Saturday, March 17, 2012
We decided to visit Tophill Low water pumping station.
It's an RSPB reserve with two large reservoirs set in wetlands between the west bank of the River Hull and Barmston Drain that are a haven for wildlife. It's a working station and provides water for the town of Kingston-upon-Hull whilst also being open to nature lovers.
The reservoirs are high sided concrete and very deep so can only be viewed from high hides and viewing platforms built around their sides. They are named 'O' and 'D' because of their shape. Each is surrounded by wetland areas, copses and woodland.
We decided to do the shorter three mile walk of the 'D' reservoir.
Climbing the steep open tread steps to the first hide, covered in wire mesh so the unwary don't slip, we caught glimpses of the water as we went up. There were flocks of mute swans, various ducks and lots of gulls. We watched for a while from the quiet peacefulness of the hide and I was pleased to see a smew, it's only the second time I've ever seen one, but he was too far away for a photograph so I had to be content to watch through my binoculars. He's a spectacular little fellow with white plumage covered in what looks like black graffiti. There were two ruddy ducks too with their gorgeous ginger plumage and bright blue beaks.
The next part of the walk is a meandering path, you stroll through a beautiful snowdrop covered wooded area where sunlight filters down through the canopy. There are small ponds set here in small open glades, which in summer attract dragonflies, butterflies and insects but this time of year there isn't a lot to see, just a waterhen scurrying into the foliage at the pond's edge. The different colours of which are interesting, the old brown spent reeds with new green shoots forcing their way up from the bottom and the cotton tufted reedmace heads blowing in the wind.
Following the beech mast strewn path through the woodland we saw the double slotted tracks of roe deer embedded deep in the once muddy ground but sadly not the animal itself.
A grey squirrel scampered up a tree and sat watching us from it's lofty vantage point knowing full well it was safe...he was nibbling delicately on a pine cone with his pretty tail arched over his back like a fluffy parasol.
We rounded the high wall at the top of the reservoir committing ourselves to the flat side of the 'D' shape. I'm not as keen on this bit as the other as it's a long straight concrete road which the wardens use for transport. It seems to go on forever but it is besides the Barmston Drain so you can occasionally see waterfowl and there are small birds in the hedges which run alongside. There are often roe deer in the field across the water but today wasn't our lucky day.
Entering a wooded area once more we came across a larch tree in flower with it's pretty bright pink female cones, we found them last year and had hoped they would be in flower again. The tiny yellowy brown appendages on the underside of the branch are the male cones which will eventually grow into the cones we all recognise. There were more bushy tailed grey squirrels leaping around from branch to branch and elusive bluetits sang out their appealing little shrill noted songs though we never did catch a glimpse of them.
Then we were back at the car park, removing our walking boots before sitting in the warmth with a cup of steaming hot chocolate.
All this walking must surely be good for me...lol...even if I really enjoy it and it doesn't feel like exercise!
Here are a couple of pictures:
pretty pink female larch cone flowers, the small yellowy brown appendage underneath is the male cone
delicate green weeping willows, there are usually lots of rabbits feeding under them but a new rabbit proof fence has been erected so they might have got 'rid' of them
The long straight concrete road I'm not too keen on walking, the deep set Barmston Drain is over the mesh fence on the right
Roe deer slots
One of the small ponds dotted throughout the woodland
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Dh and I went up into the forestry above Wykeham on Sunday.
It's beautiful there, so peaceful and quiet.
We park up and walk the rides between the tracts of trees.
Where we walk is a managed forest of mostly pines which mature and are replaced around every ten years. It has wonderful contrasts of valleys, high crags and forest glades.
The rides are wide green tracks between large tracts of trees which the forestry workers use as pathways to move equipment, store felled trees etc.
Long and wide, interspaced with little sunlit glades, they also act as a firebreak between plantings and most of them have a big box of fire flappers at the end of them.
Green, flat and pleasant to walk, they're a haven for wildlife, anything from adders basking to deer and birds.
Flowers and ferns adorn their edges, a habitat for insects, moths and butterflies.
