Changing Seasons: August 2017

Meadow at Dawn

Grasses have ripened into swathes of gold,

and leaves have deepened their colour in maturity,

for the meadow and woodland have passed their peak,

accepting the inevitability of the ageing year.

 

It’s been a few months since I last joined in with Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons photo challenge, but I thought that, seeing as I’ve still been visiting the meadow and wooded area despite moving away, I may as well post the pictures I’ve taken. As I no longer live in the village, my visits haven’t been as frequent as they were in earlier months – which mainly means that this post was far easier to put together. I only had a few dozen pictures to sort through, rather than a few hundred!

If you’d like to see what was happening in the meadow at other times of the year, please check out the Changing Seasons category at the top of the page.

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Changing Seasons 2017: January

As the midwinter celebrations fade into memory, the new year settles into a haze of grey monotony – a progression of days shrouded in obscuring mist. But even amidst the gloom, an allure can be found if you open your eyes to the sight. Light will filter through even on the dullest of days.

(Remember to click on the galleries for better views of the photographs.)

Find your way to the natural places, and breathe deep of the chill air. Bathe in the peace to be found as you connect with the earth. The daylight might yet be thin, lacking the strength to which it will grow in the months to come, but it is strong enough to enliven your spirit as you walk across the meadow and beneath the trees.

Whilst no flowers yet bloom, and the trees remain starkly bare, there is still beauty to be found in the minutiae of the wild places. Beneath your feet toadstools continue to emerge, whilst moss, ivy and lichen add touches of greenery to a largely umber world. Droplets cling to leaves and branches, reflecting back at you a miniature world, bathed in light.

Amongst the branches a multitude of birds flit, darting from perch to perch in search of sustenance. Blue tits, long tailed tits and blackbirds can all be spotted, adding life an movement to the wintry tableau.

A final sight to lift your spirits can be seen as January draws to an end. The first hints of Spring’s revival can be found amidst the remnants of the old year – fresh green leaves reaching towards the sky. Soon new life will arrive.

new-growth

This post is for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons 2017. As usual, I have far more than the 5-20 pictures we’re asked to share – though this is barely a quarter of those I could have included. Sorry, Cardinal. o_O I’d say that I’ll try to stick to the limit better next month, but I know just how low the likelihood of that is!

As I began last year’s challenge in February, this post actually brings me full circle. I had thought about photographing a different place this year – but the meadow, wooded area and stream is where I always want to visit when I head out of the house with my camera. And there’s always something different to be seen…

If you’d like to take a look at some of the previous posts for this challenge, I’ve now added a Changing Seasons category to the menu at the top of the page to make them easier to find.

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Changing Seasons 2016: December

During December I again photographed the meadow, wooded area and stream in my village for Cardinal Guzman’s Monthly Changing Seasons challenge. With the busyness of Christmas preparations, along with an unseasonably warm but drearily overcast month, I only managed a handful of visits to my favourite place, but luckily those few walks gave me plenty of pictures!

Remember to click on the galleries to see the pictures at a larger size.

So, come and join me on a walk through the meadow, down to the wooded area and beside the stream, as December takes hold…

frosty-trees-and-stumps

You breathe deep of the chill air as you walk across the meadow’s open expanse, enjoying the feel of the crisp grass and the fallen leaves, rimed with ice crystals, as they crunch beneath your feet. The paths that in the summer months wound through long grasses, are now mere echoes upon the ground, but you follow them still. Whether in the shrouding mists of early morning or the sublime gold of the afternoon, each footstep carries you further from your troubles, opening your mind to the possibilities that lie ahead.

The many benches scattered around the space draw you to rest for a spell, allowing you to absorb nature’s serenity. Wrapped warmly in woolen layers, with hat, scarf and gloves protecting your extremities, the chill doesn’t bother you as you meander from perch to perch, though you don’t linger long at each stop. There are many more areas to explore, after all.

Resting on the bench newly placed beneath the trees, you gaze at an area held tightly in December’s grip. Oak, birch and horse chestnut trees all stand starkly bare. Winter green has now become dominant within the woodland spaces: holly, ivy and fir adding a dash of colour to an otherwise bleak scene.

Arising from the bench, you walk alongside the stream, watching the sluggish flow of water beneath the icy tendrils that stretch out from the shore. The afternoon light gilds branches in gold, adding an element of warmth that your chilled senses deny exists.

You carefully watch where you put your feet as you walk beneath the trees, taking care not to trip over the jagged remains of tree stumps or to tread on any of the funghi that continues to sprout amongst the concealing leaf litter.

You stop where a branch reaches out over the water. The last few leaves cling like tree ornaments, whilst water droplets glint around them, hanging like nature’s own midwinter decorations.

