Saturday 30 April 2022


 So this week I went on an organised batwatching walk to Sconce and DEvon Park, feeling rather smug that I had my own bat detector and wouldn't have to borrow one.

Organised by The Sherwood Forest Trust, the event started at 8pm and attracted about 40 people, which I was quite surprised about, that being said it had become a bright enough evening and there was no threat of rain that would have kept the bats in, bats not being stupid animals. 

We first went off to explore the orchard, although it was still a bit bright - we were told that "Bats don't come out until the birds stop singing" and this actually seemed to be the case. If you wanted to be all zoological about, I suppose it means the bats don't have to compete with the birds for the insects. 

We detected nothing in the orchard, and so headed across to the river side of the park to the Old Oak Wood, where I knew that bats would be found, and sure enough my detector went off, then everyone else's.

We then had a pretty exciting bat-show in the woods for the next half hour or so, watched by excited children - and adults - as pipistrelle bats whizzed around our heads in numbers. The walk leader had a much more sophisticated detector that registered the bats as calling at 57 kilohertz, indicating that they were soprano pipistrelles. 

Occasionally bats flew past in pairs, whizzing round it each other, and apparently this indicates that they were probably females looking for a nest site to raise their young.

Every so often the detectors gave out a loud squelching sound, indicating the demise of an insect on the sharp points of bat fangs. 

After a while we then moved further down the river, but further detecting efforts were hampered by a small gang of kids, one of them in mirror shades and wearing a shopping bag on his head, having a rave. 

It's that sort of town.

It was a fun event, and if you have any such near you, I would recommend going. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.04.22

Sunday 24 April 2022

The Ball Never Came to Me but Bees did

 Cricket returned to my life today, as we headed out to Upton to take on our old friends from that club. It's a lovely little ground, which seems to have shrunk since I last played there with one of the boundaries only about 40 metres out. 

Being a generally young side, apart from my old ankle crippled self, we were a bit light in batting, so agreed to let Upton have first use of a very hard, but as it turned out, low bouncing wicket with a quick outfield. Seeing as we were going to have our first cricket tea in three years, this was a good tactical decision from the captain in my view, as it allows you to eat more at tea-time without having to run about afterwards. 

Having turned down the chance to open the bowling due to being no good anymore, I went to field at mid-off while the opening bats of Upton spanked the ball around with ease, including a very impressive young player who timed the ball as sweet as any nut. 

Much searching in hedges for the ball took place during this period. But not by me. Upton have a pro ball hunter in their ranks so we let him doing it, which meant we only lost one ball instead of the 8 or 9 we normally lose here. 

Upton rattled up abut 100 in the first ten overs, at which point our captain decided to scare them by bringing me on to bowl. Having netted well over the winter, I was under the impression that I had got a little of my old pace back - fat chance. I felt lumbering and slow, with no bounce. At least I was quite straight for a change, bowling no wides for once, and I did slow up the scoring somewhat, although I was still getting belted for four once an over. 

I even got the opening bat caught at mid on. But that was the only wicket I took. At least I didn't have to bowl to Upton's gun batter though, who seemed to have a bat so heavy that mis-hits went for six. 

All through this I fielded with great energy, even though somehow the ball only came to me once despite me fielding at mid on most of the time. Good work by the captain to do that. My ankle was hurting after bowling seven overs, so I was pretty grateful. 

Upton racked up 238-5 in the end, and knowing I wouldn't be needed to bat for a while and hopefully (from the teams point of view) not at all, so I went off exploring. 

Over the hedge at one end of the ground was an orchard full of trees still in blossom, and also some grazing and rather shy sheep. There was also a set of bee hives, that were very busy and buzzy. Unfortunately one bee took exception to me and chased me off, getting tangled up in my hair. I didn't get stung though, unlike one of the Upton lads. 

Probably the bee that I had pissed off. 

While I annoyed insects, our young opening bats were playing brilliantly, putting on over 120 in very quick time with the sheep in the next field being peppered by sixes. We even looked like we had a chance of winning, but when these two lads got out, the rest of our batting could only muster about another 60 runs between them, mainly due to the Upton fast bowler being brought on. Normally this chap takes two balls to get me out, this time I survived three, although the last one was  a near thing. 

I actually managed to score ten not out, which is 7 more runs than I scored in the whole of last season. This included a boundary, and also a run out of my batting partner when I turned him down for a second run. To be fair, it was never two. 

That's my opinion, and I'm standing by it!

