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


Sometimes a little magic flies by

We’ve been away, we’ve been to Rutland Water for a couple of nights in the campervan.  we had a lovely time, I hired an electric bike, such fun! I went wheeeeeee!

I’ve not ridden a bike for many many moons.

After that we went on to the nature reserve, and watched nature in all its Spring busyness.feed me_

From a hide we watched the osprey, they were a little too far way for my camera, but we were much closer to them than we had been before, in addition there was a large TV screen showing live footage taken by cameras looking directly into the nest.

Now that sound like an excellent day, doesn’t it? We settled down for the evening, with a glass of wine and some tasty Long Clawson stilton cheese.

And  then the magic arrived

Barn Owl Rutland 4

A barn owl flew in across the meadow, next to the camping field, quartering, searching for prey,  it swooped past us time after time

Barn Owl Rutland 3

It’s the first time I’ve seen a barn owl in the wild, I’ve had other owl encounters.

Barn Owl Rutland 2

It went on and on, taking prey off to its nest

Barn Owl Rutland

and returning, to our delight.

Barn Owl Rutland 5

The next morning, Mr Uphilldowndale went out on his bike at about 7:15 am, for a proper bike ride, one with pace and miles and without me going wheeeeeee all the time.

After he had gone I contemplated making a second cup of tea, I sat up in bed and peeped around the curtain and there it was again.

Right in my face, this time carrying its breakfast.  I’m such a lucky girl.  Barn Owl Rutland 7

All the photos were taken through the tinted privacy glass of the van, the last image with added condensation…




TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_13

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.

We took a ferry from Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney, to the island of Sanday, its a short hop of 90 minutes, just how I like my ferry crossings.

Ferry sanday

Sanday is a low lying island, of wide, white, curving beaches, very beautiful.  The weather was kind when we were there, but you can imagine how wild it can get, it must feel like the gales  and tides are gnawing at the land at times. 

Sanday beach

The wind sculpts the dunes, a derelict building, is being subsumed

Sanday building_

Looking at this, it’s not difficult to imagine how Skara brae disappeared under the dunes

Sanday building 2

As we  walked along the beach,  a curious selkie  swam along with us, close into the shore, we were warned not to let Spud the dog into the sea, for fear of him being taken as  a play thing. Spud much prefers pond water to sea water.

Seal watching_


Start point light house, with its distinctive vertical stripes,  which are unique to Scotland ( gives it a bit of an Everton mint vibe, do you not think?)

Sanday lighthouse_

The day ended with a sunset befitting such a lovely place

Sanday sunset


Puffin, nothin’

I’ve been away from the the blog for a wee while. Nothin’ has been posted.

I’d had high hopes of posting a  wildlife post  each day of June  like I did last year as part of  ‘Thirty Days Wild’  but I didn’t get off to a very good start!

However we’ve been lucky enough to spend a few days in Northumberland and visit the Inner Farne Island, it was fabulous, so much wildlife it felt like 30 days wild, condensed into a few hours . I’ve blog fodder for the rest of the month.

Let’s start with the puffins. I’ve always wanted to see Puffin’s, who wouldn’t?

Puffin proud_

You just can’t but smile at the sight of them. I’ve wanted to get a close look at them for a long time,


I visited Iceland back in the 1980’s (at the time everyone thought I was a little mad) and I only saw one puffin, so this was a puffin fest! I have to admit I was a bit excited.

Puffin excited_

So many Puffins

Three Puffins_

Their swimming style is not dissimilar to mine, not a very effective stroke (on the water at least)

Puffin swim splash 2

it’s a miracle they get airborne, when they do, their flying is distinctive.

Puffin flying_

They feed on sand eels, the supply of sand eels is crucial to a successful breeding season, however like all good fishermen’s tales, the ones that get away are the biggest…

Puffin 'this big'


Spud on Sunday Part XXXXVIII

Spud the dog and I went down the field this morning, to investigate what looked from the bedroom window to be a very strange shaped molehill.

What we found was  indeed, a very strange shaped molehill, the evidence of this could easily have been flattened by Spud before I got anywhere near it with the camera (see below)

Strange molehill and Spud the dog-1 

It is I think you will agree very strange indeed.

