Saturday, 9 March 2019

Friday 8th March Coombes Dale

The morning was quite bright and rain was not forcast to the afternoon so I decided to pay a visit to my regular haunt, Coombes Dale.
On the way it was pleasant to see all the dafodils in flower on the verges and Prunus trees flowering in peoples front gardens (most being the flowering almond and plums I suspect as the cherries are not yet due) and quite a few early rhododendrons.

I had not gone far up the entrance lane to the dale when I had need of my SLR camera only to find the battery was flat, teach me to keep it charged up in future! I went back to the car and dropped it off with the macro lens so I would at least benefit from the lighter load in my backpack. Now I would see just how the Sony (HX400v) bridge coped (which hitherto had not overly impressed me). In order to get the macro shots I fitted the Raynox 250 to the lens via a step up filter (plumbers might think of this as a 43mm male to 55mm female 'iron' in this case plastic). This is much better than the clip on thing that comes with the Raynox. It works by letting you get close up to the subject with the zoom right out the longer the telephoto the more the magnification and unfortuneately the nearer to impossible to get a steady handheld shot! That said I was not overly dissappointed with these shots it produced on a windy day handheld with shaking freezing cold hands! To compensate I put it into shutter priority mode and set it sky high at least 1600th of second or higher if I could afford it but later I found I needed to switch to manual mode to have full control over exposure. I also set the ISO high 1600 some at 3200.

Left: a small specimen of orange jelly fungi was about 10mm x 10mm x 20mm growing on a dead broken off branch.

Right: terminal buds of Ash the dominant tree in the dale. The black buds contrast well against the pale bark.

Left: Another shot of the same Ash showing the girdle scars and the almost circular leaf scars. Buds are opposite each other on Ash.

Right: interesting effect when you have not extended the zoom, you see the rim of the Raynox lens as a porthole effect. This was looking at how far on the Elder was. Well into leaf, its always one of the earliest here.

Left: now zooming out for a closer shot showing the bud scales and leaf scars (and lenticels in the bark).

Below the Hazel pink female stigmas. On this tree the (male) catkins were dry and brown and presumably finished pollen shedding and now the female flowers were in abundance emerging from nearly every bud on some twigs sometimes in groups of two or three. You also see other trees where the catkins are still at their best or small and not yet open. Its likely this helps to prevent self fertilization as I found it hard to spot any female flowers on trees when the catkins were in flower.

Right: dried male catkins and fresh female flowers at the top.

Left: On higher ground the leaf shoots were more advanced on some Hazels.

Right: Spiky fruits remaining on a what I suspect to be Lesser Burdock.

Left: Hawthorn bud. The more numerous blackthorns (not shown) had swelled a little to have bright pale green tips emerged from the brown scales of their leaf buds to give the trees a speckled effect.

Right: Bud of Horse Chestnut with its big leaf scar like the claw of a huge bird of prey! The big waxy bud scales will remain folded back when the leaves emerge later.

Right: male catkin of Goat Willow. The 'pussy willow' catkins all had these blobs of water attached which I initially took to be frozen but when touched it was not. Maybe the hairs prevent the water blobs being more rounded.
Below the water made the tree glisten quite beautifully but this was hard to capture on camera.

Right and below: Some interesting fungi fruiting at this time. I have yet to properly identify them but my guess is one or both of the first two are 'Jews Ear' fungi which I have seen before in Lathkill Dale.

Right: Pretty sure that this is Jews Ear fungus Auricularia auricula-judae

 Left: I think this is too, rather looks more like an ear.

 Right: No idea what this fungi is yet. It was growing vertically on old ash tree bark.

Right: King Alfred Cakes or Cramp Ball fungi growing on fallen tree trunk.
Left: Scarlet Elf Cap fungi were numerous on the woodland floor at high level in Coombes Wood but only occasional along the main dale path.

Plant growing on vertical limestone outcrop that I discovered last year on flowering to be Meadow Saxifrage. It soon dried up and withered in the summer and I thought that was the last of it, a chance bird sown occurance in a very unsual location for it but here it is again, the same plant. Could it be that this is an 'alpine' mutation?

 Left and two photos below are Field Maple showing hairy red buds and some surviving winged fruit (samaras) from last year.

