A Winters Bimble – Life & Colour

lots of wind, snow, life and colour

Like many others in the UK today I woke up to a touch of snow this morning – not enough to cause any undue trouble but enough to make a photographer smile.

We visited our local church, St James, here in Bramley for the 9am service (Alison was leading the service) and afterwards I took a stroll around the church to see what stood out for me. The Daffodils had taken a bashing however when I got down low their beauty really stood out. Needless to say my kids were happy just to ping snowballs at me.

St James – Bramley

I then took a stroll around our local woods – The Frith and the first spot I found were these two horses in their winter coats nibbling on some hay. I adjusted my angle and got the lovely heart shape effect with their heads which you can see in the bottom right picture.

Equine beauty

At this time of year it can be hard to see the colour in the landscape but if you look close enough you can see it. The Hazel catkins were all fluttering in the strong wind but I did get a picture of some hanging nice and still in a more sheltered area – they look delicate and beautiful however they are tough little things ‘hanging on there’ in the wind.

Winter colour

I was hoping to spot some Deer in the woods however they were all out on the fields today. The wind was strong but the Roe Deer were in the fields on the lee side of the woods avoiding the worst of it. They kept a close eye on me as I passed on by – normally they sprint off but not today – there spot was just too good.

Finding shelter

I also spotted a few of our feathered friends in the woods from the Kite soaring overhead, the Robin flitting from tree to tree and the Pheasant making his presence felt in its usual noisy way on the woodland floor.

Airborne colour

As Bimbles go this was a pretty special one, with lots of wind, snow, life and colour.

Cheers

George

 

A Winters Evening Bimble

Today has been one of working at home as our trains decided the weather was not for them.

As I had been stuck at home all day but without the daily commute into London I decided to take a Bimble around our local woods – The Frith – here in Bramley.

An Evening Winters Bimble

The snow was falling gently and the light was fading slowly. Not having the kids with me I could walk slowly and quietly. I came across a forlorn looking nest, a fresh Pheasant track (could hear him but not make him out), spotted a Hare and saw plenty of Deer in the gloom. There was one Muntjac and a herd of Roe Deer.

I shot the pictures and video using my phone so the quality in the low light is not the greatest.

Altogether an excellent evening bimble.

Cheers

George

Nature Based Bushcrafting

Over the last few months I have not done much in the way of bushcraft so there has been a slight lack of How To …. tutorials coming out. I plan to change that after the Moot (where I will be looking for inspiration) however I have been getting out on little trips recently to photograph nature.

This post is just to record some of the moments I have had over the last few months. Starting with an accidental shot of a very wet and bedraggled willow catkin. It was a damp day and I was trying to get a close up of a bug but after looking at the picture found the catkin to be of more interest.

Pussy Willow

Not long after ripping a muscle in my calf I hobbled out into my garden and applied the 20 metre rule. That is stand still, kneel down, sit down and lie down but continually look around you for approx 20 metres and you should see something worth shooting. When I eventually laid down I came up close and personal to these beautiful little Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots

There was a re-wilding theme on the BCUK website a couple of months ago and I was stuck for ideas. Not long after the closing date I remembered this place outside our village. Proper re-wilding you could say 🙂

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Re-wilding

Back in April I went out for a walk with my kids in Morgaston woods and the bluebells were just coming through. I spotted this slightly thicker patch and after getting the kids to lie down (it was a job with all the pricklies) I got this rather nice shot. The angle of the shot made the bluebell patch seem much thicker than it actually was.

Peek a boo

Another one from my garden during my hobbling period. I was particularly taken with the water droplets on the primroses.

Spring days

My son has been undertaking some nature observations for his naturalists badge at cubs. we have been getting out and about as much as we can identifying trees and flowers such as these lovely Ramsons.

Naturalist badge – IDing the Ramsons

Spring would not be the same without a picture or two of some fluffy creatures. I thought this Greylag geese family looked particularly impressive at The Vyne National Trust property.

The Greylag family

This was a ‘face off’. I spotted this deer in the shadow of the woods while out looking at the bluebells. I had to change the lens on my camera as she was a fair distance away. Normally they run off by the time I change lenses but this one kept me square in her sights the whole time.

Staring contest

We moved on from just identifying plants for Finlay’s naturalist badge to tasting them as well. We tried out a whole range of leaves including the likes of these Jack by the hedge plants.

Naturalist badge – IDing the other garlic – Jack by the hedge

Some of the best finds were literary stumbled on like this complete fox skeleton in the New Forest. It was found by some of my Junior Sea Cadets and we laid it all out onto this log to get a real good look at it. Many of these kids have never been out of the city before so this was quite a find for them.

