Sunday, December 06, 2009


One of the problems with failing to blog for such a long time, apart from forgetting some details, might well be choosing a single image to represent the whole period  so I've included a few this time. However, my flickr posts act as a good reminder, as I am better about keepng those up to date. I'm going to start with the present and work backwards. After an unpromising forecast, the weather this weekend is proving very pleasant; plenty of blue skies. I decided to stay local and have a stroll along Rivelin Valley. The recent rain meant the river was quite swollen and everything was looking very nice in the winter sunshine. There was a surprising number of fungi, especially jellies and brackets, a number of inkcaps and oyster mushrooms. On the bird front, I managed a couple of reasonable shots of a grey wagtail, and a sweet one of a robin. The Heron of Doom flew overhead.
Last weekend, the weather was so foul, I didn't get out, so it was a bit of a lost weekend, but the one before saw me walking from home up to Stacey Bank on Loxley Valley. The Enviromnment Agency work at Malin Bridge makes it look very bare, but now you can actually see "Watersmeet" and I'm sure that in time, it will benefit from the clearance and new vegetation will soften the edges. There were quite a few Canada geese near Damflask and some nice bracket fungi around.
The previous weekend, I went to Old Moor. It was a cold, dull day, but there were quite a few birds around - including a few new for me, including goosander and green sandpiper. I managed a few reasonable pictures before the heavens opened; I got a good soaking on the way home, so a good excuse for mulled wine!
The week before that I set off to walk along Loxley Valley, but by the time I had got to Malin Bridge, I was already very wet. I was determined not to return, and putting my faith in the weather forecast, I decided to have a bit of a mystery tour, so bought a South Yorkshire Day Tripper on the tram and decided to keep going until the weather improved, catching the first local train available at the station. I ended up at Elsecar and as the sun came out, had a pleasant stroll around the res. As always, there were several Great Crested Grebes - as advertised on the information board. I was also treated to a sighting of a stoat (I say this with conviction, as I saw it's black tail tip), a blewitt, and some rather fine Phellinus igniarius (picture chosen!) on willow.
Can you see the face with its fine hat?
The week before was half term; we had a rather splendid few days in Sherwood Forest. I have been promising myself a trip to Creswell Crags for a number of years now, so it was incorporated in this trip on the outward trip. Well  worth a visit! It is amazing how this remarkable and atmospheric limestone gorge is only a stone's throw from the unspectacular scenery of this area on the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. The new visitors' centre is very good, and the cafe is to be recommended. We finished that first day with a stroll round the forest, and managed to get lost as it was going dark. The following day, we walked around Clumber park, and on Saturday, we did an extended  superb walk through the Sherwood forest and its surrounding area. This photo is of one of the finest areas of the forest near the centre tree. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Watching Autumn

Last week saw the annual Fungus Foray, Sloe Hunt and Bacon Buttie Bonanza. We had a modest haul of boletus badius, some hygrocybe pratensis, a couple of lactarius deliciosus, a slippery jack and a negligible number of field mushrooms for the pot. I've been surprised how few field mushroons there have been this year. Of the non-edibles, plenty of blushers as always, a fly agaric, and some hygocybe, russula and tricholoma that I wasn't organized enough to pin down. It was blowing a gale on the tops so it was hard enough staying on our feet without faffing around with books, cameras etc. We also gathered a respectable number of sloes, and thanks to the stong wind, I also managed an unusually large number of hazelnuts. So, some of the mushrooms went into an autumn stew with home grown borlotti beans and garlic and some butternut squash, the sloes are percolating nicely in gin, and I'm considering making some hazelnut liqueur.
This week, I fancied a trip out to Old Moor. It was a lovely day so I had a leisurely bus / tram / train / bus ride out there, and a stroll round the hides in the afternoon sun. There was plenty about: cormorant, lapwing, teal, wigeon, tufted duck, heron (of course)  golden plover, mute swans, canada geese, coots, moorhens, a wader (godwit?) siskins, pied wagtail, and lots of other stuff I couldn't identify. Still lots of dragonflies around. I've been watching Autumnwatch and have posted a few photos on the flikr stream.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Misty Morning

