Saturday, December 31, 2011

31st December... ring out the old, ring in the new!

Bluebells, Canterbury bells, Bellflowers, they all appear in Triangle Wood at their allotted season ... but not in the winter ... we need something else to ring in the new year ... What better than the first snowdrops, little bells proclaiming the coming of 2012 for all to see! 

... and for such delicate little beauties they are remarkably strong, pushing up through the leaf little and bark on the woodland floor and competing with the ivy, like little troopers and standing to attention!  The Dragoon Guards meet the Ballerinas!  And maybe that is how we should face the New Year ... with a combination of strength, fortitude, faith and inner beauty.  Like Nature herself!  Happy New Year from all in Triangle Wood!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

29th December - wind and a little rain...and sunshine to come!

To get to Triangle Wood I have to walk along a quiet lane and over a small bridge, which crosses the river Lark ... 

Today, after some rain and a very blustery night, the river was running quite high, chattering over the stones and washing the banks making little splashes and splutters dance in the odd, rare, bursts of sunlight.  There are not many flowers around at this time of the year, but buttercups, in their many guises can always be found.  Alongside the river bank, by a clump of yellow flowers, a little creamy coloured water wagtail was bobbing and paddling in the water for all the world as though it were a summer afternoon!  Bless his little sun-shiny heart, he made me feel as though behind the darkest cloud, the sun is just waiting to come out for us.

What ever the new year has in store - let us thanks the Powers that Be for things that are yellow!
They promise the sunshine to come!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

22nd December - a little night music

One of the few advantages (if you call it that!) of these long nights is that you are more likely to see nocturnal birds and animals than you are in the short, light evenings of the summer...

Last night the screech of the barn owl gave notice that he was out and about taking advantage of the long darkness to find food.

Keen eyes, soft feathers.
Pity the small animals who came to his notice ... those eyes miss nothing and the silent approach gives little chance of escape.  I have known a barn owl to pass so silently that a brush of the wings on your cheek is the first indication of his approach, maybe then a swish of downy feathers, maybe a lightning fast stoop to snatch up his prey.  The darkness is both friend and foe depending on your allegiance!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20th ... almost the shortest day!

Christmas is coming ... and ...

What would the Druids think??
...  it's a good thing that the mistletoe is soooo high up the trees, otherwise it might not be there at all! Apparently there has been a lot of unauthorised "harvesting" going on... personally I think if you want to steal a kiss under the mistletoe the best time to do it is with rosy cheeks and a pink nose after a long, cold, Christmas walk... if he loves you then, he will love you always!  Incurable romantic, aren't I?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

17th December ... real frost!!

Slippery slope for a spider!!
There was a SHARP frost last night - the first time we had a real sparkle first thing in the morning.  It makes everything magical and seems to enhance shapes, too.  Especially angular ones... this teasel head look fabulous any time ... but in the frost... WOW!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

16th December - Snow!!!

The first snowflakes of the year fluttered down this morning.  Not enough to lie on the ground - it's too wet and not quite cold enough yet ... but maybe a taste of things to come?

What's that???
It must be really strange being a tiny animal when winter first arrives ... snow must come as a big shock!!
A single snowflake on your nose and you would not be able to see a thing!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

15th December ... more visitors!

The pine cones were popular again today ... this time the blue tits were in residence!

I took the time to take a closer look at the structure of the cones themselves - what little miracles they are!  Angular and perfect, and looking rather like those strange "fractals" that are so beloved of the boffins and mathematicians!

... even the pine needles are exqusite when you really take the touble to look!  Complete with tiny cones, which are the products of this year's "flowers".  They will not start to look like cones until next year and then mature the year after that!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

13th December - a wild night!

Wow, it was a really stormy night ... and there was plenty of old wood which came down from the canopy of the trees together with pine cones.  Very wet, too, and so soggy underfoot this morning, just the thing for a brisk walk to clear the cobwebs...

I heard a high pitched bird call and looked up to see a beautiful gold finch looking for seeds in the pine cones!  Did you know that the design we know as "paisley" is actually based on a pine cone pattern?  The original concept came from India where the pines of the sub continent were large and spectacular ... the pattern travelled to Scotland, in particular to "Paisley" and was incorporated into fabric made up into shawls ... hence its popular name!
Nature's Christmas decorations!
The several stages of the cone's development are often visible together on a single branch ... which is why the swirls of the "paisley" designs graduate from small to large and back again ... fascinating!   This little fellow looks as though he is planning the Christmas festivities by decking his very own halls with pine cones!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dember 12th - Finally back to the Woods!

