Monday, 25 July 2011

Tenfoot jam

Hull blackberries are starting to reach peak season. Bramble flowers were fertilised by butterflies, bumblebee and bees, and have now become juicy blackberries ready to enjoy, either raw or made into tangy jam. We went to the tenfoot behind our house and found a large patch. With the help of a chair to reach the higher ones, we collected half a kg. in a few minutes. Blackberry jam is easy to make and is delicious, only needs a little patience with the stirring.
Ingredients: washed blackberries (weigh them), the same amount in sugar and a lemon. 
Mix the berries with the sugar, squeeze the juice of the lemon and grate the rind and put everything on a pan. 
Set the gas to low and stir continuously until the mixture bubbles with some effort - when it starts spitting bits around is time to stop, it might take from half an hour to 45 min. Then you pour it immediately into jars. 
You might need some help as the stirring is a bit tiresome!
Helpers can also make labels, yes, those are blackberries!
Sterilise some jars using boiling water or a steam steriliser. Once the jam is done pour it into the jars while boiling hot and close the lids tight.
tenfoot jam, yum!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Fraisthorpe beach

We visited Fraisthorpe beach today. With its crumbling low cliffs on a golden sandy beach, it is in some ways a typical East Yorkshire beach. But there is something special about it, with the farm and fields behind it, and the lovely cliff top path, it has got fantastic views. Something unique is the bustle of Sand Martins, which nest in a scattered colony in the clay-sand cliffs. There were lots of butterflies and bumblebees in the daisies, ragwort and other wildflowers on the cliffs and field margins, including a Brown Argus, a species I had never seen before.
 The beach got quite busy later on, with dog walkers and horse riding, in addition to surfing and kite flying. A great spot for a day out.
 Scorpion fly
 Small Tortoiseshell
 Brown Argus
A very faded six spot burnet on creeping thistle
Sea Rocket on the beach
The tide getting low
 Common Rest Harrow (thanks Hedera! from Wild about Britain)
 Greater Willowherb
Sandwich tern
 Ringlet on Mayweed
Cernuella virgata snails
 Sand Martin chicks
 Sand martins flying next to the cliffs
A view of the colony of Sand Martins
Adult entering nest
A view of the low cliffs
The little creek next to the entrance to the beach, Auburn Beck

Whereas at low tide the beach is very wide, high tides can reach the cliff bases at high tide, so it pays to check the local tide times.
There are toilets and a car park (£2 in summer).

  1. Small tortoiseshell, 2, bramble and ragwort
  2. Small Copper, 2, daisy
  3. Green-veined white, 1 on Ragwort
  4. Ringlet, 1 on daisy
  5. Red Admiral, 3 sunbathing and flying about
  6. Six spot burnet, 1 on creeping thistle
  7. Brown Argus, 1
  8. Small White, 1
  1. Crow
  2. Sandwich terns, flock passing by several times
  3. Black-headed gull
  4. Linnet, lots of them
  5. Sand Martins
  6. Swallows
  7. Kestrel, 2 individuals on the way.
  8. Oystercatcher
  9. Blackbird
  10. Collared dove
  11. Woodpigeon
  12. Sparrow
  13. Swift
  14. Rook
  15. Magpies
  16. Lesser-black backed gull
  17. Herring gull
  18. Swan
  19. Pied wagtail
  20. Starling
Location map

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Friday, 22 July 2011

Noddle Hill nature reserve in summer

Last time we went to Noddle Hill it was November. What a difference the season makes. This is a superb place to visit in summer, with wildflower meadows, ponds, wooded areas, some scrub, lots of little cris-crossing paths and the big fishing lake with an island (from the educational pond, above). There were plenty of wildflowers today and we did several Big Butterfly Counts, with a total of 9 species plus Six Spot Burnets all around.
Information board at the entrance of the reserve
A large pond snail netted by the kids
Comma on creeping thistle
 Mating large whites. The male flew carrying the female behind for a while and chose to settle on these almost white leaves.
 Wolf spider Trochosa sp.
Six spot burnets mating
A Red Admiral on my t-shirt 
Gatekeeper and red-tailed bumblebee on ragwort
Small Copper
 Wild carrot
Green-veined white
 Amphibious bistort
 Queen red tailed bumblebee Bombus lapidarius on vetch
 Goats beard and Marmalade fly

Butterflies (& moths)

  1. Peacocks, 3 feeding on creeping thistle
  2. Comma, at least 2 also on creeping thistle
  3. Speckled Wood, 2 males in a territorial dispute near the pond dipping pond
  4. Small Copper, on the meadow next to the educational pond
  5. Gatekeeper, many around on Ragwort
  6. Red Admiral, one lands on my T-shirt
  7. Green-veined white
  8. Large white
  9. Meadow brown
  10. Blue (common?) too distant a view
  11. Six-spot burnet
  1. Magpie family
  2. Crow, young ones on the road verges
  3. Starlings
  4. Goldfinch
  5. Great tit
  6. Long-tailed tit
  7. Woodpigeon
  8. Collared dove
  9. Sparrows
  10. Greenfinches
  11. Blackbird
  12. Bullfinch
  13. House Martin
  14. Linnet
  15. Reed warbler
  16. Lesser black-backed gull
  17. Herring gull
  18. Black headed gull
  19. Moorhen
  20. Mallard