More New Places. A Look Back At 2017, Part 2

Picking this up again in early July. With 30 Days Wild completed and another week off work, it seemed like a good time to head out and tick some of the places off my ever growing list of where I want to visit.

New Places

RSPB The Lodge

The first place this week was RSPB HQ at The Lodge in Sandy. This turned out to be much bigger than I thought, with two large heathland areas either side of a large house and gardens. In one of the heathland areas there were a pair of hobby birds nesting in one of the trees. Unfortunately, although I could see them through the camera they were just too far away to make a good photograph. Still interesting to see though. There was plenty else to see, lots of butterflies around as well as quite a few 6 spot burnet moths around the plants in the gardens.

One last photo from this trip, since this is the RSPB HQ the gardens just wouldn’t be complete without a bit of topiary in the shape of an avocet.

National Trust Stowe Landscape Gardens

A Capability Brown designed garden, this is a place I’ve been meaning to visit for years but somehow never quite got round to. It’s a large garden with numerous small temples, monuments, statues, and such like, representing various gods and goddesses, as well as some famous people from history. The house is quite impressive but not always open and not included in the National Trust members entry, so I didn’t go in there.

There is far too much of it to include here, but I have a lot more photos in my Flickr album for the visit.

Coton Manor Gardens

A relatively small place compared to the sprawling gardens of the National Trust and RHS, but after 2 days with quite a lot of walking this made for a nice break. These are your more traditional gardens, divided up into small areas with lots of plants of flowers along different themes. Plus there are flamingos.

Holme Fen

Not a new place, but a nice place. I’ve written about Holme Fen before, so I won’t repeat myself. The usual array of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies were out and about, although there wasn’t a lot of bird life to be seen from the hide.

Something that was new since my previous visit is a memorial stone that has been placed for the Spitfire pilot, Officer Harold Penketh, who sadly crashed here in 1940.

The spitfire was located and excavated during 2015 and the stone placed in September 2016, prior to work beginning to return the land back to being wetland and reed beds as part of the ongoing expansion of the Great Fen. You can read the full story on the Great Fen website here – Great Fen Spitfire.

Fermyn Woods Country Park

One of Northamptonshire’s Country Parks and the only one I’ve been to so far. Jointly managed by the council and Forestry Commission, the site consists of grassland, meadow and ponds around the lower area near the carpark, then woodland stretching up the hill beyond. There were a lot of skipper butterflies about in the clearings and silver washed fritillaries on the brambles along the sides of the paths, as well as 6 spot burnet moths in the meadow areas.

This is one of the places where Purple Emperor butterflies are found but I didn’t see any on this day, they’re elusive at the best of times and it was a bit too early in the year to really warrant hanging around to look for them. I’m planning to go looking for them this year, maybe a walk including both Fermyn and the nearby Lady Wood at Lyveden New Bield where they’re also reported to be found.

Summer in the Garden

Late July into August and early September was a bit of a lazy time for me, mostly spent relaxing in the garden, enjoying the flowers and the minibeasts they attract. I had some new plants this year including honeywort, cornflower and rudbekia, which I’d grown from seed, so it was nice to see them flowering and watching the bees visiting them.

I also had a couple of interesting finds in the garden this year. The first was an aphid turned cocoon, a characteristic of an aphid predated by a tiny parasitoid praon wasp. I know this happens but I’ve never seen it first hand before.

The second find was an unusual ladybird, for me at least. Not a species I’ve encountered before, this is hippodamia variegata otherwise known as Adonis’ Ladybird. I spotted two of them last year and apparently numbers are on the rise, so hopefully I’ll see more in the future.

A Week in the Woods

In early September with autumn just around the corner I decided to take another week off work and spent it visiting the local woodlands. No new places this time, just revisiting places I know to look for the colours starting to change.

The first place I headed off too was Wildlife Trusts Brampton Wood, where I’ve been many times before. Some of the trees had already lost their leaves and others were on the turn, with the warm sunlight bringing out the colours nicely. The woodland rides were filled with the flowers of devils-bit scabious which were attracting lots of butterflies as well as quite a lot of hornets, which I’ve not seen in those numbers before. This also lead to another new encounter for me this year with my first sighting of Hummingbird hawk moths, of which there were quite a few visiting the scabious flowers. Very hard to photograph as they never stop flying and don’t stay in one place for long, but I was quite pleased with the photo I did get.

For the second trip I headed back to Short Wood and Southwick Wood, another Wildlife Trusts nature reserve that I’ve been to quite a few times before. The weather was a bit hit and miss on this day, mostly sunny in the morning though I did have to shelter from one passing shower under the trees. The periods of sunlight created some nice scenes with shafts of light coming through the trees and illuminating patches of the woodland floor, there was also a lot of fungi about with some fantastic parts where hundreds of tiny ink-caps were cascading over fallen trees.

With intermittent wet weather I only managed three trips in this week, and for the final outing I headed off to a somewhat damp and overcast Wakerley Great Wood. I’d only been here once before in 2016 as part of Wild October, though the weather was a lot better that time. I also found it quite hard to follow the trail this time as some of the marker posts seem to have disappeared. Despite this and the weather it was still a nice walk, with plenty of signs of Autumn to be seen from fungi to berries to the changing colours of bracken. I even spotted a gnome having a snooze in a tree!

End of Part 2

Time for another break now, I’ll be back soon with a slightly shorter part three to see out the rest of the year, including an autumnal trip to Hampshire and a coating of snow.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Louise says:

    I love the idea of spending a week visiting local woodlands… perhaps a challenge for the future! I like the look of Wakerley Great Wood too. I’ve just looked it up on a map and see it’s not too far from Rutland so I might visit when I next head that way. I’ve enjoyed seeing all your photos and look forward to seeing your autumn soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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