Category Archives: Enjoying the countryside

Tales of our experiences ‘out there’

Image for 2018 Winter bird walk report resized

2018 Guided Winter Birds walk about Hillhouse Wood

Of the four walks that I lead in and around Hillhouse Wood during the year, the  Winter Bird one is the most variable and unpredictable.  This is because winter birds move around in their search for food, so what we see is unusually dependent on ‘being at the right place at the right time’.   The 2018 walk was an excellent example of this, enhanced by its timing just at the end of our exposure to ‘The Beast from the East’. If nothing else, it was the first walk I’ve led through several inches of snow.

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2017 dawn chorus walking 700

Were there more people than birds at the 2017 Hillhouse Wood Dawn chorus walk?

It can’t be often that Hall Road is the busiest place in West Bergholt.  But at 03.40 on Sunday 7 May I would be fairly confident that this was the case, as seemingly floods of cars arrived for this year’s Dawn Chorus walk.  That is certainly what it felt like!

And so 24 of us assembled in the pitch dark, with most of us wondering quite what they had let themselves in for, and me wondering why on earth I volunteered to get up at such an appalling time each year. Continue reading

Orchid in flower 700

Swarming bees steal the show on this year’s spring flowers nature walk

On Saturday 22 April I led this year’s spring flower nature walk to Hillhouse wood.  The forecast was for OK weather, so we hoped that a decent number of people would come along.  As 2 pm approached, numbers swelled, and by the time it was time to start it was clear that Chris Stephenson’s publicity machine had been on overdrive. Forty seven people were present, which was the largest group I can remember.  I was going to be doing a lot of shouting (no change there, some would say). Continue reading

Leading the 2017 Winter Birds walk in Hillhouse Wood – and meeting a real life ‘Wood Monster’

Over the years this particular walk has been one of the more variable in terms of the numbers who turn up – spending a few hours watching birds in a biting wind on a cold winter’s day is not always the most inviting prospect.  So I was glad to see that the forecast for this year’s walk was for relatively balmy spring-like weather.  My optimistic view was reinforced by the amount of noisily busy bird behaviour we had observed on the previous day’s work party.

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This year’s Autumn Fruits walk beats the weather – but Abigail and James steal the show

On 16 October I ran the fourth (I think) Autumn Fruits nature walk around and through Hillhouse Wood, near West Bergholt.  The fact that I am able to make this statement is a slight surprise, because the previous evening’s weather forecast had heavy rain bang on the time of the walk, and light rain for an hour either side.  On which basis I had anticipated being on my own. Continue reading

The Naturetale team has a great day spotting wild flowers with Monika Koch of Wild Adventures under Suffolk’s Skies

This year Naturetale has again run its offer of a day out spotting wild flowers with our team for someone who has bought the app.  This year’s winner was Monika Koch of Wild Adventures under Suffolk’s Skies and Stars of Suffolk.  Most helpfully, the area around Monika’s base at Aldburgh, Suffolk has some great wild flower locations – and as Monika organises nature walks she knows exactly where these are.

And so it was that Richard and I headed over to Aldburgh (or, more accurately, Snape) on Saturday 6 August.  Continue reading

So who won the Naturetale ‘Wild flowerspotting Masterclass’ offer – or was this always a con, like we suspect so many of these ‘special offers’ are?

May 30 was the deadline for entries to the Naturetale ‘have a day out with the team looking at flowers at a place convenient to you’  offer (we spent a lot of time crafting that snappy title).  So I’m guessing that you’re all waiting with bated breath to find out who won it.  If, indeed, anyone did. Continue reading

The 2016 Hillhouse Wood Dawn Chorus walk – a year of ‘firsts’, which was literally ‘gatecrashed’ by an unexpected beast

Over the last few years the Friends has developed a slick and effective ability to publicise our activities, particularly the guided walks.  So it was another ‘first’ when the publicity for the Dawn Chorus walk, err, didn’t happen.  In an organisation with the scale, complexity and dynamism of the Friends there is always the risk that inter-departmental communication may go awry. And so it appears that our Outreach and Publicity Division were not made aware of the date of this walk – according to its Global Vice President of Communications.  Our Operations and Delivery Division had forgotten to tell them! Maybe we need a new ‘cloud based’ technology platform? One for the next committee meeting!

So, exhibiting impressive fleetness of foot and responsiveness (for an organisation of our size) we used our stand at the church, the previous afternoon, to tell passing visitors to the wood about the Dawn Chorus walk.  And so nine people (plus a well behaved collie) turned up – not the largest group, but very pleasing in the circumstances and, actually, better for bird listening than larger groups. Continue reading

The 2016 Friends of Hillhouse Wood winter bird walk – plenty of birds, albeit absent ones!

The morning of Saturday 27 February was cold, dank and a bit dismal – not at all inviting.  So naturally 15 people turned out for the 2016 Winter Birds guided walk in Hillhouse Wood, West Bergholt.  This was the largest number that I can recall for this walk.  It is one of the most variable of the ones I lead, both in terms of what we see and how many attend.  One year there was just two of us.  I was glad to see that Linda Firmin, Jo’s widow, had turned up, as if there is anything to see she will spot it.

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Plenty to see and talk about on my recent Autumn Fruits walk

In early October I led the third of my Autumn Fruits walks in and around Hillhouse Wood, near West Bergholt.  These walks focus on berries and nuts, but also cover whatever else we find along the way.  Continue reading