Monday, 28 February 2011

Littondale again

Sunday 27th Feb 2011
            I couldn't pass this way again without taking just a few more photographs of the snowdrops which grow in this delightful dale. Today we're out with our friends on our usual Sunday hike, this must be the umpteenth visit to this lovely dale through the years to see these delightful drifts of snowdrops which today are at their best especially with some glimpses of the sun adding contrast to the display, another week and they'll be going over.

        The Snowdrops naturalised along the banks of the River Skirfare

                                       Arncliffe Churchyard

The second half of the walk climbs fairly steeply out of the dale and then along the flanks of the dale back to Hawkswick the starting point of the walk, this is a short walk of no more than 6 miles.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Frogs spawning is going flat out.

Sat. 26th Feb 2011.
           With the continued mild weather the frogs that are spawning in my garden pond are peaking at about 80 this afternoon. I  can do a fairly accurate count looking from my back bedroom window through my binoculars. So far this year the numbers are down on last year but I did lose several due to the extreme freezing conditions during last Dec.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

It's a record

Wed. 23rd February 2011
             It's 26 years this month since I dug out my garden pond, since then I've enlarged it lengthwise but basically the lie of the pond is the same, Ive posted some old faded photos of that event. It shows a younger me and my two children busy helping with the pond before the frogs come out of hibernation and hopefully spawn in the pond.
  Let's move forward 26 year to this morning  when two of my grandsons  found the first frogspawn of the season in our pond which just happens to be the earliest spawning since I start to record it 26 years ago and the first time ever in February. Tonight there are about 50 frogs in full chorus with the onset of the much milder weather.
  The ducks arrived early this year (they always time their arrival to the start of the frogs spawning) so perhaps they know something that I don't know.


               Back 26 years to the digging and filling of our first pond


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring is bursting through

Saturday 19th Feb.2011

                    Yesterday was a cold dull raw day with the temperature of 1.5 c in the afternoon but it didn't stop us from making a short dash into Littondale, a branch of the larger Wharfedale up in the Yorkshire Dales, it takes about 35 mins. Dales country doesn't look as harsh as the  moors we have on our doorstep and with the predominant rock being Limestone the area has a softer look Even though the early winter was the coldest for several years the Snowdrops are out a good week earlier than last year.

    A nice drift of Snowdrops at Rylstone (the home of the Calender Girls)

After Rylstone we enter Wharfedale and pass under the imposing Kilnsey Crag. The undercut was caused by the glacier moving down the valley in the last ice age and eroding the cliff away, the undercut being the height of the glacier.

             The Snowdrops of Litton Dale around the village of Arncliffe

 Further down Littondale the Oystercatchers have arrived from the coast for the start of the breeding season

           We counted around 40 they seem to be increasing ever year

 Finally I've just looked out of the window and the ducks have arrived they always coincide their arrival with the start of the frog spawning season, this year they are a week earlier than usual.I assume they're the same pair because they stand and wait outside the back door to be fed.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The niggling Mid-February grey days

Wed. !5th Feb 2011.
         Yesterday was another grey cheerless day with a nagging blustery wind, it's what I call an in-between seasons sort of day, What do we do on this sort of day ? well I think up a quick idea and we go for it. This not only gets us out of the house but I hope it keeps our fitness level up. Yesterday to get out of the wind we headed for the shelter of the  Hardcastle Crags valley, a damp, mossy, shady, slippery place which at this time of year can look rather dreary because of the lack of sun. In spring and summer the valley floor is mostly covered in Mosses, Sedges, Ferns Lichens and large flushes of Golden Saxifrage. The valley is also famous for the large ant hills built by the Northern Hairy Wood Ant.
This valley is about 3 miles long  cutting deep into high farm land just below the moors of the South Pennines.
      Through my eyes there wasn't a lot to see, but on the upper south facing slopes of the valley the first frustratingly slow signs of string were just beginning to show.

                                  A mossy damp slippery world

The main river flowing through the valley is very peaty and acidic but it does hold small Brown Trout which in November tend to run up and spawn in the sweeter side steams were the water source is less acidic

                The side stream where the trout spawn

                   Golden Saxifrage showing signs of flowering

Gibsons Mill once a cotton mill in the 18th & 19th century, now a cafe and education centre run by the National Trust

          The shoots of Bluebells and the leafy rosette of Pink Purslane

 Perhaps Pink Purslane isn't a well known flower. In May 2009 we found drifts of it growing in the woodlands in Dumfriesshire  Southwest Scotland

Finally we like to stand on this rock and survey the woodland in the valley

Friday, 11 February 2011

Signs of Spring

Friday 11th Feb. 2011
                                  The weather has been Springlike this week especially yesterday, I know we're not out of the woods just yet but it really did feel grand having some warm sunshine and temperatures above 10 c.
      I've been tidying up the back garden this week and switched on the pond pump to circulate the water again down the stream. The first flush of spring in the garden is an encouraging sign that Spring is just around the corner.

            The Snowdrops are now well established around my garden

                           A poor specimen but the first Primrose

                          The first Marsh-marigolds have emerged

About 15 frogs around the pond but a bit early for spawning 

Crocuses in the rockery

              And finally this Coot was nest building on the local pond