Having deferred my foray from yesterday, I set off at dawn this morning . The sunrise was glorious, but as I approached Fox House, the cloud descended. However, the damp in the air gave the day a real autumnal feel and there were some interesting light effects as the sun struggled with the low cloud for ascendancy. Within 15 minutes of parking the car near Sir William Hill, I had found 4 ceps and a good collection of hedgehog fungi, saffron milk caps and meadow wax caps. Other fungi included brown birch bolete, blusher, snowy wax caps, fly agaric and brown roll rim. On the bird front, I saw wren, meadow pipit and siskins. Next week I'll be out with friends, so I'm hoping for good weather and a good show of edible mushrooms.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not quite autumn.

This morning's walk near Grenoside was a little disapponting on the fungi front. I found a few bay boletes and that was it for edible species. A couple of stinkhorns - "before " and "after" and a few russulae were the only other things spotted. On the bird front, I managed a photo of a wren, and spotted a jay. I also heard a woodpecker, along with a few other tantalising bird calls that I was, of course, unable to identify. The leaves are only just thinking about turning and the grass and other plants are past their summer flush, but not yet ready to die down.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Summer's end

It's a glorious Indian Summer, and today was the perfect day to go out early on a foray. There were plenty of mushrooms about, although the haul of edibles was relatively small there were some quality finds including these chanterelles, some saffron milk caps and hedgehog fungi, charcoal burners, larch boletes and a small orange birch bolete. I also found a large beefsteak fungus but it was past its best, and I'm not really a fan. I had hoped for some ceps or at least some bay boletes, but no joy. One of my usual spots for field mushrooms had been left ungrazed and had become overgrown so even if the mushrooms were there, it was impossible to see them. Other fungi seen include laccaria amethystea, amanita rubescens and fulva. I saw plenty of birds as well. Amongst those I could identify were goldfinch, and green woodpecker.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


It seems an age since we returned from a brilliant
2 weeks in Suffolk. Fabulous cottage, wall to wall sunshine, and great scenery and wildlife. Birds, especially marsh harriers, deer - roe and muntjac, butterflies and most notably dragonflies. The air was alive with them
The cottage was on Aldringham Common so there were lots of walks from the doorstep - to Thorpeness, Aldburgh, Sizewell beach, Minsmere and Dunwich Heath. Also not far away was Southwold, Dunwich and Orford, and Tunstall and Rendlesham forests.
Since returning, it's been back to work. We came home to masses of plums and apples, so there's been lots of jam-making and such going on. The dehydrator came out of storage today, and it's high time the seasonal mushroom forays began. Some decent weather would be nice. Still in the process of uploading holiday photos onto flikr - there are so many to sort through.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Something to blog about

July has come and gone. Wet, for the most part, and nothing to report in the way of walks. I can never work out why these periods of "inactivity" happen. I think it's a comlex combination of factors.
Last Saturday, however, was definitely the highlight of the month, and something to blog about. Richard Bell, whose online diary I follow assiduously (see links) was leading a workshop on "drawing on reserves". It was one of those days where everything comes together. The event was organised by Kirklees Countryside Unit in the form of the lovely Simon. The location was great, because it was a lovely spot, and the meeting point was right next to the station at Stocksmoor. Best of all, the weather was perfect. Dry, sunny and warm (not hot!). It was lovely to meet Richard. He is just as I'd imagined him from his diary, and although I have to say, I did not come away with lots of fabulous drawings, I did come away feeling inspired to get drawing again, a real pleasure that I have been neglecting since my night classes finished.
On the gardening / wildlife / photography front, things have been a bit sparse. I have been fairly conscientious about my bird feeding station, and that is paying dividends. I have regular visits from a bullfinch, and more recently a greenfinch, which are new to the garden, alongside the usual sparrows, tits, blackbirds, woodpigeon and collared dove, as well as the less welcome magpies (they make a mess of the feeding station and terrorise the other birds). The blackbird pictured, although it looks scary, and seems to have startled the sparrow, is not such a problem. It hoovered up the windfall cherries from our tree, of which there were many.
The garden accelerated a little in June, what with the fine weather, although the recent cool, and very wet July has slowed it down again. Yesterday, I lifted the garlic as they had all fallen over, and put them in the greenhouse to dry, as the ground outside is so cold, wet and heavy at the moment.
I suspect next time I blog, it will be on return from our hols. I'm keeping everything crossed that the weather will improve, so watch this space, and hopefully my flikr for a flurry of fabulous photographs.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Old Moor again

