It was David’s birthday on Monday! To celebrate the day, he wanted to visit a nature reserve to test out his new telephoto lens. So we got up early on a bright August morning and headed up the motorway to … Continue reading
Day 24: Today we visited Brereton Heath Local Nature Reserve, Congleton. This small nature reserve has a lake and a one mile circular walk through woodland, heath and grassland, which is popular with dog walkers. There is also a visitor centre. The car park charge was £2 for up to three hours, or £3 for all day. I was slightly saddened that nature sightings weren’t very high but there were butterflies and damsels fluttering over the many spotted orchids in a wildflower meadow.
We did spot a striking broad bodied chaser, a species neither of us had seen before.
Have you visited Brereton Heath Local Nature Reserve? Have something like it near you?
Thanks for reading and stay wild!
This week has all been about fun with leaves!
At the weekend, I made a special effort to get out of the house. I dragged David and my mum along with me as I went in search of autumn!
We visited Liverpool’s Festival Gardens which I blogged about in June for 30 Day’s Wild. We took a leisurely walk around the Japanese and Chinese gardens before entering the woodland walk. I looked for signs of autumn, collected fallen leaves, fir cones, sycamore seeds and other seasonal detritus. I even relived my childhood by kicking leaves and blowing dandelion docks.
Back home, I arranged all that I had collected on a makeshift nature table. I was able to ID a few leaves. Maple, oak, birch and beech but I could not ID all, maybe you can do better?
While wondering what to do with my harvest, I was enjoying the writings of two fellow bloggers. Nicky at Too Lazy to Weed, writes about the nature in her garden and has many fascinating insights into moths and hedgehogs. Emma on her Discovery Hub, blogs and vlogs many facts about wildlife. Check them both out for more information!
During the week. I utilised the leaves I had collected to a) make a crown and b) make animal collages, though I have not got much artistry talent.
You may have wondered why the leaves change colour at all? Here’s a useful inforgram to explain things, better than I could!
I thought the touching Shakespeare sonnet, 73 was in keeping with this theme.
That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
So, as the nights are drawing in and the cold air makes me want to hibernate, I will end the post with Vivaldi’s Autumn, from his Four Seasons. Enjoy!
What, if anything are you enjoying about autumn?
I find it difficult to enjoy nature while I am out and about going to work. However today I snapped a picture of a flower that was gracing the gates of my employment. I did a quick Google search and found that it was a Rosa canina, or Dog Rose which is a deciduous shrub.
Though not nature orientated, I woke up this morning to the sad news that composer James Horner had died in an aeronautics accident. I admired Horner’s music well before Hans Zimmer’s. My first CD of his, was his stunning American Civil War soundtrack to the film Glory!
The weather turned out to be half decent today. In the afternoon I managed to sit out and potter about my garden. The Passion Flower has grown ‘madly’ again and has hundreds (maybe an exaggeration) of buds on it! There are also purple flowers on the Hebe!
I decided to follow a suggestion from the 101 ‘wild’ things to do which was to watch a nature webcam. Years ago I used to visit a websi from a farm in Yorkshire, called Marlfield. The website is called Lambwatch. (It’s best viewed on IE.) I checked it out today and found that they not only have one webcam pointed at a field, which during spring is filled with lambs, but have three others! One of which was a webcam in a Swallows nest. Knowing I love Swallows I spent a good hour watching the brood of about 4 growing baby Swallows.
I wonder if the visiting Swallows near me will also be feeding a brood of similar size? I shall have to wait until they fledge, it was mind July last year! I shall keep my eyes towards the sky!
Thursday: – Norwich… ‘a fine city!’ (Indeed!)
Thursday was the beginning of our night away to Norwich to see the Go Go Dragons street art exhibition! Mum kindly looked after Artie while we were gone the night.
It was not the first time we have gone on a hunt for dragons. The first was in 2010 in Newport!
We set off on the M62 around 9am. I didn’t see much nature along the motorways, save for a few silhouettes of Buzzards and Kestrels hunting and along the A11 there was a field full of purple and white foxgloves!
We got to Norwich by 1.30pm and spent the next two hours walking around the city streets. The weather was very humid and come the evening the sun shone through heavy laden clouds.
We first visited Norwich two years ago when we popped in, on our way to Colchester, to see their Go Go Gorillas trail.
I was impressed by the artistic talent, so much so that come news that dragons were going to grace the city’s streets I had to pay them a visit!
The dragons I think even surpassed the gorillas! Here are just a few from the first day!
With tired feet we made our way to the B&B for the night. We stayed at the same B&B, 175 Newmarket Road, and incidentally the same room as two years ago!
