A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Friday 29 June 2012

Mallard Drake

Many ducks are now entering eclipse plumage as the breeding season ends and are looking rather drab and scruffy. Male Mallards, like this one, start to moult and they become flightless until their primary feathers are replaced. They gather together in mixed groups and skulk around in the shadows attempting to keep safe from predators.  Their iridescent green head together with the rest of the body become mottled with brown and buff feathers often making them more difficult to identify.

Monday 25 June 2012

Midsummer evening walk to a Badger Set

 Light midsummer evenings are the best time to take a walk in the woods and watch badgers.
We saw 12 around our local set and they usually come out to forage for food around 9:00 p.m. so for a few weeks now it is easy to observe them.
They do not see very well so it is best to stand off the paths so they run straight past you rather than nearly running into you!
It is a magical time to go for a walk in the summer twilight anyway and you will probably hear more badgers than you see.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Avocet Nesting

 It has been  a real treat this year to see avocets in our area.
Previously we have  only seen the odd one or two on migration but this year there have been at least two nests at Slimbridge.
The first pair fledged three young but this nest seems a bit precarious just above the water level.

Poppies in the wheat

Rain and wind have made it not seem like midsummer but between showers this field of wheat and poppies near Painswick looks suitably summery.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Bee Orchid

The bee orchid bears an uncanny resemblance to a bee sitting on a flower and some say it attracts other bees to pollinate it but in Britain they are self pollinating.
They occur on limestone grassland and sometimes in large numbers on disturbed soil.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Yellow Rattle

Yellow Rattle is a semi-parasitic annual plant found in grassy meadows and this year seems to be a good one for it as we have spotted it in quite a few places already. It likes calcareous soils like our limestone and is apparently found all around Britain. The yellow flowers later develop into brown inflated purses or seashells which rattle in the wind. 

Friday 15 June 2012

Moon Daisy

Despite the cool and wet weather with 50mm of rain  recorded so far this month in our garden we are approaching midsummer and impressive banks of moondaisies are in flower.This one is on the limestone grassland of the iron age hillfort at Uley Bury.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Summer Woodland

 Apologies for the lack of updates recently as we have been holidaying in Greece . While we have been away the woodland canopy of leaves has been established shading out the sunlight with the wood garlic dying back and leaving the woodland floor to the ferns.

Wednesday 6 June 2012


Vetch is a member of the pea family and maintains the level of nitrogen in grassland.
Although gardeners regard it as an invasive weed in makes a pretty sight in the wild.

Friday 1 June 2012

Limestone Grassland

Where grassland on the limestone of the Cotswolds has remained unimproved it is now supporting a huge range of wild flowers and grasses which make a spectacular sight in early summer.