There are also designated areas for tree nurseries with large fields full of miniature little baby trees all planted in serried rows like a tiny army, the contrast from light field to dark forest is a pleasing sight.
And there are vantage viewpoints overlooking bird migration routes, usually high above the valley with magnificent views for miles and miles.
There are lots of different routes we love to walk but on Sunday we chose the ride down past a small reservoir which is a haunt of long tailed tits. We saw a great flock of them, they live in large family groups but they flit about so quickly that I couldn't manage a decent photograph just a very blurred far distant one which could actually look like a bird if you squint at it...lol...it isn't even worth looking at!
A beautiful feisty little robin was singing sweetly when we set off down the ride, he chose to escort us through his territory, suddenly appearing at the top of a tree just in front of us, time and time again, singing loudly and proclaiming his rights.
At the end of the ride we crossed an fenced around open area, there were lots of rabbits scampering back and forth and a lone roe deer watched us warily but he swiftly jumped the fence and disappeared into the trees giving us a nice glimpse of his buttocks with their white heart shape. A squirrel was rounding a tree trunk but vanished into the canopy in a blink of an eye.
We sat on a stile step and had a delicious cup of hot chocolate, drinking in the peace and tranquility, before we walked on. Padding silently through the dark trees and mossed tracks with their earthy scent, scaly trunks standing sentinel to the forest's path.
After the deep shade of the pine trees, still covered with cones, we emerged into a beautiful sunlit glade, dust motes danced and time seemed to stand still.
High Brow Ridge, with it's magnificent views across the valley and a welcome seat for weary legs where we sat quietly with birdsong echoing around us.
There were coltsfoot growing there with it's beautiful feathered stem reminiscent of a colt's foot hairs and where it derived it's name from.
I haven't seen any in ages as it's an endangered species now unlike when we were children and collected it so mam could make coltsfoot rock, a soft melt in the mouth confection which tasted delicious and I've never tasted in years. Oh! it's making me salivate...lol...now that calls for a visit to the old fashioned goodie shop next time I'm in town!
There were large primeval boulders covered in moss and pretty green lichen looking for all the world like tiny stylised trees.
And gorse blooming around the edges. It flowers all year round hence the old saying 'when gorse is in bloom, kissing's in fashion'.
Then back down a short winding path through the trees to the car and we headed off into the sunset!
Here's a taster for you:
Laden with cones
A fiesty little robin escorted us through his territory
Sunlight filters down making the trees seem to glow
Gorse in bloom
Looking back through the pines out over High Brow Ridge as we head towards the car
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Rain, rain go away, come again another day!
The old childhood adage worked!!
We had seventeen hours of continuous heavy rain over sunday which continued through the night and then most of monday morning.
Tuesday, though a little chilly, was a typical spring day with blue skies, fluffy white clouds and watery sunshine.
But today we're back to heavy rain again.
It started last night just before bedtime and it's still at it.
Now some places around here are experiencing a drought, we really haven't had much rain since before last summer and the couple of weeks of snow didn't help much.
The water companies are already talking of hosepipe bans and standpipes in the streets.
One weatherman said it would need to rain heavily and continuously, day and night for a month to make any dent in refilling the reservoirs which, in some places, are two thirds down on what they should be at this time of year so I suppose every little helps.
I know some of you were interested in my hospital treatment after the envelope debacle, well I went for a review for my phototherapy sessions today. My skin has responded so well that I've been officially signed off from treatment so my three times a week, thirty mile round trip has officially stopped from today. I've another review in April but so far it's looking good.
I thought you might like to see what the weather was like when we drove there this morning, DH was driving, not me, and all are taken through the car windows...the windsceen wipers were on but it was windy and the rain was lashing against the screen filling it very quickly before the next sweep:
Cars coming towards us through the heavy rain
The old ash tree on the village green in a village where DH stopped for a newspaper, it doesn't look as bad but it was still raining heavily just more sheltered from the wind
Turning into town
i think the lights in the shop windows look pretty through the rain drenched glass
Sunday, March 04, 2012
I've had this on my Sparkpage for a while now but it still makes me smile:
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