A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Saturday 30 July 2011


This Spoonbill has been at WWT Slimbridge for 37 days now. The first time we saw one at Slimbridge some years ago we were just back from Africa and it only stayed for a few days.

When we caught up with this one a few weeks ago it was very active, rushing about with his bill down in the water most of the time. When we saw the Spoonbill yesterday he was rather sleepy but at least he was showing that he had a "spoon" bill as you can see above.

It is quite unusual to see a Spoonbill in this part of the UK especially being around for so long. Is it to do with our unusual summer...who knows?

Friday 29 July 2011


You may like us have seen small groups of sheep recently, often around the farmyard. Tups (rams or male sheep) are separated from the larger flocks of ewes (females) at this time of year. This helps the farmer in a couple of ways. The longer daylength and giving of supplementary feed means that they will be in good condition when their busy time comes to be put with the ewes. Keeping them nearby and giving this extra food means that they become used to human contact. In turn this makes it easier for the shepherd to put on the "raddle" a harness with coloured grease which marks the ewe's back showing that they have been served.

Sheep have a 5 month gestation period so the farmer is keen that the lambs will be born at a time to suit him either early in the New Year if he wants to sell the lambs for the Easter market or in the spring when the weather is kinder and there is more grass for them to eat.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Young Blackbird

Walking down our lane yesterday afternoon we spotted this young blackbird. It seemed too young to have left the nest but hopefully will survive. There was a parent not far away so we photographed it and departed. We hope the local cats and other predators don't find it.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Fire Weed

This impressive patch of Rose Bay Willow Herb is flowering in one of its traditional places on the railway embankment near Stroud. The plant is often spread along the side of railways by passing trains.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Hetty Peglars Tump

Our local ancient monument Uley Tumulus has been closed to the public for sometime for repairs as it was deemed in danger of collapse but we are pleased to see in is now reopened and you can now crawl inside this prehistoric burial mound again. The mound is around 5000 years old and was named after Hester Peglar in the 17th Century after the wife of the owner of the field.

Monday 25 July 2011


Hedge Bindweed is a surprisingly elegant flower which we would probably cultivate in our gardens if it was not such a rampant weed winding its 3metre long stems around our hedge plants.It is in flower from now until September and is a perennial growing back from its succulent white roots each year

Saturday 23 July 2011


We are back in Gloucestershire after a week's break in Greece and it is amazing how crops have grown in a short time with some fields harvested but this field of barley just turning golden brown.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Viper's Bugloss

Vipers Bugloss was so named as it was once used as a snakebite remedy. Farmers called it blue devil because of its deep roots and invasive nature.
It likes light dry soil and thrives on the top of the Cotswolds

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Views across the vale

Much farming activity can be observed from the Frocester Hill viewpoint with tractors and bailers harvesting the silage looking like children's toys when viewed from above.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Young Deer

We have noticed quite a few young deer around the fields recently. They seem to be much less timid than the adults but perhaps only the cautious survive.

Friday 8 July 2011

Sunshine and Showers

Showers have greened the countryside and the contrast of sun on the fields with dark rainclouds above makes an impressive sight

Sunday 3 July 2011

Scarlet Tiger Moth

I originally posted this as a Garden Tiger moth which is nocturnal but after consultation with a wildlife trust volunteer we decided it was a Scarlet Tiger moth which flies in daytime and is most common in Gloucestershire so I have changed the post.

Bull put to work

This British Blue bull has just been put out to do his "work" with his herd of cows to produce calves next spring.
The British Blue breed has been developed from the Belgian Blue since the 1980's and our local farmer has been instrumental in helping this process. These animals are bred for their low fat meat which fetches a premium with butchers and consumers even when crossed with non pedigree cows. Luckily for us they have good temperament and don't mind us crossing the fields on the public footpaths. This is useful for the farmers too as they need to be able to handle the bulls especially when showing them.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Self Heal

Selfheal is a native British plant which grows both in short grassland where its purple heads appear on short stems, but it also grows in woodlands on longer stems so easily adapts to conditions. It grows in most types of soils except those that are very acidic. We have noticed it doing well this year especially on untreated lawns around here and very pretty it looks too.
Its name is thought to have come from its reputation as a healer of wounds. Selfheal is said to have antiseptic properties and so was historically used to treat cuts and as a mouthwash and gargle for throat infections.

Friday 1 July 2011

Summer patchwork of fields

Summer moves on and the view across the Vale is changing as corn turns golden and grass is cut resulting in a patchwork of green and brown.