April 2021 Week One

After the mini heatwave at the end of March, April begain with an arctic blast. We even had a light dusting of snow as well as some frosty mornings.lawn with frost and snowHowever, although chilly, the days have mostly been sunny which has brought the insects out. Such as this bumblebee on the quince.bumblebee on red flowerAnd this one on the forget-me-nots.bee on blue flowersA favourite of pollinators, albeit unoccupied when I took the photo, dandelions are popping up everywhere. In this case it is growing among the aubretia.yellow flower surrounded by blue flowersThe lilac flowers are shaping up nicely.lilac flowers starting to openAnd the trees are sprouting green leaves.trees starting to grow green leavesThe dwarf tulip dared to open out. We’ll see if another week of frosts slows the pace any.purple tulip flower







January 2021 Week Three

Week three of the new year has been a pretty soggy affair. There was some flooding in Herefordshire, but not as severe as elsewhere, a dusting of snow and some frost and even some glimpses of sunshine. The squirrels are very pleased to have their own supply of nuts.squirrel on nut feeder

It must be pretty draughty for the birds and squirrels with the lack of leaves on the trees. The nekkid trees do look lissome in the blue light of dawn.Leafless trees in blue light

There are still a few winter berries to be found adding a splash of colour to the garden. Laurel berries are toxic to humans, but the birds don’t seem keen to eat them either.red berries against green laurel leaves

More popular, especially with the blackbirds, are the ivy berries.black ivy berries

Some unpruned rose hips.red rose hip

Some hips are bigger than others.orange rose hips

The lilac tree is starting to bud.Lilac tree bud

Snow! In Hereford!

It’s not that it never snows in Hereford, but it seems to be becoming increasingly rare. When it does snow it tends to be fleeting and doesn’t stick.Photo of snow

However, 10th December 2017 in the wee small hours it started to snow and it didn’t stop all day. I decided to take a short walk early in the morning as I hadn’t been expecting it to last. The street lights were still lit illuminating the falling snow.Photo of snow

Hereford is situated in what meteorologists call a “rain shadow area”. Most of our weather is blown in from the Atlantic, the moist air hits the Welsh mountains where it is forced to rise. The barometric pressure is lower at high altitudes which has a cooling effect. This condenses the moist air into water droplets which are shed as rain or, when it is very cold, snow. Once over the Welsh mountains the less moist air descends and warms and so is more able to contain what moisture remains. Hence Hereford gets a lot less rain and snow than the Brecon Beacons.Photo of snow

Although Hereford did get a lot of snow, 18cm/7″ in our garden (20cm was recorded in Hereford), Sennybridge in the Brecon Beacons was deluged with 33cm/13″. In fact Hereford’s climate is described as being wet, just not as wet as Wales.Photo of snow

I had been expecting to see lots of dogs gamboling about in the snow, but the place was deserted. There were footprints so I was not the first. I hate ruining pristine snow.Photo of snow

I had also been hoping to take a sparkling snowy sunrise photo, but if anything it seemed to get darker as the snowfall became faster and heavier.Photo of snow

What even is snow anyway? Apparently snowflakes are formed when water droplets are supercooled around particles in the atmosphere. The particular shape the crystals form depends on temperature, moisture density and a whole load of other complex variables.Photo of snow

Although the ice that forms snow is clear the crystal shapes reflect light around causing snow to appear white.Photo of snow

Snowflakes tend to fall between 1 – 4 mph and each one is unique.Photo of snow

Here we are at the bridge. Hopefully the troll is still asleep and the snow will muffle my clippity-clopping and trip-trapping.

The babbling brook bubbles along through the blanketed banks.

The indigenous people of Nunavik in Canada have 53 words for snow, including “qanik” meaning falling snow.Photo of snow

At this point I am starting to not be able to feel my face.Photo of snow

The trees look pretty though, very Christmassy.Photo of snow

Farewell bridge.Photo of snow

Hello civilisation … maybe.Photo of snow

The driving conditions were dire, but there were still a few people who felt the need to venture out on a Sunday morning. Perhaps the people we depend upon such as emergency or medical personnel.Photo of snow

I did see a gritter lorry with a snow plough attached, but it didn’t seem to be using it. Snowflakes were also accumulating on the camera lens creating interesting lens flare.Photo of snow

I did contemplate crossing the “road” and walking through the field but it seemed to be getting darker, I was getting colder and the camera was getting wetter.

Photo of snow

I stood under a tree for a bit of shelter. Dear reader, learn from my mistake; a large clump of snow slid off a branch and slithered down the back of my neck.Photo of snow

Still, the streetlights provided some spooky atmospheric lighting to the snow.

Photo of snow

One last look at the snow laden trees.Photo of snow

Then another, then it was time to head home.Photo of snow

For those of you who like your snow moving, I posted a short clip on You Tube here: https://youtu.be/Iwou1e2JHtk

A Cemetery Stroll

Photo of chapelAs it is nearly All Hallow’s Eve, the night when the souls of the dead are supposed to return to the mortal realm, I though it would be apposite to post about a cemetery stroll. This is especially true as I believe I am acquainted with more souls in Hereford Cemetery than in the rest of the City!Photo of cemetery

The last time I took you on a Graveyard Bimble it was the middle of summer. Now as we are well into autumn the place is even more windswept and barren.Photo of cemetery

I visited shortly after dawn on a rainy morn.Photo of tree

There is still autumn colour to be found.Photo of autumn leavesAnd the gardener had made good use of some ornamental grasses.Photo of cemetery gardenThe nearly bare trees made beautiful outlines against the moody skies.