Yes, I know it's an RSPB reserve, but
when I went yesterday, the insect life was just wonderful! And where would the birds be without them? Apart from that, my bird photos were really not that brilliant. Saw quite a lot of birds, though, mainly black headed gulls, but also great crested grebe, grey heron, greylag goose, canada goose, wigeon, tufted duck, coot, oystercatcher, ringed plover, lapwing, redshank, dunnock, tree sparrow and chaffinch. Quite a few had young, and I was amused to see that coot chicks have orange heads. What's that all about? Seen quite a few jays over recent weeks. One was pretending to be a crow - standing in the middle of the road - and there was one in the garden this morning. Had to go out to stock up on bird food this morning. A family of house sparrows are eating us out of house and home. My local B&Q doesn't do bird food during the hanging basket season, so I had to go up to the garden centre as well. At least our front door which had been numberless since we had a new one installed is now displaying its shiny new number 17 proudly.
Last week I did a little bit of the missing part of the Barnsley boundary walk, but I kept getting lost, it wasn't especially nice, and I had just decided to abandon it for the day when I finally saw a BBW sign. Perhaps I'll try and finish the 2 remaining legs before we go on holiday. They are pretty long and will take a bit of travelling to and from so I should really take advantage of the long days.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Auld Reekie

As suspected, the new job is taking its toll on other activities. That's not a complaint or an excuse, just a fact of life. However, we got full value last week from a weekend in Edinburgh. Back in the dark(ish) days of March, I discovered I had won 2 nights DB&B for 2 in a hotel in Edinburgh. How great is that? It could have been almost anywhere, but Edinburgh would have been my first choice!
On arrival on Friday afternoon, we split up to do a bit of shopping in the new town, dodging the tramworkings which have turned the area into a nightmare for motorists, and even we users of public transport had trouble figuring out which way the buses were going. Yes, they all stop on George street, but the direction of travel is not so obvious as when they stopped on Princes St, as we discovered to our cost on one occasion. We finished off with a quick trip out to Ocean Terminal on the bus.
The free evening meal turned out to be rather good, so we had no mixed feelings about eating in the hotel rather than finding a nice restaurant in town for Saturday night.
Saturday started with fine weather. We got a bus across to the Botanical Gardens - one of my favorites - and spent an enjoyable hour or so wandering around and dodging an occasional shower before joining the Water of Leith Walkway at Stockbridge and following it through Dean Village (see photo - I'll put a few more on Flikr) as far as the Museum of Modern Art. I've done the walk in its entirety twice now, and would strongly recommend it for its varied scenery and wildlife. It's hard to believe you are so close to the centre of a huge city. The Museum has a gateway leading from the walkway, and I promised myself I would visit it on my next trip. The amazing thing was meeting people we knew from Sheffield in the cafe. The first time I did the walk, I also met someone I knew near the start of the walk. The gallery itself was interesting - worth a visit, but I can't say there was anything unforgettable in there. The most impressive stuff was Damien Hirst works - as with so much art, it has to be seen in real life to have its full impact. We both liked one of his "turntable images" best, and seeing a lot of his anatomical / pharmaceutical stuff all displayed together made much more sense of it.
On emerging, we found the weather had deteriorated. We hopped on a bus and went out to Musselburgh. I love the Esk estuary, and the beach with its thousands of mussel shells and lumps of driftwood. Sadly, it was freezing cold and wet by now. We braved it briefly, and saw lots of martins, gulls, swans, and what we thought were clods of earth on the banks from a distance, turned out to be dozens of huddled eider chicks and mums.
