Monday 29 March 2021

The Warmth Sends the Flutterers Aloft

 I knew today was going to be the first big butterfly day of the year, the weather forecasts had been so good that to see butterflies today was expected, rather than hoped for.

And so it proved. 

I got to the park, and as I walked up to the old oak wood, a peacock was flitting about, occasionally settling on a plant for a sunbathe, but not letting me get anywhere near it. A brimstone, the true harbringer of spring, flew by in the opposite direction, glinting lemon yellow in the sun. 

As I got on the field, small tortoiseshells flew up from the path in front of me. Others spiralled in mating flights, or seemed to fight with peacocks in the air. 

The blossom is starting to fall, and there were less bees working on it than I thought there would be. I remember springs when the blackthorn trees were alive with with buzzing. 

What was interesting that in the glimpses I got, the peacocks were in much better condition than the small tortoiseshells, which looked a little ragged. 

After the park, kept on walking, lots to see but not near enough to photograph. It was once again next to the cycle path where I was able to photograph a settled peacock and a comma, albeit very awkwardly indeed, ankles wrapped in undergrowth and trying to lean over as much as I could. 

Lluckily for me, these two flutterers were a bit less skittish!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.03.21

Friday 26 March 2021

Balkan Anemones

 In the cemetery, this sweet sort of little alpine meadow has appeared by one of the trees, surrounded by flowers I'd seen before but had never before bothered to identify properly. I just thought they were some kind of cornflower.

Well, on closer inspection, and the help of my Flora Incognita app, I was able to identify them as a balkan anemone, a species not native here and so either seeded here, or an escapee from a nearby garden.

It doesn't really matter, as they are very pretty. Although I did notice that the bees ignored them, preferring to concentrate on the glory of the snows mixed in with them. 

A small area, but a beautiful one.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.03.21

Tuesday 23 March 2021

First Butterfly of the Year!

 Well, actually the second one I've seen, but the first one that I was able to photograph. And for a change, it's a comma, rather than a small tortoiseshell.

I caught it at a good time as it sunbathed on a fallen leaf down the cycle track, gathering a bit of energy up for a bit more fluttering about. I must say, I always feel a slight bit of superiority noticing these things as other folk stroll by oblivious. 

But only a tiny bit.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.03.21

Monday 22 March 2021

A Water Rail in the Drain

 I've felt much better today, and with the weather good, hopes were high of a productive walk around the park and cemetery. I felt like I had wasted the weekend to be honest, and wanted to see something interesting, and burn a bit more energy.

Well, it was worth it! 15,000 steps, 10km and two hours!

Sconce Park wasn't very interesting, although the blossom is staggeringly beautiful. There were no peacocks on the blossom, and only a few honeybees working the higher flowers out of camera range. The birdsong was incredibly loud however, with the chaffinches really going for it, and two chiff chaffs singing in the park grounds. 

There's some very loud great tits around at the moment too!

After a circuit of the lake - a quiet time for birds there at the moment but the big carp were sunbathing in the lagoon, knowing that no anglers are allowed to do their angling there. 

The cycle path, bizarrely, was where the real good stuff was to be found. I'm saving some of that news for tomorrow, but down past London Road pond, in the drainage ditch, was where I was stunned to get my first ever sighting of a relative of the coot and moorhen.

I was walking along, and noticed a disturbance in the vegetation next to the water. It took a minute for my eyes to locate the source; then I saw the long red beak and dappled plumage of a water rail skulking about!

These aren't rare birds, and there are sightings at RSPB Langford Lowfields, but they are notoriously shy and secretive and so to see one next to a busy cycle path in the middle of town was just mindblowing. Apparently, one has been seen down there a few years ago, foraging among the discarded red bull cans.

So, all in all, a better day, and it has put me in a better frame of mind.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.03.21

Sunday 21 March 2021

Bees, Bugs and Flowers

 I hurt my leg running, and so the last two days have been really annoyingly low energy without me doing anything like proper long walks. I tried to have one this afternoon, but my leg was aching and my stomach was IBS-ing, so I turned round and went back home.

