Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Beast From the East Brings Snow and Visitors

It's been a while hasn't it! I've been busy with building a new business whilst still working, grandma duties and general life! But I've still been walking and definitely still been watching nature go through her seasonal manoeuvres. One curve ball was thrown at us last week when an icy blast of weather came our way bringing windchill and snow. In Cambridgeshire we got off very lightly with a few centimetres of snow on and off for a few days whilst other areas had drifts of 10 and even 20 feet.

Weather watchers soon nicknamed this front The Beast From the East although towards the end of the week it had also combined with a European storm called Emma - much less fierce sounding but the one that hit us with the most snow.

One advantage of the freezing temperatures and the ground being covered was some new visitors to the gardens. Photos appeared everywhere of people seeing fieldfares and redwings for the first time. And where the little birds feed the bigger birds follow with sparrow hawks and buzzards being seen brazenly sitting on fences and sheds.

I made a point of putting out more food each day, topping it up and keeping the water from freezing.

Watching the birds it was interesting to see their behaviour change. The robin who would normally see off any other robin reserved its energy - at one point we had three in the garden - the blackbirds stopped chasing each other for a few days too. But bring in a few outsiders and the dynamics changed again. The robin took exception to a male blackcap who appeared one afternoon, the jackdaws saw off a stray gull and the blackbirds and a fieldfare fought it out over an apple - the fieldfare arrived on the second day of snow and having found some apple stood guard over it for the next few days.

As the snow eventually thawed and the visitors disappeared back to the woods and the fields the garden became calm again and the regular birds went back to the job in hand - spring!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

RSPB Needingworth

It's been a few weeks since I last updated. August generally is a bit quieter nature wise but we've still been walking most weekends, although it has to be said the summer has been a bit damp! We've been to all the regular places but also to a new reserve for us - Needingworth RSPB reserve. It's local so not sure why we've never been before but we had a great treat watching a green woodpecker taking a bath.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Perseid Meteor Shower

Every August the Earth passes through the debris of the comet Swift-Tuttle and we can see the resulting meteor shower. These 'shooting stars' peaked Saturday night so I set up the camera in the garden and spent a few hours dodging the clouds and hoping to catch a meteor as it flashed past. It was a good night for them, they didn't peak until after midnight but between 10-11pm I saw quite a few, some faint wisps but a couple of good tailed streaks across the sky. Beautiful.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

A walk at Wicken

Wicken Fen is becoming our 'go to' Sunday morning walk. We seem to find ourselves there at least once a month so it is interesting to see how it changes and what you can see changes. During the winter the flocks of migrating birds along with the short-eared owls are the obvious draw with lots of birders and photographers around.  During the summer it is quieter and as you first start to walk you wonder if you will see anything interesting at all. But it is there. The undergrowth is heavier, the trees are in leaf and the fens are tall with crops and reeds but if you listen and watch and look carefully you will find all sorts.

Meadow Pipit

Green woodpecker

Pied wagtail



Winchat (possible)

Saturday, 8 July 2017

More plants!

As part of 30 Days Wild I added some more plants to the garden (as if I need any excuse!) specifically bee and butterfly friendly.  I appear to have added some more!

My girls had bought me tickets to Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for my birthday and on Thursday, after sitting in horrendous traffic and with the mercury edging over 30, I found myself overwhelmed with what to purchase next!

Whilst looking at the great gardens on show my eyes were drawn to the hot purples, reds and orange planting - colours I wouldn't normally go for, preferring the pinks and mauves of cottage flowers. This I decided would be ideal for my south facing front garden. Since removing the old huge lavender bushes from the front I have planted a few bits and piece but hadn't really got a grasp on where I wanted this garden to go but now I have in mind tall agapanthus and globular alliums with dark lavender, sea holly, ladybird poppies and hot pink echinacea. A riot of sexy, deep shades and textures.

Well that's the plan!

It was a little too hot to spend lots of time pursuing the stalls but I have photographed the ideas I like and will plant it up gradually. In the meantime I did managed to buy the sea holly (it was covered with bees!), echinacea and a poppy to get going and remind me of a fabulous day. I will definitely go back hopefully on a slightly cooler day!

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Fen Drayton/Swavesey Lakes

This Sunday's walk was a good 5 miler around RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes. This is our local RSPB reserve and we have walked here many times before. It is full of bird life in the winter and has some fabulous landscapes on a misty frosty morning. We tend to avoid it in the spring due to the gnats! 

The river Great Ouse runs through it (along with Cambridge's Guided Bus!) and there are walks of various lengths. 

We got there about 7.30am and started off round the Fen Drayton side where we immediately spotted a family of Greater-spotted woodpeckers in a tree a little way off - time to again test my new lens to it's limit!

The river itself was quiet although the banks were buzzing with butterflies and damselflies. We checked out  the main hide, and were wondering why the door had been removed when we saw a sign had been put up. Sad that this is necessary but had to chuckle at the wording.

We decided to carry on around the Swavesey lake also, spotting herons, grebes, kestrels, butterflies and demoiselles. We just caught sight of the face of a lovely fox watching us through the reeds but he had gone before I had chance to raise the camera.

A beautiful morning walk.

Friday, 30 June 2017

30 Days Wild - Day 30 - The Last Hurrah!

It's the last day of 30 Days Wild! One more Random Act of Wildness to write about but also a time to look back over the past month and to think ahead.

Although I managed a RAoW each day and posted about it (very pleased with that!) I didn't do quite as many active activities as I would have hoped. I haven't got the wildlife pond sorted yet, although I have researched it and it will definitely be done soon. I didn't get my granddaughter as involved as I wanted as it turned out we didn't have her as much as I thought we would, and then when we did it was so very hot! The times we did include her though were special and she is only just beginning her journey of discovery.

It was too hot to get out much to walk which was a shame, but we walk most weekends normally and will continue to spot and photograph as much wildlife we can while we walk - and blog about it.

I still have spaces in the garden for more plants - an ever continuing project - and as many of these as possible will be bee and/or butterfly friendly.

The trail cam will go back out over the summer to catch up with the hedgehog and there's a great meteor shower in August that you absolutely do not need a telescope to watch.

So much to remember, so much more to enjoy. I have loved reading the other 30 Days Wild blogs and I hope some of them have enjoyed mine. If you are reading this please drop me a comment to say hi, and do pop back soon. You can also find me, and my photographs, on:

TDP Website

And what of Day 30? Well there's only one 30 Days Wild Random Act left to do really - join my local Wildlife Trust!

I hope you will continue to drop by The Nest throughout the year but definitely hope to see you back here in June 2018!