A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Monday, 29 August 2016

Hirondine Autumn Migration

 Summer is coming to an end and birds are heading south to spend the winter in warmer climes.
We counted around 300 mostly house martins on the wires near a local farm as they paused on their journey south. An hour or so later there were none left.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Willow Beauty Moth

Lovely little moth resting this morning just outside the front door. We hope we have identified it correctly by its feathered antennae and dark central cross line on the fore-wing.
Willow Beauty are apparently quite common and often rest on tree trunks you can see how well camouflaged they would be. Flight season is correct and can be attracted by lights at night. Also we have plenty of woodland nearby with suitable food plants for the larva such as Broad-leaf trees, Ivy and Honeysuckle.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Pheasant Nest

Pheasants normally nest earlier in the year so I was surprised to find this nest with 18 eggs when weeding our borders. Sadly the bird did not like being discovered and seems to have abandoned the nest

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Falling Sycamore

We have walked past this tree hundreds of times on a bridleway near our house and it never gave us any cause for concern.
Last night was a hot sunny evening with not a breath of wind when we heard a crack and the tree suddenly split up the trunk and fell over the path.
Just shows how unpredictable trees can be!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Hot air balloon morning

Still summer mornings bring hot air balloons over the valley. With the Bristol Balloon Festival next weekend we might see more of them drifting this way during the week

Monday, 1 August 2016

Black Tailed Godwit

It may be early August but for many birds the Autumn migration has started.
This black tailed godwit is still in Summer plumage but has left its marshy breeding grounds to spend the winter on coastal grassland and muddy estuaries such as our local Severn estuary.
The winter plumage will be a lot more drab than this brightly coloured bird.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Crab Spider

Wandering around our garden last night, came across this little spider on the Hydrangea.  Seems it is a  Misumena vatia or crab spider. They are apparently common in southern England in summer, usually found on yellow or white flowers and can change their body colour to match their background.

Not having seen one before we consulted the Internet where  www.uksafari.com/crabspider.htm
points out that you can sometimes see two faint lines on their abdomen which are apparent here. 
They sit on flowers waiting for insects to land close by so that they can pounce on them and trap them with their crab like front legs so guess this one is conforming apart from its choice of flower!


Now that we are at end of July high summer is here and we must make the most of it. The Honey Bees are busy visiting every flower to collect the pollen needed to make the honey to see them through the winter. Flowers like this Hogweed have developed petals solely for the purpose of attracting insects which act as pollinators.

Hogweed is the smaller cousin of the Giant Hogweed. It only grows to around two metres whilst the Giant Hogweed is up to four metres high. Giant Hogweed can cause blisters and rashes so it's best not to touch or pick it. If you aren't sure then just look and don't touch as you pass by. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Helleborine Orchid

The majority of the orchids which have been blooming  so spectacularly over the last month or so are now fading but the shade loving Helleborine is just starting to flower in Coaley Wood.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Elderflower cordial

I thought I might be too late but luckily found a bush which still had some young blooms yesterday. After twenty four hours of steeping it smells delicious. It freezes well too and a new tip I'm trying is to freeze the cordial in ice cube trays and just add one to a glass and top up with water. I'll let you know how this works...