A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Following in the Footsteps of an "Edwardian Lady" - Part 3: Olton Mill Pool
Olton Mill Pool
In her "Nature Notes" written in 1905 Edith Holden writes that on 3rd April she saw 2sand martins flying over Olton Mill Pool catching flies, she also saw her first Willow Warbler of the year and found 2 blackbirds' nests - one built in brambles containing one egg and one built in a whin-bush with 3 eggs. On the 24th April she walked across Olton Golf Course to the Mill Pool where she saw a water-hen (this would probably have been a Coot or Moorhen) sitting on a nest built in the centre of a reedbed. Edith went on to mention that the nest was about 2 feet high and it looked like a small floating island.
As there are no public footpaths crossing the private Golf Club (and I don't play golf!!) it doesn't seem possible to walk across it today. Between the Golf Course and the Mill-Pool is a small wood called Mill Pool Spinney. A Scout Group now appear to use this area as its not possible to access the area around the pool or spinney as its marked private property.
The only place to view the pool is from the side of the road.
I didn't see any hirundines or Willow Warblers! but I did spot a few Blackbirds, Blue Tits and a Robin. No sign of any Coots or Moorhen although I imagine they could well still be found on this pool. There were, however, several Canada Geese and it looked as though one may have been sitting on a nest. I am not sure though how familiar Edith Holden would have been with this species. Canada Geese (a North American species) were introduced to St James Park, England initially in 1665 as an addition to the waterfowl collection of King Charles II. They were kept through the centuries in waterfowl collections but their numbers remained low until the 1950's when their numbers began to increase dramatically.
Mill Pool and the Spinney
This pool originally fed Olton Mill which was built during the sixteenth century. It is not clear when the mill was actually demolished but it is recorded as still standing in 1937 so would have been there when Edith used to visit the pool. Although the Golf Course and Spinney still remain today Mill Pool is surrounded by housing developments rather than the farmland that Edith would have recognised.
Later as I drove past the village of Catherine de Barnes (a place Edith Holden mentions visiting and walking through several times in her Nature Notes) I spotted this grassy bank full of cowslips.
I am not sure if these are truly wild cowslips or if they have been planted but it was still a lovely sight especially seeing a male Orange Tip butterfly dancing above the flowers - just magical.
"The cowslips tall her pensioners be; In their gold coats spots you see; Those be rubies, fairy favours, In those freckles live their saviours. I must go seek some dew-drops here, And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear."
From "Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare
"The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady" by Edith Holden
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.