Fungi in the forest
By     |    Sep 28, 2013
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Fungi in the forest

            A refreshing light rain is falling as we start along the Green Trail through Ashclyst Forest. I get the camera out to snap some photos of fungi and progress slows to a halt, as Izzy takes possession of it and sets about photographing every stone, every leaf, every blade of grass … In the end, I can’t stand it any longer and strap her [...]

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Galls
By     |    Sep 26, 2013
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Galls

I have spent most of the week busily report writing and have had little spare time for wildlife watching, so, today, Izzy and I are staying close to home as we search for plant galls, those amazing, abnormal growths produced by plants as a reaction to mites, parasitic wasps, fungi, bacteria or other organisms. We follow the footpath alongside the railway and more than once the tough web of a Garden [...]

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Fruit and nuts
By     |    Sep 14, 2013
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Fruit and nuts

Autumn has arrived with a thump and the hot sunshine that characterised 2013′s wonderful summer has well and truly vanished. The drizzle that was falling when we left the house has turned into a downpour, but I am determined to carry on foraging. Izzy, in wellies and winter coat, appears to love the rain, and, splashing through puddles, is happy to follow. It seems to be a bountiful year and [...]

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Sealife
By     |    Aug 30, 2013
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Sealife

There are no clouds in the sky and on this August bank holiday, the fishing village of New Quay on Cardigan Bay is packed with holidaymakers. We join the throng on the pier and stare out to sea. We have only been there a few minutes when a dark shape lumps out of the water. A ripple of excitement goes through the sea watchers and someone shouts “Dolphin!” I point [...]

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A very British summer on the heath
By     |    Aug 15, 2013
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A very British summer on the heath

I came to Dunkery Beacon today with a plan – to get photos of a purple haze of Heather, glowing in the summer sun. I had imagined Izzy and I wandering through a heath buzzing with bees, shimmering with heat haze and, on reaching the top of the hill, gazing down over Exmoor. Well, my plan has gone out of the window. It has been drizzling all day and Dunkery [...]

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Culm grassland
By     |    Aug 11, 2013
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Culm grassland

There is a wonderful smell in the air and I can’t work out whether it is due to the huge swathes of Meadowsweet, or the Common Valerian, which is starting to go to seed, or the wild mint that we are crushing underfoot. We are at Dunsdon Nature Reserve, which contains a lovely example of culm grassland. We are a month or two too late to see it at its best, [...]

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A dragonfly hunt
By     |    Jul 31, 2013
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A dragonfly hunt

Beyond the reservoir, which, covered with yellow and white water lilies, could be an impressionist painting, is the heath. We are visiting Bystock Nature Reserve this morning and we have it to ourselves. It is a peaceful place, with a Yellowhammer singing ‘little bit of bread and no che-ese’ and a Green Woodpecker yaffling in the background. We follow the boardwalk by the pools and our path is crossed by a [...]

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Rockpooling
By     |    Jul 27, 2013
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Rockpooling

We slide and slither down the steep, rain-gouged path to the beach and race to cool off in the sea. We swim in the gentle waves, then, refreshed, potter about the rock pools with a net and white tray. With our first dip of the net we catch a Common Prawn. Then, we lift some stones and find a handful of Common Shore Crabs, which wave their pincers at us [...]

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Discovering woodland butterflies
By     |    Jul 21, 2013
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Discovering woodland butterflies

Glad to escape the glare of the midday sun, Izzy and I follow the waymarked path through the cool conifer forest to a clearing filled with chirping grasshoppers and butterflies on the wing. Supercharged in the heatwave, the Meadow Browns and Large Whites zoom through the soupy air above the wildflowers, never pausing long enough for us to get a good look or a photograph. “Another butterfly!” I cry, each [...]

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Red Squirrel Conservation
By     |    Jul 11, 2013
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Red Squirrel Conservation

It is a scorching day at Escot and we are entering the Red Squirrel enclosure for the second time today. Our first attempt to see the squirrels ended in failure, with not a creature stirring amongst the trees. So, we explored the wetlands, got lost in the Beech maze, played in the pirate ship, had a lolly, visited the Wild Boar and the birds of prey and had a great [...]

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