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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

A raindrop-splattered leaf fallen from the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park

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As the days get shorter and cooler, there is what my Yorkshire mother-in-law would call a “back-endish” feel to the crisp air.

Since last month the parched weather has been relieved by a considerable amount of rain here in South Wales, but I fear it will not be a good year for autumn colour, with many tree leaves falling prematurely, brown and shrivelled.

After a wet week I managed to visit the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park today, on what turned out to be a glorious blue-sky day with quite warm temperatures.

There was a stubborn band of rain farther to the south of Britain, which soaked London during these sad times of national mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Here are the photos from my visit this morning… (more…)

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A group of trees in the graveyard of St John’s Church in Cardiff city centre

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Welcome to the September tree-following get-together. I look forward to seeing everyone’s news and pictures once again. And newcomers are also always gratefully received.

August has at last brought some much-needed rain to South Wales – although unfortunately it prevents our enjoyment of lovely summer days sitting in the backyard.

Weather permitting I hope I can make my monthly visit to the tall tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park this week.

I wonder what all you regular tree followers are up to? I’m sure you will have something new to report. Point to any tree-related post you would like to share, using the link box below. And please don’t forget to leave a comment.

The link box is now open for contributions and will stay open until 7pm GMT on September 14.

If you are new to tree following, read all about the idea here, although I must update that page when I have the chance!

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Brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) in the bathroom at night

Sadly I don’t see many moths these days but the other night I noticed this medium-sized yellow moth perched on the bathroom tiles. I caught it in a glass and tried to make it go out through the window but of course it came straight back, attracted by the bright light. It soon disappeared behind a light fitting and I have not seen it since. I looked it up and it is a common British moth, the brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata).

This reminded me that I saw another moth back in the heady days of July but forgot to blog about it at the time…

Mystery moth viewed through the bathroom window…

…view from outside the bathroom window – the moth stayed on the glass in bright sunlight for several hours

The medium-sized moth was spectacular but turned out to be an invasive species accidentally imported from south-east Asia. It is known as the box-tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis) and was first seen in Kent in 2007. It has now spread through southern Britain. The larvae feed on box-tree foliage.

I did encounter a third moth over the last month, but was so keen to remove it from the house that I did not take a photo. It was a very dark shadow on the curtain net one night and turned out to be a large Mormo maura, the old lady moth or black underwing, It looked very sinister. I caught it in a glass and released it under a street light.

Although I didn’t snap it this time, I found that I had taken this picture of an old lady moth on an outside wall on July 18, 2011…

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Dry leaves fallen from the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park

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Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half-dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

[The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer in the City]

Last month we had a mini heatwave with temperatures in the 30s for a few days, but this time we are on the verge of drought, even here in South Wales, one of the wettest parts of the UK. The hot, cloudless weather has lasted about a fortnight and we are really hoping it will break with some welcome rain in the coming week.

It was exhausting walking the mile to visit Victoria Park to check up on the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) on Friday. The place was full of families, with the loud squeals of children playing on the splash pad – such a good idea in this weather and all the water is recirculated. I don’t like to take pictures of children without permission so this is from the website of the creators of the splashpad…

One of the exciting features of the splashpad is a bucket that gradually fills and then upends over all the children. Click on the photo to go to the Ustigate Waterplay website

Here are my pictures of the tulip tree… (more…)

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Highly scented flowers of weeping silver lime (Tilia tomentosa ‘Petiolaris’)

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Welcome to the August tree-following get-together. I look forward to seeing everyone’s news and pictures once again. And newcomers are also always gratefully received.

July has been mostly sunny and hot here in South Wales with very little rain for the plants and trees. Although here we are lucky as there has not been a hose-pipe ban yet.

Hopefully I can make my monthly visit to the tall tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park this week.

I wonder what all you regular tree followers are up to? I’m sure you will have something new to report. Point to any tree-related post you would like to share, using the link box below. And please don’t forget to leave a comment.

The link box is now open for contributions and will stay open until 7pm GMT on August 14.

If you are new to tree following, read all about the idea here, although I must update that page when I have the chance!

Read Full Post »

Juvenile great spotted woodpecker [Dendrocopos major] in the garden, its beak messy with fat from the feeder

I thought our great spotted woodpeckers had failed to breed this year as for a long time all I saw was a solitary male. But a couple of weeks ago this young one appeared – although the top of its head is now fading from bright orange to red. The adult female has no red on its head and the adult male a red patch on the nape.

The other young birds are also growing up now…

Young blackbird [Turdus merula] on the bird bath

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Fresh green fruit on the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park

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We are in the middle of a mini heatwave here in Cardiff – although it is even hotter around London and the South East of the UK, where temperatures may get near to 40C over the weekend, according to the forecasts.

It was slightly overcast but still muggy when I visited Victoria Park to check up on the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) yesterday.

This time the main feature was an abundance of new fruits. It was when I looked these up on Wikipedia that I realised I had not properly described the flowers on my previous visit. So here goes…

According to Wikipedia the flowers are 3–10 cm in diameter and have nine tepals — three green outer sepals and six inner petals which are yellow-green with an orange flare at the base. Flowers of L. tulipifera have a faint cucumber odour [clearly I did not get close enough to notice this].

The stamens and pistils are arranged spirally around a central spike or gynaecium. The stamens fall off, and the pistils become the samaras. The fruit is a cone-like aggregate of samaras 4–9 cm long, each of which has a roughly tetrahedral seed with one edge attached to the central conical spike and the other edge attached to the wing.

Here are my latest pictures… (more…)

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Tiny trees – I planted some tangerine pips/pits in the winter when they were in season in the local fruit shop and they have germinated beautifully on my study window ledge…

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Well, here we are for the July tree-following get-together. Welcome to our regular tree enthusiasts – and I hope more newcomers will also consider joining us.

After a spell of lovely sunshine in early June we have had several weeks of cooler and showery weather here in South Wales, although the sun seems to have its hat on again now.

Hopefully I can get out of the house at some time in the next week to make my monthly visit to the tall tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park.

I wonder what all you regular tree followers are up to? I’m sure you will have something new to report. Point to any tree-related post you would like to share, using the link box below. And please don’t forget to leave a comment.

The link box is now open for contributions and will stay open until 7pm GMT on July 14.

If you are new to tree following, read all about the idea here, although I must update that page when I have the chance!

Read Full Post »

Young song thrush (Turdus philomena) viewed from my study desk yesterday – at the moment the thrushes are making their loud and repetitive calls all day and every day

Sadly I have become blasé about young birds in the garden in recent years. I used to snap a photo of every little bird through the kitchen window but now I don’t even count how many babies the blackbirds, robins, blue tits and great tits have. These families have all been very successful this year, as have the nuthatches.

This time I am missing the baby starlings (see a previous post here) and although there is a male great spotted woodpecker around, it does not seem to have a family this time (see a previous post here).

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Flower on the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park

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The weather is still changeable here in Cardiff and it grows cool when the sun slips behind a cloud, but apart from that summer is in full swing.

It was again sunny but breezy when I visited Victoria Park to check up on the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) on Friday.

I was in a hurry as I had to combine the trip with the weekly bread, meat and fruit and veg shop in Cowbridge Road East, so for a change I entered the park from that end – the opposite direction to my usual visits.

Here are the latest pictures… (more…)

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