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Posted
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
  • Location: Sunny Southsea

A couple of hundred year ago, Gilbert White single-handedly started the whole observation of Nature 'thing', when he published 'The Natural History of Selborne'. Being a gentleman & having a bit of spare time on his hands, our Gilbert kept notes for many years on the wildlife around him, the seasons, the new and the familiar. A sort of proto-Bill Oddie, if you like, though probably less of a ***.

Which gave me an idea.

For the past few weeks, out walking the dog, we (Chili Pepper (Mrs P), the dog and I have seen some wonderful stuff. The threads already show that many of you do, too, especially some of the excellent photography. But few of us have the leisure or the opportunity to imitate the great GW (my little joke, there...); not alone, anyway.

But if there were several people, watching, noticing, recording, the natural world around them...

And if there was somewhere that they could share their observations, on an occasional (or regular) basis...

You see where I'm coming from? 'The Natural History of Netweather'. Twenty-first century style.

If I'm really lucky, some of you will think this is a nice idea, and contribute. I suspect that some of you already keep a 'Nature diary', or something like it. Maybe a few people will share what they've seen out and about in the glorious British countryside.

To get the ball rolling, here are a few of the more unusual things we've seen on our weekend dog walks over the past three weeks.

April 7th-8th: West Harting Down: a mixture of downland, farmland, woodland, on the South side of the South Downs.

Mostly dry underfoot, warm and cloud free. Most obvious are the bluebells, just showing in the clearings and amongst the trees. Saw the first Brimstone butterflies of the year so far. Also Peacock butterflies and the usual large whites. Bumble bees busy everywhere. The dog found a group of deer (Roe?) and chased them down the hill. Wild Garlic just starting to show; plenty of celandine; some trees already green, some still budding.

April 14th-15th: Botley Wood: mixed woodland. Very dry and mild. Apart from the Cobalt butterflies, easily the highlight was the Smooth snake which the dog found sunning itself. The area is known for adders, so we were worried at first, but the silver-grey colour and the size confirmed the type - a rare sighting at the best of times. Bluebells everywhere.

April 21st - 22nd: Lower Meon Valley. Reclaimed railway and riverside, farmland.

Hot and dry. highlights were the masses of wild garlic growing in shady, slopy dells beside the meandering river. Plenty of wood-anemones, violets, germander speedwell, other spring regulars, and the sighting of a mink on a fallen tree trunk; it hung around long enough to be photographed, but the distance was poor and the picture rather hazy. Also saw orange-tip butterflies.

April 28th: Stansted Park: mixed wood and grassland, an old estate still maintained by the owners of the large pile at one end of the land.

Very dry; ground cracked, grass not as high as you'd expect. The fresh molehills were dry; very unusual. Many small orange butterflies in the grass. Yellow Pimpernel, and the foxglove stalks already two feet (60cm) high. Horse and Spanish chestnut trees covered in white and pink 'candles'. Highlight was the huge Hornet (six time the size, but the same colour as a wasp), very sluggish, in the path in front of us. Luckily, overlooked by the rather warm dog.

Today, we'll be taking the dog out again...

Over to you.

:)P

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Posted
  • Location: Brixton, South London
  • Location: Brixton, South London

Well in Brixton we had climbing roses in bloom from the end of the first week in April, my weeping Beech broke leaf on 20th April (about 10 days earlier than normal), Clematis Niobe (a group 2 early summer flowering type) has been in flower since 15th April. In Surrey Syringa ("Liliac") was in flower from the beginning of the third week in April.

The very warm, dry sunny weather in the south east has meant a foreshortened mid-late Tulip flowering...

Regards

ACB

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Posted
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
  • Location: Sunny Southsea

This morning was only a local walk, due to us sleeping so late...

Milton Common, the largest 'wild' area on Portsea Island, had long-tailed tits, a reed warbler, the regular skylarks, fish 'finning' in the ponds for nymphs, damsel flies and small yellow vetch, white campion, purple oxalis, long-tailed ducks, wild fennel and horseradish, and the elderflowers just starting to come out. Very very dry and almost 20C in the shade at 11.00 am.