We had plenty of time to enjoy Sunday, and despite an unpromising start, we decided to go out to the north east of the city, onto the Firth of Forth, near Silverknowes. The weather improved as the day wore on, and we had an excellent walk along the promenade, seeing oystercatchers, shelduck, herons, and more eiders. We continued our walk by following the River Almond walkway from the Firth with its small picturesque harbour upstream for a couple of miles. It was just magical! After catching a bus back to the city centre, we stll had time for a late lunch and a stroll along the Royal Mile. It was obvious from the comments of some of my Twitter friends that we had been incredibly fortunate with the weather: it had obviously been very cold and wet in England, providing a suitably high water table for the torrential rain on Wednesday which brought the railways a chaotic state on Thurday for my work trip to Banbury - apparently because of flooding at Dore!!!
So this weekend has seen me neglecting my walking in order to catch up with jobs at home. But the weekend in Edinburgh was well worth getting a bit behind. What a superb city it is!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I can't imagine why I've never walked through Wharncliffe Wood and along the Crags before now. It's not that far from home. Yesterday I finally put that right as I reached leg 9 of the BBW. And what a glorious day for it! Within minutes I heard my first cuckoo of the year and watched a great spotted woodpecker swerve across the path. Butterflies were aplenty, but moving so fast in the heat of the day, that photographing them was impossible. The only half-decent bird photo I managed was a chaffinch with a juicy morsel in its beak, but I did find a nice clump of coprinus micaceus and a pink slime mould. Apparently slime moulds do move, but so slowly that even I could manage a photo. Thank goodness for wild flowers! The bluebells are nearly over now. I'm sure there are a lot more buttercups than usual this year - they look so cheerful, and the foxgloves are just about ready to flower. They always remind me of a brilliant trip to Mid-Wales one flaming June, many years ago now. I chose this cranesbill (cut-leaved, I think) as my blog photo as cranesbills are one of my favorites, both in the wild and in the garden. As usual, there are mor pics on Flikr. I also saw green alkanet, yellow pimpernel, the lovely germander speedwell.
I made a start on leg 10. I was hoping to get as far as Midhopestones, and count the section from there to Langsett as done (completed on one of Rob's walks), so my next leg would be Langsett to Dunford Bridge. Realistically that was never going to happen, so I'll have to fill that gap in a week or 2. Of to Sunderland for work next week, and then a weekend in Edinburgh next weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

High Green to Oughtibridge

Once again flowers were the top attraction of the walk. Bluebells still very much in evidence as well as field pansy, crosswort, ladies' mantle, self-heal, and red campion. Lapwings and greenfinch were the main birds of note, and painted lady and this beautiful delicate green veined white the butterflies. The first part of this walk was mainly field and meadow walking - very pleasant for the most part. The best bit was the section of Wharncliffe Woods between the Hollow and Oughtibridge, which was magical in the dappled sunlight. I got a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to spot where I had to break out for Oughtibridge and the bus home because once past this point, there is no escape for several miles as the path turns north and tracks the River Don and the railway line with the road on the far side. . It was faily clear, as it happened, and I emerged at a point which was the nearest that BBW passes to home. The next leg should be pleasant and straightforward, but the problem with the final sections will be transport, as the route sweeps out into a hard-to-reach part of the Peak District.
At home, the garden is growing furiously, and soon my favorite section will be in bloom. The combination of a warm and dry April and a mild and wet May have meant that things are growing quickly. The thuggish rose on the arch has more flowers than ever before and I'm just hoping that the squash plants, which have been disappointing for the last few years, will take off and produce some fine crops.
There have been lots of swifts overhead recently, and on the feeders there seems to be a proliferation of house sparrows, and great tits. There has been high drama over the last 2 days, firstly as an unfledged blackbird looking very sorry for itself, found itself on the patio. Not sure what was its fate, but I think it might have managed to get under cover of the undergrowth. Then today, the presence of a very bold little tabby high up in a neighbour's tree caused pandemonium with a number of blackbirds and magpies collaborating successfully to drive it away. Calm has now been restored.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Barnsley Boundary Walk resumed

