A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Sunday 29 December 2013


The goldcrest is Britain's smallest bird and is usually seen flitting about in small flocks in trees so we were surprised to find this one on the ground sunning itself  near a yew hedge. It soon flew off into a nearby holly bush.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Winter wetland birds

Lovely bright sunny day today so we were off to Slimbridge for some superb winter birding. Thousands of Golden Plover ,Lapwing and Wigeon with plenty of Bewick Swans to see. An amazing spectacle and well worth a visit.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas to all

Merry Christmas or Winter Festival whatever you like to call it.
Lovely winter sunshine here in Coaley after the recent storms.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Happy Winter Solstice

Winter solstice is traditionally a time of feasting and merrymaking as we have reached the darkest time of the year and now the days will start to increase in length. Signs of springtime to come are already there with hazel catkins forming and bulbs of snowdrop and daffodil pushing up through the earth so Happy Solstice!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Trees in Winter

The stark beauty of trees in winter when all the leaves have gone is a joy of this season. Emerging from the fog we can admire the structure and delicate tracery of the branches.

Friday 13 December 2013

Polo Ponies

Horses are popular in our area and there seems to be no shortage on money to spend on them. These polo ponies make a fine sight in the winter sunshine.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Beech Woods in Winter

Now that almost all the beech leaves have fallen the woods are much more open and what sunlight there is reaches the woodland floor. Distant views have opened up again and without the canopy of leaves it seems a very different place here.

Monday 2 December 2013

Winter Oak Trees

Back from a week away and there are far fewer leaves on the trees now but as always the oak trees hang on to theirs after most have lost them.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Glossy Ibis

 We are used to migratory birds arriving from colder climes to overwinter in our wetland areas but sometimes birds from warmer countries arrive like these young glossy ibis. Some birds breed in Southern Europe and while most head for Africa in winter some end up in the UK.These two have been seen regularly flying in to roost at Slimbridge WWT at dusk.

Monday 18 November 2013

Misty Autumn Days

Fog can form in the vale when warm air above traps cooler air below and the hills rise like islands through the mist.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

First Frost

After a spell of mild weather the first frost of the season heralds the onset of winter in our area.

Monday 11 November 2013

Wax Cap Fungi

Warm damp autumn conditions have been ideal for fungi like these Meadow Wax Caps spotted on Selsley Common

Friday 8 November 2013

Golden Leaves at sunset

After a day of rain the setting sun came out briefly to bring out the autumn colours of the trees yet to loose their leaves. The Common Beech trees are looking particularly good at the moment.

Thursday 31 October 2013

Winter Wheat

We tend to think that autumn is a time when everything is dying back in preparation for the chilly winter weather ahead but many of next year's crops are already sown and germinating as the green shoots of this winter wheat show.
Crops like this need a period of cold weather when they become dormant before they resume growth and develop  into next year's harvest. They are planted immediately after harvesting the previous crop.

Monday 28 October 2013

Autumn Leaves

Still plenty of leaves and  autumn colour left in Coaley Wood despite the storm last night. At least one tree down but not as bad as we expected from the forecast.

Sunday 27 October 2013

White Bryony berries

Walking near Painswick yesterday was very pleasant in between the storms, the hedgerows have many different types of red berries which according to folklore predict a harsh winter to come.
At least the birds and other wildlife have plenty to feast on at present. The birds in our garden are not that bothered about visiting the feeders at present, there is plenty of other food around for them at the moment.
Write Bryony berries are very attractive as you can see below, but poisonous to humans. The leaves of the plant are the yellow ones which are dying but the berries look splendid in this old mixed hedge against all the other leaves.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

White Spindles

We spotted this interesting fungus in the fields above Uley today.
We had not seen this before but think it is Clavaria Vermicularis . The common name is white spindles which seems a good description of its appearance.
It is widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere but not common and is reported to be edible but not really worth the effort of collection!

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Autumn Colours

 Autumn colours are starting. Experts are predicting a wonderful autumn display this year due to the cold spring and warm summer. The trees have had perfect conditions to allow sugars to build up in the leaves which help to create the wonderful autumn colours.
We shall see whether they are right in due course. They say the peak will be towards the end of this month and the first week in November.
At the moment we are experiencing blustery conditions,  temperatures are still mild and the leaves are falling fast.

