A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Saturday 26 December 2015


 Marshfield Mummers perform their traditional Boxing Day play in the village of Marshfield every year. King William once again slays Little Man John at various places through the village in this ancient play enjoyed by locals and visitors.
Don't worry Dr Phoenix is there to come to he rescue.

Thursday 24 December 2015


 The fruits of the blackthorn are still plentiful in the hedgerows although they are starting to wither. Traditionally people wait until they are frosted before gathering but there has been little frost during this exceptionally mild autumn.
Now many pick the sloes and put them in the freezer, or prick them before adding to the gin so that the juices run into the liqueur.
Sloes also make a delicious jelly when cooked with apple. The sloes give it a festive red colour.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Blue Sky and vapour trails.

Days are short in December and many are dull and wet but the sky does clear sometimes and we had spectacular views across towards South Wales with lots of vapour trails from westbound jet aircraft as the sun was low at around 3.00pm yesterday.

Friday 4 December 2015

Willow in the sunshine

Weather experts have recorded November 2015 as the dullest in terms of sunshine for 86 years.
Today we were lucky along with other visitors to be treated to a brief sunny spell on our visit to Slimbridge WWT. The willows were showing off their many colours as the sap starts to rise in the bare stems, together with the pampas grass heads.
We visited at high tide and the estuary was a delight with flocks of Golden Plover, Dunlin and Lapwings swirling together with large numbers of ducks, geese and swans. December is a good time to visit.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Winter in the woods

Where does time go...it's a month since our last blog!
The landscape here looks decidedly more wintry each week with most leaves blown from the trees and under our feet as we tramp through the woods. 
A few younger trees hang onto their leaves and of course the holly and ivy remain green. 
The bare woods mean that bird life is easier to spot so keep an eye out like us.

Monday 2 November 2015

Bewick Swans Return

From late October the Bewick Swans begin to arrive from Siberia to spend the winter months in the milder climate of the Severn Estuary. This year the first Bewick arrived on 11th October which was the earliest ever recorded and the yearling was named accordingly as "Record Breaker" by WWT. This weekend others around twenty other swans have arrived in fact quite late.
These include Maisie BEW103 (above) one of the swans which has a tag radio transmitter so that researchers can track their flight paths. Scientists tracked Maisie as she flew from Oneg in Russia (just south of the arctic circle) to Latvia, Estonia and the Netherlands to Slimbridge.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Autumn sunset

Seems every time we look at the countryside it looks even more autumnal. After a rainy day the sun came out with its long shadows. With the clocks due to go back tomorrow morning we are enjoying the colours as winter approaches.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Autumn Acers

Autumn at it's most spectacular is with us as we found in a visit to Westonbirt Arboretum today.
A few more windy days and the leaves will be gone so enjoy it while you can.

Friday 9 October 2015


Now is a good time to see birds on migration and we were pleased to get a good view of a small group of wheatear on Uley Bury today.
After spending the summer in their breeding grounds mostly on open moorland the birds are now heading off to warmer climes in Africa for the winter

Sunday 4 October 2015

Autumn colours

The autumn colours are progressing in the Cotswolds as the trees turn. Last weekend on our afternoon walk we had misty conditions so that far views were hasy but nearer views ok.

Friday 2 October 2015

Autumnal mist and cobwebs

Spiders have been busy weaving cobwebs and the morning mist has covered them with droplets of dew making an impressive sight.

Monday 28 September 2015

Lunar Eclipse

Tonight's lunar eclipse coincided with a supermoon when the Moon is at its nearest to the Earth. The sky was cloud free so there was a fantastic view of the red moon.
It was well worth missing some sleep for as the next time this will happen is 2033.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Crane Reintroduction

 I know we have featured this several times before but congratulations to WWT , RSPB and others involved in their Crane Reintroduction Project.
On a visit to Slimbridge today we saw 13 Cranes including a family group of two adults and one fledged juvenile which we were thrilled to see fly off over the reserve.
How marvellous to see this amazing birds reintroduced and breeding in the wild.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Spindle Tree

It is the Autumnal Equinox so nights will now be longer than the days. The leaves of deciduous trees are changing colour before they fall and the Euonymus europaeus commonly known as the Spindle tree is one of the early ones to change.
This small tree has a hard dense wood and straight stems once used to make spindles skewers and clothes pegs.

Thursday 10 September 2015

Autumn Crocus

Autumn Crocus or Meadow Saffron is in flower now until October. Unlike the more familiar crocus we see in the spring only the flowers are present now as the leaves came earlier in the year. It is actually a lily and poisonous but has been used as a cure for gout.

