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).
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.