Friday, 22 April 2011

Goldilocks buttercups Woodthorpe holloway

A little buttercup of damp woodland edges. Found these in the old holloway near Woodthorpe.

Violets and wood anemones, Gillfield Wood

A good year for violets.

Bluebells, whitecoal kiln, Gillfield

Whitecoal - an entirely different material to charcoal - was used to smelt lead. And the woods round here are full of the archaeological remains of the kilns used to make the whitecoal. Here's one - the pit behind the bluebells. For years people thought they were bomb craters.

Bluebells Gillfield

Bluebells Gillfield, originally uploaded by goldsally.

Many Totley people go to the more famous Ecclesall woods to see the bluebells, not realising that the woods right here are full of them...

Flora of Gillfield Wood

Wood anemones, Gillfield, originally uploaded by goldsally.

Gillfield, mostly chopped down and replanted in the 1960's with American Oak and Larch, is truly an ancient wood - ie documented before 1600. Its very flowers help to tell us this - right now its full of wood anemones, bluebells, dog mercury, violets. We (the newly formed Friends of Gillfield Wood) are to learn about surveying the wood's plants at a special session in the woods on May 1st.

April '11 Greenoak Journal

Misty morning Greenoak ParkView from Woodthorpe hollowayGoldilocks buttercups Woodthorpe hollowayWoodthorpe hollowayView to Fanshaw GateViolets and wood anemones, Gillfield Wood
Wood anemones, GillfieldBluebells GillfieldBluebells, whitecoal kiln, GillfieldCoppice tree, third pathTrees third path from GillfieldInside quarry, Totley Hall Farm
Crabapple white laneView from White LaneBluebells Tricket WoodTricket woodFrom White LaneTo Fanshaw Gate
Hawthorn standard, Sheps BankBroken tree Sheps BankInto Gillfield from White Lane

April '11 Greenoak Journal, a set on Flickr.

Spring - and I'm springing into action again on blogging my photos.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Baby housemartins

About 20 baby housemartins at the gate at the end of Totley Hall Lane - all landing together to peck at some wettish mud. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Oak, Totley Hall Farm

I love 'em. Can't bear to think what the landscape might become...

Oaks could be wiped out....

Just found this article on the Guardian website. Has anyone else heard of this?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

and more...

...and a fieldfare this morning definitely eating the hips off the rosa rugosa...

Monday, 11 January 2010

Winter visitor

A redwing seep-ing in our back garden today keeping an eye on the birdtable - and maybe the rose hips. Although I've seen fieldfares and redwings in the fields, I've never seen one in the garden before. I think it was also hanging about yesterday - probably young and definitely on its own...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A sleepless night, birds and more snow...

A disturbed night in which I finished reading Tim Dee's new book "The Running Sky" - quite the most beatifully written book on birds I have ever read - in fact probably one of the most beautifully written books I have read about anything. Here's a little wintry sample taken from a longer section about starlings flocking:

"A rougher magic overtook them as they arrived above the reeds. Great ductile cartwheels of birds were unleashed across the sky. Conjured balls of starlings rolled out and up, shoaling from their descending lines, thickening and pulling in on themselves - a black bloom burst from the seedbed of birds. One wheel hit another and the carousels of birds chimed and merged, like iron filings made to bend to a magnet."

This morning, at the edge of the wood, the kick-kick of a great spotted woodpecker - and there he was sitting high in a tree, the white of his wing stripes picking up the white of the hill.

Here's Maisie's favourite spot for a good run.

Sunday, 3 January 2010


Old Brock is about. Hard to dig in such a frozzer.

Fanshawegate fields

Despite the snow, flappy rooks inspect their nests just outside Greenoak Park. Up on the White Lane, two great tits are flirting. Do they know it's a new year?
From Fanshawegate Lane there's the kew-kew of a kestrel. It sails over to settle in the very top of an oak - lacy brown back, dark band on tail.
Tiny sledgers crump-crump up Sheps Hill.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

John Donne and the shortest day...

Excerpt from "A Nocturnal upon St Lucy's Day, being the shortest day"

'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The whole world's sap is sunk;
The general balm the hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interred; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

John Donne

Hare tracks in the snow?

These tracks across the lane and fields near Owler Lee and Fanshawegate.

Snow on snow...

We crumped through the snow yesterday up to Fanshawegate and back through Gillfield and home. Geese honking in huge wavering V's scrawled across the sky.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Maybe snow.....

Colder than cold. White doves lift-drop-turn around Fanshawegate; a kestrel held high above the windmill on the Lydgate horizon. Sheeps dit-dot the fields below sugar sifted top of Totley Moss. The light is electric at my favourite ash tree. We stop, look, slow the pace despite freezing fingers and paws.

Friday, 11 December 2009


On the White Lane today saw someone's old toilet flytipped by the little stream's culvert at the Derbyshire Boundary. Reported it straight away on my mobile - 101 - and hey presto, this afternoon Parks and Countryside rang me and they have removed it. Good service eh?


Why do I seem to write this blog mostly in Winter? Perhaps I find it the most beautiful of seasons - especially when it is under such threat. Today the real symbols of midwinter burst out of the bony trees near Woodthorpe - a clatter of fieldfares. Here is what John Clare has to say in a gem of a sonnet:

Emmonsails Heath in Winter

I love to see the old heath's withered brake
Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling
While the old heron from the lonely lake
Starts slow and flaps his melancholy wing
And oddling crow in idle motions swing
On the half rotten ash tree's topmost twig
Beside whose trunk the gypsy makes his bed -
Up flies the bouncing woodcock from the brig
Where a black quagmire quakes beneath the tread;
The fieldfare chatters in the whistling thorn
And for the 'awe round fields and closen rove,
And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove
Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
And hang on little twigs and start again.

"Crimpled," "oddling" "bouncing woodcock" - what words! What a naturalist as well as a poet! Some of Clare's poems protest the harm wrought by the enclosure of the commons that he witnessed in his lifetime. We are enclosing our world with heat not fences and hedges. Will our winters ever be the same?