A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Autumn Leaves

Leaves are already starting to change to autumn tints and this oak always seems to be one of the first to turn but usually holds on to its leaves after most other trees have lost theirs.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Brown Horse Chestnut Leaves

Many of the Horse Chestnut trees in our area have leaves changing colour and falling early due to the unwelcome activities of the Horse Chestnut Leaf miner which has been spreading across Europe from Greece where it was first seen in the 1970s

Thursday 25 August 2011

Pigeon Nest

Most birds have now finished nesting and raising young but I found this pigeon nest when pruning our hedge.
Young pigeons known as squabs were once a delicacy and my father used to tell me how in his youth on the farm they tied the legs of the squabs to the tree so that it would not be able to leave the nest and the adult would continue to feed it and it grew bigger than normal. They were later killed and baked in a squab pie. It sounds cruel but then food was short and pigeons were a pest eating crops so it made sense.

Wednesday 24 August 2011


Blackberries are abundant on the Brambles at the moment so now is the time to gather them and make some delicious blackberry jam.
We were out today dodging the showers to gather our harvest.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Jacob Ram

Had a lovely evening walk in Woodchester Park yesterday and spotted this impressive Jacob Ram last night. One of two on the National Trust grassland.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Combine Harvester

A fine day today, with sunshine and wind and the farmers were busy harvesting the wheat on our walk along the Uley valley with Smallpox hill behind. We took in the Town Hall teas in Dursley too and met up with other walkers out from Bristol. A beautiful time of the year to enjoy the countryside although tonight watching Countryfile we see that rain is forecast this week no wonder the farmers were busy.

Late Summer Grass

Where the grass has not been cut or grazed the seed heads blowing in the wind form a beautiful foreground to the view across Cam Peak and Longdown towards the Severn

Thursday 18 August 2011

Lambs separated from the ewes

At this time of year the lambs have been separated from their mothers. This way the ewes can be in good condition before they become pregnant later in the year.
In our part of the Cotswolds there seems to be plenty of grass for them to eat but we have noticed on our excursions to Herefordshire & Worcestershire how dry some parts are!

Tuesday 16 August 2011


The bright red hawthorn berries are now ripening in the hedgerows providing a rich food source for the birds and insects.
This hardy slow growing tree produces an impenetrable hedge and windbreak and is widely planted.

Sunday 14 August 2011


The elder berries are now ripening and many people gather them for wine making.We did try to make the wine once but found it rather bitter but just about palatable mixed with lemonade!
The syrup was traditionally made from ripe berries. The syrup was stored and made into a hot drink, a remedy for winter colds presumably as it was rich in vitamin C.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Broad Leafed Helliborine

Broad leaf helliborine is a woodland orchid now in bloom in Coaley Wood.This uncommon orchid is found in old woodlands and has a single flower spike with up to 100 flowers.Thanks to our keen eyed neighbour for pointing out these specimens.

Friday 12 August 2011

Oak Tree loosing a branch

Oak trees can live for hundreds of years but as the tree gets older from time to time branches fall. This is not a sign of an unhealthy tree because if all the branches survived the excess weight would bring the whole tree down so by this method the oak lives on.

Thursday 11 August 2011


Ragwort is in full bloom in the fields and countryside around here now. In certain parts of the UK it is know as Yellow Tops & Stinking Willie. Ragwort is responsible for half the cases of stock poisoning in Britain as it contains pyrrolizidine alkoloids which are poisonous to animals particularly horses, also we believe cattle & sheep. The animals will not normally eat Ragwort in the field as the plant has a bitter taste, hence its common name above no doubt. However if they are very short of food or when the grass containing ragwort is dried and made into hay, then it is dangerous as it looses its bitter taste & toxins cause damage to the animal's liver. Humans should also beware too as if Ragwort is handled toxins can get into the bloodstream and cause skin irritation & other problems.

Sunday 7 August 2011


Sloes are ripening in the hedgerows now. Is this a sign of a hard winter ahead?
It will be some time before they are ripe enough to use but we are looking forward to having a go at making some Sloe Gin this year now we have more time. We remember our elderly neighbour (now deceased unfortunately) plying us with Sloe Gin on many occasions.

Thursday 4 August 2011


Summer moves on and plants are setting seeds. The flowers of the thistle have changed to a fluffy white down blown in the wind to distribute the seeds far and wide.

Wednesday 3 August 2011


Still summer evenings give ideal conditions for hot air balloons which can often be seen over the Berkeley Vale

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Black Tailed Godwits

Black Tailed Godwits are now to be seen on the estuary and nearby pools as they pause on migration. The ruddy red coloured birds are still in their summer breeding plumage but some have already changed to their less colourful winter feathers. They ceased breeding in the UK in the early 19th century when they were hunted as a delicacy but are now protected and seen on migration and in the winter months.

Monday 1 August 2011


The limestone grasslands are now bright with the pale blue flowers of the harebell which thrives in dry grassy places often on poor shallow soils.
Folklore gives the origin of the name from the use of its juices by witches to turn themselves into hares.