Bumblebees & Butterflies

28 February 2021

The days are getting lighter, the dawn chorus is beginning and the crocuses and daffodils are blooming. Spring is in the air, I can feel it and I can certainly see it too. As I write this blog post, I'm sat at the desk in the dining area, I keep looking out of the patio door windows to see the sun shining at the bottom of the garden. Not long ago, I spotted something flutter in the sunshine, so I quickly grabbed my camera, popped on my wellies (it's still a bit muddy in the garden) and to my surprise saw that it was a small tortoiseshell butterfly. The first small tortoiseshell in the garden! I don't know a lot about butterflies, but I do know that they are one of the first butterflies to appear in spring.


The other day I had just finished clearing out some leaves from my pond when I heard a buzzing noise behind me. Again, I quickly grabbed my camera and spotted a bumblebee enjoying the first taste of nectar from the pink dawn viburnum in the garden. I don't really know much about bumblebees either, but know that the queen bees are the ones to emerge first from their winter hibernation. I'm looking forward to doing a bumblebee ID course very soon and to do my own butterfly ID research too. I also look forward to when all the spring and summer flowers come into bloom over the next few months, I'll be growing plenty of wildflowers for the insects!

Nature Trails and Wildlife Sightings

21 February 2021

I don't think I've ever been so pleased to see the start of lighter mornings and evenings and pockets of spring starting to show up wherever I go. It's been a very cold winter and I've found it more difficult than most winters as a lot of the time I have been working outdoors and no matter how many layers of thermals I wear, my body doesn't seem to cope well in the cold. However, I've been enjoying every moment of working outdoors in nature, but it's been the nicest feeling of all to have moments where the sun shines through the trees and I feel the warmth from the sun on my face. Its that time of year again, where I can feel spring on its way. 

Although I have a brilliant opportunity to be able to get out to different nature reserves for my traineeship during the week, in my spare time I've been exploring nature nearby and enjoying moments of quiet with my camera in hand and capturing photos of wildlife surrounding me. I love a good nature walk, I love walking along paths that lead off into the woodlands where I'm able to stop and listen to the birds singing up in the trees. The other week I was walking through a woodland part of a nature reserve and could hear the long-tailed tits up in the trees, I looked up and there they were, about five or so of them switching from branch to branch and pecking at the catkins on the silver birch trees. I could hear blue tits and great tits, not to mention a robin too who was singing loudly in a tree next to me. I looked across to a large oak tree right in front of me and caught a glimpse of a tree creeper, scaling the length of the tree. 

I scattered some sunflower hearts onto a bird table and first to appear was a robin, who hopped down from the tree beside me and swooped towards the table, grabbing some seeds in its beak and flying back to a branch. I could see on a hazel branch, surrounded by long, golden catkins was a great tit who was eyeing up the seeds. He quickly swooped down to the table and within a blink of an eye he was back in the tree with a beakfull of seeds. Hiding amongst the bramble was a dunnock, a secretive bird who knew exactly when best to get a snack. Another trail lead through to a pond dipping area and a boardwalk towards the lake. Sneaking around the reedbeds was a coot, which during spring time will create a very messy looking nest on water. Out towards the lake I could hear Canada geese and some greylag geese across the far end of the lake. I was pleased to have spotted a great crested grebe, with its piercing red eyes and orange ruff around its neck.

I've mentioned plenty of times that you never have to travel far to explore nature, it could quite simply be in your own back garden, out at your local park, at a nearby nature reserve or woodland. Even when I'm walking to the village shops, I'll always keep an eye out for all kinds of nature. Whether that be snowdrops lining the church grounds, a song thrush and redwing on the ground looking for insects or looking at the buds on trees to try and identify them. You never have to look far for nature. 

Photos taken at Hilton Gravel Pits Nature Reserve 

Woodland Wanderings in the Snow

7 February 2021

I always seem to miss the opportunity to go out with my camera on a snow day and so when we had a good amount of snow two weeks ago, I had some spare time in the morning and decided to wrap up warm and go for a wander around the local woodlands to see what photographs I could get in the snow. I hadn't seen this much snow in such a long time. A month ago we had some snow, but this time round it was at least 4 inches or more! The paths around the woodland has completely disappeared under a thick blanket of snow and all the trees were dressed in white. The morning sunlight was peering through the clouds and shone down upon the snow covered ground which looked like glitter. It was truly magical to walk amongst the snow covered woodland.

I was lucky to see quite a few birds out in the snow. I saw plenty of robins and one of them was about an arms length away from me, perched on a tree branch and singing a song to me. If only I had bought some seeds with me, it seemed to enjoy my company with or without seeds. I saw a charm of goldfinches high up in the birch trees. They stood out the most against the snow, with their bright red faces. They were an absolute joy to watch, pecking at the catkins on the trees and hanging upside down on the branches. I also spotted blue tits, great tits, house sparrows and a brief glimpse of a chaffinch. I haven't walked down this part of a nearby woodlands in a while and never knew just how much wildlife you can spot down there. I hope to get back down there soon whenever I go on my local wanderings.

Whilst walking through the woodlands, with the soft crunch of snow underneath my wellies, the fresh cold air, sun warm on my face and bird song in the trees, I thought to myself just how much calmer I've been this past month. My traineeship has a lot to do with that, spending pretty much most of my time outdoors has been the best thing for me. I'm where I was always meant to be, working outdoors, surrounded by nature. It's made me realise just how much being outdoors is good for me, my anxiety will always be there, but when I'm busy doing the things I enjoy, my mind feels calmer. A month has gone by and I have been enjoying every moment and I still have plenty more to learn. I shall be back with more updates soon!