But nature’s own are not the only decorations to be found. Strung from the trees throughout the wooded area are fat balls, packed full of winter treats for the birds, whilst strings of popcorn drape over the fir trees clustered in the corner of the meadow. Robins, blue tits and long tailed tits can be seen flitting to and fro, enjoying their midwinter feast.

Finally, as the sun sets beyond the trees, and with your senses bathed clean by the calm stillness of nature, you take your leave of the meadow, wooded area and stream, knowing that soon you will return…

clouds-over-trees

I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on a walk around my favourite place. Did you have a favourite picture? I’d love to know which ones caught your eye.

If you’d like to revisit some of the previous months’ galleries, you can follow the links below:

February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November

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Changing Seasons 2016: November

During November, despite spending the majority of my time working on my NaNoWriMo novel, I still managed a few walks down the the wooded area, stream and meadow to take some photographs for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons monthly photo challenge.

Don’t forget to click on the galleries for better views of the pictures.

Come on in.

entrance

Walk through the trees of the little wooded area. Here, fallen leaves crunch underfoot, whilst light filters through branches adorned in gold. Follow the path beside the meadow…

…until you reach the stream. Take care at the water’s edge, where leaves create a false surface, tempting you to step closer.

If you look carefully as you wander beside the stream, you can spot lots of toadstools still growing amidst the leaf litter. Lying on frosty ground in the early hours of the day to take photographs is no fun, but the results are generally worth it. 🙂

Step out from beneath the shelter of the trees and into the open space of the meadow. The ground is speckled with leaves, fallen from the surrounding trees. If you’re early, the ground might still be frosted white, or the view may be hazed by mist. Perhaps take a seat on a bench for a while, and watch the sun warm the chill earth.

As you walk, be mindful of the minutiae of nature’s shift from autumn into winter. Crisp leaves and fallen seeds, some frosted with delicate ice crystals or lit by golden light, can be found wherever you look. The last few berries speckle the hedgerows, their colour fading in mottled patterns, shining as if gilded in celebration of the changing season. Spiderwebs drape over branches, strung with dewdrops that glint like fairy lights.

If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the wildlife that flourishes in the wild spaces. Birds flit from branch to branch, their voices raised in song, the motion of their wings carrying them rapidly out of sight. Squirrels scurry, collecting nuts for their winter stores.

squirrel

Yes, the only one I managed to photograph during my walks was a lone squirrel – and he was too far away for me to get a good shot!

I hope you enjoyed the virtual walk. I’d love to know which sights caught your eye – did you have a favourite view?

You can see the previous month’s galleries here:

February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October

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Changing Seasons 2016: October

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During October I’ve again been photographing around the local meadow, wooded area and stream, taking pictures for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons photography challenge. For those of you who don’t know, local to me is a little village in the east of England, near the border between Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. The meadow is my favourite place in the village. I like to sit beside the stream, or on a bench in the meadow, to write my stories and poems. I find the place wonderfully calming and inspirational. Unfortunately I haven’t spent anywhere near as much time there this month as I would have liked, especially over the last fortnight, which means that the majority of these pictures were taken during the first half of the month. Hopefully I’ll be able to get out more in November.

Don’t forget to click on the galleries for a larger view of each picture.

Let’s begin by taking a little wander through the trees, watching out for toadstools underfoot, and down to the stream…

Although the mild weather we’ve been having this year means that the leaves are only just turning, October has nevertheless seen autumn steadily taking a stronger hold. Fruits and seeds were flourishing wherever I looked, with toadstools in particular becoming a regular focus for pictures.

Whilst the majority of the leaves have only just begun shifting into their autumnal colours, there were a few early ones that caught my eye.

Bare of summer flowers, the meadow has provided far fewer opportunities for photography during October than in previous months. But that’s not to say it’s provided none at all. There have been a number of misty mornings, and these in particular gave me some interesting scenes to capture.

I’ve already posted some black and white pictures of the spiderwebs that could be found adorning the trees and plants, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few pictures in colour, as well.

Unfortunately, there has been little in the way of wildlife for me to photograph this month. I’ve spotted a number of squirrels, but they never stay in one place long enough for me to capture them on camera, whilst the spiderwebs were all strangely devoid of spiders (not that I’m really complaining about that!). I did have one encounter with a robin during which I took a lot of pictures. Like the squirrels, though, he was flitting around so quickly that only one shot is even close to being in focus, the rest are pure blur.  I thought I’d share that one with you anyway, even though it’s not as clear as I’d have liked, along with a shot of a buzzard in flight over the meadow and a late red admiral butterfly enjoying the ivy flowers.

I hope you enjoyed October’s pictures. Did you have a favourite? I’d love to know.