Above: the vulnerable..narrow leaved native Bluebells in the heart of the dale and left the threat  the indestructable invader, the broader-leaved  hybrid bluebells that have secured a foothold near the entrance to the dale. They sadly may eventually displace the natives.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Sunday 3rd March 2019
Now the days are lengthening after a spectacularly mild February its time I got back to work on my studio. I shall erect a stud partition to cut the garage in half the first section by the doors will be for all the usual clutter we all keep in a garage and the back half will be a studio where I can safely make a mess with watercolour paints dusty pastels and other mediums that are banned from the house.
Left is the start of the stud partition I erected today which sits on a damp proof membrane (the floor gets very damp after heavy rain so a waterproof sheet will go under the floor which will be joined to this).

Monday 4th March 2019
Back to work in the garage this time to fix the door frame to the partition.

Tuesday 5th March 2019
A lovely cold but sunny day so inviting for a good walk but unfortunately I have to be at my dentists in the afternoon so I only have the morning free. Needing to be local I chose to drive down to Ashover Rock. Exploring the woods I was quite surprised at the size and shape of the oak leaves in the leaf litter. Quite a number  were significantly larger than the others and had lobes that were quite sharply pointed.
Left is a a drawing in my field notebook. I traced around the edge to get it life size and just about managed to get in on the page (A5). The leaf without the petiole measured 13cm x 11cm and the petiole was 5cm long. With its long leaf stalk it would appear to be a Sessile Oak (stalkless acorns but longer stalks on leaves than the Penduculate Oak). I believe they do hybridise between each other but with those sharp tips it would need to get it together with a maple! Could it be that they have become sharper since falling from the tree? I would have expected the opposite the damaged areas being blunter but maybe the central veins in the lobes (which go to the tip) persevere longer being less easily digestible to the agents of decay. That does not account for the larger size of course. I shall have to wait for the trees to come into leaf again to observe them in the green.

After leaving Ashover Rock I had a drive around the beautiful Ogston Reservoir (in my opinion the most picturesque in Derbyshire). Below is the lovely view that opens up for you as you approach from Woolly Moor, Ashover. It can be viewed from higher up at Littlemoor and has a little sailing club. When the yachts are sailing it looks delightful and more like a natural lake than a reservoir. The other reservoirs in Derbyshire and elsewhere in the Peak District can look quite stark and forbiding I think (excepting Carsington which also has a yacht club).

Wednesday 6th March 2019
 I completed my first journal page for the year. I prefer to take rough notes, photographs and a few sketches (which can be as messy as I like) in the field and draw up neatly at home. This allows me to indulge both my passions of photography and art. The final sketches are a bit more than a gesture sketch but still need to done quickly otherwise Ill be off out again and I never catch up. However I find I actually observe details I would have missed in the field when I zoom in to draw from  a macro shot. I never spend time trying to get colours exact. I actually don't believe that there is any such thing as colour accuracy. I will see colours differently to the next person, I will see the same colours differently under different lighting conditions, cameras screen and printers each have there own interpretations and to cap it all nature does its own thing, nature is under no obligation to produce a buttercup the exact yellow it shows in the guide book. For that reason I leave the camera on auto white balance most of the time (which is about the only thing I have on automatic the rest is all manually set particularly for macro shots). Tones and values are, of course, important and that is the drawback from drawing from photographs because what you see as light and shade maybe more to do with  over/under exposure as actual light direction.

Today I completed my first journal page for 2019

Thursday 7th March 2019
Rain forcast to last all day so a good day to get more work done on my studio.

This morning I framed out one of the window walls. The cheeks of the window will be in plasterboard nailed wheres there is wood and on dabs of plasterboard adhesive where the sit direct on the masonry. The window board similar.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Thursday 6th April 2017 Monks Dale

I chose to walk Monks dale today with the hope of spotting the rare(ish) Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia which has been reported to be present here.

I parked on a rough layby on the lane which splits Peter Dale to the north and Monks Dale to the south (there's a bit on the North side as well but I ignore that for simplicity). There's only room for a few cars but its usually fairly quiet.

You start off on the path through grassland at first which soon changes to woodland after passing through a narrow rock corridor. The woodland section, much the greater part of the dale is quite   tough on the ankles and stout boots are needed. There virtually no flat bits and just for a number of miles the traversing of rock after rock twisting your feet to square up to tread each one, makes a mile here twice as long as on a regular path like Coombes Dale. Nevertheless it does not lack variety and interest for those who persevere. I hope this blog gives a sample of its diversity with much in flower even at this early point in the year.

