Thursday, 29 January 2015

How Many Gulls Are There?

How many gulls can you get on one pier?  This pier on Long Beach along the coast of Kuşadası on the Aegean Coast of Turkey has become a favourite spot for the Gulls to take a rest and soak up the winter sunshine.  I love the way they are all facing the same direction. I think most of them are the Herring Gull.

One moves and they all take flight.....

.... but then they all settled down again.

There always has to be one that wants to be the leader!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Townsend Wood, Fordham, Cambridgeshire, UK

Townsend Wood tucked away in Fordham is currently managed by The Woodland Trust.  (These first two photos were taken on a visit back in 2011, together with the photos of the young bird and foxglove, the remainder of the photos were taken during our visit last year 2014).

The wood was originally part of a much larger garden at the rear of Shrubland House, which was built for George Townsend who was a nursery man and had a nursery and seed growing establishment. The house was built in 1893 and some of the trees in the wood date back to this time. The current area of wood covers 1 hectare (2.5 acres) and consists of mixed deciduous and conifer trees.

My Husband Ian helping out with demonstrating the size of some of the trunks of these English Yew or European Yew trees, judging by their size they must be some of the oldest trees in the wood. Formally known just as Yew trees they have now been re-classified due to other species of Yew trees becoming known.  English Yews trees have been known to reach 400 - 600 years old.

The bark on this Yew Tree is very decorative.

When we visit the wood back in 2011 we came across this young Eurasian Jackdaw, sitting quietly amongst the leaves, I think we disturbed it from foraging amongst the leaf litter for lunch.  They are also known as Western Jackdaw, European Jackdaw or just Jackdaw.  They can be found across Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.

There were also a few white Foxgloves (Digitalis) dotted around.  They are native to Western and South Western Europe, Western and Central Asia, Australasia and North Western Africa.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Mute Swans at Cley, Norfolk

On a drive along the coastal road in Norfolk, we stopped off briefly at a long narrow pond that runs alongside the road at Cley.  Part of this pond has been separated from the rest by a small bridge and road and it was in this smaller area that we saw what looks like a family of Mute Swans consisting of Mum, Dad and three Cygnets.  I have identified them as Mute Swans due to the large, black, knobbly structure at the top of their orange beaks.  The Cygnets were still quite fluffy looking and they still had quite a grey appearance.

I am not sure if this is the female swan, as it did not seem to keen on me being quite so close to its cygnets, so I kept a careful eye on it and tried not to make any sudden movements.

Here you can see the main part of the pond, which looks like a river and yet it doesn't go anywhere.

There was a Shire Horse in the field next door to the pond, but he didn't seem to keen on having his photo taken.  All I managed to get was this sly look.

This swan seemed much more relaxed at me being around, so I guess this could be the male.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Fordham Wood, Cambridgeshire, UK

My husband comes from Fordham and used to play around this area as a child before it became a nature reserve so he knows the area well, but for most people living in and around Fordham, when I mention the nature reserve to them they have never been there, or even know about it.

Access to the Reserve is off Mill Lane, via a dirt track seen here, which runs along side the field used in the summer for car boot sales and the Bank Holiday Monday Markets.

Here you can see what look like some old entrances to rabbit burrows, they don't look like they are being used now.

Here we are at the entrance to the Reserve with its notice board and map of the area.

Fordham Woods is a site of Special Scientific Interest due to its wet valley woodland and stands of Alder trees which is a habitat now rare in Cambridgeshire.  The word 'stand' is used to describe a dense thicket of short Alder growing on wet swampy soil.  The Alder tree is the UK's only native broadleaved tree to produce cones.

Due to the swampy nature of the site, most of the access around the site is via narrow boardwalks covered in wire mesh, so be careful where you walk and make sure you stop to look around so as not to lose your footing.

