Tuesday 28 March 2023

The Mandarin

 Long term readers may remember me writing of the male mandarin duck that used to spend time at the Blue Lake; one of the odd birds that perhaps found its way there from a collection like the pink footed goose that used to visit, or the Jurassic looking muscovy drake that used to creak around on massively clawed webbed feet.

This bird, however, has not been seen on the Blue Lake for a while. 

There have been reports of it down on the Trent from time to time, but I've not seen it down there...no wait I have. Once, amidst the roots of the willow by the castle wall. But that was pre-pandemic times, I'm sure. 

Which of course begs the question - was the beautiful mandarin drake with golden sails I saw further down the river by the locks yesterday the same bird? I've no idea. 

But it feels rather more romantic, so to speak, to believe that it is. It's not as if there's loads of mandarin ducks round here.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.03.23

Wednesday 22 March 2023

First Bee for a Hot Minute

 We've had milder temperatures - I'm sure I don't need to tell you that! - and even a bit of sunshine, but nature's calendar has been rather slow to catch up after the two frozen weeks we had. I've seen a glimpse of a small tortoiseshell on the wing, and the queen bumbles are on the move again, but the chiff chaffs aren't singing yet, nor have I seen a beautiful lemon yellow brimstone butterfly on the wing yet. 

Indeed, I've only just seen another honeybee on the wing, a very skittish individual feeding off glory of the snows in Friary Garden, which is well carpeted in blue with them at the moment. 

I hope things are getting more spring like where you all are!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.03.23

Thursday 16 March 2023

Late Night Sketching

 Just dropping my first attempt to do an oil pastel of a natural subject.

I think you could just about tell what it is, even if I hadn't labelled this.

I make no claim on having any talent whatsoever.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.03.23

Monday 13 March 2023


 After the freezing weather of the last fortnight, my hands have only now sufficiently warmed up enough for me to type again.

We had two days of snow, one more or less continuous and a day in which I had to cycle to work in blizzard conditions, which was every bit as much fun as it sounds. Thankfully, unlike the big freeze of 2010, I never had hard ice to contend with, just the inability to see as my eyes were filled with the driving snow as I rode in.

It didn't create particularly attractive snowscapes to look at, but it did make the meadow pipits easier to see.

They merge perfectly into the long grass at work!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 13.03.23

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Blossom is Out!

 It doesn't look good, because the weather has been so flat and battleship grey, but blossom is out everywhere in town.

Perhaps not 100% yet, some trees still have the flowers in tight white buds while others have opened out, stamen reaching out towards a sun that just hasn't been there yet this spring.

Their blooms wait for the pollinators, but they aren't yet there, hiding away after a nice end to winter, as a freezing front sweeps down upon us. 

Plum, blackthorn, and cherry all - braced for the frost and snow.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 07.03.23

Wednesday 1 March 2023

A Noble Guest

 So I've long had suspicions about a couple of 8 legged guests I've seen around my flat, but it was only the other day that it suddenly occurred to me that I could google lens them to find out if I was right.

So I photographed the chap who has taken up residence in my bathroom, and quickly confirmed that my hypothesis was indeed correct.

Steodata Nobilis, the noble false widow spider. 

I'm sure that once upon a time, I would have gone half mad with panic and instituted a campaign of "KILL IT WITH FIRE", for after all, maybe as recently as ten years ago, these spiders were seen as a terrifying plague brought to our shores by climate change. Schools were closed down. People sprayed their garden sheds with agent orange and anything small with 8 legs met a sticky end under size ten Doc Martens. 

Nowadays, I'm like - "gosh, that's interesting, he's doing no harm, I'll let him be." 

A state of affairs that will probably last only as long as it doesn't land on my nose on a gossamer thread while I'm brushing my teeth. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 01.03.23