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A lot of churches are turning over part of their graveyards to wildlife.

Personally, I think graveyards that are left to grow a little wild are stunning, although I know not everyone thinks the same.

Some prefer the beautifully manicured cemeteries and graveyards. I think there is a place for both.

I went for a walk around the village earlier, and the graveyard at St Peter’s Church in Yateley just reinforced my view that a little wilderness can look amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it looking so lovely.

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Attenborough Nature Reserve is one of my favourite places to go for a walk when I’m in Nottingham and it was a beautiful spring day on Saturday, so off Man and I trundled.

We went in search of kingfishers and opted for the 3.7 mile kingfisher trail. Sadly, other than a quick flash of turquoise just to taunt us, we failed miserably to capture the elusive kingfisher.

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I did, however, manage to capture my first long tailed tit. I like him, he’s very cute and fluffy. The following day at another of my favourite places Wollaton Hall, Man and I met a wonderful man who kept the amazing illustrated diaries of his walks and rambles. He did the most beautiful line drawings, sketches and watercolours in his diaries, along with nature notes about what he’d seen on his travels. They were absolutely beautiful and his drawings and paintings were a lot better than my photos! What a talent to have, I was quite envious.

Back to Attenborough and, although I failed to catch a kingfisher, there were lots of other birds to catch my attention.

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This noisy little chaffinch wasn’t remotely bothered by us. He was far too busy singing. Birds make sounds completely disproportionate to the size of their bodies.

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And great crested grebes were in abundance, both on the lakes and on the River Trent.

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We also found a lone grey heron wallowing about in the mudflats.

I love this time of year, everything starts coming back to life but there isn’t so much foliage that I can’t see the birds for the leaves.

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I like the buds and the blossom.

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The butterflies are reappearing again too. This one is a small tortoiseshell.

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There was colour in the people as well.

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And here’s that little long-tailed tit again.

I have a week off work this week and am spending the week at Man’s house. So I’m expecting to get out with my camera a lot more,

Pirbright is a village in Surrey that I drive through every day on my journey to work.
Each year it holds a scarecrow competition at the beginning of summer. It’s next weekend.
And each year it advertises the event with a creation on the corner of the village green.
A few years ago there was an amazing Gruffalo and classes from the village school would sit around it and read the book.
I have also seen a wonderful Simpsons character. I’m not really a fan and I can’t remember which one it was.
This year there is a magnificent monster… Shrek.
I can’t wait to drag Man to the main event next weekend :)

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021bI drove up to Man’s house in Nottingham on Friday. That evening the weather report said it was going to be mild on Saturday but it would chuck it down with rain all day. On Sunday it would be bitterly cold and raining … and probably snowing, with a wind chill factor that would take your breath away.

So we opted on the lesser of two evils and decided to go out with the cameras yesterday and be wet and vaguely warm rather than wet and freezing.

042bWe started off at Rushcliffe Country Park where I found this little grebe (my first). I also found some very oversized ducks, mallards, and they were at least twice the size of the usual ones.

I like Rushcliffe, but it seems a bit more manicured than Attenborough. It’s the perfect country park to take kids because there is a BMX track and half pipe, a huge play area, trails and sculptures to climb on and even a kite field, for the flying of kites and not the watching of birds called kites.

It is an ‘introduce your family to nature’ type of place.

031bWe had a good stroll. We both tried out different walking apps on our phones to see how they compared. Mine said we had walked 2.24 miles, Man’s said we had done 2.52 miles … don’t know which one was correct but either way that didn’t feel like enough so we headed for Attenborough Nature Reserve.

080bAttenborough seems wilder and more natural, there are footpaths all through it but it isn’t as sculptured, it’s purpose is predominantly for the wildlife rather than for the visitors. I prefer it.

It was a grey, grey day and like walking in a cloud … not raining exactly but very damp.

Some signs of spring though, like the snowdrops.

098bWe stopped by one of the hides because I love the small hedgerow birds.

108bAnd discovered all manner of guests had been invited to the banquet below the bird feeder – the pheasant, pigeons, ducks and rats quite happily munching alongside each other.

075bThis little chap was in hedge nearby. Even with the aid of the marvelous Collins bird guide, I have no idea what he is … anyone got any ideas?

And a little further on there was this guy on a pole.

110bI don’t what this is either and would love to know. Kestrel perhaps?

131bFollowing the river, we found some great crested grebes doing some sort of mating dance on the water. They were lovely. And there was a cormorant on another lake as well.

In the summer there are loads of dragonflies and damselflies around this area too.

We crossed the fields and the path takes you back alongside the railway track.

144bThis just amused me. There was one by the side of the pedestrian crossing (which is to be expected) but this was in a swamp. I’ve added it to my ‘out of place’ file lol.

It did start raining more heavily after this so the camera’s had to go away. But we were nearly back to the car by this point anyway.

This time my app said we had walked 2.78 mile and Man’s said 3.12 miles. So somewhere in between those was how far we walked yesterday. Around five miles ish I suppose.

Today is Mother’s Day in the UK and as I am at Man’s house, my two gorgeous daughters sent my pressie here. They’ve bought me a glamping trip (glamorous camping for those who don’t know) for two. There is a choice of ten sites and we can stay in a wigwam or a yurt in Cornwall, Devon, the Lake District, Hampshire or the east coast. I am absolutely chuffed to pieces. What an amazing Mother’s Day pressie. I have the best daughters :)

It is colder today and it is snowing (a tiny bit) so Man and I are leaving the cameras behind and are going to take up the challenge of photographing our neighbourhood with the iphones. So we are going for a wander around Nottingham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

006bRecently,  I decided to visit  Fleet Pond for a walk with my camera. I arrived, started wandering along the footpath, raised my camera to take a shot and realised there was no memory card in there, so I went home (yep, I’m one of those people who doesn’t want to walk without a camera).

Yesterday I decided to try again. it’s just down the road from me, it’s a nature reserve I’ve not visited before and I did actually want some exercise as well.

So I start wandering, initially in completely the opposite direction to the pond – signposts are needed here people.

Having spotted a green woodpecker, I am darting about taking shot after shot as he flies around, before I realise I have left my camera on the settings they were on when I was shooting the moon the other day and all my photos are black.

Well mostly black anyway, so this is about the only salvageable photo of my green woodpecker yesterday morning and I was getting the feeling that decent photographic trips to Fleet Pond were not going to be happening for me.

072bBut things did begin to brighten up and I began to learn stuff too.

Blackbirds have whiskers … can you see them?

Wrens are fast little buggers and have a load mouth for such a little bird (failed miserably to snap one of these).

There is actually a car park at Fleet Pond, it’s just that on both occasions I have visited there, I failed to find it.

049bI found this lovely song thrush, who let me take some photos though :)

And then there were the obligatory ducks, swans, Canada geese, coots, terns and moorhens.

095bNow you know how I suffer from lens envy and am intimidated by photographers with long lenses (particularly if they are dressed in camouflage)?

Well yesterday I stopped in my tracks because there was a long-lens guy approaching from the right, tracking something on the floor and I a) didn’t want to get in his way and b) didn’t want to frighten off whatever it was that he was tracking. It turned out to be a wren.

Rather than running away in shame at my small lens, I decided to speak to him. Turns out he is using an extender on his camera that is a much cheaper option than a huge lens and he gave me a few tips about what to look for an also about the type of birds you can find at Fleet Pond and where abouts they are.

Very friendly man.

I also read all the information boards around the lake. The countryside in general (at least the bits I have visited) seems to be undergoing a lot of maintenance at the moment: Attenborough Nature Reserve and Clumber Park last weekend, Yateley Common and Fleet Pond this weekend.

It’s obviously the right time of year but there is a huge amount going on and I would like to find out a bit more about wildlife and habitat conservation cos, to me, it just looks like loads of stuff is being chopped down.

The boards at Fleet Pond were quite informative though.

108bAm starting to find more fungi now too. This one is trametes versicolor also know as turkey tail (guess who’s got herself a little guide to mushrooms and toadstools of Britain and Europe lol).

I quite like it.

All in all my visit to Fleet Pond wasn’t a complete disaster – although it is a shame about the woodpecker shots and my complete inability to capture a wren.

It is somewhere I can see myself visiting time and time again and I did learn something.

Also, the GPS on my walking app worked all the way around and told me it had been a three-mile stroll. Very pleasant.

 

 

 

 

 

095bYay it’s spring. At least I think it is.

I’m not sure when the first day of spring is but as far as I am concerned, winter is December, January and February, spring is March, April and May, summer is June, July and August and autumn is September, October and November. It is now March and therefore it is spring – Yay.

Things will start coming back to life again – including me lol, and the days start getting more noticeably longer. There might be daylight outside working hours if we’re lucky :).

I have loved winter though, even the dead things like these thistles I found on the common.

099bI’m quite fond of teasels too.

And also I have discovered a new love of photographing our native birds.

058bI would not have been able to capture this woodpecker if there were leaves on the trees.

And I liked the snow too. Mainly because it didn’t actually interrupt my life in any inconvenient way.

I think my favourite photo of the season is probably this one.

139 (1)It was taken at Twycross Zoo on  a very snowy day when there were drifts everywhere and Man and I and about six other people visiting. It was lovely.

Hopefully spring will bring lots of travels with my camera and photos of more birds and animals, plants and flowers, landscapes, sunrises and fungi :). And, of course, resuming my efforts to track down churches and castles. Can’t wait.

So bye bye winter, it’s been fun … hello spring :)

 

 

 

 

029bWhen I have been wandering around various places (usually the common)  with my camera I have been taking pictures of things that shouldn’t be there. It started with a Christmas bow on a gorse bush.

So I’ve been collecting a few pictures together, which I’ve currently got stuck in a folder I have called Out of Place … more on that some other time.

Anyway, at Clumber Park on Sunday we found this. The pamphlet says it is a sculpture and it’s meant to be a leopard. No. This is a chaise longue in a tree. I quite like it, but it isn’t a leopard, it is definitely a piece of furniture in a tree.

039bI also liked the tiles on the benches in the formal gardens near the lake.

025bAnd this little fat chaffinch in a bush behind the chapel. He was just angrily sitting there in the sunshine.

049bI love the fast shutter speed on my camera because I like the action shots of the birds. It’s just a bit of a shame I can’t get them in the frame lol … the little buggers move too quickly. This could have been a really good shot, sadly it isn’t but I still quite like it.

056bI got them when they landed though :).

There were seeds put out at various spots in the park, including on these stone gate posts at one entrance to the woods and in the bushes behind the chapel and  loads of different small birds were bouncing back and forth. They didn’t seem to mind grown ups, but they disappeared pretty quickly anytime a small child or a dog appeared (which was quite often). I could have sat there for ages and taken hundreds of pictures on the off chance of getting a couple of good ones … but that doesn’t tick the exercise box.

059bI stayed long enough to get this slightly out of focus photo of a willow tit though (the stone post is in focus though lol).

086bAnd later we found this guy, which I am going to say without any authority at all is a carrion crow. I like the texture of his feathers… and the ‘don’t mess with me’ look on his face.

Had a better second day at work yesterday. It went smoothly and we were out of there by 6.45pm :) That’s a good day.

Hopefully, today will go just as well.