Thursday 30 September 2021

A Close Encounter with a Starling

 This week, the powers that be flicked a switch, and the seasons changed.

In the space of a day, we went from mild weather to strong winds, heavy rain, and a chill in the morning air. The birds have noticed this too. All of a sudden, the goldfinches at work have formed up into their busy, tweeping flock of about 50 birds busy raiding the teasel. The local kestrel presumably having bred is back at work hover hunting over the grassland, and then there are the starlings. 

A flock of about 80 birds have arrived on campus, skittish, carrying out mini murmurations as the afternoon draws on. We used to have a big roost of pied wagtails here, and I'm hoping that we might see starlings adopt our workplace as their overnight haunt too, wishing that we get huge formations of these intelligent, noisy birds performing their teardrop aerobatics over the unlikely vistas of car parks and industry. 

I was out on my lunchtime walk when I encountered one of these starlings feeding by the wildflower mini-meadows I helped create. It was so unafraid I felt it must be a juvenile bird entering its first winter; it let me get to three metres away without being remotely perturbed as it probed the ground with its beak for food.

Attracting odd glances from passers-by, I dropped to my belly and wormed my way closer, to about a metre and a half, admiring the beautiful green and purple irridescense from its plumage, and with my mobile phone, actually managed to get half decent photographs of a songbird. 

All the while it tweeted conversationally, as if asking who this huge purple clad interloper was.

It was an encounter I badly needed.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.09.21

Sunday 26 September 2021

Unusual Transportation

 Admittedly initially because I don't have a car, I've always been a passionate advocate of active transport for getting to and from work, that being cycling, walking or scooting. 

Nowadays, despite being still technically illegal, many folk are using electric scooters as well these days, something I suspect more people will be taking up in the coming months, and then even more when they are finally legalised in the no too distant future, hopefully relieving the pressure on parking. 

However, I'm also an advocate of that transportation being safe, which I can hardly say about the old Raleigh Twenty until about a year ago one of my colleagues was using before just dumping it in the cycling shed. 

Deprived of its original seat, they had been using a bean bag roughly strapped to the rusting metal seat, which must surely have been a huge risk for nether region tetanus. The handlebars were so rusted they looked they could have snapped at any time, and the brakes and gears were note exactly in a fresh out of the box condition.

It was a wheeled death trap, basically.

Then when I was going home, I noticed someone going passed me in their pride and joy - an ancient Reliant Rialto 2 three wheeler that looked like all the back seats had been removed.

Don't go round corners too fast in that baby!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.09.21

Tuesday 21 September 2021

More Life in the Ivy

 The ivy bush where I found my first ivy bee the other week has seemingly gone past its best, like all the autumnal world seems to, but in Sconce and Devon Park there were bushes that were in their full coronavirus flower, and these were alive with insects.

I see pictures of ivy plants swarming with red admiral butterflies, but I've never yet seen a butterfly on an ivy flower. Once again, these bushes were home to hoverflies, honeybees, wasps, and this time a bumblebee.

And there was another ivy bee too, with its beautiful yellow-orange striped abdomen. It's funny when you notice a species for the first time, you suddenly can't stop noticing them.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.09.21

Thursday 16 September 2021

A Painted Lady!

 I've been seeing a fair few painted ladies flying around lately without ever seeing one settle; later summer migrants to the UK, you can recognise them flying around at this time of year from their paler orange colour than that displayed by the other similar-at-a-distance two species on the wing in September, the small tortoiseshell and the comma. 

I found two on the buddleia at the entrance to Millgate Island, just after an irate and angler had told me I wasn't allowed to go onto the island as "It is only for fishing now and I own it."

Well, I didn't know that.

One of the butterflies was up on the higher flowers in the , but the other was lower down, and rather less energetic so I could get a few photos, which I hope you will agree came out rather well!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.09.21

Saturday 11 September 2021

Red Admiral Studies

 There were no butterflies on the buddleia in the nature reserve, but there were many on the buddleia on the entrance to the office complex off the main road. 

Funny what nature does sometimes!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.09.21

Thursday 9 September 2021

A New Bee for Mee!

 On a hot sunny day, I was drawn to an ivy bush in flower that was absolutely buzzing with insects. 

They were mainly hoverflies of many different species, wasps, a few honey beees and a type of bee I had never seen before. It had a furry orange thorax, and gleaming yellow-orange bands on the abdomen.

I had an inkling as to what it might have been, but I had to wait to get home to confirm it. It was an ivy bee, a new species for me, and one that only arrived in the UK at the beginning of the century and has evidently been making its way north over the next twenty years, but I have no idea how established they are in Nottinghamshire.

It was very happy to pose for some pictures, which really came out nicely, showing what a beautiful insect this species is. 

I was thrilled to have found it. 

Later in the afternoon I decided to take the old hack bike out to RSPB Langford Lowfields for a gentle walk around a fizzingly hot and still lake patrolled by many many migrant hawker dragonflies. Lots of mute swans were on the water, but other than a flock of about 30 very noisy lapwing I didn't see a lot of note. 

But then, I was just there for enjoyment on a lovely day.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.09.21

Saturday 4 September 2021

Trekking the Shire Dyke, Redux

 A couple of days ago I decided that I was fed up of feeling lazy and demotivated as I had been for a few days, and felt the need to blow away the cobwebs with a long walk. 

I know. I'm not very good at the "Listen to your body, get some rest" thing, nor the idea that you are allowed to have relaxing days where you do nothing apart from watch movies. I feel guilty about what I perceive as wasting time. 

These are not great attitudes, but then again, going walking is not a bad thing either. It's a question of balance.

The route I'd chosen for my walk was one I've not done for a while; walking the 5 or so kilometres to Barnby in the Willows along the road, and then following the River Witham and then The Shire Dyke back into town, a rather longer route than the outward bound one. 

I was really happily surprised to find in the village that the house with the eaves where the house martins nest was still busy with birds - there are still unfledged young in the nests that the adult birds are madly feeding, with cute black and white faces peeking over the rims of the nests. Plenty of swallows are around too.

The weather prospects look good, so hopefully they will be able to fledge and feed up in time for their trip to Africa. 

The route took me through the churchyard, and alongside the River Witham for a short stretch before its confluence with the Shire Dyke. This is when I remembered why I don't to do this walk very often - most of this section is along the edge of roughly ploughed fields it is really hard to walk along, and the views are actually quite bleak. 

Too much of our farmland feels too sterile. 

More swallows, mostly juveniles, were flying over the dyke at certain points, and also at a stables near the end of the path where it joins the main road, and the rather tedious walk back home along the main road through town. 

All in all, I'm glad I did the walk, although my gammy ankle wasn't, and the sense of achievement was palpable. But it's a slightly grim route to say its the countryside, and it reinforces my view that Notts is just a rubbish county for this sort of thing sometimes!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 04.09.21