No big surprise that the new job is curtailing my leisure activities. I don't resent that, though, as the job is bringing lots of other new experiences and challenges. The lousy weather recently is also making me focus on other things that need doing - you don't mind getting on with the practical and mundane tasks quite so much when there is little prospect of pleasant sunny walks.
Last week, I resumed the Barnsley Boundary Walk - leg 7 and a bit of leg 8, from Elsecar to High Green. Very little of it was new as the first part duplicated one of Rob's walks, and the latter part a section of the Penistone line walk in reverse. It was a fine but gusty day and there was not a lot of bird or animal interest. I saw goldfinches in Elsecar park, but there was not a great deal wildlife on or around the res unless you count fishermen. There was also a warbler of some kind, but no idea which one, and a thrush which I managed a photo of (see flikr). Again, don't know whether it was song or mistle. The books are really not helpful. Yes, one is bigger than the other, but just try getting them to stand side by side for comparison!! A pied wagtail in St Peter's churchyard, but not even a kestrel at Tankersley. Surprisingly, saw quite a few butterflies: peacock, small tortoiseshell, orange tips and quite a lot of speckled wood. The real triumph was the profusion of wild flowers: bluebells, of course, pink purslane, speedwell, forget-me-not, honesty, cuckoo flower, vetch (bitter vetchling?) herb robert, violet, yellow archangel, white dead nettle, and wild garlic in such profusion it was breathtaking (the photo really doesn't do this patch justice).
Close to home this week, saw a jay from the window, swifts earlier in the week, and housemartins. The tits (mainly coal and blue) and blackbirds are keeping busy and a pair of house sparrows are regular visitors to the feeders. Haven't spotted any robins or bullfinches for a little while.
In the garden, the beans, courgettes and squash are getting planted out today. There doesn't seem much point in holding off. The forecast is not good - lots more rain on the way, but at least the roots will get a chance to take off - if they aren't washeded away! A bit of pricking out and salad sowing under the cover of the greenhouse is in order, then maybe a bit of sewing, sketching and, as a last resort, ironing later. Next weekend, the extra day off will be an incentive to get out and about at least once. The next leg of BBW will take me through some great woodland towards Oughtibridge. I'm off to Northampton and Swindon during the week, so perhaps a bit of birwatching from the train.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Another day, another county

Today the weather was not quite so kind, but a spring fungi and bluebell walk was in order, so off we went to a lovely woodland near Bawtry. We didn't find the hoped for prizes, but A very fine cluster of Jew's ear and some splendid hoof fungi provided the fungal interest, and the bluebells didn't diasappoint despite the lack of dappled shade.
Meanwhile, in the garden, the bullfinch is still putting in a regular appearance, as are some greedy starlings, a robin, dunnocks, collared doves, blue, coal and great tits. Next weekend, I am determined to do a long, leisurely solo walk so I can concentrate on the photography and wildlife. I just hope the good weather returns. More pics on Flikr.

Glorious Peak District

I've been doing so many walks in the Barnsley area recently that I've been a stranger to the Peak District, especially the White Peak. Yesterday that was remedied in the shape of a reunion of colleagues from my first ever school. A very special lot they are too! We had a lovely walk from Youlgreave, organised by Pete, who lied about the hills, but we forgave him. As much time was spent chatting and catching up with friends from long ago, the fantastic scenery, although it was a wonderful backdrop to the day, did not get my full attention, and the wildlife was largely out of the corner of my eye. I did see an Orange Tip - something I hadn't seen for a while, and one very special highlight was this slow worm basking by the side of the round. Slow worms don't give much away, but I imagine it was bemused by the attention it got.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mission accomplished!

