Uphilldowndale

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


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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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Loop Head

Loop Head West Clare, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.  So many beautiful orchids

sm file orchid_

Purple Orchid Ireland 2

Whats not to love?

Heart Ireland_

We were not so keen on the dizzying height of the cliffs, but photographed from a safe distance, you had to admire the geology, its things like this, the folds in this rock, a bedding plane pushed to almost 90 degrees,  that make me feel very small, just a spec in the universe, just passing by, at the whim of forces of untold strength.

rock folds

There was lots of wildlife too

Moth Ireland_

Loop Head, is at the mouth of the  river Shannon.

It’s a popular place to catch sight of dolphins,  the water was heaving with seabirds, and there was a pungent smell of fish,  and those people willing to sit at the edge of the cliff were getting very excited,  we crept a little closer, all the black flecks in this photo are birds either on the water or diving, there was obviousley a large shoal of fish passing through.

loop head.jpg

and the distinctive black shape are of course dolphins. Not very dramatic dolphin photographs, unlike these beauties , I’m leased to say we had  a better chance to see the magical world of dolphins, they’ll get a post all of their own…


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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…


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Sanday

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


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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,

Puffin_

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'


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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.