"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, 21 August 2014

A Walk Along the Grand Union Canal and Garden Moths

A visit to Upton House and Gardens was planned for last weekend but on the day E was too tired and B was at a crucial stage of redecorating the hall, stairs and landing, so the visit was postponed. Instead D and I decided to go looking for blackberries along a section of the Grand Union Canal at Catherine de Barnes.

We parked near "The Boat". Catherine de Barnes is an interesting little village - the name is derived from Ketelberne - a 12th century Lord of the Manor, although these days it is often referred to as Catney Barnes or just Catney. An isolation hospital was built here in 1910 to tend to patients suffering from contagious diseases such as diptheria, typhoid fever and smallpox. As these diseases died out it was used as a maternity hospital but then in 1966 it became the national isolation hospital and was kept on standby. The last known person in the UK to die of smallpox - a Mrs Janet Parker - was treated here. In 1980 the World Health Organisation declared smallpox extinct and, following fumigation!!, the hospital was turned into a housing development.

To those who enjoy the Edith Holden "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" and "Nature Notes", Edith mentions visiting Catherine de Barnes on several occasions in her nature journals.

I digress - back to the canal walk

with lovely views over the Warwickshire Countryside.

There were lots of signs of fast approaching autumn in the hedgerows.

Ivy flowers are starting to form - these will provide a valuable source of nectar for many insects, particularly butterflies and bees, prior to hibernation

A good selection of seedheads which will be used as a food source by finches.

Hawthorn and elderberries are beginning to ripen. Years ago my father used to make the most delicious elderberry wine.

Blackberries are also beginning to ripen - we managed to gather enough to fill an icecream container. The berries will become even more plentiful so hopefully we'll visit our favourite local blackberrying spot within the next few weeks.

We walked as far as a bridge which carries the M42 motorway over the canal - in this area many footpaths seem to lead either to the M42 or the airport!

On the return journey we left the canal for a while to walk along a lane to Henwood Mill and Ford. The mill dates back to the late eighteenth century and ceased production in the early 1930's.

Himalayan Balsam (an undesirable non-native plant) was growing all round the ford and stream

Dappled water reflections on the underside of a bridge - unfortunately the photo did not turn out the way I hoped but at the time it was a very pretty effect.

We saw a lot of mallard along the canal with youngsters of varying ages including these tiny ducklings

Garden Moths

Saturday 16th August

Min temp 14.1
15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Numbers of moths trapped are starting to drop with the cooler weather

Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea) x 6

Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis) x 1 (new for year)

Yellowshell (Camptogramma bilineata) x 2 (new for year) - a really beautiful moth

Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) x 1

Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea) - new for year. This species has a beautiful copper coloured "underskirt"

Orange Swift (Hepialus sylvina) x 4

Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) x 2

Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) x 8

Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica) x 3

Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) x 1

Lesser Treble Bar (Aplocera efformat) x 1 (new for year)

Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) x 1

Yesterday morning I was thrilled to see a Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) on the kitchen window. This is a new moth species for the garden and one I have never managed to trap. Sadly, a poor photo as, even after a few hours in the fridge (this doesn't harm the moths by the way) it was still exceedingly lively and I could only manage a picture of it in a pot.


On Tuesday evening I went along to a meeting of the Badger Warwickshire Group where the guest speaker was Dominic Dyer the newly appointed Chief Executive of the Badger Trust. I have heard him speak before at the March against the Badger Cull in Stratford earlier this year and again he gave an excellent, entertaining, well-informed and passionate speech on badgers. Sadly, despite the departure of Owen Paterson, it appears likely that the killing of badgers will recommence in the cull zones of Somerset and Gloucestershire immininently. I won't harp on about it all again as I am sure everyone knows my feelings on the matter but I can say that I have never been so angry about an issue before. The anger just never goes away.


Chris Rohrer said...

Sorry to hear about the badger massacre continuing. I thought of you the other day when my friend had one in her backyard. He stayed around for awhile before moving on. It was a pretty cool discovery...especially in the desert! Beautiful series of pics you have here.

Countryside Tales said...

Love the Vapourer and the Mill is very pretty. I have a feeling Liz Truss is as dyed in the wool Tory as you can get from what I've been reading so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise if she tows the party line. I'm with you 100% on the anger and frustration.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris especially your kind thoughts re: our badgers. I bet your friend was over the moon :) Have a lovely weekend :)

Countryside Tales - Thank you. No surprises really re: Liz Truss - such a shame we can't have an Environment Secretary who understands the subject (and science!!) and respects English wildlife. Its been rumoured that the killings may recommence around this weekend in Somerset and 2 weeks later in Gloucestershire :( But don't quote me on that. It will be another sad day for English badgers whenever they recommence. I've been re-reading the IEP report which has just fuelled my anger even more! :(

Countryside Tales said...

It just makes me feel so sad. I understand farmers need support but as we have said before, killing badgers is not the answer. The shadow E Sec looks a more promising bet I think.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Sorry I've deleted my earlier comment - may have had a bit too much info in it!

Yes you're right of course. I am not usually a political person but I very much fear if the Tories win the next election the badger killings will be rolled out throughout England. I think many of us will be joining our local peaceful wounded patrol group. Whole scenario a nightmare :(

SeagullSuzie said...

What a lovely walk with you, the blackberries look delicious and the duck and ducklings are so cute. Well done on the new moth and all the interesting things you've shared with us.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much for your lovely comment - glad you enjoyed the post :)

amanda peters said...

What a lovely wak and still lots about to see, haven't had my moth trap out at all, to cold and wet..think I will leave it now and start a fresh next year... The last moth is a beautiful .
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much. I've not been trapping too much this month for same reasons as you :( But I take part in Garden Moth Scheme when you need to trap once a week so will carry on (when I can) until October time. Numbers are dropping though :( Have a good weekend :)

Sarah Head said...

I thought you might like to know a bit more of the story of the isolation hospital. Janet Barnes was a secretary in the medical school at Birmingham University. She worked on the floor above the smallpox research laboratory. One of the live viruses got free and moved up the air vent into Mrs Barnes' office and she contracted the disease. The professor who was in charge of the lab was so hounded by a reported of the Evening Mail that he committed suicide as he felt himself responsible for Janet's death. After she died in the isolation hospital it was burned to the ground so there would be no trace of the smallpox virus left. I was working in one of the university buildings at the time it happened as a new graduate. Our best man was a medical student and was desperately upset by the professor's death. It was a very sad time for the health community in Birmingham. We were all touched by it.

Ragged Robin said...

Sarah Head - Thanks so much for leaving a comment on my post explaining more about the story of the isolation hospital. What a very sad sequence of events - I can imagine how everyone in the health community was so devastated.

My son and I are very interested in the history of this area so I will pass the information onto him too.

Thanks again. Best wishes Caroline