Did the final walk on Friday. And very nice it was too. Pity the weather didn't brighten up till after 2, by which time I had done the bits with the best views. It took me round the reservoir at Langsett, and down to Midhopestones. Saw quite a bit of bird life - grouse, curlew, wigeon, stonechat, skylark, lapwing, and a good sighting of a weasel. He was too fast for me to photograph, but I know where he lives. As St George's day approaches, the eyes can't help but drift downwards. Here is a beautifully gelatinous blob of Witch's Butter (exidia glanulosa). Perhaps an outing for morels might be in order in a week or 2. The new job will keep me busy, but the light evenings will have to be capitalised on, as will the weekends. I have a few things lined up, then it will be back to the Barnsley Boundary walk. I also like the look of the Dearne way, which I sampled neat Bretton Hall. South Yorkshire really isn't so shabby when it comes to great countryside, and I haven't even got to grips with the Donny area yet. Did a short walk this evening down the Upper Don to the canal basin.It was very pleasant; I hadn't realised the extent of the gentrification through Neepsend and beyond.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another walk.

This is not the heron of doom, but an altogether kindlier creature minding its own business on the reservoir at Worsborough. Yesterday I completed the penultimate of my Barnsley walk checks. A superb walk which took me to Worsborough Mill and Country Park and on to Stainborough Park and Wentworth Castle. Spring was much in evidence and the tally of birds and wild flowers was pretty impressive (not that I'm keeping a tally, you understand.)
Birds: herons (more than you could shake a stick at), Canada geese, goldfinch, grebe, mute swans, mallard, kestrel, and many more I couldn’t name
Flowers: the bluebells were just starting – amazing as there was no sign of flowers just a few days ago – but the real glory were wood anemone and celandine in huge swathes; also violets, primroses, wild garlic, hedge garlic, marsh marigold, butterbur....

The people at Worsborough Mill were incredibly nice and helpful, and there was so much bird and plantlife in such a small area that I really must go again soon. A full day at Stainborough Park and Wentworth Castle Gardens is also warranted. Even the god of public transport was smiling on me, as my journey was almost seamless there and back, giving me plenty of time to enjoy the many sitting opportunities on this walk. Sadly, the chance of a NCOTASD was missed because of an unfortunately placed locked gate. Still, you can't have everything.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

penultimate week of freedom

The most interesting day this week was Wednesday when I checked another walk, this time starting in Yorkshire Sculpture Park, getting full value of my day tripper and getting by bus, tram, train and another bus to the very brink of Wakefield. The heron of doom was there to greet me as soon as I stepped of the bus, circling lazily over Junction 38. Rain had been forecast but my main problem was the wind. It turned out to be quite an adventure, as part of the walk went off the map so I was reliant on Rob's clear instructions to guide me. All very fine, till I realised I seemed to have mislaid a page of the instuctions. Fortunately, having read through prior to setting off, I remembered that the walk followed the Dearne Way for this section of the walk, so the waymarks saw me safely back into the Sculpture Park in good time for the bus home.
Learning about birds does not lend itself to multi-tasking with walk checking as well as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I was able to watch and take photos of this grey wagtail, and note a great crested grebe and some Canada geese and heard lapwing. I think a heightened awareness of birds and birdsong but not being able to pick up on what many of them are, is a frustratingly necessary stage of trying to become a more knowledgeable birder.
I finally got to the garden centre on Thursday and yesterday, seeds were sown: courgettes, borlotti beans, butternut squash and leeks. Today saw a bit of tidying and topiary, with occasional dashes for the binoculars and camera. A pair of starlings made a couple of visits to a hanging worm feeder; it's the first time I can remember starlings in the garden for ages. I could hear lots of different songs as I worked but I can't identify them, apart from the blackbirds.
Not sure how much work will get done in the garden when I start the new job in just over a week's time. I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm going to have to make sure I make time for the garden and walks. A new routine will be needed, if that's possible, with lots of travelling in prospect.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Grebes and other stuff

