A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Saturday 31 December 2011


Blackbirds are looking magnificent at present and there are at least three male blackbirds in our small back garden despite the RSPB telling us that the males are solitary birds. Their sharp alarm call is heard as we appear and they quickly skulk off into the bushes. When we are indoors they can be seen sitting on strategic hedge twigs watching what goes on like this male.
They are a very common bird in most gardens, one reference we found gives the total as more than six million pairs in the British Isles.
Blackbirds appear in British folklore, writing and of course the nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence". For those children who don't like to think of the 24 blackbirds being baked alive it seems that the answer is in the timing. The pastry crust was pre-baked in the Tudor kitchen and the birds added just before the "surprise pie" was brought to the table.

Friday 30 December 2011

Winter trees

The delicate tracery of winter beech trees against the white cloudy sky shows even dull winter days can be beautiful in the woods

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Blue Tit

Many dislike the untidy appearance of a hedge cut with a modern hedge flail but the various species of tits seem to love all the bare branch tips where they perch waiting their turns at the bird feeders.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Winter in the woods

Winter walks on dull days still give interesting views. In Summer this old quarry which once provided building stone for local buildings is hidden behind a curtain of green leaves but now is clear to see with a lovely foreground of ferns

Monday 26 December 2011

Christmas Walks

Our traditional after Christmas Lunch walk was shorter than usual due to the dull and rainy conditions. It was still great to walk off a few of the extra calories in the fresh air in the very mild temperatures.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing all our followers a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
We hope you will continue to enjoy following the changing seasons with us.

Friday 23 December 2011

Clearing Skies

Quite a dismal rainy day today but at least the sky was clearing from the West around sunset.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Shortest Day

The Winter Solstice is here with today the shortest day of the year but with the mostly sunny weather and temperatures up to 15 degrees it did not feel very wintry. One couple was even picnicking on Coaley Peak

Wednesday 21 December 2011


We are now at the Winter Solstice and can look forward to days lengthening again although today's mild weather with sunny periods does not feel like midwinter.
We visited Slimbridge WWT today and were rewarded with views of a Bittern on the reserve.These birds are really well camouflaged and difficult to spot in the reedbeds so we were pleased to get a good view.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Sunny winter views

A lovely bright winter's day gave superb views from the Cotswolds . Now the leaves have mostly gone the countryside looks tidy and ready to start another year

Saturday 17 December 2011

Melting Snow

The overnight snow did not really settle but was enough to make a wintry scene on  Haresfield Hill today

Friday 16 December 2011

First Snow

We awoke to a sprinkling of snow this morning with the fields white for the first time this year.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Showers and Sunshine

Much rain and sleet over the past few days but we were able to dodge the showers and take a walk. Stormy clouds behind highlight the sunlit trees on Uley Bury.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Pollarded Willows

Trees may be bare but the orange bark of these willows are a fine sight reflecting the winter sunshine.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Clitocybe geotropa

 Fungus abounds in the damp Autumn weather and this species favours grassy woodland rides where we found it in an avenue of mature Lime trees.
It is said to be edible but I am no expert so don't take my word for it!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Burr Oak

The large growths on the trunks of burr oaks are highly prized by furniture makers and are sliced for veneers.
The burrs are caused by buds which do not develop into shoots but stay just below the bark or the tree.

Monday 5 December 2011


A beautiful cold but sunny day saw us wrapped up and out for a walk around the Westonbirt Arboretum. We enjoyed a wonderful spectacle of groups of thrushes calling as they flew around from tree to tree where they were feeding on berries. This Fieldfare was amongst them, beautifully marked but it didn't stay still for very long. Fieldfare and Redwing move in from the continent to take advantage of our milder climate. As the Scandinavian food sources becomes scarce they move into the UK to advantage of our hedgerow berries and any other fruit left over in the countryside, including windfall apples.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Red Admiral

It's December but because of the mild weather many insects are still active. We saw this Red Admiral butterfly resting on bramble in a hedge yesterday. Presumably it had been feeding on nectar from ivy which was abundant in the area.

Thursday 1 December 2011


These two male Pintail look so smart at this time of year as they come into full plumage. They have two long tail feathers which look like a pin hence their name - you can see it especially on the right hand bird. The pin makes up about one quarter of the bird's total length.
Pintail are large dabbling ducks, they also up-end to feed, showing off their cream patch & the pin. The female is brown & beautifully marked but not as distinctive as the male.
Pintail breed in northern Europe and many winter in the UK. The Severn estuary is popular & we often see them at WWT Slimbridge where this photo was taken.