Above: Opposite-leaved saxifrage Chrysoplenium oppositifolium (seen at the bottom of the picture) was the most proliferous plant here forming a lush ground cover throughout the wooded section of the dale. The other plants growing with are Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea with the darker green leaves in the top left of the picture and Dog's Mercury Mercurialis perennis with the lighter green leaves top right.


Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta (above) were frequent also in the woodland area and their young flower buds growing steadily to provide much loved flowers later in the spring. That said, I can't believe reports that say these plants are threatened, they are a persistent weed in my garden and have greasy little white bulbs that detach themselves immediately you pull them up, fall back to the soil and dissappear quickly. Its the only weed that Roundup has not killed, I reckon those cunning little bulbs know when the surface leaves have been sprayed and detach from them!

Below the Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria  perhaps not as abundant here as in some of the other dales.

Above: one of the vetches with quite long tendrils at the end of its compound leaves.

The rocky path through the woodland seen here is definitely not for the infirm or anybody without good walking boots! You may be able to see speckled white on the green. This is the flowers of the Wood Anemones Anemone nemorosa which made a spectacular display in large swathes as you can see below.
A diminutive little plant is the Woodruff Galium odoratum below which has tiny wite flowers when it blooms. I used to have it as ground cover when I had a large woodland garden. It is a well behaved little plant and suppresses more nuisance weeds without troubling garden plants. Its in the picture below as the plant whose  leaves form a rosette of leaflets surrounding the central stem. It eventually spreads to softly carpet the area if it is not blocked by stronger competitors. The plant with the larger leaflets in the centre of the picture is Water Avens Geum rivale frequent in the dales but as yet mostly not formed flowers yet although I found a few to be seen later on.
The common Lords-and-Ladies Arum maculatum (above) seen above growing abundantly in woodland areas throughout seemed to be enjoying its position in this moist woodland judging by its healthy large green leaves. It flowers later on (April to early June) with Arum lily houseplant-like spade blooms and then the red berries.

Dog's Tooth lichen quite common in the wooded dales growing between the moss and woodruff here.

Below is Water Avens more advanced in this plant than most in the dale which have yet to form buds...

Moschatel Adoxa moschatelina (below) was also present  in the woodland...

An hour or so into the Dale I spotted what I came here to find... Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia, it is in just one small section of the dale but here it had a good hold spreading densely up the slopes.

Unfortuneately I was too early to see them in flower. The latter I am keen to see being of more interest for its unusual 'exotic' appearance rather than beauty. the petals and sepals are diminutve and fold back to reveal the strange spiky stamens surrounding a black ovary which later forms the single black fruit.

The well loved Primrose Primula vulgaris was present and in flower in a few isolated plants but not frequent here.

The Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella above is a lovely little plant. It has delicate nodding flowers with clover type leaves which I find most charming. Below is a shot of it growing on top of a moss covered fallen tree trunk. Note also the Dog's Tooth lichen in the bottom left corner. I think the dramatic limestone rock scenery makes a wonderful backdrop.
Early Purple Orchids Orchis mascula  (above) flowering next month , conspicuous  by their dark mottled leaves, were reasonably frequent and tended to grow on and near the rocky path.

 Left: A Hypericum (St Johns Wort) species not sure which one at this stage.
 Nearing the end of the first woodland section there were a few specimens of Barren Strawberry Potentilla sterilis ...

Once out of the woodland there is a small grassland section before woodland returns again. Here could be seen Cowslip Primula veris  in flower now on the grassy slopes...

..and also Rockrose Helianthemum nummularium though this will not flower until next month (May).

In this section the stream widens out considerably giving the appearance of a lake...

The yellow specks in the picture are Marsh Marigolds Caltha palustris ..

The Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana was occasional in the dale but not in large numbers (yet anyway)

Here I spotted the basal leaves of Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria (see tiny leaflets along with larger ones on the compound leaves)..

...and Salad Burnet Poterium sanguisorba ...


The photos below I believe to be one of the currants, I was hoping they were the Mountain Currant Ribes Alpinum which has leaves more deeply three lobed but not having much to go on yet I am yet to determine if they are...

Having reached the little wooden bridge which crosses the (now narrowed) stream to the path which eventually climbs to Millers Dale, I turned around and made my return the way I came.