Archive for November, 2010


Whitebeam berries on a frosty morning in November 2010

Throughout 2010 I am revisiting the little green nature book that accompanied my childhood and trying to tick off the plants and animals featured in its monthly sketchbook pages. I’m enjoying the journey – only one month to go now…

The book is “Wild Life Through the Year” by Richard Morse and it was published in 1942. You can read about earlier months here.

November 2010 in South Wales has felt very much like a bridge between autumn and winter. There have been clear, sunny days starting with a frost, heavy rain, strong winds and at the end of the month we are in the middle of an Arctic snap with below-freezing temperatures – we even had snow on November 27 (see my pictures here).

Nearly all the autumn leaves have fallen by the end of the month, with (more…)

Read Full Post »


Snow on Liquidambar tree - November 27, 2010

It is only late November but Britain is having its first snows of the winter. I wasn’t expecting any in Cardiff as it’s a bit unusual in this warm city.

But yesterday afternoon the large flakes began to fall and we had a light covering of snow by nightfall. Some of it turned to slush, then froze overnight, but this morning bright sun and a brisk easterly breeze have shaken off and melted most of it.

Still, I couldn’t (more…)

Read Full Post »


This rather handsome young Jack Frost by ArmadaRyu obviously doesn't feel the cold...

We have now had a couple of light frosts this autumn, and there’s an “Arctic blast” on the way this week, so I thought I would look into the words frost, hoar and rime, which I always thought meant the same thing, but apparently not…


Frost on a car windscreen a few days ago...

According to my Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary (1980), frost means: a state of freezing; temperature at or below the freezing point of water. It comes from (more…)

Read Full Post »


Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) on my window-ledge - and yes I DO now realise I am going to have to use aperture-priority auto to give greater depth of field...


Nikon D5000 digital SLR camera with basic 18-55mm lens

Last month I finally bought myself a digital SLR camera – a Nikon D5000 – from Cameraland in Cardiff’s Royal Arcade. It’s a great little shop. They know their stuff, their prices even compete with Amazon – but sadly they have no website, which is a little bizarre…

The Nikon D5000 feels good in the hand, I like the clear display and it has a useful swiveling monitor for taking pictures from unusual angles.

The camera came with a standard 18-55mm lens, OK for general views, but (more…)

Read Full Post »


New findings suggest big flying pterosaurs took off by pole-vaulting over their wings...

I have been meaning to muse on pterosaurs, the Archaeopteryx and the hoatzin for a long time, but suddenly the subject has become topical again.

Today’s papers have a story along the lines of “Dinosaur the size of a giraffe could fly across continents” – I have linked to the Daily Telegraph version, which is as good as any, apart from the fact that it means pterosaur (Greek for “wing-lizard”), NOT dinosaur (Greek for “terrible-lizard”).

The new findings suggest that (more…)

Read Full Post »


A chink of blue in a cold late autumn sky...

We had gales and a lot of rain at the end of last week, which brought down most of the remaining leaves from our trees. Today there is a frost, so winter is snapping at autumn’s tail…


Hardly a leaf remains on the ash trees (Fagus sylvatica) at the back of the house - but lots of ash keys. That's the top of a silver birch bottom left of the picture...

I’m a firm believer in “If you can’t get out of it, get into it”, so decided to appreciate the autumn leaves as we (more…)

Read Full Post »


To me Bird's was always the make for custard and blancmange powders


Squelchy green jelly - or jello, if you are American

I was thinking back to childhood birthday parties with “jelly and ice-cream”. Then I thought further back and remembered we didn’t have a fridge, let alone a freezer or ice-box. No, we used to have “jelly and blancmange”.

The jelly was ever present when I was a child. We made it every (more…)

Read Full Post »


A red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on my Mahonia a few days ago - the picture is taken from a great distance using my trusty Olympus C-765 compact camera...

It is exactly a year now since I started this Squirrelbasket blog, so I thought I would mark the day by reminding new “viewers” of my very first blog post, Mahonia named Charity just keeps on giving.

Pictured above is the same Mahonia a few days ago, still attracting insects and birds…

Read Full Post »