"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

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Wildflower Survey, Swifts, Temple Balsall and Garden Update

I've registered with Plantlife to take part in their annual Wildflowers Count Survey. The data they collect from year to year will become part of a long-term data set from which they can begin to build up an idea of trends in common plant populations, particularly with reference to climate change and pollution.

My survey square is located in Solihull and the idea is to walk a 1 kilometre route and count the species of wildflowers (from a list of 99) that you see in a 2 metre strip each side of you. Only one visit to count flowers is necessary between April and September but you can do more than one count during this period if you wish.

Today's visit (as recommended by Plantlife) was a preliminary one to make sure the route you have planned is accessible and to make a note of the different habitats along the survey route.

My route started in the more formal part of Brueton Park - the top photo

and at the bridge I veered off to the left onto Brueton Park LNR - luckily there is a public footpath which follows the River Blythe along the route I wanted to take.

I've visited this LNR before and, although its only a mile or so from Solihull Town Centre, you could be in the heart of the countryside.

As usual I got sidetracked - this time by these Canada Geese and goslings - record shot (they were too far away for the lens).

Although I didn't count flowers on this trip you couldn't help but notice them. The smell of Wild Garlic was overpowering even though the plants were only just coming into flower.


and Yellow Archangel were in flower.

I'm not sure what this plant is - hopefully it will be flowering when I return shortly to do the actual wildflower count.

A male Orange Tip was nectaring - I love the licheny-type markings on the hindwing.

By sheer coincidence the path follows the River Blythe to Widney - an area where Edith Holden mentions several times walking in "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" and "Nature Notes" so I am hoping that I will see some of the flowers she mentions and draws and I will be able to write another "Following in the Footsteps...." post.

On the way home I stopped off for a short while at Temple Balsall NR. This field adjoining the reserve was full of dandelions.

For years I've wanted to see the wildflower called Butterbur - I first noticed it in a Wildflower book I had as a child (Ladybird or Observer Wildflower book - I can't remember which) and its one of those flowers that has fascinated me ever since. I know it occurs at Temple Balsall so I was hoping to, at long last, see it in flower. Unfortunately, as you can see from the photo below, I had missed the display and the flowers had gone to seed. Will try and go next year a month earlier!!

The hedgerows are full of wildflowers - Garlic Mustard (or Jack-by-the-Hedge),


Greater Stitchwort and

Red Campion is just starting to flower.

I popped to Shustoke Reservoir a few days ago (no photos it started to rain as I arrived) and was greeted by a wonderful sight of hundreds and hundreds of Swifts flying over the water. My first Swifts of the year and I also saw dozens of House and Sand Martins (again new "ticks" for the year).

Garden Update

I put out the moth trap twice last weekend but with minimum temperatures of 5.1 and 5.3 I suppose it wasn't surprising that there were no moths caught.

Mrs Blue Tit is still incubating and I think we may have a "happy event" this weekend! The robins are still feeding young which must surely be due to fledge any day now. There nest is in the same patch of ivy where the wren built a nest so I am not sure if the female wren will pick this nest. Blackbirds are also nesting nearby in a laurel bush.

I saw my first Speckled Wood of the year flying round the garden this morning.


Chris Rohrer said...

Congrats! I love these studies that are being done around the various patches whether it be butterflies, wildflowers, etc. Very nice!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely looking place to look for wildflowers with a good variety already on show and I can almost smell the Wild Garlic as I read the post :-) Also what a fantastic photo of the Orange Tip, a species which I always find very difficult to photograph :-)

I look forward to catching up with your blog when I get back from Norfolk next week :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris. I like doing surveys when I can - good excuse to explore new places and do a very very small bit to help data collection :)

David Turner - Thank you so much for your kind comment. I think I've been lucky with the 1km square I've been allocated - especially as its a place I've wanted to explore. Last time I went was in Winter so I had no idea about the wild garlic.

Glad you liked the Orange Tip photo - think I've only managed to get a photo of this species a few times - mainly at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens.

Have a wonderful time in Norfolk - I do hope you plan to do some blog posts :) We went for (the first time) for a few days in March but the weather was awful so we didn't do most of what we planned. Hope to return. Hope the weather is kind for you.

Wendy said...

A fascinating record of your wildflower walk. It's interesting to have the link back with Edith Holden, too. I've seen a few swifts over us this year, but would love to see as many as you did. The orange tip is lovely - and good news about the different nests.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks so much :) The swifts were a real spectacle - I have never seen so many in one place. Still haven't seen any yet where I live though.

Bovey Belle said...

I've seen one Orange Tip locally, and a few Small Whites, but when I went to Hampshire a couple of weeks back I saw Brimstones, Orange Tips and Speckled Woods.

Our wild flowers are a similar spread to yours. I just LOVE the smell of the wild garlic, and it takes me back to a walk I did many years ago when I had never encountered it before and a friend and I sat down in a patch for a rest on a walk! I only have to rub a leaf and I am transported back in time.

I don't know what your unidentified flower is - doesn't look familiar to me at all (garden escapee perhaps?)

My "special" flower was the Viper's Bugloss which was in my Observer's Book of Wild Flowers (got that when I was 6 as I was keen on botany even then) - it always looked so exotic, yet I was 30 before I saw my first, on a cliff top in Dorset.

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - The butterflies seemed to come out here when we had warm sunny weather a few weeks back but most have since disappeared - hope its not going to be another bad year for them.

Its wonderful how wild flowers seem able to transport us back in time to other places. Wild Garlic always reminds me of the Lake District - years ago we used to visit every May and there was always loads in flower.

The unidentified flower could be garden escape - the start of the walk backed onto gardens and I noticed quite a few - daffodils, foget-me- nots and Kerria.

I've still got most of the Natural History books I had as a child - sadly now all in storage boxes so not easy to get at. Perhaps one day I'll have them on display again. Its great to eventually see species you have waited so long for be it flowers, birds or butterflies :)

Em Parkinson said...

And this one too! It's been a hard week. Gorgeous photos. How lovely to see all those spring flowers. Even we have them now too!

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - As said don't worry :) Glad to hear your Spring plants are finally in flower :) So late this year!

Toffeeapple said...

I do so enjoy your walks and pictures; I hope you do some more of the 'In the Footsteps' writing, it is absorbing.

We have spent the last week in Scotland, on the banks of Loch Fyne and we have seen acres and acres of Bluebells - it has been stunningly beautiful.

The cottage we stayed in had a lot of bird feeders and we were throughly spoiled, even seeing Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Coaltits, all sorts of Finch, even a House Martin came down! Red Squirrels were abundant and there was even a Pine Marten and a Red deer. It was magical.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Many thanks - so glad you enjoy the posts :) Do hope to do some more Edith posts - will return to the Blythe and try and get some photos of the part she mentions by Widney although public footpath doesn't go that far so may have to take pics from the road. Also keep meaning to find time to go to Elmdon Park which she mentions a lot.

So pleased you had such a lovely holiday in Scotland with blubells and an amazing selection of wildlife. Sounds like the perfect cottage :) Am really envious about the pine marten - have never seen one. Lovely to be able to watch Red Squirrels too :)

Apart from a trip to Scotland when I was little, we have only been once as a family and stopped by Loch Insh. I would love to return as the countryside is so beautiful.