Tag Archives: Early purple orchid

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

165 Bluebell cropped

The Track a Tree phenology project continues for a third year in Hillhouse wood

As keen readers of this blog, and my Mum, will know, for the last two years I have done field work for this project.  This involves visiting some specific trees (four in my case) more or less weekly throughout the spring to record data about what is happening.  ‘Happening’ stuff involves the stage of bud burst and leaf break, and the numbers of specific species of flower that are showing underneath the tree.  By capturing this data at different sites in the UK, the project enables differences in the timing of ‘Spring’ to be rigorously identified across the country and between years.  It ran for two years to support a PhD project at the University of Edinburgh, and I’ve been glad to hear that it is continuing for a third year, at least, even though Christine has gained her qualification. 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

An unanticipated downside of Citizen Science – it can make you hate nature (a little bit)

So this is my third year as a volunteer recorder for the most excellent and worthy TrackaTree phenology project, which uses volunteers to collect data to be analysed by scientists.  It seems to operate at just the right level of data collection demand to suit me – rigorous enough to be meaningful without being overbearing in what you have to record and submit.

But everything has a downside somewhere, and these are not always obvious at the start. Continue reading

Track a Tree visits to Hillhouse wood in April (so far)

It’s been a slightly off month so far, phenology wise.  The weatherfolk tell us that this Spring has been relatively sunny, dry and warm.  I don’t doubt them and their instruments, but feel that this doesn’t tell the whole story – which also needs to encompass ‘cold nights’.  Continue reading

A Spring nature walk in Hillhouse wood – I seem to have got away with another one

On Saturday I led another nature walk around Hillhouse wood.  At least with most of the ‘action’ centring on flowers I knew that there would be something to see – they can’t run, slither, swim or fly away.  Continue reading

Spring is arrested in Hillhouse Wood

At the moment I’m in Hillhouse Wood just about every day.  This is for two reasons; firstly, I’m keeping an eye on progress with my four trees in the Track a Tree phenology project (I recommend it).  Secondly, I’m waiting for ‘Spring to start’.  Continue reading

Track a Tree Visit 6 – I wonder if I’ve chosen a dead Ash tree?

Having spent the last two days and today working solidly on testing the Android version of the app, I badly needed an excuse to get out.  And as it had been five days since the last visit, I decided it was time for some more data.  It was immediately clear that the Bluebells had been busy since the last visit, and a pleasing number of orchid spikes were also visible. Continue reading

Track a Tree visit 4 – in which I shamelessly trick my daughter into doing the work

After a day spent checking the database we’re using for the Android version of the Naturetale app I was ready to start crawling up walls – which isn’t easy when you’ve turned your brain to scrambled mincemeat.  Despite the gloomy and threatening clouds some fresh air was called for.  Although it was only five days since my last Track a tree field visit, the way spring is springing at the moment provided a perfect excuse to get out.  Who knows – the Nightingales might be early. Continue reading

My third Track a Tree visit – momentum builds despite human intervention

My second visit to monitor how things are changing.  I’m starting to feel a bit more of an ‘old hand’ now – but is this based on confidence, or complacency?  It’s slightly murky in the pre-dawn light, but a damn site warmer than my last visit. Continue reading