A Foxy find

I spotted this little butterfly sitting on a Herb Robert flower while visiting my friend Fraser from Coastal Survival a couple of weeks ago. Normally these little devils are away before you can get near them but this one just seemed to be soaking up the sun.

Delicate beauty

One of my favourite pictures was taken last weekend at The Vyne National Trust property. I heard a splash by the side of the lake and turned to see this Coot with a large Signal Crayfish in its beak.

The joy was not to last for the Coot though as another Coot came along and stole the crayfish away – such is nature sometimes I suppose.

A top spot

So although I have not been out doing practical bushcrafting much I have been getting out and observing nature with a keen eye – so you could say it was the more nature based side of bushcrafting.

Cheers

George

Nature Challenge – Day 6 – Family Fun

Yesterday I picked the kids up from school and instead of curling up in front of the Xbox or the iPads off we went to the woods.

I know we get out to the woods on a regular basis however not normally on a school night. I did not know what we would do with our limited time but as it turned out it was surprisingly a lot.

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Tracking

As soon as we got into Morgaston wood the kids picked up some deer tracks and after sitting for five minutes we were rewarded by spotting a deer crossing one of the paths.

As we trundled along I got them to find some fungi. There was not much around but we did get some King Alfred’s Cakes, some Birch Polypore and some Artists fungi.

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Finding Fungi

The Bluebells were really coming out and there were plenty of Primroses around. Just on the edge of the wood though we spotted our first Cuckoo flowers by a ditch. This is a sturdy little plant as it grows in some really exposed areas however it does have a very dainty look about it.

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Wild Flower Spotting

It was not all learning – there was plenty of time to just explore and get muddy – as you do 🙂

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Just Fun

This was a challenge to myself as I had to watch every step I took in case I re-opened my torn calf muscle – It was worth the effort though.

Cheers

George

Picture of the Week – Week 12 – The Sit Spot

Welcome to the view from my favourite ‘Sit Spot’ near where I live.

To those that are not familiar with the term Sit Spot it is a place to go and sit in a comfortable manner and observe the beauty of nature around you.

The Sit Spot
The Sit Spot

This reedmace fringed pond near my village in Hampshire has plenty of activity from fish, voles, waterfowl, dragonflies and nocturnal visits from deer and badger (plenty of tracks to testify to this).

I like to sit here for a half hour or so on some of my bimbles to quietly re-connect myself with the goings on with mother nature all around me.

Get out there and find your own Sit Spot and re-connect with nature – it is not hard.

Cheers

George

One Stormy Night

At the beginning of February this year I drove down the A303 towards Dorset here in the UK in ever worsening weather conditions.

My good friend Fraser Christian of Coastal Survival had organised a meet up of some of the guys who help him out at various events throughout the year. By the time I got to his village the weather had deteriorated to storm conditions.

The pictures below show his parachute getting a right battering and even later on in the shelter of the parachute the airflow really helped shoot the flames of the fire up.

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A Stormy Night

Before going to up to Fraser’s woodland location I met some of the the guys – Fraser, Steve, Si, Danny and Nick in the local pub to have a few beers (and to dry off from the drenching I got from walking from the car park to the pub).

Even though the weather conditions were still extremely poor when we got to Fraser’s woodland site we soon made ourselves comfortable. The food and mulled cider were soon on and I even managed to get a picture of the parachute looking like some sort of downed UFO.

We were joined later in the evening by Tom who is one of the other Coastal Survival instructors. He had cycled his way through the storm to get to us but seemed happy to be out there in the wild conditions (I think that it is a pre-requisite of any outdoors pursuit instructor to show they can be comfortable outdoors whatever the weather throws at them).

Snugness
Snugness

Due to the high winds the flames of the fire kept shooting up, so as usual I had my camera out grabbing some shots of fire faces and figures in the flames. If you look closely you will see a few faces. I can also see a deer and a water buffalo in the left hand picture below.

We spent the evening listening to the wind, catching up on the year gone by and planning trips for the coming months. Around about 10pm the wind dropped sufficiently I felt it safe enough to venture out and put my own hammock and tarp up.

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Fire Faces

I slept for a full ten hours that night and woke the next morning feeling calm and refreshed. The guys already had the kettle on the go so all I needed to do was fill my cup and wait for my breakfast from Fraser.

One thing about working with Fraser is that you never go hungry and I will never get in the way of an expert chef wanting to cook me breakfast :-).

The Clan
A calm morning

As part of our bed and board for the night we agreed to get out and collect some of the brash wood Fraser had stored around his woodland to replace the wood we had used the night before.

We said goodbye to Tom at this stage before stringing up the brash wood to take back to camp.

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Morning re-supply

Once the chores were done I set off on my own to see what flora and fauna were about that morning. Little Tinker always makes for a great shot but I soon found an excellent badger print in the damp ground.