“Grandpa Ratz” is the latest family member to book in to Hereford Cemetery’s bed and board. His flowers survived Storm Brian and added a splash of colour to the bleakness.

He loved flowers and I’m sure he would have approved of these.

So here’s to all souls past and present; have a safe and enjoyable Hallowe’en.Photo of sunset

Rime Frost

We had another night of freezing fog. The fog was still pretty dense by the morning. Bulmer’s woodpecker was well lit though.Photo of Bulmer's woodpecker in fog

The happy thing about a foggy night when it is very cold is that rime frost is created. The water droplets in fog are very much smaller than rain droplets. When these tiny droplets hit an object that is below freezing, such as a branch of a tree, these droplets release their heat very rapidly. This results in them freezing at high speed and pretty much maintaining their form. These frozen droplets build up on top of each other with air gaps between, this makes them appear white. And so rime frost is formed creating a very pleasing effect upon objects.Photo of Frosty trees in the fog

The effect is similar to hoar frost; this is formed when the air is humid, but it is a clear freezing night. Glaze frost is created when rain droplets freeze onto objects, being larger they spread before freezing and so form a clear “glaze”. Enough of the science, let’s enjoy the pretty pictures. First of all, some rose hips in the hedgerow.Photo of rime frost on rose hips

A rime frosted seed head.Photo of rime frosted seed head

The frozen field.

Some frosty trees.

Some more frosty trees as the sun starts to burn off the fog.

Trees and their Leaves

You cannot avoid noticing at this time of year trees and their leaves. One minute they are there all green and fulsome, the next they are varied shades and falling rapidly to the ground.Photo of leaves on ground

It is interesting to note that some trees lose their leaves before others. All deciduous trees lose their leaves each year.  During autumn there is less sunlight available for photosynthesis, the green chlorophyl decreases revealing the red and yellow pigments within the leaves. Photo of trees losing leaves

The tree will lose water needlessly through its leaves, so the sap carrying veins gradually shut down. An abscission zone forms at the base of the leaf consisiting of weak cells in the top layer and tougher ones at the bottom, eventually the weak cell layer is broken and the leaf falls off. Photo of autumnal trees

This varies between different trees, for instance beech and oak trees have a very weak abscission layer and often keep their dead brown leaves throughout winter.Photo of autumnal trees

So there seems to be a genetic variation in drop rate, but individual trees are also affected by disease, pollution, street lights, temperature and other environmental variations.Photo of autumnal trees

The rowan tree has lost most of its leaves, but there are still a lot of berries on it. I wonder why the birds haven’t been eating them?Photo of rowan tree in autumn

We have had a couple of light frosts just recently, just enough to give a light sparkle to the fallen leaves.

Summer Is Here

We were supposed to be getting a “Spanish plume” of hot air, but it has veered off course. However, we are still enjoying hot sunny weather at the moment. The Bulmers woodpecker sculpture was looking resplendent in the sunshine with a blue sky as backdrop.Photo of Bulmers woodpecker sculpture

I can’t look at him without yearning for a glass of chilled cider.Photo of Bulmers woodpecker sculpture

The trees are in their full blush of leaf.Photo of summer trees

This was how they looked earlier in the year.Photo of winter trees in fog

A little red helicopter in a big blue sky. I believe this is the air ambulance. It is a sobering thought that this is a potentially calamitous day for a family somewhere. None of us knows when we may need such a vital service. There is more information about the Air Ambulance Service and how to help them on their website.Photo of air ambulance helicopter

January Jasmine in the Frosty Fog

A couple of mornings ago, Rambling Ratz staggered out into the garden just after dawn. A misty grey blanket heralded the day, a shadowy figure scurried across the lawn – it was friend blackbird searching for the sultanas that had been left out the night before. The grass crunched underfoot; it was frosty as well as foggy.photo of foggy blackbird Please keep reading, there is a pretty picture at the end.

If the birds want a drink or a bath this morning, then the ice on their bowl will have to be melted. In the UK we have had a mild winter as far as temperatures are concerned; mild probably isn’t the word that springs to mind if you have been flooded by the deluge of rain we have had, or had the Welsh coast dashed against your windows in the recent storms. This time last year though, the UK was frozen solid under several feet of snow. This was discussed in this post. A bit of frost and fog remind us that we are still in the middle of winter. A closer inspection of the big bird bath shows the moss that is growing on it is prettily frosted. There were also intricate, fractal like frost patterns on the car windows, see also this post.

The birds may be singing as though they think spring is on the way, but look up and you see that the trees are still naked, their leafless branches silhouetted against the cold wintry sky. Somehow the little birds still manage to hide amongst these branches.

It looks as though this winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, is the only thing holding the fence up! Hey, that fence is hedgehog friendly! It is one of the few plants that flowers in the British winter and the yellow flowers do add a bright splash of colour. The plant is native to China and was introduced to the UK in around 1845. Any other dashes of colour tend to be provided by berries, such as the red ones on this cotoneaster.

“Miss Jasmine, it is time for your close-up.”photo of jasmine flower

Dawn in the Woods

As autumn gets under way the days become shorter and I find that it is often still dark when I arrive at Credenhill Park Wood. However, when the dawn breaks it does look spectacular.

I’m afraid I am not a good enough photographer to do it justice, but you get the idea. I particularly admire the way the sun hits the trees at the top of the hill horizontally as it rises. On this particular day, no sooner had the sun arisen than it was rapidly blanketed by clouds.