"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, 17 August 2014

Local Birding and Three Delightful Books

Marsh Lane NR

Determined to get back into a routine of visiting Marsh Lane NR more regularly, I paid another visit last Thursday afternoon.

I walked along the causeway path towards Oak Hide.

Although its only August, the day felt very autumnal and many berries are starting to ripen.


Blackberries - I wish I'd had a container with me to collect some but we will visit to our usual blackberrying spot in the next week or so and we collected a container full from the garden this afternoon.

A family of Chiffchaffs were feasting on these elderberries - fattening up for their migration soon.


and Alder cones are forming.

There weren't many butterflies around - I spotted just one Common Blue and a few "Whites" fluttering in the distance.

There were plenty of these Flesh Flies around

I spent quite a lot of time chasing dragonflies up and down the path - do they ever stay still?! This is either a Common or Ruddy Darter - probably the former. I was hoping to confirm the id when I cropped the photo but most of the features needed aren't that clear.

Many Common Blue damselflies were flying around on the path to Railway Copse - in exactly the same location as my last visit.

Umbellifer flowers were covered in bees, wasps, flies and hoverflies - this looks like a Drone Fly to me. Thankfully the Hoverfly id book has now arrived which will hopefully help with hoverfly id from now on :)

I popped into Oak Hide hoping to spend some time looking for waders until I spotted these dark clouds approaching and decided it was probably time to beat a hasty retreat to the car.

In fact, 5 minutes after I left the reserve the heavens opened and I drove home in torrential rain.

The birding highlight of the visit was a pair of Linnets seen on my way back to the car by the crop field. I knew they occurred on the reserve but this was the first time I had seen them there.


I thought I would just mention 3 delightful books I have read over the last few months which I would highly recommend.

I first discovered the magical world of Matlock Hare last year - the very talented authors Phil Lovesey (who writes the stories) and his wife Jacqui who illustrates the books have created an incredibly imaginative world based on a Hare called Matlock and Winchett Dale. In this story Matlock's Dale is threatened by a mysterious stranger and the only way he can save the Dale and all his friends there is by taking a dangerous journey along Trefflepugga Path

This unique magical world even has its own vocabulary - don't worry there is a glossary!! and is full of the most whimsical and colourful characters. There are lots of twists and surprises in the book and its a great read. For more information on Matlock's world please visit www.matlockthehare.com

For years I have enjoyed reading Paul Evans' Country Diary column when it appears in the Guardian so I couldn't wait to read this book. Its a real gem - delightfully illustrated by Kurt Jackson and full of rich, descriptive prose. The book follows the year with beautiful prose poetry pieces of varying length following a theme of colour starting with yellow in the Spring, followed by White, Pink, Blue and finishing with Brown. Notes inside the front cover say "Herbaceous is gardening with words. It is a book of audacious botany and poetic vision which asks us to look anew at our relationship with plants and celebrates their power to nourish the human spirit".

At times it is not an easy read but its a book I return to again and again and Paul Evans poetic prose describing a dandelion is just sublime. I will never look at a dandelion flower in the same way again! An intriguing, thought-provoking book with human stories interwoven into plant descriptions with a beautiful sense of time and place.

Denys Watkins-Pitchford or "BB" wrote more than 60 books about the countryside and stories for children including "The Little Grey Men" which in 1942 won the Carnegie Medal. "BB's Butterflies" tells the story of his life long mission to conserve the Purple Emperor butterfly.

The book is illustrated with BB's colour illustrations, monotone scraperboard drawings and photos. It includes extracts from many of his books, letters he sent and magazine articles. The book is charming and one to treasure and return to again and again. In fact, when I read it for the first time I rationed myself to a few pages a night as I just didn't want to finish it!

I always tend to have several books "on the go" at any one time - reading some poetry each day together with one non-fiction and one fiction book.

I've just started to read The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane and already find I can't put this exquisite book down.

You will probaby have noticed I have the Kindle version of this book. Actually this is the type of book where I would far prefer to have a proper book version but I do find my Kindle very useful for fiction in general.

I am still in the middle of a major decluttering exercise here at home but now I have reached my books progress has ground to a halt because basically I am finding it very difficult to get rid of any of them. I have 1000's and now the floor to ceiling bookcases covering one wall in our bedroom are full they are starting to take over other rooms in the house. I've come to the conclusion that most of the non-fiction and reference books are staying put which means I have to "prune" fiction titles dramatically! The "classics" and books I know I will read again are back on the bookshelves but then I have books in 3 piles - those which I may read again or have sentimental value are in storage boxes (not an ideal situation because D wants to read Charlotte Grey which I think is in a box somewhere but I haven't a clue which one!!), then there is a massive pile which I can't make my mind up about and yet another pile of books which I keep telling myself have to go bit by bit to the Charity Shop. Hence, from now on fiction is being bought via the Kindle!

And just before I finish (sorry this is turning out to be a much longer post than I envisaged) the next fiction book I am about to start is the next in the Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman.

I just love these books - my grandfather came from Herefordshire and we spent many happy Sundays when I was a child visiting the "black and white" houses in villages in the part of Herefordshire where Rickman sets his books.


Countryside Tales said...

My attention was grabbed by the BB book, but I think I may have to strike lucky with a charity shop copy having seen the price :-)

Funnily enough, I'm reading Merrily Watkins at the mo and we've also just put up a shelf for all M's maps, which has freed up shelf space for books, which I now need to sort!

Pete Duxon said...

my next book is the Magus of Hay by Rickman :D

amanda peters said...

The Blackberries look lush, I think it has been a good year for them,. Most of my walks have been cut short due to the rain, the high winds are not great for taking photos , very quiet for all things nature.
I too am on a mission to de clutter my home, but my love of books is making it hard to get rid, I don't think I have as many as you. Have not read fiction for some time they tend to be more reference. I blame Amazon...and the IPad
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Meant to mention the price of the BB book - even I couldn't justify just treating myself so it was a birthday present!

Everyone seems to be reading Merrily Watkins - I first saw the books mentioned on Codlins and Cream2 blog and I am SO glad I started to read them :)

Pete Duxon - If you're reading them in chronological order you are way ahead of me :) Enjoy :)

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda - yes it does look a great year for blackberries - went out picking some this afternoon :) I haven't been out much due to the rain and its been windy here too - it does seem quiet nh wise :(

It is very difficult to get rid of books - I regard so many of them as "old friends". Have had to stop buying from Amazon as OH regularly checks the purchase history :( Eeek!! :)

SeagullSuzie said...

How lovely to see Linnets and I'm so glad you are visiting Marsh Lane as much as you hoped.
I've just bought some cheap paperback classics to keep me going and although I'm sure Kindle would be better I spend all day on the computer at work and just can't look at another screen later on in the day.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much Suzie.

I do hope you enjoy your paperbacks. To be honest I much prefer a "real" book but OH persuaded me to try the Kindle to stop me buying so many proper books!! I wouldn't buy reference or id guides for it but I have got used to it for fiction books.

Chris Rohrer said...

Hmmmm....that BB's Butterfly book looks like interesting reading. It looks like the weather is cooling down. So jealous right now. Enjoy these days

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris - yes the Butterfly book is a real gem :) Much cooler here thank goodness - suits me better although not so good for butterflies and moths! I don't think I would cope with your temperatures - I wilt at 80 degrees F!!