If you’d like to check out the previous months galleries you can follow the links below:

February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September

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Changing Season 2016: September

It’s a few days later than I’d intended, but here’s my September post for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons photography challenge. This year I’m photographing around my favourite place – the meadow, wooded area and stream in my village on the border between Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, England. I find the place wonderfully inspiring, and I write many of my stories and poems while I’m there. I hope you all enjoy the virtual tour.

Remember to click on the galleries to see the pictures at a larger size.

Come on in:

Dawn Lit Entrance 2.jpg

Follow the path into the little wooded area…

During September the wooded area and stream became my favourite place to spend time photographing. With the first hints of autumnal colours beginning to show, the fruits and seeds in the trees and the toadstools underfoot, the area became even more enchanting than usual.

Here are a few general views of the area:

And here are a few close ups:

Whilst the bright colours of the summer flowers had faded from the meadow during September, beauty could still be found amongst the sea of golden grass and seedheads that filled the area. The many small trees, paths, fences and tree stumps provided focal points for general views:

A closer look revealed intriguing shapes and forms in the seedheads, and even a last few flowers hidden in the long grass:

As well as the growing things I always like to capture pictures of the wildlife that inhabit the area. This is never quite everything that I see when I’m there – most of it moves far too quickly for me – but I  catch what I can. I was particularly pleased this month by the shot of the grey squirrel. He might be missing a part of his paw but at least he isn’t just a blur like all the others I’ve photographed!

Most of the pictures of the meadow were taken before September 22nd. On the Autumn Equinox it underwent one of its most sudden changes of the year – it was given a haircut!

mower

This is how the meadow looked afterwards:

after-mowing

If you’d like to see how this month’s views compare to previous month’s you can check out  my other Changing Seasons galleries by following the links below:

February
March
April
May
June
July
August

I hope you all liked the pictures. I’d love to know if you have a favourite.

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Changing Seasons 2016: August

During August I’ve again been photographing the wildflower meadow, wooded area and stream for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons Challenge. As usual I have far more pictures in my galleries than we’re asked to share, but I couldn’t bear to cut anything else out!

On the Path 2.jpg

With many of the flowers having withered away over the summer, leaving a sea of golden grass, during August the main focal points of the meadow became the little trees scattered throughout the area. There are over thirty of these, but until recently they’ve been too small to show up in pictures, having only been planted when the field was bought a few years ago by a lovely couple who live in the village. It is this couple who have turned the space into the beautiful area it is now, and have made it accessible for everyone – for which I am incredibly grateful! Here are a few pictures of some of the little trees:

Whilst most of the flowers in the meadow have faded, there are a few that still remain.

But even with the fading of the flowers, there is still beauty to be found amongst the long grass. I’ve always found seedpods and dried flowers to be as attractive in their own way as flowers at the peak of their bloom…

One of the things I always love to do when I’m visiting the meadow, wooded area and stream is to look for any wildlife that I can photograph. I always see far more things than I actually manage to capture, though during August I was particularly fortunate with many of my shots. Having said that, a few pictures (the moorhen and the sparrowhawk) were taken right at the limit of my 70-300mm lens and still had to be cropped to show the creatures properly. They were also taken handheld, meaning that they’re not quite as clear as I would have liked, but I they were shots I was so pleased to have captured that I couldn’t leave them out.

One of my favourite features in the meadow are the cluster of tree stumps, and the items that sit on top of them. And yes… many of them were placed there by me. 🙂

With Autumn drawing nearer, the wooded area has become increasingly interesting to photograph. The acorns and sycamore helicopters have grown larger, whilst spiderwebs  wreathe many trees.

To finish off I’ll leave you with a few pictures of my favourite things to hunt for at this time of year – the toadstools that hide among the grass and leaf-litter.

I hope you all enjoyed August’s collection of images. I had hoped to share them before the end of the month, but unfortunately my internet connection died. Luckily it didn’t stay off for too long this time.

If you’d like to see how the area has changed over the course of the year, you can find the previous months’ galleries by following the links below:

February
March
April
May
June
July

Changing Seasons 2016: July

Last month I again spent many pleasant hours photographing the wildflower meadow, wooded area and stream for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons photography challenge. As you may know by now, this is my favourite place in the village, and where I like to go to write.

Love

In June the main feature of the meadow had been the daisies. During July these steadily died back, leaving a sea of golden grass, speckled with the delicate umbels of wild carrot flowers.

Here are a few general views over the meadow. Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.

Here are a few close ups of the grasses and the seeds hidden amongst them.

One thing I haven’t really focussed on in previous months are the little trees that dot the meadow – mainly because they’ve never before really worked well in photographs. Many are now, finally, large enough to actually show up in pictures.

Obscured by the long grass there are also many flowers that you can see once you get a little closer. The cornflowers, poppies, birdsfoot trefoil and clover of June have continued to bloom, but I’ve not included pictures of these this month. I’ve instead focussed on the flowers new to July: wild carrot, camomile and corn marigolds, plus many others that I was unable to name.