Wednesday 9 September 2015


When we were wandering around Westonbirt Arboretum recently we spotted some Swallows flying around an Oak tree. On further inspection we realised that they were adult Swallows feeding some young that were sat in the top of the tree. We had never seen this happen before and thought you might be interested. If you look carefully you can see three youngsters.

Tuesday 8 September 2015


Autumn is with us and thistles are spreading their seed in  the breeze. This patch has a spectacular amount waiting for the wind to distribute over the surrounding fields,

Sunday 23 August 2015

Mint moth

You don't always have to go far to observe wildlife.
This lovely little mint moth  (Pyrausta aurata )   flew in through the bedroom window last night so I was able to capture it and release it in the garden.

Sunday 16 August 2015


Many of the fields in our area are already harvested but some are still standing and wet weather on Friday means this barley will have to dry out a bit before harvesting.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Juvenile Buzzard

This recently fledged buzzard is flying near our house and constantly calling and it's sound is very familiar to us recently.
Presumably it is not yet able to feed itself and still calls to parents for food.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Cinnabar moth caterpillars

The black and red Cinnabar moth has an equally striking orange and black larva which feeds mainly on ragwort  as was this one on the canal bank in Stroud.

Monday 27 July 2015


Autumn seems to be on the way as more fungus appears in the woodlands.
We are not experts but think this is Coltricia growing on an old tree stump, and performing a useful function breaking down the stump and returning nutrients to the soil.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Swallows on wire

What do swallows do on a wet Sunday? Just sit on the wires and think of Africa!

Thursday 23 July 2015

Gatekeeper Butterfly

Gatekeepers emerge in July and early August.They like damp areas near woods so no surprise to see them in our garden,
The rather strange name is thought to be due to their habit of resting with wings open often on vegetation near gateways.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Large Emerald Moth

Large Emerald Moths mostly fly at night but can be found resting in the daytime as is this one on a door. The adults fly late June to August and larvae freed on Birch,  Hazel, Alder and Beech.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Marbled White Butterfly

Marbled White Butterflies are enjoying the sunshine on Coaley Peak's limestone grassland. There were many of them flitting quickly about recently and eventually we managed to photograph this one on a Knapweed flower head which seemed to be the favourite flower.

Tuesday 30 June 2015


Midsummer brings a profusion of orchids to the limestone grassland of the Cotswolds. Today we saw pyramid and spotted orchids in flower on Coaley Peak

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Moorhen Chick

 Moorhen chicks can now be seen as they leave their nests which are normally hidden in dense vegetation.This small chick was being fed by an adult. They may have several broods but suffer a high rate of predation and this was the only chick visible.

Tuesday 23 June 2015


A few years ago greenfinches were common on our feeders but numbers have declined and we had not seen any for some time so we were delighted to see one today.Let's hope numbers are on the increase.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Mid Summer

The Summer Solstice has arrived and we are enjoying long days and  short nights and the sun is setting at it's most northerly point. We enjoy some beautiful sunsets over the Severn Vale from the edge of the Cotswold escarpment.
It has long been a time for celebration and feasting and we shall be enjoying a gathering in our lane this evening.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Summer meadow flowers,

Summer seems to be here today as the rain and gales have abated.
The limestone grassland of Uley Bury is looking good with a fantastic variety of wild flowers including ox-eye daisies, yellow rattle, vetch, buttercups and cinquefoil. Orchids should follow soon.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Shorn Sheep

These freshly shorn sheep looked happy a few days ago in the sunshine but the wind and rain of
the last two days must be making them feel chilly.
The unshorn lambs now look as big as their mothers.

Monday 1 June 2015


Gardening in the country seems to be a constant battle with rabbits which always like the tender shoots of new growth.This one is pruning a shrub but they particularly like anything freshly emerging in the vegetable patch!

Friday 29 May 2015

Tellima grandiflora

This plant grows abundantly in our shady woodland. It is a native of North America which has escaped from gardens in the UK and become naturalised.The  National Trust  recognises this as an invasive species.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Jet stream brings stormy weather

A stormy evening in the Cotswolds after a day of wind, sunshine, showers and even hailstones!

Monday 18 May 2015

Wild Garlic

 The leaves on the trees are now starting to shade the woodland floor and the last of the woodland spring flowers carpet the ground with white.
Wood garlic is my favourite and it not only looks spectacular but leaves and flowers are edible. The white flowers have a strong garlic taste and make an attractive garnish while the leaves are used in soups and pesto.

Friday 8 May 2015

Apple Blossom

The Apple blossom this year is looking good in our part of the Cotswolds. We have plenty of insects for pollination, no frosts and seems to have survived the gales earlier in the week. Fingers crossed for a good harvest of cooking apples later in the year.

Tuesday 5 May 2015


 Not a popular plant as it is an invasive weed in gardens and farmland alike but the fields full  of their yellow flowers make an impressive sight at the moment.