For the evening’s meal we went to The Merchant’s of Spice, curry house north of the River Wensum. David ordered Chicken Tikka Pasanda, which was flavoursome while I had the Vegetable Karahi which was filled with peppers, green beans and new potatoes. The naan was nice though was drizzled with a lot of butter! The atmosphere of the restaurant was luxurious and the ambient music was not overpowering. The service was efficient and they cleaned unused plates and cutlery swiftly. At the end of the meal we were once again handed orange soaked hot towels to wipe our hands, always a plus in my book! 😀
We had breakfast early on Friday so we could leave the B&B and head into Norwich before 9am! While we were packing I noticed a colourful Jay amongst the tree canopy around the house. It moved too quickly for me to get a picture so one of David’s taken on a day trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park will have to do!
I must comment that Norwich has fully embraced planting for wildlife and on most of their roundabouts and along the sides of dual carriageways there is an abundance of wild flowers!
We spent the next four hours walking the city’s streets with map in hand! The positive of following a trail map is that you get to see parts of the city you wouldn’t necessarily see! There are some lovely churches and narrow tudor-esque streets in Norwich. However the north of the city is a bit derelict, like many towns. We found ourselves in a part of the city that was covered in graffiti! We did not feel safe! So we hurried back south towards the river.
We saw 31 dragons on the Thursday and the Friday we saw a total of 32! So we saw 63 out of the 84 dragons on the streets, though we did see several more but could not take photos!
Here are some of my favourite dragons from Friday’s hunt!
Even though we never got to see the whole 84 dragons, I found following the trail map more satisfying than going to see them all in one place which we did last year when we went to Aberdeen to see ‘all’ the dolphins!
Here’s a selection of some of the art work found on the dragons and of David and myself posing with our favourites! 😀
After lunch at around 1.30pm we said goodbye to Norwich and set off on our journey home, and what a ‘long’ journey home it turned out to be! Instead of the 4.5 hours it should have took us, our journey lasted over 7 hours! Arriving home around 9pm!
There was news of the M6 being shut around junction 16 and then the A14 was at a snails pace. There was nothing to do but to try and stay cheery, listen to the radio and try to keep hydrated and well fed. We took regular breaks. We tried to get the sat-nav to navigate around the blocked part of the M6 but it wanted us to go further afield into Wales, so we decided to see what was in store for us on the motorway!
We paid the £5.50 to go on the M6 toll and the first junction was at a stand still. I thought that it was a waste of money but once we past the first junction it was smooth travelling until the M6 toll merged into the M6. Then the travelling was in fits and starts, so much so that I got a migraine with the stress. I thought we would never get home and my phone decided to die! We stopped off at Keele Services and had a fast food dinner! It was not what I had planned. I had planned something more healthy, after the curry the night before, but there was nothing to be done. So a Burger King it was. I had a vegi wrap while David had a chicken sandwich and chips. I also had a Costa coffee which, with the Zomig I had taken, helped ease the migraine!
For the next two hours, though fuelled, we continued on our slow journey home. To break the monotony David said I should take some pictures of the Cheshire countryside.
On our arrival home, we were welcomed by a familiar sight. Artie looking out of the window at us!
Back home to ‘normality!’ I found that the Passion Flower had started to bloom! There was one sitting proud for all to see! I look forward to many more budding!
For Saturday’s dinner I made a healthy Roasted Pepper and Bean soup.
- Two pointed peppers sliced in half
- One red onion sliced in quarters
- Two garlic cloves
- One chilli chopped
- 500ml of reduced vegetable stock
- Tin of choppd tomatoes
- Tin of cannellini beans
- Pepper to season
- Serve with wholemeal bread
- Put peppers, onion and garlic on a roasting tin and roast for 20 mins on oven 200°/gas mark 6
- Chop the chilli
- In pan put in stock, chilli, tomatoes, and beans and warm to simmering
- Once skin is blackened on peppers take out of oven, strip and chop
- Return chopped, peppers, onion and garlic into pan
- Season with pepper
- Cook for 20 minutes
I served the soup with Wholemeal granary bread that I had made and David had shaped into dogs!
I spent today’s lunch with our finches. We let them fly around the living room at weekends. Here’s a selfie I took with Chocolate our Bengalese Finch, she was getting very close to me!
More webcams! This time from Paradise Park in Cornwall. They are streaming a webcam from their Red Panda den. Their female panda has had cubs. You can view the webcam here: http://paradisepark.org.uk/events-and-news/webcams/
I think I am going to have to attempt to separate the Borage seedlings either today or sometime during next week! Look how much they have grown in a month!
There are only two more day’s of June and 30 Days Wild, but I will continue to admire the nature that is around me in the coming weeks/months. Will the Borage and Teasel seedlings bloom? How many Passion Flowers will I get? Will I see any fledgling Swallows? Only time will tell!