As you walk around you will hear lots of 'plops', if you are quick you may catch who is making this noise.  There are a lot of Common Frogs, also known as the European Common Frog, living here, they are quite small, well camouflaged against the grasses and reeds and are very quick.

I was really amazed at how much water there is around the site.

The undergrowth is really dense in places and you really have to look hard to see what is in there.

This poor tree trunk looks like it has seen plenty of action.

Here we can see the delicate purple flowers of the Bittersweet, I thought it was Deadly Nightshade, but The Wildlife Trust BCN helped me with the identification.  Bittersweet is also known as Bittersweet Nighshade, Blue Bindweed, Fellenwort, Poisonberry and several other names.  It is a species of vine and is a member of the potato family, which I should have guessed as the flowers look very much like the potato flowers.  It is native to Europe and Asia and widely neutralised elsewhere.

Here we can see a beautiful carpet of Forget-Me-Not, growing on the river bank.  They can be found in several countries around the world.

Here we get a glimpse of the River Snail which runs through the Reserve, we visited in summer, and as you can see the grasses, reeds and other plants are starting to smother the river on this stretch.

At this point we saw a flash of blue and realised it was a Kingfisher, but despite standing around for sometime and returning to this spot several times during our visit, we saw only one more flash of blue and certainly not enough to get a photo, maybe next time.

You do have to watch where you step, I nearly trod on this little one sitting in the middle of the path, it was only about he size of a 50p coin.

Unfortunately I didn't get a good look, or shot, of this butterfly so as yet I have been unable to identify it.  If anybody has any ideas, please let me know.

I think this is a Banded Demoiselle although it looks a bit squat, the second photo certainly is one, I guess it is just the angle of this one that looks odd. The Banded Demoiselle is a large damselfly that lives along side bodies of water.

Here we can see a clump of Cow Parsley also know as Wild Chervil, Wild Beaked Parsley, Keck or Queens Anne's Lace.  Thanks to The Wildlife Trust BCN who identified the pink flowers growing alongside the Cow Parsley as Red Campion.  The Red Campion is native throughout Europe.

These large leaves, some nearly two foot across belong to the Wild Rhubard plant, also known as Lesser Burdock, Burweed, Louse-bur, Common Burdock, Button Bur and Cuckoo Button.  It is native to Europe but also now wide spread across the USA.

A Purple-Loosestrife flower standing tall, the plants can grow between 1-2 m tall.  The leaves grow in pairs, growing out from the step opposite each other.  The Purple-Loosestrife is native to Europe, Asia, northwest Africa and southeastern Australia.

Here we are walking past a very large area of Reed Grass, standing up to 5 feet tall, gently swaying in the breeze with a Purple-Loosestrife getting in on the act.

The seed heads are very delicate.

Here we can see high up on a tree trunk some Bracket Fungus or Shelf Fungus, so called because of their shape.  Some forms grow year after year and produce growth rings, similar to trees.  We cannot see the rings, but judging by the size and thickness of these, they look like they have been there for quite some time.

Now this looks like the butterfly that I came across earlier, which appears to be a Speckled Wood Butterfly.

Nestled amongst the leaves here we can see a small Grove Snail or Brown-Lipped Snail and often referred to as a Banded Snail.  These are land snails common in Europe and introduced to North America.

Here is another Speckled Wood Butterfly.

Unfortunately we did not hear or see a Great Spotted Woodpecker or a Green Woodpecker, but there was plenty of evidence that they are about here.

Here is another Grove Snail.

A bit of fun here, I took this photo as the log reminded me of an alligator!

Here is another entrance to a burrow, this one was much smaller than the Rabbit burrows we saw earlier, I wonder who it belong too, it looks like it may still be in use?

I hope you enjoyed our look around Fordham Woods Nature Reserve, we were here in the middle of Summer and I am looking forward to returning in the Spring to see how different it looks and hopefully see some different residents and maybe the Kingfisher.

Here is the link to the Fordham Woods website if you would like more information: