though, although I enjoyed watching it.

Wagtails came and strutted their tail wagging stuff on the outfield, but the most interesting birds on view were swallows swooping low over the grass, making their "prrrreeep" calls as they did so. They weren't just flying though, they were landing as well. I can't recall ever seeing a swallow on the ground before, so I wonder if it was gathering some nesting material? And ergo, where it was nesting?

Of course there are drawbacks to nature watching at cricket. Like missing an instruction from your skipper - oops did that - or missing a catch like the skipper did while I was bowling and he didn't even have an excuse; or perhaps getting so engrossed in birding that you get a ball in the face, as happened to one of our first teamers today.

Perhaps this distractibility is why I've never quite succeeded at team sport!


Copyright Cream Crackered Nature 30.05.15

Friday, 29 May 2015

Bright Shines the Sun, Cold Blows the Wind

Apparently summer starts on Monday, which is odd in the sense that I'm not sure spring has properly started yet, warmthwise. We've had bright days, but there has always been this ever present nor'westerly - ooh check out the old sea dog, taking his sextant on his bicycle - that has given you more than the odd shiver or two.

Off shift now, thank heaven and feeling a shade chubby with not being able to run with these naughty thighs of mine. So I did jump on my bicycle and head out along a Sustrans 64 path that had been snowed on by hawthorn blossom blown off the trees by the powerful breeze.

Crows explored the rubbish dump, beating their wings to try and beat the wind, but going nowhere like an avian mime act. Goldfinches caught the lowering sun. If there were any grizzled skippers, an uncommon species in this part of the world but a few of them live along the 64, they were sleeping.

Quizzical cows watched me from the fields, and the oilseed rape is over in the Hawton fields.

The yellow spring is turning back to green.


All text and images Copyright Cream Crackered Nature 29.05.15

Nice new one off the cycle path. Love the grape coloured flowers

Hawthorn snow and Cotham bridge

I feel like I'm being watched

Cotham church

Hawton church under laser attack

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Batting and Birding on the Cricket Field

I've already mentioned that my home ground, that I haven't actually played on yet and probably never will being a member of the lowly third team, is quite a delightful little spot, where chiff chaffs sing and swallows swoop low over the greensward and butterflies flutter past the pavilion, in no danger at all of being hit by one of my non-powerful slogs.

Well, I've now played three away matches, and have found it interesting to compare what I've been able to see on the field of play while we have been spanked out of existence.

Ruddington is a small little municipal park ground, the cricket pitch mixed in with bowling greens and football fields, and a wicket that looked emerald from a distance and like an Emerald Isle peat bog at close quarters. The wind was the chilly north-westerly that has been a constant factor the past month, and of animal life there was little to be seen aside from a few hopping starlings on the outfield, and gulls riding the turbulent air.

Any bee or butterfly foolish enough to emerge would have been icicled as soon as it appeared.

The next week I was at Balderton, where the early promise of sun gave way to more wind, and cheeky children bantered us as they kicked footballs around beyond the boundary flags. This is an urban ground, and sparrows chirped happily from the dressing room eaves as they watched our painfully slow batsmen grind their way to 117-9. But nothing much else was around.

Last weekend, we were playing Ellerslie, a club lucky enough to have two grounds. The two third teams were dispatched out to Clifton to play in a nasty looking part of Nottingham on a council park ground. The facilities were dire - the dressing rooms made of concrete the colour of the inside of an intestine and the lavatories something a wild dog would turn up its nose at using. The ground itself was uneven and none too closely mowed.

Yet, here we were on the outskirts of the city, and on one side of the ground a nettle banked stream guarded the root to open fields of oilseed rape, and other growing crops.

And the birdsong! As the match went on, the two note cries of the chiff chaff and the great tit battled for supremacy with sweetly singing blackbirds making the most of the sun up in the tree tops. More staccato chaffinch calls were also heard.

Crows strode the outfield. I pointed them out to team mates, making them into omens. Best of all was what I saw while fielding at mid off after picking myself up from a fairly decent diving stop. A buzzard was making its way up slowly from the top of a tree, and as always when at the vulnerable pre-soaring stage of their flight, it was being mobbed by a crow as it desperately tried to sweep air behind its great wings.

A little like us, as we tried to haul ourselves back into the game from double figures all out. We failed. I never saw what happened to the buzzard.


Monday, 25 May 2015

Life in the Ox-Eye Daises

I've been a lazy boy today and feeling rather guilty with it. But I still managed to get out for a nature walk along the cycle track, although I wasn't planning to buy a new laptop - I'm not flush, it was only an Acer Chromebook - while having a stretch of my legs.

We are in the middle of a new burst of blooming along the Sustrans 64 cycle path. The cowslips have faded away, to be replaced by groundsel and ragwort. Buttercups are putting on a show, and there are what I guess are marigolds out too.