Sunday 20 October 2013


Walking today with the Cotswold Wardens in Ozleworth Bottom we wondered why seagulls were flying around the lake intent on something. Near the stream we found this claw and all was revealed. The stream has been invaded by European or Noble Crayfish.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Sunshine after rain

Nice sunset when the skies cleared after this afternoon's heavy rain.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Ploughing Championship

Now that most crops have been harvested farmers are busy preparing the ground for next years crops by ploughing.
We paid a visit to Herefordshire to watch the activity at the British National Ploughing Championship and marvelled at skill and enthusiasm of the competitors.
There are 15 different classes with competitors using modern tractors,vintage tractors or traditional horses to demonstrate their ploughing expertise and points are awarded for the accuracy and appearance of their entries.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Whooper Swans arrive

The arrival of migrating swans is a sign of the approach of winter and today the northerly winds brought not only cooler temperatures but the first three Whooper Swans probably from Iceland to Slimbridge.
Bewick Swans are more common here and will no doubt follow shortly.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Maize Harvest

 Contractors are busy harvesting maize and rapidly remove the impenetrable field of vegetation as we found when walking the field path. Maize is grown as feed for the livestock during the winter months

Monday 30 September 2013

Migrant Hawker Dragonfly

In the sunshine at the weekend we visited WWT Slimbridge and took one of the last Landrover Safaris of the season around the Reserve. It was a lovely experience, the Warden and his assistants pointed out these Dragonflies which were perching on the blackberry bushes in the hedge or buzzing around the grassland catching prey. These look like small Emperor dragonflies with a blue abdomen and a characteristic golf tee shaped mark on the second abdomen. Common in central and Southern Europe they are now often found in the UK.
We were also shown one of the last Hobbys of the summer and a newly arrived Merlin which is common during the winter on the Reserve. Also a Buzzard and a Peregrine Falcon feeding on a kill.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Migrating Hirondines

The autumn migration is always an interesting time and at present large numbers of House Martins are passing through and pausing a while to feed on insects over the fields. A few landed briefly on our house before continuing their journey.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Misty mornings

Now we are past the equinox and into autumn fine days are often preceded by misty mornings which can give interesting views as the mist swirls around the woods and the trees stand out from the background.

Wednesday 25 September 2013


Walking out and about in the countryside we have seen Fungi another indication that Autumn is here.
The misty mornings and warm days give suitable growing conditions.

Shaggy Ink Cap

Field Mushroom

Saturday 21 September 2013


We were lucky to view a small flock  of these delightful birds from the kitchen window flitting around the Fennel presumably catching insects. One of them posed for a moment and we managed to capture it.

We have also been visited by other small groups of Blackcaps and Long Tailed Tits. Guess it is all to do with the autumn migration. 

Thursday 19 September 2013


A lovely bright full moon tonight

Wednesday 11 September 2013


This spider has made it's web over the outside of the kitchen window which has given us a fascinating view of it catching its prey.  As the insects get caught and start to struggle the spider comes down and deals with them.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Yellow Plums

Autumn seems to have arrived and after a few days away we returned to see our plum tree ladened with fruit. The tree has been in the hedge for more than thirty years, before us even and didn't come with a name tag, so we just call it our yellow plum tree. 
They are delicious cooked but rather dry to eat raw.  Some years it is weighed down with plums and often the branches bend and break others years there are none. We knew from experience that we must pick and used them quickly. There are only so many stewed plums you can eat in a day so we have been giving them away, filling in the freezer and found a new recipe for plu and ginger jam which looks good.

Thursday 5 September 2013


The hedges are now loaded with the fruits of the bramble so it's a good time to get out picking to make jam or pies or just for a tasty snack while walking.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Grain Harvest

The wheat and barley harvesting is progressing in the Cotswolds and here the combine is getting a quick clean before starting the next field.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Autumn Crocus

Autumn Crocus or Meadow Saffron is a native plant of the UK and is found in damp meadows and woodland clearings at this time of year.
The flowers, only, appear in the Autumn when as here they push up through the grass, resembling a Crocus. The leaves appear in the springtime.

Tuesday 20 August 2013


 It is obviously a good time for paragliding as we counted 10 enjoying soaring in the air near our cottage yesterday.None as yet today though as the wind has dropped.

Thursday 15 August 2013


Ragwort is the tall yellow flower you can see growing here on Uley Bury. It is a native plant and its flowers are prevalent at this time of year in grassland and other waste areas.
As many may know Ragwort is poisonous to cattle and horses although they don't eat it when green as the plant is very bitter in taste so the animals carefully eat the grass leaving the Ragwort standing tall. 
The danger comes when Ragwort grows in hay meadows. Then when harvested and dried along with the grass it looses its bitter taste and should the animal ingest it, the Ragwort can cause cirrhosis of the liver. Luckily records of this happening are rare as farmers and horse owners are very aware of the problem.

Friday 9 August 2013

Woodlands green up again

 Recent rain has certainly greened up the woodlands especially when the sun shines through the damp leaves.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Harvest Time

The wheat harvest in under way but here a heavy rain shower causes a delay in proceedings.

Friday 2 August 2013

Stormy evening

Stormy evening over the Severn valley after a day of sunshine and gentle breeze.

Monday 29 July 2013


 Despite a national decline in the numbers of bees there seems to be no shortage in our garden.
We think these Bumblebees are Buff-Tailed.  There seemed to be many other types although they are difficult to identify as the busily buzz around!
They all seem to love these Globe Thistles or Echinops in our border.
Bumblebees often nest in the ground, you can find out more here.