Strange molehill-1

When I said I was looking forward to photographing a more ‘sculptural’ landscape, this wasn’t what I had in mind… We’ve had many mole tales here before.



Not So Freshly Pressed

Uphilldowndale, One Thousand Posts Later

This is post number 1,000, I’m finding it hard to believe, but there you go, the nice people at WordPress kindly provide a behind the scenes (or screen) page of statistics about my blog and the little counter at the bottom of the page says my previous post was  number 999 and  as I can’t recall ever deleting any of my posts this must be it.

I thought I’d dish up a favourite post, but I couldn’t decide, I couldn’t even decide on a photo (some of my favourite blog photos are huddled together on my flickr page). In the end I settled for this little chap, who fledged from a nest in the barn wall back in June 2008, (maybe its how I felt when I first started the blog, it was a bit of a leap into the unknown)

Little bird 2

Tonight  is a double celebration as I also pressed the send key, and dispatched the last piece of work for my course of study, off into cyberspace. Woooohoooo; me time beckons, the hills are a calling, time to get out and play.

Thank you all for stopping by and taking the time to comment, it wouldn’t be the same without you xx.


97% of Islanders Won’t Be Wrong

The Isle of Eigg Says No to Fish Farm

The Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland, has a special place in the heart of this family. I’ve been there a number of  times, I’ve had the privilege of watching otters, golden eagles, seals and pods of porpoise, going about their business. It is a magical place and the people who live there care about it passionately


If the residents of Eigg say no to the proposal to site a fish farm of the coast of the island, it will be for good reason.


Opposition to a Fish Farm on the Isle of Eigg

Eigg is owned and managed (including the foreshore) by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, a community led organisation whose aims include taking all appropriate measures to conserve the natural heritage of the island for the benefit of the community & the wider general public.

To this end Eigg is building a reputation as a green island working towards sustainability. Visitors come to the island to learn from our experience and to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of the island and the peace and quiet. Most of the islands electricity is generated by renewable technology and the sound of diesel generators is but a distant memory.

Highland Council has recently received an initial application to site a fish farm off the east coast of Eigg, north of Kildonan. The site identified covers an area extending to 20ha (this equates to 28 football pitches) & would consist of 14 x 30m diameter cages which would be serviced by a 10m x 10m permanently sited barge (powered by diesel generator).

The community has considered this proposal at length. The outcome of the resulting ballot which had an 86% turnout was 97% against the development.

Eigg lies within the Small Isles National Scenic Area. A large fish farm would have a considerable negative impact on the approach to the island and could also impact negatively on the peace and quiet that visitors seek when they come to the island, as well as on the quality of life of nearby residents.

Laig Panorama

Be a good Eigg, and pop along and sign the on line petition (and you can find some more photos of Eigg here, just a few, sadly I’ve not been up to Eigg since I got into the digital camera lark, I’m sure there would be 100’s and 100’s of images if I went now)



Rising Tide

All Washed Up

Back to Suffolk and Snape Maltings, another dash of art, a site specific art work by Fran Crowe, in the Dovecote Studio. The building itsself reminds me of a budding daffodil bulb (I’m sorry it’s been an odd sort of day, but trust me this post will get yet more obscure.)

Dovecote Snape Maltings-1

Fran’s work is made from what ever she finds washed up on the Suffolk Shore

Which on the plus side is colourful, the negative being, well see for yourself

Dovecote Snape Maltings 1-1 Dovecote Snape Maltings 2-1Dovecote Snape Maltings 3-1

Not good is it?

The other thing I found  out on her ‘silly but serious’ website is that Fran is interested in moles, and their role in fighting the rising tide of sea level change due to global warming. Now this blog has a fondness for moles, they tend to be more dead than alive when they make an appearance, but that is more to do with the fact they are subterranean little mammals and camera shy. Fran’s initiative is called Up and Under the gist of it is (as far as I can make out)  that we should cultivate moles and that then should water levels rise, the mole tunnels will act as drainage channels, but sadly the mole will drown.

Now I have to say I think Fran’s plan may be site specific, that as I live at the top of a hill in Derbyshire, if the moles in our field find their tunnels awash with sea water, they, the nation, if not the world is totally stuffed. Not good is it?

Mummified Mole