Sunday, 10 May 2015
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.
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.
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)
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)
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.