Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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The Berry Report

I was concerned in the heat of the summer that there would be a shortage of berries for the birds this winter, great swathes of the best blackberry banks had withered and died,

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The winberries, had the very life blood sucked out of them by a young oak.

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And of course my beloved pink rowan, had failed to flower, oh how I will miss it this winter, the birds will probably be more adaptive about it than me.

But things have rallied, acorns are abundant, I thought I’d be seeing the jays with their stitching flight, working across the field to their favourite oaks, but I’ve not seen one, I think they have found one tree and scoffed themselves silly, until they are unable to move

The red rowans are heaving with berries, well they were, the chickens have made inroads into them, further than you’d expect of a chicken.

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They seemed to be having training seminars on how to get to the best position,

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I wouldn’t mind but I’d put the wire cloches there to stop them digging up my plants

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The same flourish can not be said of the grass. Farmers are still very short of feed for the winter.

 

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The Burren

(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him…… and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing. Edmund Ludlow 1651-52

It wasn’t the kind of landscape I’d ever associated with Ireland, apparently it is a glaciated karst landscape, it’s striking, especially as we’d been fully immersed in headlands, seascapes and lighthouses on our journey along Ireland Wild Atlantic Way. This seemed like a different country altogether.

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I do like a a nice bit of limestone, it reminds me of home in many ways

The Burren view

And happy school trips to the likes of Malham Cove, on school geography trips. To look at the limestone pavements, the slabs of limestone, divided by clints and grykes . The Burren pavements.jpg

It looks barren, but there was lots of life. The Burren fren limstone.jpg

And the evidence of life forms past, were clear to see, such as this coral

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This was back in early June, we thought it was hot that day, I don’t imagine there is much in the way of water left in the rather caustic looking ponds, that were humming with dragonfly, none that would keep still to be photographed though.

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This land has been used for animal grazing, since Neolithic times, the walls are later.

The Burren drystonewalls

I have to say that a Derbyshire Gritstone sheep, would laugh at such a filigree wall, and then walk straight through it!

But they must have served a purpose, or they wouldn’t be here now.

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Daily Bread

Continuing our journey along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Altar church

Altar Church, beside Toormore Bay on the Mizen Peninsula, near Ireland’s southernmost point, is also known as Teampol na mBocht, the Church of the Poor.

It was built in 1847, at the height of the Great Famine.

Before we set off on our journey, knew a little about Ireland’s Great Famine, we knew a little, but we didn’t comprehend its enormity nor its horror.

This church was built, to provide work for the starving.

During Black ’47, The Illustrated London News reported that in the village of Schull, five miles from Toormore, an average of 25 men, women and children were dying every day of starvation, dysentery or famine fever.  At nearby Cove, the population fell from 254 in 1841 to 53 in 1851.

 


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Moving On Slowly

 

We’ve been away, to Ireland, we’ve been driving the Wild Atlantic Way (well part of it, its a long route, and there is a lot to see). The first thing to do  in Ireland, is  to slow down, there is no need to go anywhere in a hurry.

As the farmer said ‘Cows only have one gear’. (Unless of course they are ‘knocked out of gear’, then anything is possible and usually unstoppable).

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Taking the cows back to the field after morning milking, County Clare.


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Unseasonal Colours

You could have been forgiven for thinking a splash of colour was hard to come by today, heavy rain and weighty clouds have consumed us. But having watched the Met Office rainfall radar for a window of opportunity, Spud the dog and I grabbed it with enthusiasm. 

We made it to the post box today, another milestone for Spuds recovery, and its the first time he’s been a muddy dog for many a month.   The ‘new’ post box is a more useful size than the old one, but its sad to have lost the heritage of the old one.

We did find some colour, in the understory of a wooded area, from where we recovered the yew tree. I’ didn’t know (or hadn’t thought about) that woods have four distinct levels, canopy,understory, field layer and ground layer (todays blog learning objective has been met).

The understory of young beech trees, have kept their Autumn leaves, why do they do that when the mature trees don’t I wonder?  I’m also not sure why suddenly their are so many of them either, maybe the  grazing sheep have been absent long enough for them to become established, or maybe it was  the result of what a farming friend would call a mast year?

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The  sycamore  soaked by the rain, showed off  its  beautifully textured bark to good effect

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The lichens, seemed to have drawn up the lovely pink hue of the local grit stone;  dressed, this stone is very a very precious  commodity to us and our neighbours, and any that becomes available for sale, is snapped up and kept on the hill from whence it came for any building projects.

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Summer Sheep.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_15

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

On a warm day, its  good to get your coat off…

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Heavyweight

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_12

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

I do like a nice stone roof slate, they are part of the vernacular style of old houses in north Derbyshire,  the island on Sandy  however takes the size of their roof slates to the max! Can you imagine manhandling these beasts into place?  Seven slates for the whole roof?

stone slate Orkney 

Here a mixture of sizes of stone slates on the house and corrugated iron on the adjoining barn roof

Orkney stone slate roof

Lichen have turned these slates orange.

stone slate Orkney shed

The window looks so fragile against the stone, as does the starling perched on the ridge.