Lockdown nature notes: week 3

21 January 2021 | 3 comments

These nature notes are becoming a nice routine for me now, I look forward to finding new things. Jan 15th, Friday. Today we were down by the river Avon (hence the picture of the beautiful wier at Bathampton) and we looked again at trees. I was interested in one in particular that was already showing some early green leaves. It’s mid January – what’s happening? It turns out this is the elder tree (or bush) , one of the few whose buds which have no protective scales over them. So they will be one of the very first to leaf.

Jan 16th. We walked to Alice Park, a community haven of green space, and a lovely old building whose windows had these snowy winter scenes painted on. So my nature note today has to be a couple of facts about the snowy owl. These birds have so many extra feathers to keep them warm, they are one of the heaviest owl species at 2kg. They even have feathers on their feet that look like fluffy slippers. Probably not the first thought of the arctic hare, though, as the owl swoops down on it!. They also have tiny bristles on their beaks to help them sense nearby objects.

Jan 17th Up among limestone outcrops near the university today, practicing a bit of scrambling and rope work, look what we found in a leafy hollow. Collared earthstar fungi. The fruit of this fungus starts off looking like a brown flower bulb, then it cracks open to expose the round white spore sac, which releases it’s spores in great puffs when raindrops fall on the sac, The brown cover opens in a star shape and becomes a little saucer, complete with inside rim (the ‘collar’) for the spore sac to sit on. Genius. Worth having a look at video clip: Time lapse earthstar

Jan 18th Where could we walk today, and avoid getting too muddy? There is a short road halfway up Landsdown hill to the north of the city called ‘Perfect view’, seemed as good a destination as any. What an address, and indeed the view is perfect, across the whole of Bath. Getting there was a interesting mix of buildings and parks, and the canal and river of course.

Jan 19th Today, and yesterday I kept noticing this plant, by the canal and river. Lovely to see something actually flowering at the moment. Is it burdock (sorry I’m not sure, all suggestions welcome). If so, it’s a popular foragers food, full of antioxidants and tastes vaguely of artichoke, apparently. But I’m not sure. Pretty though.

Jan 20th Storm Christoph meant no chance of getting out today, but we enjoyed watching a lovely pair of Jays in the garden. They mate for life, and  I love this little snippet from the   Woodland Trust website, particularly the Latin name of course, surely referencing is loud screeching call:   ‘(Garrulus glandarius)  A highly intelligent loudmouth. The jay is known for its love of acorns which it often leaves hidden. These forgotten snacks are credited with the rapid spread of oaks after the last Ice Age.’

Jan 21st Today I’ve seen my first primroses. What a joy, a sign of brightness to come.  The Primrose’s common name comes from the Latin ‘prima rosa’, meaning ‘first rose’ and describing its early flowering.  Caterpillars love primroses, and so do I.


  1. Ali

    Previous comment mysteriously disappeared… but butterbur! I am told by my in-house expert. It’s out early this year – we have some by the canal. The leaves used to be used for wrapping butter.

  2. Dorla

    Thank you Julia, I’m beginning to look forward to your interesting observations every week.

  3. Ali

    My expert adviser says it’s butterbur! Leaves used to be used for wrapping butter….allegedly. It is out early this year. We have some by the canal.


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