The grasses and flowers have continued to teem with bugs and insects of all sorts. The butterflies have been the most noticeable, flitting from blossom to blossom, and sunning their wings as they rest on leaves, though, as usual, they’ve also been the hardest to photograph.

After exploring the meadow it’s always nice to head into the trees for a while. After talking to one of the older villagers who walks his dogs around the meadow, I decided to find the holly tree on which he and his friends carved their names back when they were children. I was quite amazed that I’d never noticed it before!

On of my favourite places to write is beside the stream, near to the little ladder that leans against a tree on the water’s edge. I always like to snap a few pictures while I’m down there.

This post is actually later than I’d planned as last week I somehow managed to lose several folders full of pictures from the month. They vanished completely – I can’t even find a trace of them on my hard drive. Unfortunately, I hadn’t got around to backing them up yet. I won’t be making that mistake again! Many of these pictures were actually ready to post on the blog as I’d been trying to edit a few every day so I didn’t have a mass to work through at the end of the month. Instead I had to go out and take some new ones, all of which I then had to edit.

On the positive side, some of the new pictures are my favourites of the month.

I apologise to everyone who’s blog I haven’t visited recently. See above for the reason! I’ll try to make my way around to you soon.

You can check out previous months’ Changing Season’s posts here:

February
March
April
May
June

Did you have a favourite picture? I’d love to know.

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Changing Season 2016: June

It’s time for June’s Changing Seasons post, a challenge that asks you to photograph the same place over the course of a year and to share a monthly gallery of pictures. Yet again I’m afraid I have a few more photos than the Cardinal asks us to share. Oops! You probably wouldn’t believe just how long it took to reduce it down to only this many!

fence to meadow

This year I’m photographing the wildflower meadow, wooded area and stream – my favourite place to visit in the village. I can spend hours happily sitting with a notepad, writing my little stories and poems.

The most noticeable feature of the meadow this month has been the daisies. The whole field has been filled with them in a gorgeous a sea of white.

There were other flowers blooming, as well – many hidden amongst the daisies: cornflowers and corncockles, birdsfoot trefoil, poppies and clover, plus many others that I didn’t manage to identify.

Often overlooked are the grasses that fill the meadow, the drab cousins of the elegant flowers, but beautiful in their own right.

During June the meadow has been filled with insects, bees and butterflies, flitting from plant to plant. I’ve already shared some of the insect pictures that I’ve taken this month but I did save some for today’s post.

As well as the meadow there’s also the little wooded area and the stream.

I thought I’d leave you with a final two shots of a couple of friends I’ve made at the meadow this month.

I hope you liked these pictures. If you did, feel free to check out the previous months’ posts:

February
March
April
May

Changing Seasons 2016: May

This post is for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons photography challenge. This year I’m sharing a selection of pictures taken around my favourite place in the village – the wildflower meadow, wooded area and stream. I was determined to get this month’s galleries up before the end of the month! Don’t forget to click on the galleries to see the pictures in a larger size.

Here are a few photographs from around the meadow:

The change in the meadow over the course of the month has been very noticeable. In early May the dandelions were the main feature, changing from their bright yellow flowers to a host of delicate ‘clocks’ with only the occasional splash of colour and variety from red campion, forget-me-nots and daisies. Further flowers, however, appeared as the week’s processed: white campion, buttercups, tufted vetch, clover, cats ear (or possibly hawks beard) and birdsfoot trefoil – plus others that I was unable to identify!

Here are some closer views of the flowers:

Last month the bluebells were the central feature of the little area of woodland beside the stream. This month, with the canopy finally filling with greenery, the bluebells faded – though not before I managed to capture a few more shots. Focus instead shifted to the blossom on the trees and, in the last few days, to the rhododendron bush, bursting into glorious flower.

As well as flowers, this month has also seen an abundance of insect life. I tried my best to capture this but unfortunately little seemed to want to stay still long enough for me to take a picture! The butterflies are a perfect example. I decided to include the picture in the end as capturing even a slightly out of focus shot was a triumph with the two tiny creatures so constantly on the move! I also have lots of other pictures of out of focus bees and bugs that I thought I’d better not inflict on you… 🙂

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this month’s visit to my favourite place. If you’d like to compare the views now to those from previous months, you can follow the links below.

February

March

April

Just a final note for anyone who’s curious (and still reading) – after sorting through all of the photographs I took this month, I still had a 118 pictures to choose from for this post. Somehow (rather brutally) I managed to whittle it down to 34! Whilst this is still far more than the 5-20 the Cardinal asks us to share, I couldn’t bear to cut anything else out. This means, though, that I now have another 84 pictures sitting in my media file waiting for a chance to be shared…

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