I spooked a deer on my travels through the wood but managed to get one decent long range shot of her as she ran across a field.

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Local fauna

Even though this was early February there was a dash of colour about with the plants.

The teasel was looking particularly majestic with new seeds sprouting  within the previous years seed head. I spotted a number of primroses for the first time this year at Fraser’s and the lesser celandines were  sunning themselves nicely.

Finally I spotted an elder tree covered in some lovely looking jelly fungus.

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Local flora

It was soon time to head home again however the drive back was a delight due to feeling refreshed and the sun was out 🙂

Thanks to Fraser for hosting us for the weekend and the rest of the guys for being such good company.

Cheers

George

Bramley Bimble – 4th May 14

I took my whole family on my rounds of Bramley last weekend. The kids as usual had fun climbing, wobbling and generally getting muddy.

This was the first time that Alison was able to come on my rounds and she was keen to explore the village wildlife in more detail.

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Checking out nature

I took a short video of the walk which I titled Happy finds and sad finds.

A few new flowers made an appearance this week.

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Yellow pimpernel, lady’s smock and white campion

I particularly like the bottom right picture. You can actually see the the probiscus of the fly. Not bad for a little phone camera.

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Feeding time

The moth was found in a bowl of water by my daughter Catherine and seemed to be recovering well as it dried its wings out. In the bottom picture you can just see a solitary bee emerging from its underground home.

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Rescued moth and emerging bumblebee

The crab apple tree on my rounds is finally in leaf now. I will be recording the growth of the apples closely over the following months.

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The family under the apple tree

The yellow coltsfoot flowers (top left) have gone now and all that is left are the distinctive leaves and the beautuful puffy seed heads. Also the lungwort flowers have gone leaving only the distinctive white spotted leaves (top right).

At the bottom though I found that the orchids were still standing strong.

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Coltsfoot seed head, lungwort and orchids

While we were looking for orchids Alison spotted a dead deer nearby. I couldn’t see any obvious cause of death but lying nearby were some deer leg bones recently stripped of flesh. As the deer (as you can see) still had all its legs I assume there must have been another dead deer nearby at some point as well.

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A sad sight

It was nice to see the willow and oak finally coming through this week (left-hand pictures). The reedmace leaves seem nearly full grown now so I will be looking out for the stems and flower heads starting to appear.

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Willow, oak and reedmace

Looking beautiful still were the bluebells.

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Bluebell bliss

Cheers

George

Flora, Fauna and Fun – Spring Adventures

Do I get out and about with my children enough?

Probably not but when we do, we like to explore and adventure.

Two particular walks earlier this year stick out in my memory due to the flora and fauna that we came across and the fun we had. Both walks were in the same piece of woodland near our village.

On the way to the woods one of the routes takes you though our local church. The early spring flowers were quite beautiful.

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Early Spring flowers

As soon as we entered the woods the kids spotted something.

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Something out there

Needless to say it was not just the kids that were excited.

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Who’s looking at who?

Eventually the deer took off. To see a herd of deer move as one is like watching a wave move through the woods. Quite a stunning sight. I was sorry that we had disturbed their rest but still delighted to see them. I was so glad that the kids were with me.

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Spot the odd man out?

I was particularly delighted when Finlay pointed out some Cramp Balls to me as they are great fire starters when dried out. Enough to make any Bushcrafting father proud 🙂

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Cramp Ball – Daldinia concentrica

We came across a fairly fresh kill site. The kids were straight in there looking at the feathers.

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Fresh Raptor kill site

From looking at the feather tips the single score would indicate a bird of prey kill. If it had been a land animal such as a fox the tips of the feathers would have been jagged due to the tearing action of the animal’s teeth.

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Complete Quills with the characteristic beak mark

The slots from the deer were crystal clear for them to spot.

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Finlay finding deer slots

I did not ask my kids to collect tinder but they just went and collected anyway. Must be in the genes.

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Catherine tinder gathering

As usual the kids needed to be extricated from the trees. Thankfully Alison was on hand as my hands were too busy with the camera 😉

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The usual tree extraction

The next walk was a much more relaxed affair. It was time for the Bluebells to appear.

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Chilling in the bluebells

Some days Catherine wants to explore and some days nails are more important. Must be a Mars – Venus thing.

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Girl time

Thankfully Finlay wanted to do the Mars thing. He was determined to be able to lift this tree higher.

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Boy time

The bluebells were looking beautiful that day.

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Need to work on the cam and concealment

Also the orchids were standing lovely in the woods.

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Lots of orchids

Finlay was more interested in finding bridges to cross and search under for Trolls.

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Finlay’s favourite bridge

I do love spending time in the woods but it is special when you are with your own family.
My kids love to use all the latest gizmos but thankfully they love the outdoors just as much.

Cheers

George.