Well, I must say I AM feeling rather guilty, what with the 'flu/cold/whatever plus my weekend classes to teach and some private tuition is it three weeks since I have managed to get down to the woods - serious withdrawal symptoms setting in!

Kestrel hovering over the edge of the wood

It was a beautifully clear, though cold, morning with a fresh light blue sky and what should I see almost immediately but a glorious kestrel hovering over the headland at the edge of the woods.  The wind has been brisk, but as he hovered, his head moved not an inch ... so intent on watching the small creatures below.

Water vole .... taking cover!

In a sheltered corner, there were still a few toadstools which had survived the recent colder weather - there has been nothing cold enough to create a frost inside the wood.  These will be very useful energy sources for non hibernating animals...

Late night - or early morning? - shopping!

Monday, November 21, 2011

21st November already - honestly!

It's fascinating how escaped garden plants can make themselves so at home in the wild...  "honesty" is a good example.  During the summer the pretty pink flowers are commonly seen in woodland, especially if nearby cottages have the plant in their gardens.

... and then at this time of year the seed pods, looking like little oriental fans, stay quite whole for many months.  They are excellent as Christmas decorations if you have the patience to strip them of their outer membranes - and even if you don't you can take a short cut by spraying them with glitter or gold paint.  Oh, no!! I mentioned Christmas again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20th November - Berries!

They do say that if there is a fine crop of berries in the autumn it presages a cold winter to come ... and if the holly berries are following tradition we may be in for some really chilly days ahead.  Today I noticed that there is a fine, dense crop of berries in the wood, and also along the lanes, paths and hedgerows nearby.

At some point in the past a cultivated holly must have cross pollinated with a native bush to produce this "sport" with cream, variegated leaves.  They are so pretty!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17th - Jack Frost's first visit!

There was just a suspicion of frost on the trees this morning ... enough to make you think that Jack had breathed on them for a moment before going on to more important things!  Sadly there are few elms around these days, but we are lucky to have one close by ... and in it some mistletoe!  The mistletoe is high up in its branches - safe from the most avid collector, and I am always amazed by how spherical the balls of this strange plant are ... like ethereal footballs suspended in some strange net!

Maybe Jack Frost is a football fan ...
The snowberries are becoming smaller and harder now, too - like little white footballs!  Earlier in the year some of them seem to "blow up", become soft, and are then tempting and eaten by birds ... others seem to "petrify" as the cold weather begins and remain on the plant until the birds are really desperate for food later in the winter.  Nature's cold-store.

Not appetising now, but wait until January!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

16th November - early morning ...

I was up very early this morning and so saw the dawn - there was a mist over the fields and then the sun came up, even this late in the year its heat burning off the mist very quickly.  Watching it evaporate was magic - the sun big and red ... I know, "red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning"... we'll have to see what weather follows!

I was not the only one up early!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

14th November - the less, the more ...

A very quick visit to the wood (I have to confess I was in the car, on the way elsewhere!) made me realise that sometimes, just an impression can speak volumes...  As a stitcher, a few strategically placed seed stitches can create the impression of a distant tree, a tiny landscape...

"Through the eye of a needle..."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11th and 12th November - from sombre to bright ...

Remembrance Day was rather dismal and sombre weather-wise, drizzly and chilly, too.  When I got home I lit a great big open fire in the hearth of my cottage and said a big thank you - for life, liberty and a warm home!

Today, it is much brighter - though down in the wood you get the feeling that the small animals are beginning to pull down the shutters for the season!  The birds are busy feeding on berries - and there seem to be plenty about - whilst the cottage chickens seem to have abandoned the outskirts of the wood for the garden.

Some unusual visitors can pop in at this time of the year... the waxwing is a lovely bird and if often attracted by the ripening fruit of the wood's outer perimeter... looking closely at the rowan berries you can see hoe juicy they are ... I have a Rowan tree in my garden, too, and the blackbirds love it!

Invitation to lunch!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10th - after a moonlit night!

The sky was clear last night and the moonlight made for a chilly one!  I'm not sure it is one of those "predictors" of a cold winter to come, but I saw a stoat - in the summer a glorious chestnut brown with a black tip to his tail, in the winter snowy white in "ermine" - and his coat was already beginning to turn... does that mean cold weather soon, I wonder?

Starstruck stoat!
It's fascinating the was the tail tip always stays white, even when the rest of the fur is white.  Hence, of course, the heraldic colour "ermine": white with black swatches.  Celebrity status to say the least!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9th - Goodbye leaves!

In just a couple of days the landscape seems to have changed completely ... there is that certain something in the air that makes you want to wrap up warm and walk that little bit faster!  After the rain came more wind and even more of the leaves have fallen.  Then there was a moonlit night and for the first time this year the trees took on their winter persona!  My sycamore is still sporting a few bright yellow leaves, but some of the less sheltered specimens are rally beginning to look "witchy"!  The oaks aren't quite as bare as this, but it's coming!
Moonlight in the wood.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remember, remember, 5th November!

