Thursday, 17 June 2021

Admirals and Gypsies

 Finally the weather has broken, and some refreshing light rain has emerged from the sky to refresh the plants a little. Suddenly knapweed and thistles of all kids have appeared, including stonking great purple musk thistles.

Gypsy cuckoo bumblebees seem to love these big thistles, most of them seemed to have one or in some cases two of the parasitic bumbles feeding away on top, drowning themselves in fresh pollen on a day thick with humidity as the thunderstorms approach. 

The butterflies of high summer, meadow browns and ringlets, have also made their appearance in the long grass of campus, but they are proving hard to photograph. But a red admiral put on a nice show for me today, albeit not wanting to show its gaudy wings to me. 

My hybrid bike has been taken for a few rides, collapsing seat tube and all - now fixed! - but I haven't got many exciting photos from these trips.

Bike goes like a bomb though


All text and images copyright CreamCRackeredNature 17.06.21

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

The Workplace Wildflower Meadow

 This year, the mini wildflower meadows we dug out at work have been absolutely stunning. 

I remember 4 - or was it 5? -  years ago when we laboriously excavated the turf to expose the soil beneath, it was so backbreaking. We bought huge bags of wildflower seed from a farm near here, sowed them, watered them..

...and watched as nothing happened other than a few green shoots emerged.

The year after that a few birds foot trefoil appeared, but nothing more than that. 

Last year, we had really good emergences of trefoil, but I didn't see much of it because of furlough.

This year though, wow. We have got thick carpets of trefoil, buttercup and ox eye dasiy, with plenty of vetch, plantain and now some red clover thrown in. The bees, especially common carder and red tailed bumbles, are loving it. 

I feel very proud of what I instigated and helped make.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.06.21

Sunday, 6 June 2021

An Absolute Shellacking

 Saturday saw me make my league debut for the season, for our third team against powerful opposition in the form of Eastwood. 

I was feeling very optimistic having netted really well on Thursday, bowling at pace at senior first team bats and enjoying my batting despite being given an almighty whack on my arm. As usual, it was completely misplaced. 

Because Eastwood have won their matches this year by bowling out their opposition for nothing and then knocking the runs off in about 20 minutes, we arranged that they should bat first to give our young players more of a game. They have recently rejoined the league after their second team folded, and so were playing way below the standard of which they are capable.

As our captain said, "It's a 40 over game, and I think we will be out there for all 40". He wasn't wrong.

We actually made a good start, with one of our opening bowlers in his first senior season castling one of their openers. However, after that, Eastwood continued to score at least one boundary an over and the score rose quickly. 

It became rather faster when I came on to bowl. What they thought of my new found pace, which decided not to show up, was demonstrated very quickly when my third ball was hammered for 6, a ball that had very little wrong with it. But I was still able to beat the bat with movement off the seam, although one short ball an over would inevitably smacked to the boundary. 

As usual, things went to hell in over number 5, where I dropped the first three balls short and went for 12. I suspect that at my age, this was my body telling me something was about to give, although I then bowled three scorchers, two of which were edged along the ground through the vacant slip corden while the other swung and bounced and beat the bat. However, this was the time my left achilles got strained.

I signalled to the captain to take me off with the traditional throat slitting gesture. Not that he wasn't going to take me off anyway. 

So ankle and confidence knackered, I resolved to field as well as I could, but as ever when I have a bad day bowling, it went to pot as well as their opener helped himself to 150. Apart from when I somehow managed to cleanly field a hard hit ball out to the boundary, my body just didn't do what I wanted it to in relation to the ball. 

Luckily our younger players aren't rubbish, nor was our captain who skillfully exploited a dead spot on the wicket to take 6 for 56, his best bowling for over 5 years. Our young opening bowler also came back to bowl really well at the end, which was a real positive. 

However they still made 286 for 9, a total which we were never going to get in a trillion years, let alone a million. Their bowling was just way too sharp and too accurate. Our opener did a very good job and our young players batted time well, but there was so little opportunity to score boundaries as there were virtually no bad balls. 

Languishing at number 11, I did get to bat, against their fastest bowler and thanks to net practice I actually had no problem defending against him and even scored my first run of the season. However my partner was bowled before I could score us 250 in 6 overs to win us the game. 

Ah well. A positive day for some, but not for me. However, next weekend I will take part in our first 4th XI match, gammy leg and all, and hopefully be able to do a bit better. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 06.06.21

Friday, 4 June 2021

Look at these Saddlebags!

 I'm amazed this hard working buff tailed bumblebee was even able to get off the ground carrying this much shopping!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 05.06.21

Monday, 31 May 2021

The Snake and the Dragonfly

 I've got a lot of steps in this weekend, Friday saw my bimbling out to Winthorpe Lake of which more later - there wasn't a lot to see to be honest - and today took me out to Hawton and Farndon, two nearby villages which are both very attractive.

The house at valrerian corner is a highlight for me at Hawton, although there were no hummingbird hawk moths as I've sometimes seen here, and the pastures around Farndon are painted yellow with buttercups at the moment.

But today saw a couple of really exciting firsts for me.

The first came on the road halfway between Hawton and Farndon. Whenever I cross a stream of water, I always take a look down on the off chance of seeing a fish, or perhaps a little egret on the hunt, but when I looked down into a small beck, I saw stunned to see a sinuous black shape swimming along.

For a split second I thought it might be an eel, then spotted a head with a collar of gold around the neck. It was of course a grass snake, swimming along happy as larry before slithering out when it came across a branch in the water.

I was too shocked to even reach for my phone to take a picture.

It's the first snake I've ever seen in the wild.

I know we get grass snakes in the area, I've seen photos, but never thought I'd be lucky enough to see one myself. What a find!

Slightly less dramatically but no less interesting, I encountered a 4 spotted chaser dragonfly on a tree near Fanrdon Ponds. This was my first dragonfly of the year, and the first of this species I've managed to photograph, although it took about 20 attempts to get one in focus!

All in all, 20,000 very worthwhile steps today!

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.05.21

Saturday, 29 May 2021

My Best Ever Bee Photo

 The capture of the heavily laden flying bee below is probably the best photo of a bee I've ever taken, and it was completely by accident!

I was photographing it nectaring, when suddenly it took off. It ended up at the other end of the frame from where I was pointing my mobile phone so how the shot was in such good focus I have no idea!

I hope you like it.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.05.21

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Just a Single Shot...

 Was walking in the old oak wood at Sconce and Devon Park when I came across this beautiful lady.

A female orange tip upon cow parsley.

Pictures speak louder than words today. 

Or even "picture".


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.05.21