So, we lost by about 60 runs in the end, but it was tremendously fun day we all enjoyed. Hopefully it's the first of many such Sundays this year.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.04.22

Tuesday 19 April 2022

A Floral First

 Took myself out to Farndon today, to have a look at Cottage Lane nature reserve, and by golly I'm glad I did.

It's only a small reserve, about the size of a football pitch with three ponds and a couple of hides slash shelters, and at first glance when I arrived - it isn't too far away - I was disappointed. There didn't seem to be much going on, the pasture largely devoid of flowers apart from a few clumps of lady's smock. 

However, closer inspection revealed a lot of male orange tips were fluttering about, and I decided to follow one, more in hope than expectation it would land anywhere, they are very restless butterflies after all. However, it did settle on some lady's smock, and I was able to get a not terribly good shot from distance. 

It wouldn't let me get any closer.

After a walk round the boundary, and nearly back at the entrance, I noticed in the field some drooping purple wildflowers I did not recognise. Having a closer look, I was excited to see that they were snake's head fritillaries, a species I have never ever seen before. 

What a pleasant surprise!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.04.22

Friday 15 April 2022

Back on my Bike

 Well, it's a bank holiday Friday for me, the sun was out, and I left the house at 11am determined to have a full day of it with a visit to the park, and then an afternoon full of exploration and adventure.

Unfortunately my body decided otherwise, and after lunch I ended up having a two hour nap. Full of guilt when I woke up, I decided to jump on the bike and make my way out to RSPB Langford Lowfields for the first time this year. 

It was the old hack mountain bike, knowing as I did the rougher parts of the Sustrans 64 route would judder my backside to death if I went on the Raleigh Hybrid. 

It was a pleasant and quick ride, unhindered by school run traffic and without much wind to hinder progress. I arrived at Langford after half an hour, with a low sun turning the reed beds golden, and the air full of the honking of geese. 

I was hoping for find swallows and sand martins feeding off the numerous insects on the wing, but no, all was quiet in that regard. The geese honks mixed with the screeches of black headed gulls made up for the lack of sand martin twitterings. 

I did a tour of the lake, loving every second of it, especially the loud and mainly unidentifiable bird song from the tree line on the East side of the reed bed. A song thrush atop a tree was emitting perhaps the loudest calls I've ever heard from a songbird, and a jay suddenly flying across my path was an absolute treat. 

The beach hut has been tricked out since I last came, with a little shop of fantastic enamel RSPB badges. No cash on me sadly. 

Who carries cash now anyway?


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 15.04.21

Saturday 9 April 2022

Garden Activities

 We've not had great weather recently, so I've knocked off the cycling for pleasure for a bit until the sun comes out and the wind drops, and we don't get snow and hale within ten minutes of each other. 

Instead, I've done some more gardening work, filling two planters with wildflower seed bombs, and planting an Asda cornflower kit. I'm planning to add some more in the next couple of days and get some more pollinator friendly plants on the go.

The weather still being bitterly cold at night, I've got a mini greenhouse I've rescued from my family home, and I'm using it to shelter the new plantings at night. The next pots I plant out will also go in there until the nights are warmer. 

Middle age has arrived with a vengeance!

My pre-existing plants, well all the crocuses are over now, but my alliums flower spears have now emerged, the sonetti is still flowering after about 9 months, and there are new blooms coming out on my little alpine plant with a confusing long name I can't remember!

Looking forward to growing more things.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.04.22

Saturday 2 April 2022

The Pleasure of Cycling

 Activity wise, well this week has been a quiet one with the arrival of cold weather curtailing nature in its tracks, and keeping my indoors when I've not been shivering and getting wet on my bike rides to work amid the snow and hale we've had, often at the same time.

But the weekend before that was glorious, and I seized the opportunity to get out on my Raleigh hybrid bike for the first time in months. 

I did two rides, totalling just under 50km in all, firstly on a loop out to Elston on Saturday, and then to Norwell and Muskham on Sunday. Compared to my hack work bike, the hybrid goes like a bomb although skinny tyres make for a rough time on some of the cratered local roads. 

It's a good fitness activity too, and feeling warm air rushing past your skin is you scoot along at 30km/h is joyful, not to mention the vitamin D you are getting after the dark days of winter. Aboard the bike my tourettes is controlled, and my general anxiety about the world is lessened, although occasionally my anxiety about bad driving isn't. 

I intend to get some more riding in this spring and summer, nothing heavy, nothing Bradley Wiggins, but just to see the local villages and find some nature sites.

And maybe get some tan lines as well, the mark of any proper cyclist!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 02.03.22