Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Spring at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge

We spent a couple of hours at Anglesey Abbey yesterday, immersing ourselves in the bursts of sunshine and the signs of spring. We saw two 7-spot Ladybirds emerging from their over-wintering state. These are the first ladybirds I have seen on the move since 2019. We also noticed quite a few bees, some of them bumblebees and some of them with orange pollen sacs. I am still waiting for my first butterfly...

What follow are some fairly random photos of the flowers and others sights we saw. Some of the plants and trees are undoubtedly cultivated and cared for; but an estate garden offers scope for a huge variety of wild species, too, due to the different habitats, in this case the silver birch stand, the snowdrop walk, the extensive grasslands where we sometimes encounter Green Woodpeckers, and the river where we watched a Kingfisher on our last visit. 

Blossom, bee and fresh leaves

The joy of spring colour

A scattering of species: Hellebore, Daffodil, Crocus and Snowdrop

My first 2020 ladybird sighting

Pollen and pollinator

My second 'emerging' Ladybird of 2020

Bumblebee with pollen sac

Contorted or Corkscrew Hazel (or Filbert?), with catkins


Silver birch stand, looking stark, stately and somewhat otherwordly...

Who could resist these?

Small white Violets

A carpet of Snowdrops

A cultivated bulb

Aconite: these were almost over

There was a Periwinkle flower near the mill in the rusted inner band attached to a millwheel...

...and here is a close-up.

A time for reflections...

The mill lode

Looking back

Is this an early-flowering Cherry, perhaps?


We saw several Robins; this one was looking here, there...

... and everywhere.

Anglesey Abbey

I always enjoy seeing a weathervane, particularly an unusual one like this gilded cast iron Viking longboat. I wonder what history lies behind it. If you like looking up to see weather vanes and windvanes, you might enjoy the chapter entitled 'Skylines' in Findings by Kathleen Jamie.

Cyclamen: a sign of new life still to come

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Blue Skies at Snape, the Calm before the Storm

It is always a joy when the first spring flowers appear, and these bright yellow Aconites at Snape this afternoon were the first ones I have seen in 2020.

The reedbeds were shimmering in front of the poplars...

...and large swathes of the sandy soil had been ploughed.

This was the view, looking back to the Maltings, with its cafes, shops and famous concert hall.

I saw one tiny fish in the water and a couple of flies or midges above it, but it was really the reed reflections that caught my eye.

The gulls were out in force.

There were a few small waders and some Shelduck in among them.

This is St Botolph's church, across the water at Iken.

These small flecks of green must indicate new growth in the reedbed.

I wonder who will find these remaining rosehips.

The land here is very flat, and I love the marked bands of colour - green, gold, blue, more green and more blue - that can be seen.

We stopped to listen for birds, but apart from the cooing sound of some distant Wood Pigeons, we heard very little above the sounds of an aeroplane overhead, some traffic in the distance and what was probably the motor of some kind of farm machinery.

There may not have been much sound on the marsh, but the view from the boardwalk is always rather special, with these stark trunks. Robert Macfarlane called these skeleton trees 'rampikes' on his Twitter feed on 24 September 2019. I always thought that trees like these had been struck by lightning, but I believe these ones may have been damaged by flooding.

On the east coast of the USA, stands of waterlogged trees are known as ghost forests. You can just see Iken church through the bare branches.

I'm guessing a Muntjac has been making its way through the reeds on a fairly regular basis.

There was a last shimmer of light as we took a last look at the poplars.

The moon rose over the water...

... as our shadows began to lengthen.

Gusts in the high 60s (mph) are predicted for our area tomorrow (i.e. for Sunday 9 February). Do check the forecast if you are out and about.