A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Thin Woodland Soil

This recent quarrying for hardcore used on woodland tracks shows the underlying geology of the Cotswold woodland near Horsley.
The trees are growing in a thin layer of soil above the limestone so it is not surprising that some blow over in the winter gales.
The Inferior Oolite layer below the shale can be used for building but contains more fossils than the Great Oolite layer so is not so sought after,

Saturday 26 May 2012

Common Crane

The Common Crane once gathered in flocks on the Severn flood plains but was hunted to extinction in the 17th century.
Slimbridge WWT has a breeding programme and has released Cranes on the Somerset  Levels.
We were lucky enough to see these three which had flown up from Somerset feeding by the river at Slimbridge. The left hand photo is a captive bird at Slimbridge without the leg rings and radio transmitters which we saw on the released birds.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Olympic Flame

A lovely hot sunny day in the Stroud Valley today. Just right for carrying a flaming torch through town just as soon as they can get it lit! There seemed to be a problem as they struggled for several minutes to transfer the flame but all was right in the end.

Tuesday 22 May 2012


Hawthorn blossom known as May is prominent in the hedges now. The old saying of "Don't cast a clout til May is out" is said by many to refer to the flowering of hawthorn rather than the end of May.
The blossom was traditionally used for May Day garlands but was not taken indoors where it was said it would make your mother die!
Hawthorn is a member of the rose family and later in the year the red haw fruits are valuable food for many species of birds and animals.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Oak out before Ash

"If the oak is out before the ash we are in for a splash.
If the ash is out before the oak we are in for a soak."

This old piece of weather lore probably has more to do with ground water levels and the spring so far as although is has been a dry winter and spring we have certainly had a soak during the early part of May.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Beech Leaves

The fresh vivid green leaves of the beech trees are emerging in our local woodlands a summer approaches. Soon the leaf canopy will reduce light levels on the woodland floor bringing an end to the spring flowers.

Saturday 12 May 2012


The strange and ghostly flowers of the toothwort  can be found now in damp woodlands although it is relatively scarce.
The plant has on chlorophyll and is a parasite feeding on tree roots and named because of its similarity in appearance to discoloured teeth.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Wild Garlic

The strong aroma of wild garlic now permeates the woods as the plant comes into bloom.
The leaves and flowers are used in salads and flavouring for food.
The flowers especially have a strong garlic flavour - try some when you are walking in the woods!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Cuckoo Pint

The strange flowers of the wild arum are now in bloom attracting flies which become trapped in the lower part of the flower where they remain for several days becoming well dusted with pollen until the hairs trapping them wither and they are released to pollinate other arums.
The plant has many names including Parson in the pulpit, Lords & ladies and Willy lilly.

Friday 4 May 2012

Horse Chestnut flowers

Horse Chestnut or Aesculus hippocastenum trees don't belong to the chestnut family at all. Apparently they are native to a small mountainous area of the Balkans in south east Europe. These trees were originally planted in this country as specimen trees in parks and gardens. The Horse Chestnut flowers are spectacular now. Gradually they develop into conkers which ripen in the autumn and are so popular with youngsters.

Tuesday 1 May 2012


Swallows Swifts and Martins seem to be flying through in their hundreds this week. Not easy to photograph in the air but these swallows rested on a fence wire for a while.