:)P

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Posted
  • Location: Portsmouth, Hampshire
  • Location: Portsmouth, Hampshire
Well in Brixton we had climbing roses in bloom from the end of the first week in April, my weeping Beech broke leaf on 20th April (about 10 days earlier than normal), Clematis Niobe (a group 2 early summer flowering type) has been in flower since 15th April. In Surrey Syringa ("Liliac") was in flower from the beginning of the third week in April.

The very warm, dry sunny weather in the south east has meant a foreshortened mid-late Tulip flowering...

Regards

ACB

Hi acbrixton,

The Lilac is just to reach its peak here ( in Southsea) too and I'm nearly knocked sideways by the perfume when I pass a flowering example in somebody's front garden. P3 (my other half) has been moved to start this post because we , as daily dog-walkers, have been gob-smacked how everything has started so early. In our small back garden, our Iceberg climbing rose is covered in buds and is about to erupt into flower. The climbing rose on the south side of the garden is rampanat and already flowering (sorry, forgetten it's name but bought from a family-run nursery in N. Norfolk - near S. Creake) with small pink flowers. The baby greengage tree, planted last year, has already flowered and has got about 20 little fruit which hopefully will result in a crop rather me having to pay a fortune in Southsea Fruit & Veg for a small bag of my favourite fruit. Also the newish-planted Medlar Nottingham (an apple variety cultivated since Tudor times and known as "feline-@rse" fruit for obvious reasons) is about to flower about 3-4 weeks early. The clematis plants are going bonkers (about 7ft high) apart from my Sieboldlina (sp?)

But has really got me going are the wild flowers - these have been a passion with me since I was a young child and I'm a devouted fan of Keeble-Martin's book. When we go

But as a talented

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Guest Viking141

Nice idea P3!

Well heres my tuppence worth for today. Lovely day up here in Lerwick today, although the ever persistent sea-breeze has kept temps down to about 12-13C. Anyway, just a few hundred yards from my back door is the sea, an area known as Brei Wick which overlooks the island of Bressay and the south entrance to the harbour, and lying contentedly on the rocks sunning themselves were something like a dozen grey seals. I would describe them as doing 'banana' impressions as thats exactly how they were lying,on their bellies with their heads and feet pointed up looking like a banana! Some funny colours amongst them as well, one almost snowy white with a dapple effect and another almost a russet brown.

I have a bird table in my garden so have had the usual visit from what we call the 'yobbos' i.e. the starlings whose noisy squabbling over food is highly entertaining!

At work the other night in the early hours of the morning you could clearly hear the 'pee-wit pee-wit' of Lapwings, whilst at home we often hear thedeep hoots of a long-eared owl who must be roosting nearby, my guess would be in the trees in Seafield Lane just up the road.

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Posted
  • Location: Portsmouth, Hampshire
  • Location: Portsmouth, Hampshire

Hi Viking,

This is my second time of posting this message and pressed a wrong button and lost the entire post.... Grrrrr. anyway, Mr CP ( P3) very helpfully (not) pressed the send button on my last post and made me look like a complete t*at because the post was only in draft format whist I was watching The Antiques Raodshow....Yellow Pimpernel, Wild Garlic (whole swathes as far as the eye can see), cut-leaved geranium and massives of blubells whose smell is intoxicating when in the sun. It has all happened so suddenly and so early. Anyway, better go as P3 is sulking in the garden with a sci-fi book and wants to check his e-mails regarding his poll of Climate Scientists...............

Kind regards

CP

P>S No Owls in Portsmouth/Southsea but did hear a pair of Log-Tailed Tits doing "tick-tock tick-tock" this morning.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
  • Location: Sunny Southsea

On account of last weekend involving travelling to the suburbs of the metropolis, not much nature watching was done.

The Little Terns have begun to reappear, though; have seen three so far. They are delicate, athletic sea birds, with very long, swift-like wings and a habit of dipping and diving into the waves to pick up small fish. Though they are uncommon in the country as a whole, there are a few large local populations, one of which happens to be nearby, in Langstone harbour.

I'm still not 100% certain, but the group of 5 very small waders down at the beach this week were probably Dunlin.

Best sight of the week so far was the starling, bread in mouth, being pursued by a black-headed gull in a display of blind panic against clumsy determination. The starling won.