Been on two outings this week since our return from Spain. On Tuesday, we went to Old Moor. A completely different selection of birds from last time I was there; this time ther were lots of black-headed gulls and tufted ducks, and greenfinch and bullfinch at the feeding station. There were also quite a few great crested grebe, and what I reckoned was a camera shy little grebe. And of course, the heron of doom.
Yesterday did one of my walk checks, which took me to Elsecar, Harley and Wentworth. The weather was superb, so I took my time and enjoyed the sunshine and emergence of spring. 4 types of butterfly in early April: small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma and a very fast moving small white - not bad! At Elsecar res there were also several great crested grebes. Typical! Haven't seen any for ages then a load come at once. And needless to say, the heron of doom was there as well. See Flikr for more pics.


High time to get up to date. Been back from Andalusia a few days now. It was a really useful and interesting taster of the region. We talk about 4 seasons in one day here in the UK, but during the 6 days we were away, we had hot sunshine in Seville (over 30 degrees if those LED display things are to be believed) and icy cold sleet in Ronda. We had a guide who sounded just like Nicholas Parsons, which was weird because he spent most of the tour hesitating, repeating and deviating.
Difficult to say which were my favorite bits: the mosque in Cordoba? the Generalife in Grenada? the art gallery in Seville - Murillo, especially - what a pity he just painted religious paintings; his technique was awesome. Probably the ceramics everywhere we went, but especially in the Marie-Luise gardens in Seville.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Joys of spring

March is certainly doing all the things it's supposed too - especially winds. The pond is (as it should be) full of frogs. I seem to have been busy doing quite mundane things, but managed to have a brilliant day out on Thursday. Rob, the guy for whom I am checking got the idea I lived in Barnsley and so asked me to check walks there. This is why, in case any of my Twitter friends were wondering, I went to Stocksbridge via Barnsley. Now I expect you are wondering why Stocksbridge is in the Barnsley section of the book. So am I. But since it was such a splendid walk, I'm not too bothered. My fungus nose told me that it would be a an excellent walk to do in the autumn, so watch this space. It had a couple of nice woodlands, and some fine upland pasture - my favourite combination. In my new found role as a more active bird enthusiast, it was great on the top of Whitwell moor where I saw and heard grouse, curlew, lapwing and skylark. The views from the top where spectacular. The bus ride from Barnley was well worth the trouble. It took nearly an hour, but went an extemely scenic route. It also enabled be to indulge in another of my hobbies: ranting about public transport. As that is part of my research for the book I have a valid reason for asking those poor souls in the information (!) office questions like "how can you find out which buses serve a particular place?" I believe the best way of doing it is to go to that place and trawl up and down examining the information on the bus stops - provided of course they haven't been removed or vandalised. Not really satisfactory in the information age.

Anyway the walk itself was definitely one of the best I've done for a while. No bird pictures, I'm afraid, as I had my landscape lense on. More on Flikr. (click the title)

Sunday, March 08, 2009


So, new camera lense. Not one of the enormous wildly expensive ones, but one that means I can photograph birds without having to be too close, and then enlarge them on the computer screen to be able to identify them. It's quite a good way of learning to ID birds; they are such flighty things, not at all like fungi. Anyway, I've joined the RSPB and had a couple of outings to Old Moor, which is great. The Barnsley Boundary walk is on temporary hold, as I am checking some routes for someone who has a publishing deal for a local walks book. They are in the Barnsley area, but circular walks. Did a nice walk around Cawthorne / Cannon Hall last week, and saw this duck. I reckon it's a ringed teal. It was very pretty, as you can see. Perhaps I'll open a bird folder on Flikr!
Frogs have arrived in the garden pond - they appeared quite suddenly yesterday - more that 20. So lots of spawn soon, no doubt.