Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A few hours at Old Moor

Spent a relaxing day at Old Moor RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Nature Reserve at Broomhill near Barnsley. Wetland habitat with meres and pools and reservoirs where many species of birds enjoy themselves all year round. I had long promised a friend that I'd introduce her to the delights of this stretch of Yorkshire paradise, and today was the appointed day.

With weather soft and sunny with the occasional sprinkle of summer rain, we walked among the bullrushes, waterside plants and trees surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. In a couple of hours (with a break for a wonderful locally sourced and prepared on site lunch at the "Gannets Cafe") I saw over 25 species of birds, including most of the ones on offer today:

Black Tailed Godwit (ooh - one of my favourites!), Grey Heron, Canada Geese, Lapwing, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe (carrying babies on its back in the water), Mute Swans with their cygnets, Reed Warbler, Pheasant, Swifts, Carrion Crow, Black Headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common Tern, Bullfinch (male singing and both sexes feeding), Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, Tree Sparrows, Starlings (a large flock), Linnet, Common Tern, Common Sandpiper and Magpie.

An exhausting but soul refreshing outing. 

Black Tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) feeding in the mud.

Friday, 23 July 2010

A quick walk round my back garden

Well, I couldn't manage a quick walk round today, but wanted to share these moments with you as some of the most colourful blooms are having a field day...

Hanging basket on gate between my back garden and my lovely neighbour's, planted with fuschia, petunia "Surfinia" etc

Osteospermum (Cape Daisy) smiles from a border and better than any weather forecast with its opening and closing mirroring the degree of cloud cover

I have an old wheelbarrow planted with lavender (smells delicious on a summer's evening), petunias and sometimes verbena etc for a bit of colour in the middle.

This year I'm combining my clematis with a hanging basket next to it, planted with my favourite sweet peas. One year, the manse conservatory was overrun with dozens of pots of sweet peas I meant to plant out in the garden once frosts were no longer a threat. Energy failed me, along with best intentions, and folks marvelled at the astonishing indoor display from which I had endless armfuls of sweet peas to give away to friends and visitors! When I came to my current pied a terre, I tried sweet peas trained up a fence with trellis on some very rocky soil. They flowered but I didn't get full benefit of a view from the house windows. So this year I hope the sweet peas will soon be joining this clem close to the conservatory...watch this space!

Lavatera - beautiful and in best "cut and come again" tradition, like my hebes (not pictured here today), nothing can keep it down!

Persicaria. This reminds me of the wild persicaria I used to see on childhood walks. This one is a cultivated variety, always bursting with fluffy pink and red spikes. Useful as a loo brush if you have fairies to tea....

Some Phlox next to my huge fern (possibly Phlox "Alpha" unless you know different?) always adds a rich shade of pink to the borders near the pergola (and just far enough away not to be splattered with guano from the bird feeders there!) Too much information!

Blackbirds, Starlings (and squirrels!) enjoy digging up the compost in this white pot in the centre of the lawn. If they didn't, this would be a more impressive display of wallflowers (how I LOVE their scent!), impatiens (Bizzy Lizzies) and that lovely purple fluffy flower I've temporarily forgotten the name of. Note dead eucalyptus leaves from my huge, beautiful tree that makes summertime like one long South American autumn.

And now we're back at the gate, fancy coming in for a cuppa and a slice of something naughty with thick chocolate icing on, or a bowl of cookie dough ice cream?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


I knew there was a good excuse waiting  for having some corners of my garden left random and untidy...and here he is. Spot the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) wiffling through the fallen eucalyptus leaves near a section of privet hedge.

He took no notice at all of human proximity and carried on his quiet snuffling exploration of his twilight kingdom.

I've seen him before, enjoying a little tipple from the birds' water basin under the lilac tree. They say that each hedgehog prefers to have the space of twelve gardens to roam through before it makes you its privileged host. So I feel very blessed.