"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, 18 September 2014

Temple Balsall and Marsh Lane NR's and a Resilient Butterfly

Last Sunday after leaving Baddesley Clinton we stopped off at Temple Balsall NR on the way home. Temple Balsall is a small Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Reserve covering 2.7 ha (6.6 acres). It was formerly an exotic water garden of the Springfield Estate. An artificial lake was destroyed in the 1940's and today this area forms a marshy swamp. The reserve is mainly wet woodland and is bisected by Cuttle Brook.

As we entered the reserve we spotted this caterpillar on a sign - a bit of research suggests its probably a Buff Tip moth caterpillar.

Butterbur leaves are now huge in a marshy area.

I didn't take too many photos as it was pretty dark and gloomy within the wood itself - some of the photos were taken with flash.

Eventually the path we had followed through the woodland was blocked by a fallen tree so rather than doing a circular route as planned we retraced our steps.

Ivy is now starting to flower - a great source of nectar for insects on the wing in autumn and

conkers will soon be bursting from the spiky fruits of Horse Chestnut.

Yesterday I went along to Marsh Lane NR for an hour or so. Its still very quiet there birdwise - highlights were a Green Woodpecker and my first Hobby sighting this year.

Gorse bushes along the causeway were covered in webs - I had a really good look but couldn't see what had been making them. Does anyone have any idea?

I spotted this small metallic bug and, although I haven't had time to put a photo on i-spot for verification, I think its a Blue Shieldbug (Zicrona caerula) which has a deep blue/green metallic sheen. They are predatory feeding particularly on leaf beetles in the genus Altica.

There were several Hawker dragonflies patrolling the pathways but I couldn't get decent views to attempt identification but I know Emperor and Southern Hawkers occur on the reserve. I managed just one dragonfly photo of this Common or Ruddy Darter.

Rosebay Willowherb going to seed along the path.

Here at home I have put the moth trap out two or three nights a week. I am trapping large quantities of moths but diversity is down and I am just getting mainly Large and Lesser Yellow Underwing, Flounced Rustic and Square-spot Rustic with the occasional Copper Underwing and Light Brown Apple moth. Its going to be hot and humid the next couple of nights so I am really hoping to trap something a little different.

Hoverfly on Gaillardia - Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax) hopefully!

Cosmos are flowering profusely at the moment.

Common Carder Bee on Cosmos

Late on Sunday evening we discovered a Peacock butterfly fluttering around in a lampshade on the landing and far too close to the light bulb. I am not sure whether it had come into the house accidentally or whether it was looking for somewhere to hibernate. We managed to trap it in a small box and left in the garage overnight with the lid open. I hoped it would either find a cranny in the garage if it did want to hibernate or else it would be flying around and could be released into the garden. Unfortunately, on Monday morning I found it lying on the garage floor on its side with its wings closed. When I picked it up it was obviously not dead although not exactly lively. I tried to get it to take some sugar water but it wasn't interested so I left it outside on a piece of card with a few flowers nearby so it had a source of nectar in the hope it would recover.

Ten minutes later and it had flopped over onto its side again so I brought it back into the garage as I didn't want any birds to spot it. For a few hours its wings continued to quiver and then it became totally motionless. To be honest we thought it had probably died. I know butterflies need a temperature of at least 60 degrees to fly but it was a lot warmer than this. Anyway I left it where it was on the off chance it was too cold for it to fly. The next day was very sunny and rays were coming through the window onto the butterfly box and when I went into the garage I had a lovely surprise as the sun had finally warmed up the butterfly to the extent that it had flown onto the garage door. Sorry about the rubbishy photo but when I approached it it closed its wings and my main priority was to release it into the garden.

A few seconds later it was flying into the garden, pausing briefly on a buddleia flower and then it was on its way. I hope it finds somewhere safe to hibernate and it just goes to show that you should never give up on a butterfly :)


Em Parkinson said...

In January I discovered seven dead Peacock's behind a curtain on a window sill in the spare room. So sad. I left them in case they were hibernating but disposed of them yesterday.....they made quite a nice display! As for those webs, the moor is absolutely festooned with them and I can never see their inhabitants. They seem to have a funnel down into the middle usually so whoever it is is no doubt skulking in there somewhere.

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Thanks so much for the comment.

Yes, it is very sad about the Peacocks - I think houses are probably too warm for them. In fact, our garage is not the best of places either due to vast numbers of spiders!

Interesting about the Dartmoor gorses being similarly festooned. I googled the subject but didn't really find any info. Probably some sort of spider??

Countryside Tales said...

I was thinking spider for the webs too. There are so many of them about at present. I am not too good with spiders (understatement).
Lovely story about the flutter and a timely reminder not to interfere which is often tempting from an impulse to help. Apparently, some tortoiseshells were hibernating in August this year! :o)

SeagullSuzie said...

So glad to hear the butterfly was ok. I have heard about those spiders...wasn't it during the floods and they photographed the few remaining hedge tops above water which were covered in webs...could have been on Countryfile.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks :) I think having seen moths come out of the fridge looking totally comatose and then flying madly around seconds after being taken made me hope that the butterfly had just got too cold.

SeagullSuzie - Thanks :) I didn't see that about the floods and spiders on hedge tops - sounds interesting - will see if I can find out more :)

amanda peters said...

Have been spotting the same things as you , had the same Bees and Hover flies in the garden, the damp weather must be effecting the Butterflies as we gave sugar water to a Butterfly that came into the house too, they are just finding it hard to warm up..
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda. Its really interesting being able to compare species in different areas of the country and to hear you had the same butterfly experience.