The Surrey suburbs of London, to its SW, are surprisingly rich in animal and bird life. Coming later, a picture of what is now common down here, a ring-necked parakeet. We managed to hear a female Tawny Owl late on Sunday night. The foxes are also commonplace sights on the streets, but the dog 'enjoyed' the sighting.

With a new camera to enjoy, I'll try to get some pictures to add to the notes.

:)P Still hoping that others will join in...

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Posted
  • Location: Lower Brynamman, nr Ammanford, 160-170m a.s.l.
  • Location: Lower Brynamman, nr Ammanford, 160-170m a.s.l.

I saw an immature Common Tern over the Grand Union Canal in W. London on Saturday morning, although that was less surprising than brambles coming into flower near Willesden Junction.

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Posted
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......
  • Weather Preferences: Hot & Sunny, Cold & Snowy
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......

I'm still enjoying 'spring gone nuts' around here, the only notable exception are the ash trees which have still not made a show and look quite sad amongst the rest of the spring green. Been teasing a Green Woodpecker with an RSPB soft toy which has a recording of it's yaffle. He becomes very vocal when the cry appears in his 'patch' (tee,hee).

Our tadpoles are relocated to our new wildlife pond and rapidly turning into frogletts (if the rain doesn't flood them all away!!!)

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Posted
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
  • Location: Sunny Southsea

Saturday, 12th May. The Hampshire Downs, North of Chalton.

Most notable by a long way were the many swifts, circling in the strong wind like 633 squadron, vocal and acrobatic, around the trees and over the fields at waist-height. For the first time on this walk, though the new camera came along, the buzzards were not in evidence, though a good shot would take some doing, as they tend to be rather distant.

The wild garlic is almost over now. Amongst the pathside plants newly bloomed was the yellow flush of Archangel, and silver-leaf prominent. Surprisingly, given the recent dry spell, some honey-fungus has appeared on an old stump; first fungi of the season (we have seen no St. George's Mushroom at all this year). The pathways were strewn with may-blossom, the woodlands rich with new growth, with the figwort on the edge of first flowering.

Here are a couple of sample shots from today's walk:

:)P

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl

Went for a walk down by the local river earlier today,

round through the fields, hay meadows of old, never seen a pesticide or fertiliser and look what I found.

Wild Orchids; not too sure which ones they are but probably early purple spotted and a White variant of the same, how lucky am I. Though you might like to see them too.

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Posted
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
  • Location: Sunny Southsea

Lucky you; I have yet to see the orchids out, but we haven't really been to the right kinds of places recently. The white orchid looks a bit like a variant of the heath Spotted Orchid (from the flower and leaf shapes), but I don't know about the purple; It can't be an early purple; the leaves are wrong, too narrow and they have no spots on them that I can see.

Thanks for sharing. Next week we'll be out in the wilds of west Wales, so hopefully there'll be some photographs of coastal species to share...

:)P

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Posted
  • Location: Saddleworth, Oldham , 175m asl
  • Weather Preferences: warm and sunny, thunderstorms, frost, fog, snow, windstorms
  • Location: Saddleworth, Oldham , 175m asl

That purple Orchid looks to me like a Southern Marsh Orchid, but I could be wrong though.

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Posted
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......
  • Weather Preferences: Hot & Sunny, Cold & Snowy
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......

Lovely spot and photo's there Jethro

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Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
Lovely spot and photo's there Jethro

Thanks GW, it is a lovely part of the country down here, miles of unspoilt countryside. I've moved up and down the country with work and although I enjoy the mild springs and hot summers of Somerset, I still hanker after the harsh winters of North Yorks and the mornings of thick Hoare frosts in the Vale of York. Guess you can't have it all eh.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl

Taken yesterday, there were quite a few of them around the pond enjoying the warm sunshine.

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Posted
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
  • Location: Sunny Southsea

Just back from Pembrokeshire, where the wildlife was substantial, not least the porpoises and seals we saw on the jet-boat ride. One of the surprise highlights was the 'tame' wild birds in the garden of the cottage where we stayed, who would come down to the table while we were sat having a G&T, looking for food. We duly obliged, and got some rather decent close up photos. More to follow when they've been re-sized, but here are a couple of examples for the time being.