I haven't made it down to the wood for a few days - during which the rain has brought down a lot more leaves.  Now the canopy is looking sparse and the rain is able to fall down into the leaf litter unimpeded!  This seems to be good news for insects and other small animals - which feed on them.  There are some very fine worms and snails about ...

... which seems to be good news for certain other inhabitants ...

... just in time for lunch!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1st November ... and the rain has arrived!

Well, it had to come, the rain is finally here.  So far only a light shower, but I get the feeling that we are in for rather more.  On the canopy of the wood - still quite a few leaves in situ - it patters with a gentle, rhythmic sound ... peaceful and yet a little melancholy, it sounds like the end of the last remnants of summer!

"What's that?"
 The sound made one little fellow look up as though he thought manna was falling from heaven... and maybe it was... the nuts were beginning to fall with the rain!

"Hazel nuts!!"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween - 31st October

It has to be said that the spookiest thing at the moment is still the weather!  Today I saw common mallows in bud and flower - they are usually flowers of high summer!
Mallows in flower!
Along side them were real autumn treats like "lords and ladies" the berries of the cuckoo pint!  Strange bedfellows indeed on this evening of "trick or treat"!

Lords and Ladies!

Friday, October 28, 2011

28th October - flying visit!

On a quick walk to the woods today (busy time at the moment, preparing for a weekend class, so making the most of some lovely sunny evening hours) I passed by an area on the outskirts of the wood where some of last summer's sunflowers still retained some of their seeds.  Several finches, including the noisy greenfinch of a few days ago, were arguing over the largest flowers, but a sweet little redpoll had found one low down to the ground and had made it his own!  The seedling must have escaped from a nearby garden, as they are certainly not native ... but this little guy thought they were all the better for that!  Exotic far to fill his tummy and make his tubby for the winter ahead!

"How to I get down there?"
I hate to miss the changes in the wood for even a few days ... but sadly over the weekend they will have to happen without me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

26th October ... still confusing the seasons here and Down Under!

Everyone's still saying it ... this late warm spell and the strange weather earlier in the year really has confused everything.  Nettles, of course, do tend to flower all through the year, given half a chance, but it's incredibly late to see a holly blue butterfly, even from the second flight!

Did you know that the holly blue is sometimes called the Christmas butterfly?  Quaintly, it is because during their two flights, one in the spring and one in the autumn they feed on "Holly and Ivy"!  Which reminds me, going off subject for a moment, of a lovely butterfly project I have just had published in the Australian magazine INSPIRATIONS...  This is the Ulysses butterfly, with he Christmas Bush!  Sorry, I've just realised that I have got back to Christmas again ... promise not to mention it again until December!!

Triangle Wood Aussie style!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

25th October - wake up call!!

Today, I realise, it is just exactly two months until Christmas ... no, don't sigh!!  I mention it only because it seems incredible, looking around the wood, that Winter should be so close, it really still feels like late summer.  Even some of the nocturnal residents don't seem to be able to get used to it, despite the shortening days and longer nights.  This little owl was up and about still, at around 8.30 a.m. when I took a friend's dogs for "walkies" this morning!

"'s keeping me awake?"

Next weekend we put the clocks back, so maybe that will suit him better!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

22nd October - back to green!

As if to disagree with my comments about everything beginning to turn gold, this little fellow was down in the wood today - a greenfinch!

Busy taking seeds from a dry thistle head, he had better make the most of it, as rain is predicted soon.  Greenfinches are rather aggressive little birds, and this one took a real dislike to a siskin who was also interested in the thistle head.  The siskin looked thoroughly appalled at his language!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Autumnal Day - glorious!

How long can this sunshine last?  One again the wood is bathed in golden light.  The balance between green and gold has finally swung, now, toward the latter, but still in treetops there is a mixture of both.
There are marvellous shapes to be found, too ... this is last summer's teasel flower, now dried out and spiky and turning - you guessed it - gold!  It is a very convenient home for over-wintering ladybirds which find their way down into the depths of the seed head and make a cosy place for themselves to wait out the hard weather.  I never cease to be amazed at nature's ingenuity!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

18th October. The wind in the ... treetops!

Beautiful sunny, breezy day... with the autumn leaves swirling around my feet as I walk, and other tiny airborne flotsam and jetsam too!  Birds must be loosing some of their summer plumage, because there are little feathers blowing in the wind, caught in brambles and cobwebs!  They create tiny "dream catchers", reminding me of the ethnic pieces created by the native American peoples... fascinating, I wonder if that is how the idea first came about?

