A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Thursday 29 December 2016

Walking off Christmas

After Christmas we have had beautiful sunshine and time to get out with family to enjoy the countryside. Here walking around Uley Bury hillfort with views towards the Severn Valley and the hills of South Wales.

Sunday 11 December 2016


Large numbers of Redwings have arrived over the past week or so and have been busy stripping the trees of their berries.
These thrushes spend the summer in the conifer forests of northern Europe and migrate to our warmer climes in the winter.

Sunday 4 December 2016

Winter Sunshine

We have enjoyed some beautiful sunny days and frosty nights recently but the sun is low in the winter sky and where it does not rise above the hill the fields remain white.

Monday 7 November 2016

Bewick Swans Return

 Colder weather brings the return of the Bewick Swans from their summer breeding grounds of Siberia to our relatively balmy climate.
Numbers have been dropping in recent years and the WWT Flight of the Swans campaign aims to bring the attention of communities along the migration route to the plight of the Bewick Swans.
Let's hope they are successful in saving these beautiful for future generations.


Sunday 6 November 2016

First Frost

The first frost of Winter whitened the fields this morning and will be the beginning of the end of many of our summer garden plants.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Coaley Wood in Autumn

 Autumn colours are beautiful throughout the local woodlands as we saw on our late afternoon stroll

Wednesday 2 November 2016


We have noticed a proliferation of mole hills and runs around here this year. Wondering if it is due to the fairly dry conditions or youngsters establishing their own territory. Moles eat the equivalent of their body weight every day be it worms, insects or beetles. Hence it comes as no surprise to learn that in autumn they catch and store up earthworms to keep them going through the winter. Apparently they chew off the front end of worms to stop them crawling away so that they stay alive in the runs and remain alive so providing the mole with fresh food for several months.
Whatever gardeners probably won't be too happy to have their lawns covered in tumps of soil like these.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Parasol Mushroom

Parasol mushrooms are abundant it the pasture near our house. They are said to be edible and delicious but some very similar looking mushrooms are poisonous so we are not are not confident enough to try.
The American species which has greenish gills instead of white is poisonous and is spreading in Britain.
Even the edible species can cause gastric upsets in some people.

Sunday 23 October 2016


 A family tradition is to visit the Uley Village Fireworks display and it never fails to delight. For a small village they put on a tremendous spectacle!

Monday 10 October 2016

Autumn Colour

As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter the trees are preparing to shed their leaves and the beautiful autumn colours start to show as this picture in the evening sunshine shows.

Friday 7 October 2016

Early Autumn

As the sun goes down to the west these trees show off their autumn tints and the cattle graze often with long shadows.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Yellow Fluffy Caterpillar of Pale Tussock Moth

Whilst out on our walk today we found this amazing caterpillar crossing the road. On investigation it seems that it is a Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar. It rolled itself into a ball as we tried to photograph it and move it to the side of the road. We realise now that it was a bit foolish to try and handle it as it's spines can break off and cause severe pain but luckily we seem to have got away with it.
For more information see http://www.uksafari.com/paletussock.htm

Saturday 24 September 2016

Grass Snake

The Grass snake is also known by some as the ringed or water snake. We didn't realise this until researching this snake after seeing this one whilst out with the warden at Slimbridge WWT the other day. Apparently grass snakes are often found near fresh water and feed most on amphibians.
This was one of two warming itself underneath this tin sheet. Later as temperatures drop they will look for places to hibernate that won't freeze such as underground.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Blackberry Foraging

 The hedgerow brambles are ladened with blackberries at the moment so now is the time to gather the fruit to make jam or crumbles.

Saturday 10 September 2016

Autumn Crocus

On a recent walk around Westonbirt Arboretum we didn't see many autumn colours but a certain sign of autumn we did find were the autumn crocus which were showing well in the Silk Wood.

Tour of Britain

On Thursday the Tour of Britain passed through our area. It was a lovely sunny day as they cycled by and the crowds were out to enjoy the spectacle!

Monday 29 August 2016

Hirondine Autumn Migration

 Summer is coming to an end and birds are heading south to spend the winter in warmer climes.
We counted around 300 mostly house martins on the wires near a local farm as they paused on their journey south. An hour or so later there were none left.

Saturday 27 August 2016

Willow Beauty Moth

Lovely little moth resting this morning just outside the front door. We hope we have identified it correctly by its feathered antennae and dark central cross line on the fore-wing.
Willow Beauty are apparently quite common and often rest on tree trunks you can see how well camouflaged they would be. Flight season is correct and can be attracted by lights at night. Also we have plenty of woodland nearby with suitable food plants for the larva such as Broad-leaf trees, Ivy and Honeysuckle.