My favourite flower I saw today however, was a very spooky looking pink flower, with these strange almost alien looking petals, arthritic and creaky looking efflouresences, the hands of botanical Nosferatu. I hope someone can identify them for me.

Further down the cycle path is the railway line section, where the Flying Scotsman thunders along one side of you, while on the other, a strange brown field wasteland on the site of a demolished telecoms business is now rampant with ox-eye daisies. There they sit in clumps, their fried egg flowers proving irresistible to insect life.

Virtually every one had some sort of bug sat on it...ladybirds, flies, and most numerously these twitchy antennad little beetles, or perhaps weevils, pale green-brown in colour, and loving the gold sun centres of the flowers. 

Lucky bugs! It's like living on your own luxury island! 


Still some flowering trees about

Pollen flecked honey bee

Busy bee


Now what's this hiding on the cycle track bank, the old railway line cut

Groundsel and ragwort. Or ragwort and groundsel

Now this is the beautiful spooky pink flower/ Would love to know what it is.

Marigold? Or just big buttercups?

Railway line, and daisy land

Fly on ox-eye daisy

Tiny ladybird

One on those litle antenna bugs

On the railway station wall

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Family at the Back Door

When I arrived back from my cycle, eating a white magnum and feeling rather pleased with my afternoon, my downstairs neighbour walked over and told me that he had just found something to show me.

I followed him to the door at the back of the converted house that marks the entrance to his downstairs flat, where he told me to look into the buddleiah.

I spotted them straightaway. An adorable family of 6 baby long tailed tits, sat in a line alternating tail to the left, tail to the right. Their parents called them, and off they flew, making their "zooop" calls. 

But not before I got a snap with my phone.


The House Martins of Earp Avenue

Earp Avenue. Nothing to do with Wyatt Earp I would assume, but presumably some figure from the town's past. I've no idea what significance he had, or his street, had in the past, but today it has anoter one.

It seems to be the only place in Newark where house martins still nest.

When I was young, virtually every house would have the muddy inverted dome of a martin nest under its gable end. The buildings of the town centre would have colonies of martins living under the stone eaves. But now, they have put pigeon barriers up and this seems to have made it difficult for the martins to nest. New house design doesn't seem very condusive to house martin nest building, and some people actually say that their nests are messy, and try to remove them which I find utterly crazy.

So the Earp Avenue house martin colony is quite significant, and I went to check on it today.

There were about 15 birds in the air. Noticeably tubbier than swallows and swifts, they were evidently in the business of feeding their young, catching insects on the wing above the trees by Magnus School hockey pitch, before returning to their nests under the eaves of the Earp Avenue houses. Only they weren't, because perhaps put off by my presence watching them they were approaching their nests before pulling away at the last second.

At all times, they emitted a rather cricket like "Prrrr" call, an almost insectoid noise compared to the scream of a swift. Lovely birds, but not doing as well as they once did.

I've been busy. 7km of walking and 23km of cycling. I enjoyed it, and there was lots to see.

Enjoy, as ever.


The martin hunting grounds

Tree bumble loving ceonothus. No other bumble likes it as much


Very oily smell, has ceonothus

Foxgloves now in bloom

Shepherd's purse

Mr pheasant met his demise here

Gently sways the barley

Eldern now in bloom

Red tailed queeen in the old Sconce wood


Bug on my sycamore

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Chasing Butterflies like an Idiot

I've had another of my double action days...cycling and walking. Running is out at the moment, thanks to a low abdominal muscle pull known as "Sports Hernia" which also rejoices in the even less attractive name of "Athletic Pubalgia" which frankly sounds like a disease you really don't want to catch.

What it amounts to is since cricket last week, I've had a muscle pull that basically extends from my left thigh across my very lower lower stomach to my right thigh. It makes getting out of bed really painful and sneezing agony, but it is now starting to ease a little. I'm hoping I don't make it worse tomorrow.

Batting and bowling shouldn't be an issue, especially the amount of time I spend doing them, but fielding is the problem. So we will see how we go.

I was chasing a butterfly today in Beacon Hill Park, but didn't make my injury any worse. The butterfly in question was a small heath, the tiniest of our butterflies and as it only flies on sunny days and is as skittish as hell, a very hard butterfly to photograph. It wouldn't let me get anywhere near it, as I followed it in an idiotic fashion from clump to clump, waving my phone at it like a hopeful diviner and being allowed to come no closer than about two metres.

This resulted in me adopting my traditional butterfly shooting technique of extending my arms towards it like the stretchy bloke from "The Fantastic 4."

It worked. Sort of. You'll see below.


I love these farm fortifications at Farndon

Another fly grazed horse

The Devon serene

Jurassic (Sconce) Park

Flies on buttercups

Cow parsley jungle

Floral fortress

Hairy footed flower bee

Juicy wallflowers

First babies of the year of any feathery persuasion

View from the Beacon


White campion (I think) is out

Small heath. Very small heath.

Female bee moth at the pub