We don’t live near the sea: 61 miles, to be exact. But sometimes, on a hot day, only a wide expanse of water will fit the bill. And that’s what Nosterfield, fewer than four miles away can provide. It was – and still is – a gravel quarry. On any day of the week, you’ll see great yellow trucks lumbering down the road, laden with gravel. Back before the 1980s, this area was a lunar landscape: sand and gravel pits, gargantuan earthmovers,spoilheaps. Some of it still is.
But in the 1990s, a professional landscape architect, Simon Warwick, spotted its potential. He’d noticed how even as an industrial site, the area attracted thousands of migrating ducks and geese each autumn. Parts of the site were no longer economically viable and no longer being worked. Not without considerable difficulty, he established the Lower Ure Conservation Trust, and focused on creating an area of wet grassland, with water attached – sometimes extensive lakes, and at other times drying out into muddy scrapes. Native flora were allowed to regenerate naturally.
Wildfowl are delighted. Wading birds are enchanted. 200 species of bird make use of this service station for birds, halfway between the important migratory staging posts of the Dee Estuary and Teesmouth. Birdspotters and nature lovers generally love this place, and the well-appointed hides that are a feature of the site are rarely out of use.
I wonder who’s on that scrape over there?
If, like us, you’re strictly amateur in your knowledge of birds, you might love it too. It’s a tranquil place, except when the birds are having spirited and raucous exchanges, and a perfect place to spend an hour or two at any time of year. But especially on a hot day in summer, with a cooling breeze drifting from the waterside. With wild cherries, apples, plums and blackberries on offer, you’ll even have a snack provided.
Diaphanous sugar-pink wraiths trailing long floating tendrils pulsated gently round their royal blue tank: hypnotic: mesmerising. They neither paused nor hurried. They simply oscillated, surged, ebbed, flowed. These ethereal creatures didn’t merit their prosaic name of Black Star Northern Sea Nettle. Who dreamed that one up?
When we finally left them to it, we discovered we hadn’t finished with pulsing creatures. Here was a Blue Spotted Ribbon-Tail Ray. He gently wove round the tank, his flat body slowly rippling to the rhythm of his inner pulse.
Then there were the frogs. Look at these two Amazon Milk Frogs. They had nothing to do but regard us without interest, as their chests swelled and deflated – pulse, pulse.
In the garden is a pond. And in the pond there are some fish. We live near the River Ure. So near our home, some hungry herons live….
Back at Christmas time, William and family gave us a trail camera, wildlife-filming-for-the-use-of, mainly at night. This week, we decided to site it near the pond, to see if a Hungry Heron would visit. One did …..
This post is in response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt. Let’s let them introduce themselves: ‘RDP was started by a ragtag collection of bloggers who weren’t ready to give up on the Daily Prompt when Word Press was. So, seven of us agreed to provide a prompt once a week, and we began on June 1, 2018.’ Good luck, Ragtag! This is the kind of party I’d like to join.
We found ourselves tussling with the fag-end of Storm Hector on Thursday, as it exhausted itself gusting round the neighbourhood. It closed the market early as stallholders gave up the battle to keep their goods and stands in one place, and dumped leafy branches in the path of unwary motorists.
It reminded me of a more than breezy walk last February. Look! Here are the grasses edging the wetlands at Staveley Nature Reserve.
Wildlife has had a tough time getting going this year. Bluebells late, lilac late, bird migrants late – where are our swifts, diving and swooping in the evening skies, gorging on feasts of flies before night sets in?
At last though, mallard ducklings have appeared on the village pond. There seem to be three families: tiny ducklings; some a few days bigger; and one lot who could be described as teenagers. Apart from having little in the way of wings yet, they look pretty grown up. We idled away part of the afternoon the other day, just watching them scuttle and swim.
It’s as well they breed so prolifically, those ducks. The babies have little chance of making it to adulthood. The resident goose doesn’t like them. Jealous drakes don’t like babies who aren’t their own. Foxes like them alright, but as a snack. And then there’s the road, though drivers try hard to avoid these creatures, who simply haven’t learnt their Green Cross Code. My favourite sight from last year was seeing a mighty dustbin lorry shudder to a halt, and wait while Mrs. Mallard led her brood of seven efficiently across the busy road.
Last Monday, towards evening, the place to be was our home. We dashed from window to window, watching as dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of starlings descended on the trees round our house. They weighed down the branches, then in coordinated waves – responding to some urge we could not understand – they swept skywards, tearing across the garden, swooping, diving, before briefly settling again to repeat the performance again and again for a whole three-quarters of an hour, before finally disappearing to settle near the river for the night.
So near to our house, those mesmerising formations of groups of birds twisting and turning in harmony, as if in some graceful aerial dance weren’t so apparent as they are at a distance. We were rewarded instead by seeing them at close quarters, rising, landing and rising again from the trees near our house.
At Christmas, Tom & Sarah gave us a night camera, so we could see what went on in the garden after dark. So far no bears, wolves or lynx have revealed themselves. Sadly, no foxes, badgers or deer either, though we know they’re there: we just have to find the right spot.
This week however, with all the snow, the garden took on an other-worldly aspect. And the rabbits came out as little as possible. But here’s one who braved the cold. Please note the temperature.
And in the morning, as short periods of sunshine briefly melted the snow, we spotted, apart from rabbit prints…
…. and pheasant prints …..
….. human bootprints too.
Although I rather liked these ghostly negative image prints. I thought they looked out of this world.