Uphilldowndale

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


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Socially Distanced

Maybe we should take a leaf (pun intended) out of the sycamore aphids book of social distancing.  They seem to have it sussed.

sycamore aphids 3 However, an Internet search* led me to discover it’s not about them being apart,  on the contrary, it’s actually about them being able to touch one another (but at least the little bugs have a plan how to deal with a life threatening situation and are sticking to it!)

One of the most striking features of the sycamore aphid is the way in which the individuals space themselves evenly under the leaf. the spacing is such that they are just close enough together to touch each other with their long antennae, so if an individual in one part of the leaf is attacked the alarm spreads from aphid to aphid in a wave of antennae-waving across the whole leaf.

Sycamore aphid

Just about every leaf I could see was covered in the aphids,  there must be millions of them; which probably explains why the blue tits, that consume a fortunes worth of food through the winter ( the bird food  bill comes in at more than  the cat and dog food budget combined) are not very bothered about cleaning the aphids off the roses in the garden, you’d think it was the least they could do?

*It’s rather gratifying to find the information you were looking for, in a blog you already follow, Cabinet of Curiosities  by Phil Gates, in addition to reading the authors words in The Country Diary in the Guardian too. 

 


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Welcome

Sunshine and showers, heavy at times.

It’s been a relief to get some rain, after the exceptionally dry weather we’ve had since lock-down began.  Earlier in the year I’d high hopes for the foxgloves, the young plants were so abundant, they obviously loved the very wet early spring, its hard to please everyone. But after the dry spell they were starting to suffer, looking somewhat stunted and under par. 

But with a good dousing of rain they have risen to their full height and glory! 

It’s turned out to be a vintage year for foxgloves. 

Fox gloves bank_

Much to the delight of the insects. 

Fox gloves bee


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There it was, gone.

There it was gone. Is that an expression local to North Derbyshire? Something that appears briefly and then disappears…

The blue skies and warm sun have gone and we are now expecting storm Freya to arrive on Sunday. Whilst it was very enjoyable, in a world of shifting weather patterns, it was also a little disconcerting for  a few days in February to be so mild, this time last year we had the Beast from the East

But  before the cloud came we had more visitors to the pussy willow,  a comma butterfly

Comma_

Who had a very neat vanishing trick up its sleeve. Now you see me, now you don’t.

Comma underside_

The Comma is a fascinating butterfly. The scalloped edges and cryptic colouring of the wings conceal hibernating adults amongst dead leaves, while the larvae, flecked with brown and white markings, bear close resemblance to bird droppings.

The species has a flexible life cycle, which allows it to capitalize on favourable weather conditions. However, the most remarkable feature of the Comma has been its severe decline in the twentieth century and subsequent comeback. It is now widespread in southern Britain and its range is expanding northwards.

I might be a bit slow on the uptake, but it wasn’t until recently I realised that some butterflies over winter, I assumed that they emerged from their chrysalis in the spring.

Wrong, this is how the comma butterfly spends its year6.comma

We’ve been busy bees, having a serious clear out of our barn,

Pussy willow bee

well its actually turned into a kind of archaeological dig, so much stuff! It was during this process, we found lots of hibernating butterfly tucked away behind old cupboards and pieces of timber, sadly I also found a lot of dismembered wings! I suppose a spider needs to eat.


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Blue is the colour

It’s February, it’s not supposed to be this warm and sunny.  Nature is a little confused.

The pussy willow, has never been so big bold and fluffy,

pussy willow feast 5

its offered a feast for the insects over the last few days.

pussy willow feast

Blue and orange was always going to strike the right note.

pussy willow feast 4

It was so still and quiet this afternoon, you could hear every contended buzz and hum.

pussy willow feast 2


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Taddington Moor High Mere

Taddington Moor High Mere looked nothing like this when I stumbled upon it today. I was on one of my pre work diversions again, I thought I might be in with a chance of mist mantled hills, punctuated by field barns or piercing church spires. But I simply couldn’t get above the cloud that has superimposed the inversion mist I’d hoped for.

Never mind, the beauty was in the detail.

Scabious seed head

scabious_

Rosebay willow herb

rosebay willow herb 2

There were so many beautiful flowers, but it was the cobwebs that stole the show.

web four_

Here soggy  thistledown has caught in the web

soggy down_

web one_

I’ll go back another day in search of the view

what no view_

It only took until lunch time for my trousers to dry out….


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Thirty days wild. 22nd June

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_22

The best thing that you can do for nature is too make it part of your life. That’s why we’re asking thousands of people to make room for nature in their everyday lives this June. Please spread the word amongst friends, colleagues and family and get them to sign up, too! After all, all our lives are better if they’re a bit wild… ‘

I’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust,  with the aim of blogging each day, a little bit of the nature of my world.

 

There was a bit of a buzzing going on in the flower bed this afternoon.  I’ve not a clue what was going on, erm, its rather embarrassing to admit, but I’m must confess, to not knowing much about the birds and the bees (well the life cycle of bees and most insects, come to that).  I’m sure other bloggers would be more knowledgeable than me .

Answers on a postcard please…

insec life_

 

Sorry for the spasmodic delivery of posts, I’m having a few technical difficulties, help is on it’s way


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Summers Past

And the making of memories.

Forgiving me for returning to the beach and family holidays. But a couple of   posts I’ve read this week have catapulted me back to Devon.  First there was Nancy’s post reflecting on just how many summers her family had enjoyed their favourite beach  just like the Uphilldowndale family’s love of a certain Devon beach,

Summers Past -1

then there was Sarah’s post that made me smile and recall our coastal meeting with a grasshopper.  So I nipped back to the post I’d written at the time, back in 2009, about our encounter with the artist David Measures, about his glorious art and his generosity with both his time and knowledge: sadly, when I followed the links, I discovered that David died last year.  Looking at the website of Southwell Artists I saw that Christine Measures, David’s wife, is also an artist.

When I met David he told me he was working on a book that would capture, not just the markings of a butterfly, for identification but how it moved, its mannerisms, what a bird watcher might call it’s jizz.  The slide show of Christine’s art captures both David and Devon summer holidays perfectly. Beautiful.

 


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Seaside Rock

How quickly our seaside holiday is becoming a distant memory. How quickly the real world piles in to the vacated mind.

How heavy it has rained today! Just as well I have some holiday snaps to look back at.

On the coast path there were some fine lumps of rock (you know I’m fond of them) ancient gate posts, long since disused girded with hand forged iron.

seaside rock -1

The remnants of old walls

seaside rock  1-1

The bizarre weather we’ve had in UK this summer seems at least to have pleased the costal flowers, or just made them flower later than usual. I can’t ever recall  ever seeing quite so many as this year.

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The insect world seemed appreciative

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Just delightful really, *sigh*

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