Uphilldowndale

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


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The Big Build

There is a whole lot of nest building going on.  I’m not sure how this thrush managed to find its way back to the nest site…

Thrush nesting

But it did.

Thrush nesting 2

We’re a little concerned as it seems a very exposed site, in an oak tree near the pond.

Thrush nesting 3

It’s only a hop, skip and a jump for the cats to be up there. We’ve already had  the bodies two young rabbits, two robins and three mice on the door mat, in the last couple of weeks. I suppose when the leaves open it will be better hidden. Fingers crossed. 


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Early Doors

We were down in London last weekend. We took some time out to visit Kew  Botanical Gardens, it was three days after my annual pass expired. Sigh.

As we renewed the pass one of the staff commented ‘You’ll need that, you’ll be wanting to come to the orchid festival’

Yes, I thought, that’s why we’re here today. 

It starts tomorrow’ she continued. I was crest fallen, I’d really been looking forward to seeing it, I’ve often managed to ‘just miss’ finding out about  exhibitions, I’d never managed to arrive before one started before! I really should pay more attention…

And whilst the staff were in the throws of the final ‘set dressing’ of the displays, we could still access the glass houses, so all was not lost.

Kew orchid 9

a floating wheelbarrow, how cool is that. Some of the displays certainly took me back to my days worked as a florist (this one reminded me of a funeral tribute we made for a traveller family, it was so big that after we’d finished it we realised we couldn’t get it up the stairs from the basement workroom!)

Kew 13

The scent of this stephanotis, was a flash back to the 1970’s and many hours spent  as a junior  florist wiring the individual florets to be used in bridal bouquets

Kew orchid 8

And there were delicately strung dried helichrysum blooms, waiting to be artistically draped, what a labour of love.

Kew 16

But enough of them, we’re here for the orchids

Kew orchid 6

we were not disappointed,

Kew 15

they were everywhere even strung from the roof.

Kew orchid 4

Another floristry flash back, cymbidium orchids, the ‘go to’ flower for the mother of the bride in the 1980’s, not one bloom but two, as my colleague used to say, ‘that’s not a corsage its a ‘bustenklamper’.

Kew 14

I think this slipper orchid was my favourite

Kew 10

Or was it this one? I like growing orchids, it always seems like I’ve achieved something clever when they flower, although it’s not magic on my part,

Kew orchid 7

I do tend to guild the lily a little sometimes. But the greatest orchid thrill was the wild orchid that randomly, just popped up in the lawn a few years ago,  sadly it’s never made another appearance.

We may have missed out a little on the final flourishes of the festival, but that really didn’t matter.

* Early doors


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Sharp

A sharp frost and a foggy morning, and more than a little black ice.  I must be getting to be a grown up, because I chose to travel the road more travelled, not less, where I could be more confident of some salt on the road. I managed to find some pretty things though.

Frosty Taddington_

These burrs look much more attractive on the plant, than they would entangled in Spud the dogs fur.

Frosty Taddington 2

The seed heads of the cow parsley looks poised for the insertion of ice diamonds

Frosty Taddington 3


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Turn of the tern

Belatedly, it is back to the Farne Isles, and it’s the turn of the tern, the artic terns.  They seem to build ridiculously  scant nests,  not so much a nest, as outline planning permission for one.

Tern nest

Some don’t  seem to bother with even that much effort, when there is a footpath available (see bottom left of this photo).

What no nest_

But they are not any old terns, one at least is a record breaker

Tiny bird flies 59,650 miles from its breeding grounds in Farne Islands in the UK to Antarctica and back again, clocking the longest ever migration recorded

They are feisty in defence of their nests…

Tern attack

Mr Uphilldowndale had borrowed my hat, a hat designed for snugness rather than its bird deflection properties.

Tern attack 3_

The birds are protected and nurtured on the Farne Isles, and we felt very privileged to get so close to them, but we did wonder how much energy they were putting into attempting to ‘see off’ the endless stream of visitors…   They must be grateful for the days when the weather is too rough for the tourist boats to land.

Tern attack two


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Did someone mention Spring?

Well, it came and went

snowing april_

Cold winds blew

snowing april lamb

Then the sun shone, but it seemed no warmer, although the sight of a curlew always warms the heart.

Curlew_

Then clouds blew by again, I’m fascinated by how different fields ‘hold’ the snow longer than others.

All kinds of weather_

Strangely the life force that is spring growth, has kept moving despite the chill of winds from the artic , you know I’m a sucker for larch trees

larch cones  3

The icy jewels were a very pretty adornment, that kept my rapt attention, for quite some time. 

larch cones  2_

Then it was drawn to my attention to the fact,

larch cones_

that I did promise I’d play ball….

larch cones  and spud