A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Friday 31 December 2010

End of 2010

The snow has gone for now and everything is looking a bit battered down ,but as the old year comes to an end and we look forward to the new one beginning there are signs of spring to come as naturalised snowdrops start to push there way up through the leaf litter.
Snowdrops are not native to the UK and are thought to have been introduced in the 16th century.They have naturalised well and are always a welcome sign that spring is on its way.

Monday 27 December 2010

Standing Dead Tree

This tree is dead but still standing and is a valuable habitat for insects and consequentialy woodpeckers. Although it looks dangerous the sap will have drained from the wood making it much lighter and less likely to cause damage when it does eventually fall.This is not to say I recommend loitering underneath.

Saturday 25 December 2010


Merry Christmas from Cotswoldyear.com

Friday 24 December 2010

Harlequin Ladybirds

Harlequin ladybirds.
We remember that last autumn there were lots of ladybirds around for a few days(but they didn't make a good photo). When looking at someone else's blog recently they mentioned the Harlequin ladybirds they had seen hibernating. This made us look again at the collection of ladybirds in the corner of our utility room. These too are Harlequin ladybirds, these are larger than the lovely seven spot ladybirds that we were used to in our youth and have 10 or more spots. They are the most invasive type of ladybirds on earth apparently and have been spreading across the UK since 2004.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Frozen Streams

The Ewelme stream in Uley makes a pretty sight in the winter weather partly frozen over.

Wednesday 22 December 2010


The apples which fell in the autumn have attracted the normally shy Redwings to our garden at last. We have seen and heard them and the Fieldfares around recently. This morning we were delighted to see that there were 6 of these delightful birds feasting alongside the 10 Blackbirds.
Most Redwings live in Northern Europe's forests and only venture west into Britain at this time of year when food is scarce.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Mole Hills

The little gentlemen in velvet jackets are still busy under the snow eating worms and excavating tunnels.With fresh snow it is easy to see where they are most recently active as they push up fresh earth. Much disliked by gardeners for spoiling the look of lawns they are actually quite useful in stopping the ground becoming waterlogged.

Monday 20 December 2010

Winter Tracks

Lovely walking conditions if not so good for driving. The frost keeps the ground hard and boots clean!

Sunday 19 December 2010

Bright moonlit nights

The Winter solstice is nearly here and nights are long and days short but at least the moon is nearly full and shining on the snow covered countryside giving remarkable views during the nightime. Pictured is the moon rising above the woods with the oak tree still hanging on to its last few leaves

Saturday 18 December 2010

Snow Showers

Beautiful wintry scenes today after a light fall of snow overnight.With no wind and freezing temperatures the snow clings to the trees and the snow sparkles in the occasional sunny spells

Merry Christmas

They won't find us up here will they?

Friday 17 December 2010

Old Man's Beard

The fluffy fruits of the wild Clematis are known as Old Man's Beard for obvious reasons.They decorate the hedges and old trees at this time of year.
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Tuesday 14 December 2010

Fog in the Vale

Foggy days can be very beautiful from the top of the Cotswold escarpment where the sun often shines when the vale is immersed in gloomy fog. The outlying hills stick out like islands in a white sea.

Monday 13 December 2010

Pub Fire

This is what you need on a Cotswold Country Walk in Winter,a nice pub with a warming log fire. This one will be well known to some of our followers as the Rose & Crown at Nympsfield.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Winter Oaks

More frosty foggy weather today clearing to winter sunshine.
Its a good time to appreciate the shape and delicate tracery of the bare tree trunks and branches .

Friday 10 December 2010


The weather has turned milder today but it is still a long time to the spring but the signs are there that nature is preparing. Hazel catkins are already forming ready to grow and scatter their pollen in the springtime.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Apples for the Birds

The remains of the apple harvest are still lying on the ground providing a welcome food supply for Blackbirds and Thrushes

Saturday 4 December 2010

Swan Feeding

Many of us like to feed wild birds in the winter but WWT Slimbridge takes it to another level with its swan feeds.By now around 150 Bewick Swans have arrived at Slimbridge and this is one of the few places you can observe wild Bewicks close up. Numbers should continue to increase over the next month.
The swan feed can be seen at 4:00 p.m. if visiting the centre or as in the picture floodlit evening feeds can be booked by parties

Friday 3 December 2010

Snow Showers

We have escaped the worst of the winter weather so far in our area but the snow still makes a pretty sight. The hard frost makes walking easier and cleaner as the mud is frozen. Fields are white and hedges dark outlining the boundaries like a map.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Christmas is coming

What is all this about Christmas Dinner?

Surely they can't mean me!
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Monday 29 November 2010

Hoar Frost

Another cold day today but the frosted branches of the trees and hedgerows look beautiful even in the fog

Sunday 28 November 2010

Winter evening

A cold and frosty day today with the sun not breaking through until a few minutes before sunset,but what a spectacular sunset!
With the ground hard with frost and little wind it was a very pleasant day for an afternoon stroll.