I feel very bloated. Where is my super thin body from the first lockdown!

Goings on in the park today, as a bunch of schoolkids did a balloon release in memory of a 6th former who died suddenly last week. At least it wasn't some idiotic anti lockdown protest, but I was still edgy about it happening. Also, we really need to steer folk away from doing balloon releases, it's a waste of helium and an environmental hazard.

I know, all judgemental. 

Not cold today, but not very bright. Still, I saw my first 7 spot ladybird, and the blossom is smelling wonderful, it's really at its peak now. Few bumbles around, no honeybees and we need a much brighter and warmer day to see any brimstone butterflies. 

I hope I feel in better shape when it comes.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.03.21

Friday 19 March 2021

A Probably Failed Bumble Rescue

 Found a big queen buff tailed bumble just sitting on the car park at work.

She was barely alive, just moving her legs a little bit, and I picked her up. It was late afternoon, the sun was lowering and she'd probably been caught out by the cold. 

I took her in my hands, and wandered off to where I knew there were dandelions, and settled her down into one. 

i very much doubt she survived, she was pretty far gone. But at least I tried.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.03.21

Monday 15 March 2021

More Blossom and Blue Carpets

 After a super active Saturday, Sunday was a very lazy day indeed and only today did I get out for a proper walk, a two hour stroll around the park and the cemetery again.

During the day off, a lot seems to have happened nature-wise, perhaps triggered by the milder and brighter weather today. All the trees in the park orchard are now in blossom, and a chiff chaff could be heard singing from an invisible vantage point somewhere within. 

A butterfly fluttered by too, my first of the year. I didn't get a close look at it, but the colour was suggestive of small tortoiseshell, or perhaps a comma. A few honeybees were at work in the blossom, but not as many as I would have thought, and none were willing to pose for a photograph. 

Over in the cemetery, the crocuses continue to decline slowly, but there long lines of daffodils along the paths, and beautiful blue carpets of glory in the snows. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 15.03.21

Saturday 13 March 2021

Big Time Blossom

 On a day where the weather never quite worked out what it was going to be, apart from bloody windy all day, I went off to the park to see if the blossom in the orchard was out. 

The answer was yes - big time!

The orchard in spring is a favourite place of mine; warm days bring bees and butterflies to the sweet smelling blooms in large numbers. Too cool today though, and the only buzzer I saw was a queen buff tailed bumble high in the canopy of a blackthorn tree. 

I also love the blossom to study the very subtle differences in colour and smell between the flowers, often in the same tree. For example some flowers have pink stamen, others green. I don't know whether this sexes the flowers or not, but it can be very marked. 

Also some blooms are a very creamy white, others pure, while others have hints of pink or green about them. Knowledgeable folk will immediately know what tree has which, but I am not a folk who has the knowledge.

It is spring, but not very springlike yet with the weather. Hopefully that will change soon.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 13.03.21

Monday 8 March 2021

Dipping on the Glossy Ibis

 Well, today I did something I've never done before.

I "dipped" on a bird.

I've never before gone anywhere to look for a rare bird, I've never done anything "twitchy". But the opportunity of just taking a walk along the river to find the glossy ibis that has been hanging out behind the sugar factory was something I just had to do.

I have to say, the bird has picked a good spot. It's in a rather godforsaken part of town, in muddy fields beyond the Nether Lock and the weir. It wasn't a pretty walk by any stretch of the imagination, and the experience was not enhanced by various rusted shopping trolleys and bikes that had been dragged from the river and dumped. 

I wasn't quite sure where to go, but there was another birder down there who helped me find my way there, and she joined me as I crossed a drainage ditch on a makeshift bridge and wandered around an empty field full of discarded sugar beet.

The ibis had apparently been hanging around by a temporary pond in the middle of this field, but there was no sign of it. This means, in birdwatching terminology, that I had dipped on the bird. 

I may try again if the bird hangs around. And probably "dip" again.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 08.03.21