:)p

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Viking141

Due to it being persistently cool up here with no real sign of summer yet, the grass is growing very slowly! Not complaining you understand but usually its shooting up at this time of year. Cut the grass last almost a month ago and only now is it starting to look as if it needs cutting again.

Our local sparrows are regularly visiting the bird table and they've now started introducing their offspring to the regular supply of goodies on offer. Mr & Mrs Sparrow brought 2 youngtsers down to the table and were showing them how to cling to the feeders and eat the seeds from within. Theyre certainly going through the stuff at a fair old rate! I have to top it up every couple of days.

No sign of the local yobbos (flock of Starlings!) though, they seem to have disappeared for the time being.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted
  • Location: Saddleworth, Oldham , 175m asl
  • Weather Preferences: warm and sunny, thunderstorms, frost, fog, snow, windstorms
  • Location: Saddleworth, Oldham , 175m asl

Even though the weather has been terrible, there is still lots to see around here. I spotted the first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly so far this year (there hasn't been many butterflies around this area so far this year). Spotted lots of birds in the garden including Bullfinches, Goldfinches, Long-tailed Tits and a bird which I have never seen before a Marsh Tit. I also went for a walk up on the moors and saw Twites and a Ring Ouzel another bird I have never seen before.

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Posted
  • Location: Louth, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Misty Autumn days and foggy nights
  • Location: Louth, Lincolnshire

Out with the 'scope this afternoon in miserable weather along the Lincolnshire Coast.

It seems that the poor June weather has put paid to a lot of the breeding Reed Buntings - dozens of territories in April now reduced to one male seen - they are hit hard by poor weather in June. The redshank seem to be doing OK and we had small numbers of both little and sandwich terns feeding off-shore. Nothing of any interest on passage, but will be doing quite a lot of sea-watching from next weekend onwards - there's often decent skua movement in good conditions in late July.

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Guest Viking141

Couple of interesting visitors to Shetland today, a pair of White Sided Dolphins in Weisdale Voe. We often get all sorts up here but Ive not seen any of these before.

That said we havent had the Orcas here that we had last year which is a bit disappointing as they were a wonderful sight to see. An entire pod with all ages from pups to a huge bull adult. Never mind, maybe next year!

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I haven't spotted any snakes since the early June heat. They are quite common in the mountains up by me and I saw what I think was an adder, a definite grass snake and very luckily a slow worm, all in the space of a few days. I assume they've given up now and gone back in their holes until the weather imrpoves. Or if it does.

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Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
Couple of interesting visitors to Shetland today, a pair of White Sided Dolphins in Weisdale Voe. We often get all sorts up here but Ive not seen any of these before.

That said we havent had the Orcas here that we had last year which is a bit disappointing as they were a wonderful sight to see. An entire pod with all ages from pups to a huge bull adult. Never mind, maybe next year!

Lucky you, I'd love to live where you do, any chance of camping in the garden for the summer sometime? I was lucky to go diving in and around Basking sharks off the south coast a few years ago, it was an amazing experience; the oddest thing though was you know they're plankton eaters, they won't hurt you but something deep in your brain goes SHARK!!! the minute you see their fins. I'm very envious Viking.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Just back from Pembrokeshire, where the wildlife was substantial, not least the porpoises and seals we saw on the jet-boat ride. One of the surprise highlights was the 'tame' wild birds in the garden of the cottage where we stayed, who would come down to the table while we were sat having a G&T, looking for food. We duly obliged, and got some rather decent close up photos. More to follow when they've been re-sized, but here are a couple of examples for the time being.

:mellow: p

Nice photos you have there...

sxvdvd

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Posted
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
  • Location: Sunny Southsea
Nice photos you have there...

sxvdvd

Hi, Sorayna. Welcome to Netweather. I'm glad you liked the photos; I've been a bit lazy about them recently, so perhaps your comments will encourage...

Any 'nature notes' from your neck of the woods?

A quick observation: though we live in the city, since we've been here, each Summer gives us a wonderful show of swifts, who fly around mornings and evenings, screeching to one another and engaging in spectacular aerobatic displays. Last year, there were thirty or more in the group that flew over our garden almost every evening. This year, there are no more than half a dozen, when we see any at all. So, what has happened to our resident swift population? Has anyone else noticed anything similar, with swifts or other regular visitors?

Photos soon...

:)P

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