Friday 26 November 2010

Frost Hollows

Now the sun is lower in the sky its rays do not reach many Cotswold valley bottoms leaving an interesting contrast of green fields where the sun shines with frost remaining where it does not.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Evening sunsets

One of the amazing things at this time of year is that after a cloudy day suddenly the sun appears below the clouds in the south west towards the end of the day. One of the bonuses of being retired is that instead of being stuck at work waiting for 5 O'clock we can enjoy a stroll and see the full effect of the sunset. It is especially dramatic when it highlights the outline of trees which are now bare of leaves.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Uley Bury

What a superb day for a winter walk today with bright warm sunshine but frozen puddles.We took a stroll around the ramparts of the Iron age hill fort at Uley Bury and enjoyed fine views and had it almost to ourselves.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Feed the Birds

With the temperature dropping the bird-feeders are very busy in our garden. We have at least five different types of tits who call. There is usually a queue for the feeders as the birds wait in the surrounding bushes for their turn. The feeder with black sunflower seeds is much more popular than the peanuts at present.
We found it difficult to photograph the action as there are so many birds coming and going. We finally settled on this one which shows three of the types: Bluetit, Coal Tit & Great Tit. Other regulars are Marsh Tit & the delightful Long Tailed Tits which don't come as often but are usually in family groups when they do!
Other regular visitors to our bird feeding station include: Chaffinch, Robins & Dunnocks who have learned to help themselves to this feeder too; on the nuts the Greater Spotted Woodpecker & Nuthatch. Blackbirds & Thrushes are also feeding on the ground nearby.We are always hopeful of rarer visitors such as a visit last year from a Redpoll.

Sunday 21 November 2010


Mistletoe is now bearing berries.It is a parasitic plant most commonly found on trees in old orchards.
It's use as a Christmas decoration is recorded since the eighteenth century and legend says it must not touch the ground between cutting and removal after Christmas.Some say it should be left hanging until the following Christmas and will protect the house from lightning.The most popular tradition is that of kissing under the mistletoe when one berry should be removed,the practice should finish when no berries remain

Thursday 18 November 2010


Most of the leaves from deciduous trees are now lying on the ground and begining the slow process of rotting down and returning thir nutrients to the soil. Many insects live in the leaf litter and play their part in the woodland ecosystem.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Oak Trees

The English Oak is usually one of the last to loose it leaves hanging on to them tenaciously through the autumn gales when other trees have lost theirs
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Sunday 14 November 2010

Siberian Visitors

The arrival of Bewick Swans from Siberia is a sure sign Winter is not far away.
These birds make the journey to Severnside every year and usually come back to the same spot.
Swans are fed at WWT Slimbridge so large numbers appear here

Friday 12 November 2010


The Yew tree is notorious in that almost all of it is poisonous except for the fleshy red part of the berries which attract the birds.
Birds eat the berries but excrete the indigestible seed hence propagating the yew.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

What a difference a week makes

The Trees have lost many of their leaves in the last seven days and the glory of autumn leaves has been replaced by the more stark outline of the bare trees as shown in these two pictures of Coaley Wood
I like the sight of the shape of the trunks and branches and the different texture of the bark of the various tree species which is concealed by the leaves in the summer months.
Views to the valley are also opened up.

So the woods are still a great place to visit in the Winter months

Monday 8 November 2010


Wintering wilfowl gather in large numbers along the Severn Estuary escaping their northern breeding areas for the relative warmth of our shores.
This pair of Widgeon are finding plenty of grass at Slimbridge WWT after our mild autumn weather.
Numbers will continue to build over the coming weeks and the centre is well worth a visit over the Winter months.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Coaley in November

Still looking Autumnal but with many trees now bare of leaves as we move towards Winter.The view over Coaley towards the Severn Vale is stunning

Thursday 4 November 2010

Apples, apples, apples!

Well as predicted earlier in the year, autumn in our garden has brought a glut of apples. With the gales in the last few days the grass is covered with windfalls. So we have been busy pouring over the recipe books and so far created wonderful Apple Crumble, Autumn Chutney and for the first time a delicious Apple and Clove Jelly.

Tuesday 2 November 2010


A last look at the Beech leaves as most were blown off the trees today
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Monday 1 November 2010

Autumn Colour

It really has been a spectacular year for autumn colour with an early frost and relatively light winds.The Beech woods of the Cotswold escarpment are a magnificent sight in the autumn sunshine.

Saturday 30 October 2010


The Romans introduced the sweet chestnut into Britain and it is a delicious autumn crop particularly roasted. Chestnut wood is used for fencing and furniture.

Friday 29 October 2010


The autumn colours of the Acers are at their peak with leaves now starting to fall fast.No doubt one good gale will finish this spectacle for this year!

Thursday 28 October 2010

Maize Stubble

The tall fields of maize are now harvested and at the moment are popular feeding areas for birds gleaning the few remaining seeds before the stubble is ploughed in.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Autumn Walks

When we are fortunate enough to have a bright sunny day this is a beautiful season for a walk in the woods.
The ash trees have already lost their leaves but the beech and oaks are a spectacularly colourful sight.

Monday 25 October 2010

Winter Frost

Temperatures are dropping as winter approaches and the fields were white this morning contrasting with the golden colours of the autumn leaves

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Long Barrow

There is plenty of evidence in our area that we are not the first to enjoy this landscape.
Hill forts and ancient burial mounds are found at the top of the escarpment like this neolithic barrow around 5000 years old.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Rose Hips

These hips are the fruit of the dog rose,a common hedgerow flower.Hips were collected to make a syrup rich in vitamin C ,useful in the winter months when fresh fruit was hard to find.

Friday 15 October 2010


Maize in the Cotswolds is cut for animal feed and has a high yield for minimum input.It extends the silage making season into October.
It is an impressively large crop and causes problems when planted over footpaths but farmers usually cut a path through.