Archives for category: Nature

Photographs from the park at Virginia Water, Surrey, which is part of the Royal Landscape.

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The Cascade is a 10m tall waterfall built in the 1780s by Thomas Sandby, King George III’s architect, after the previous waterfall was destroyed in a storm in 1768.

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This totem pole is 100 foot high, erected in 1958 to mark the centenary of the establishment of British Colombia as a Crown Colony. Incredibly, it was carved from a single tree, a 600 year old Western Red Cedar from the forests of Haida Gwaii, 500 miles to the north of Vancouver.

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The park is home to many species of bird.

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The county of Ayrshire, birthplace of Robert Burns, Hendrick’s Gin and little old me. The best thing about my county is the great outdoors, particularly when the sun is shining, which it certainly was at the weekend (28°C, unheard of in Scotland). Ayrshire is home to rolling hills, lush green pastures and a plethora of beaches.

On the first day of my trip home I visited Dunure and Croy Beach in South Ayrshire, which was glorious after months in landlocked Berkshire. I try to avoid the busier beaches, such as Troon and Ayr, and head up the coast for more secluded spots.

The views here are incredible: rugged coastline, vast sparkling ocean, and the hazy outline of the uninhabited island of Ailsa Craig in the distance, ten miles out to sea. The few fluffy clouds gave interest to the vivid blue sky and white cabbage butterflies and wild flowers were in abundance.

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If you ever visit this area be sure to take a picnic as you’ll want to spend some time here. There is also a farm park for children close by called Heads of Ayr, and a few caravan parks for longer visits. Dunure is also very close to Turnberry, the famous hotel and golf resort, which has held many Open tournaments.

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Tiggywinkles is an animal hospital and sanctuary situated just outside Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. It is billed as the world’s busiest wildlife hospital and is available 24/7 for animal casualties.

The hospital cares for all kinds of wild animals, including deer, foxes, badgers, squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits and birds. Its aim is to rehabilitate sick or injured animals, but when this is not possible they are cared for at Tiggywinkles for the remainder of their lives.

Tiggywinkles was officially opened in 1983 and named after the Beatrix Potter character Mrs Tiggywinkle, due to the large number of hedgehogs coming into the centre. A special hedgehog only ward – St Tiggywinkles – was thus created.

 

As the hospital is not state funded, they rely on generous donations from the public and from the proceeds of their visitor centre, which includes a gift shop, outdoor picnic area, coffee shop, a hedgehog memorabilia museum, and children’s play area.

 

The public are able to visit the animals in the sanctuary, which features a large aviary for red kites. The kites are the subject of daily talks, as are the hedgehogs.

The sanctuary also has a large pond for ducks and swans, a deer paddock and several gardens for smaller creatures.

If you would like to donate to an excellent animal charity or for more information please visit the website http://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/index.html

Open to visitors 10am to 4pm seven days a week until September 30th. Adult tickets priced at £5.10

Mainly found on ancient woodland, bluebell woods in full bloom are a wondrous sight. Violet-blue flowers blanket the earth in Heartwood Forest, Hertfordshire, as sunlight floods through the great trees above. It’s easy to see why bluebell woods are so intrinsically linked with fairies and magic.

Bluebells are a protected species in the UK, which is home to up to 50% of the world’s population. Heartwood Forest is also home to many species of butterfly. I saw this European Peacock on a path near the glade.

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This Forest is protected by the Woodland Trust.

Today was the first day in a long time that the rain stayed away for the entire day. I was able to leave the house without a jacket and took a relaxing walk down by the Thames, close to where I live in Berkshire.

Green leaves had appeared on the branches of the oaks and the willows, and the river was abundant with wildlife; swans, ducks and geese were enjoying the water, and many of them stopped to say hello. I’m looking forward to seeing their cygnets, ducklings and goslings soon too.

I recently spotted two Rose-ringed Parakeets on the tree outside my window but sadly they left before I could photograph them.

Last summer I encountered a dragonfly in the house, which was a new experience for me. It was around the size of a large butterfly, and had an iridescent petrol-like sheen, which was visible in its languid movements. These are creatures I have only seen in nature documentaries and books so hopefully I will get another chance to photograph them both this year, as well as any other interesting animals who choose to visit my garden.

Fingers crossed for a good summer.