"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, 10 May 2015

Ladywalk NR

We had a walk round Ladywalk Nature Reserve (a West Midland Bird Club Reserve) last Monday afternoon. We used to visit a lot years ago - a very reliable site to see bitterns! Its one of a series reserves along the River Tame valley and over 200 species of bird have been recorded here. Originally it was the site for Hams Hall Power Station but this area was designated a nature reserve in 1970. The site is leased from Powergen. It comprises 125 acres of floodland, rough pasture and woodland lying within a loop of the River Tame. Sand and gravel extraction in the past has left a series of pools.

River Tame

The track as you enter the reserve with Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) lining the path and a stream.

Garlic Mustard is also known as Jack-by-the-hedge. The plant likes shady areas being found along the edge of woodland and hedgerows. Its leaves when crushed smell of garlic.

View of the Main Pool from one of the hides.

View from "B" hide overlooking "B" pool.

Reed Reflections

Rubbish photo of a Dabchick (Little Grebe) - (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

A species of Bracket Fungus on Silver Birch

An interesting looking nest-box

Midges looking like a murmuration of Starlings - you'll probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it to get the effect!

B and D were as usual 100 yards or more in front of me when a family of Grey Squirrels shot across the path. One of the young ones sniffed at D's trainers and then proceeded to run up B's trouser leg - must have thought he was a tree! Sadly I failed to get a photo of the event and D hadn't taken the bridge camera :( but here's a photo of the last squirrel that was lagging behind the others (just like me).

We saw a good selection of birds and I added House Martin, Little Egret and Redshank to my 2015 year list. Not many butterflies about just the occasional Orange Tip and unidentified whites.

The reserve was full of spring flowers - some of the photos are a bit iffy (the 70-300 lens doesn't take very good flower close-ups - in fact, I really do wonder at times what it does take good pictures of!! ) The automatic focusing on my dslr was playing up even more today - I really do think I may have to look into sending it back to Olympus if the problem carries on - so I may actually be forced to experiment and learn how to use the bridge).

White Dead Nettle (Lamium album) which doesn't have stinging leaves. Common on waste ground, grassy banks and wherever the ground has been disturbed.

In some areas of the reserve Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) was still in bud but

elsewhere it was in full flower. Hawthorn is also known as the May Tree and is the only British plant to be named after the month in which it flowers. Hawthorn often appears in the wreath of the Green Man or Jack-in-the-Green.

Cuckoo Flower (named due its flowering coinciding with the arrival of the Cuckoo) or Lady's Smock (Cardamine pretensis). Found in damp grassland, ditches and verges. Folklore suggests it is a plant of the fairies - best not touched and it was never included in the May Day garland. If it was used accidentally the whole wreath had to be re-made!

On a more factual note it is one of the foodplants of the caterpillars of the Orange Tip.

Red Campion (Silene dioica)

Speedwell species

Oil-seed Rape had spread all over the reserve from nearby farmland. This one of the many concerns I have about GM crops. How on earth can they contain such crops and stop them spreading far and wide? I've seen the crop growing along a dual carriageway in Birmingham miles and miles away from any farmland.

Daisies and Dandelions flowering everywhere.

Clumps of Forget-me-nots scattered along the paths

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Dandelion "clock"

Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) - a type of Crane's bill found in a variety of habtiats - woodland, hedgerows. The leaves emit an unpleasant mousey smell.

Gorse and another cloud of midges.


David Turner said...

An interesting assortment of photos RR, it is lovely to see all the wildflowers currently brightening up the countryside isn't it. I certainly share your sentiments as regards rapeseed though, for as you say it seems to get everywhere!

Interesting to learn about the folklore connected to Cuckooflower, and it is fascinating to read and learn more about how different plants were used in the past.

PS. Thanks for the feedback as regards my comment on the last post. History is indeed fascinating stuff :-)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Dabchicks are so crazily buoyant, like bath time rubber ducks with their no existent tails!

Ragged Robin said...

David Turner - Thanks so much. I love May - probably my favourite month. So wonderful to see colour returning to the countryside.

I have a very interesting little book called Discovering the Folklore of Plants by Margaret Baker (Shire Classics) which is full of interesting snippets :)

Simon Douglas Thompson - Brilliant description Simon - made me laugh out loud :)

SeagullSuzie said...

Sorry I didn't get around to commenting on your last moth post, but how exciting and such a lovely thing to do. Used to have lots of Lady's Smock in my old garden in North Yorkshire. Great to see and learn about all the wild flowers on your walk...I never know what they are called!

amanda peters said...

It's lovely to see everything growing, a great selection of flowers, have been checking the Cuckoo flowers at the park and some of the double headed ones have come out. I love how some plants have so many names, well not all the time it can get a little confusing.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much. My grandparents taught me a lot of wildflower names when I was little and these days am making supreme effort to try and id the ones I don't know.

Please don't worry about not commenting on each and every post. Blogger is so time consuming especially when people post regularly and I find it hard to keep up myself!!

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda. Its such a lovely time of year. We had some Lady's Smock in the garden but sadly it seems to have disappeared along with my Ragged Robin plant :(

Love all the plant names too. Hoping soon to have one huge bookcase covering floor to ceiling and one wall of one of the downstairs rooms. At the moment my books are all over in the place in 4 bookcases, storage boxes and a box by computer with field guides I use the most. Will be so much better for id purposes and plant names etc. to have all the books in one place!
ps still haven't visited Plantlife Survey site!!!!

Margaret Adamson said...

I love seeing all the wild flowers and your shots are wonderuful. A der wonderful place to wander.

Millymollymandy said...

Looks like a really interesting place to visit, especially with the hides for bird watching. Love all the wildflowers. I have Jack by the Hedge in the wild parts of my garden which I believe is another host plant for Orange Tips.

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks very much Margaret - yes, it is a good reserve with a good mix of habitat and great for birds :)

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much. There are about 7 hides in total.

Yes Jack by the Hedge is a host plant for the Orange Tips. You are so lucky to have the flowers in your garden. I planted some seeds a few years ago and was so thrilled when one came up. Sadly, never to be seen again! :(

Deb said...

I've not seen a nesting box like that before. How lovely to see a whole family of Squirrels and what a great place to visit. I saw a Red Squirrel running along the edge of the road the other day, but unfortunately I was in the car and when I stopped he shot off into the hedge. I think maybe if I'd been on foot he might have hung around a bit longer. :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Thanks so much for your comment. Looking at the nestbox again I am wondering if they have recycled something to use? Wonderful to see a Red Squirrel. I think you are right about being on foot. We don't get Reds locally but when we used to go to the Lake District a lot we saw far more when walking than driving.

Chris Rohrer said...

Nothing rubbish about that grebe:) Nice find! It seems like that would be a very birdy place?? The small little flowers are beautiful. Looks like a good stroll!

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris. Love Little Grebes - remind me of powder puffs :) Yes, its a great reserve good for birds and walking. We go blackberrying here too late summer :)