A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Saturday 31 March 2012


Kingcups or Marsh Marigolds are a member of the buttercup family which grow in marshes, ponds & other wet places in this part of the country. Kingcups are one of the most ancient of our native plants as they are said to have survived the ice age. They have large yellow flowers (between 1 & 2" in diameter) with large bright green kidney shaped leaves. These Kingcups looked stunning at Slimbridge and reminded us of childhood days when Kingcups were more common in the countryside before many wet areas were drained to improve farming efficiency.

Friday 30 March 2012


The Arboretum at Westonbirt is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year and the Magnolias are particularly spectacular at the moment. Petals are falling fast though so be quick if you want to see them.

Wednesday 28 March 2012


Today at Slimbridge WWT we spotted our first family of mallard ducks. Mallards pair up in autumn and start nesting in early March, incubating the eggs for around 28 days. There were twelve little ducklings with mum and dad taking in the sun's rays in a sheltered spot. Ducklings stay near to the mother duck so that they can learn where to forage for food as well as keep warm and protected. The drake apparently stays around at this stage of the season as the pair may have a later brood, especially if the first one is predated. Drakes are typically not involved in helping to rear the youngsters.
We also saw our first Swallow flying low over South Lake collecting water. Summer it seems, is just around the corner.

Bumble Bee

It is good to hear the insects around in the countryside now that spring is here.  This Bumble bee was making use of this early flowering Hellebore in our garden recently although Bumble bees seem to have been quite active throughout the winter in the Cotswolds this year. Bumble bees nest in the ground in colonies but drones and workers die off in autumn leaving only the queen to hibernate over the winter and start a new colony in spring.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Pussy Willow

The buds of the Pussy Willow are bursting into bloom. Trees are either male with yellow catkins or female with grey catkins.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Spring comes to the hedgerows

Hawthorn and Blackthorn are two of our most common hedge trees and move into spring in different ways. The Blackthorn or sloe comes into blossom on bare stems whereas the Hawthorn comes into leaf with blossom following later.

Thursday 22 March 2012


Watch where you tread as the adders , Britain's only venomous snakes are starting to emerge from hibernation and bask in the spring sunshine.
We spotted this one today on a visit to the Forest of Dean at New Fancy where we were also able to view Goshawks in flight.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Long Tailed Tit

We were delighted to find a long tailed tit nest in a berberis bush in our garden today. These delightful little birds build an intricate enclosed nest from moss feathers and wool covered in  lichens with a small entrance hole in which they lay 5 to 16 eggs.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Spring Equinox

It really feels as though spring is here and of course today being the Equinox it is officially the beginning of Spring. Night and day are of equal length today and the farmers are busy in the fields. Here we see the tractor preparing the grassland trying to get it in top condition so that his animals get the best nutrients. Firstly they harrow the grass to remove the dead matter and then they roll it to get rid of the clods/lumps and bumps. Rolling helps the roots of the grass get re-established in the soil which will reduce moisture loss and soil erosion. This could be especially important if we get the predicted dry summer or many more sudden downpours such as we have seen here recently.

The final treatment  is top dressing the grass with fertiliser.

Monday 19 March 2012


The first bluebells are starting to bloom in the woods.
We don't have the carpets of blue everyone loves to see yet but that will be along soon.
They are early this year , last year they were starting in early April.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Wood Anemone

The woodland floor is really greening up now with wood anemones and dogs mercury blooming in this photo.
Wood garlic and bluebell leaves abound with the first bluebells in flower very early this year.

Monday 12 March 2012


 Rooks are collecting nest material and squabbling  in the treetops as they build and repair their nests making it difficult to avoid the falling twigs when below.
They are gregarious birds and congregate noisily in large rookeries built in tall trees.
Rooks can be distinguished from carrion crows by the bald patch below the beak and the baggy trouser appearance of the plumage around their legs.

Saturday 10 March 2012


As the Snowdrops finally fade after nearly two months and the best display that we can ever remember in our garden, they are now replaced by these minature Daffodils. These cute little daffodils are now giving us a wonderful show together with the winter flowering heathers and primulas.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Spring Flowers in the hedgerows

Celandines, Primroses and Daisies are springing into bloom on banks and in hedgerows around here. As they push through and brighten up the grassy banks they remind us that the days are lengthening and spring is really here. Fresh colours of spring after the drab days of winter.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Spring Lambs

One of the joys of Spring is to see the young lambs playing in the fields.

Monday 5 March 2012

Green fields

Despite snow flurries the countryside is looking much greener over the last week as grass and crops start to grow.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Woolly lawnmowers

The uneven ground at Daneway banks is difficult to mow or cultivate so sheep are a good way of keeping the grass under control, and as a result this nature reserve is a fine example of unimproved grassland and a habitat of rare butterflies such as the large blue. The banks are also covered by the hills of the yellow meadow ant.