Dream catcher?
There are still a surprising number of wildflowers down in the leaf mould and among the twigs of the woodland floor.  Periwinkles are like twinkling blue eyes winking up at you!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

16th October - back to the Indian Summer?

Still summer?

This is the second day of glorious sunny weather - a wonderful weekend.  Some of the smaller inhabitants of the wood must be getting a little confused - surely now should be the time for eating lots and getting ready to hibernate?  It IS chilly at night, though, so hopefully instinct will kick in and preparations for the winter ahead will still continue!

There was almost a frost last night, so the colours are beginning to get spectacular, too.  The golds are beginning to give way to crimson and shivering, silvery peppermint on the willows. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumnal ... to say the least!

It's hard to describe anything in the wood today without reverting to cliches!  Gold, brown, crisp... everything sounds a bit hackneyed!  So I looked back at inspiration I had found special in the past and came up with this beautiful leaf ... an oak leaf treated in medieval fashion, and brought to life with gold thread and various "contemporary" techniques!

... and then I realised ... what seemed like and "old" idea to me - maybe 3 years since I designed this motif - - is just a few moments in the life of an real oak tree, maybe 400 years ... which, in its turn, is just a flash, compared to the life of the wood itself ... thousands of seasons, spring upon spring, autumn upon autumn... so maybe I should not be downcast about looking back at previous designs.  "For everything  turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn ... and a time to every purpose under heaven!"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

13th October - overcast but warm...

Today, this little fellow was waiting to say "hello"!  Truthfully, he didn't stay chatting for long ... one look at me and he scuttled away in rather a hurry, but I was able to watch him for long enough to admire his agility.  Stoats are fierce little hunters and often "glamour" their prey by "dancing" and mesmerizing rabbits and other small animals until the performer suddenly becomes an attacker!
There are still plenty of plants seeding on the woodland floor - like this dandelion.  Protected by the trees, the little parachutes do not fly far in the wind, so it will be interesting in the spring to see if there are clumps of dandelions all in one place,or whether the seeds have managed to scatter despite being becalmed!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

11th October - mild and muggy!

Well, it's a funny sort of a day toady, warm, and yet you don't feel as though you really want to take your jacket off!!

Of course, if, like Mr. Fox, your jacket is a permanent fixture, that's not a problem.  Red does seem to be the fashion in Triangle Wood at the moment, after my visit with Foxy yesterday, everywhere I look it seems to be the colour of the moment!

Stylised leaves seemed to scream "fashionista" at me!!!

Some residents, of course, have their dress code sorted for the festive season already ... did I nearly mention Christmas there?  Hunting for insets and worms on the woodland floor the robin was far too interested in lunch to take any notice of me, so I was able to enjoy his plumage without disturbing him!

Cute waistcoat!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

11th October

Well, a quick walk down to the woods this morning - lots to do today and also it a bit chilly!!  But that didn't put off one of Triangle Wood's largest and smartest residents - Mr. Fox!  Oh, what a lovely sight on a rather bleak morning!  Slipping between the trees, minding his own business and not at all worried at my approach.  I must say he was looking very sleek despite the turn of the year ... hopefully NOT because of the local chicken population ...

The foxgloves may be over ... but their namesake is in fine form!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

8th October - Cool and Calm!

After some rather high winds, the wood is looking a little "shaken"!  Not surprising really, as the leaves took rather a battering and many are now fallen - some caught in the lower canopy, some in twigs and branches on the way down, and even some in cobwebs ... so it looks as though they are suspended in mid air by some arboreal magic!

There is still an amazing jumble of wild things in flower, seed and leaf all the the same time.  This gives you an impression of the woodland floor at the moment!

Autumn on the woodland floor

It really is true that every season has its own joys ... I am thinking of lighting the first fire of the year in my bog fireplace this evening!  Always a lovely time!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5th October, flying visit!!

Looks like the Indian Summer is coming to an end ... rain clouds gathering!
Might be nice weather for ducks!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Golden October!

It's been my birthday weekend and glorious weather - so had to go down to the wood, taking friends!  The honeysuckle is still incongruously blooming next to the blackberries and now the "Old Man's Beard" (the seeds of the willow herb) are ripening and becoming fluffy masses which fly away on tiny gossamer parachutes.

First, the long seed pods begin to open revealing the webbing inside:

Next, they open up fully and the minute seeds are borne away on the wind looking like swirls of delicate snowflakes, but wonderfully warm to the touch if they land on your skin...

... then the small birds begin to pursue them as though they were fruit flies or gnats!  Suddenly the air is full of movement and life.