Friday 26 August 2016

Pheasant Nest

Pheasants normally nest earlier in the year so I was surprised to find this nest with 18 eggs when weeding our borders. Sadly the bird did not like being discovered and seems to have abandoned the nest

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Falling Sycamore

We have walked past this tree hundreds of times on a bridleway near our house and it never gave us any cause for concern.
Last night was a hot sunny evening with not a breath of wind when we heard a crack and the tree suddenly split up the trunk and fell over the path.
Just shows how unpredictable trees can be!

Saturday 6 August 2016

Hot air balloon morning

Still summer mornings bring hot air balloons over the valley. With the Bristol Balloon Festival next weekend we might see more of them drifting this way during the week

Monday 1 August 2016

Black Tailed Godwit

It may be early August but for many birds the Autumn migration has started.
This black tailed godwit is still in Summer plumage but has left its marshy breeding grounds to spend the winter on coastal grassland and muddy estuaries such as our local Severn estuary.
The winter plumage will be a lot more drab than this brightly coloured bird.

Friday 29 July 2016

Crab Spider

Wandering around our garden last night, came across this little spider on the Hydrangea.  Seems it is a  Misumena vatia or crab spider. They are apparently common in southern England in summer, usually found on yellow or white flowers and can change their body colour to match their background.

Not having seen one before we consulted the Internet where  www.uksafari.com/crabspider.htm
points out that you can sometimes see two faint lines on their abdomen which are apparent here. 
They sit on flowers waiting for insects to land close by so that they can pounce on them and trap them with their crab like front legs so guess this one is conforming apart from its choice of flower!


Now that we are at end of July high summer is here and we must make the most of it. The Honey Bees are busy visiting every flower to collect the pollen needed to make the honey to see them through the winter. Flowers like this Hogweed have developed petals solely for the purpose of attracting insects which act as pollinators.

Hogweed is the smaller cousin of the Giant Hogweed. It only grows to around two metres whilst the Giant Hogweed is up to four metres high. Giant Hogweed can cause blisters and rashes so it's best not to touch or pick it. If you aren't sure then just look and don't touch as you pass by. 

Thursday 28 July 2016

Helleborine Orchid

The majority of the orchids which have been blooming  so spectacularly over the last month or so are now fading but the shade loving Helleborine is just starting to flower in Coaley Wood.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Elderflower cordial

I thought I might be too late but luckily found a bush which still had some young blooms yesterday. After twenty four hours of steeping it smells delicious. It freezes well too and a new tip I'm trying is to freeze the cordial in ice cube trays and just add one to a glass and top up with water. I'll let you know how this works...

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Hay Making

The summer weather and dry forecast brings farmers out cutting the long grass and making silage or here small bale hay. For the smaller farmers around here it is sensible to make small bales of hay so that they can supply those who keep horses locally as well as to feed their own sheep in the winter.

Monday 4 July 2016

Large Blue Butterfly

 The Large Blue was declared extinct in the UK in 1979 but has since been successfully reintroduced at a number of sites and it is great to see them flying in the Cotswolds again.
The larvae are parasitic on the grubs of red ants so they can only breed where there are colonies of ants.
They can be seen in late June and July but they are still a very rare butterfly so we were delighted to find this one today.
They are actually quite a small butterfly but the largest UK blue.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Yellow Wort

We found this little plant on the slopes of Uley Bury this morning on our walk before the forecast rain. As we were unfamiliar with it, we were pleased to identify Yellow Wort from our various books. It is apparently common on chalk or limestone grassland, such as here in the Cotswolds. One of the Gentian family along with other members it's flowers close up in the afternoon which might be the reason that we hadn't noticed it before as we often seem to walk up there later in the day. The leaves are in pairs on the stem and a bluish grey colour. The petals of its yellow flowers vary between six and eight petals joined into a tube at the base.

Monday 27 June 2016

Meadow Brown Butterfly

Now is the time to see meadow brown butterflies flying in many different habitats particularly in flowery grassland as this one was seen feeding on bramble amongst the limestone grassland near Uley
Pictured is the male as the female is a lot more orange in colour.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Limestone grassland in summer

 Limestone grassland on Uley bury is at it's most spectacular at the moment with common spotted and pyramid orchids flowering in profusion.

Marbled White Butterfly

We visited Daneway Banks Reserve to search for Large Blue butterflies without success but we were rewarded by the sight of many Marbled White butterflies roosting in the grassland of the reserve.
This striking black and white butterfly thrives in the natural limestone grassland of the reserve and is usually seen in June and July.

Monday 20 June 2016

Summer Solstice

Summer solstice is here and we had hoped for a sunset picture on the longest day but sadly a band of cloud obscured the sun. The sky was still spectacular as the sun set at it's most northerly point.
It is a leap year the solstice date is a day early.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Goldfinch Fledged

We are starting to see young birds around the garden as they fledge and leave the nest. These lovely two Goldfinch chicks were begging for food this morning.