"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

Friday, 28 August 2015

A Long Overdue Visit to my Favourite Nature Reserve

B and I went along to Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve today - its been a couple of years since I last visited and I have so missed this reserve.

Brandon Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) located to the East of Coventry and is the headquarters for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve covers around 200 acres and is a mosaic of pools, wetland, grassland, scrubland, reedbeds and pools.

Leaving the Visitor Centre we walked through Hope Wood and along the side of Goose Pool. Whenever I see this pool and the lombardy poplars I remember a bat walk we attended years and years ago when D and E were little when we saw Pipistrelle Bats and Daubenton's bats flying over this very pool. That was the occasion that B managed to lock his keys in the car (don't ask.... but he had to wait for hours and hours for the AA to turn up and even more hours before they managed to get into his car!!) and D spotted what he was convinced was a puma near the Visitor Centre. I believe this may well have been the case as we have discovered since there have been other sightings in the vicinity!

We continued along the side of Central Marsh trying not to notice the ominous looking dark clouds on the horizon (no rain had been forecast so neither of us had coats!).

We stopped off briefly at the Jon Baldwin Hide overlooking East Marsh Pool which is often a good site to see Kingfishers but there was a work party on the far side of the pool and very few birds about.

Haven't had chance to try and id this fungi so if anyone has any ideas please leave a comment. Every year I say I'll try and improve my fungi id skills and every year I give up very quickly - there are so many similar species.

I love this spot on the reserve just before you reach the Carlton Hide - its often a good place to see Banded Demoiselle in the summer and in autumn the hawthorn berries attract quite a few species of bird.

We decided to continue onto the Ted Jury Hide which is a new addition to the reserve since my last visit.

Lots of Ragwort round the reserve though no sign of Cinnabar moths or caterpillars.

Looks like its more or less time to go blackberrying :)

I think this is a 22-spot Ladybird?

We arrived at the Ted Jury Hide just in the nick of time as the heavens opened.

View from the hide - we watched a Hobby (my first sighting this year) and a Water Rail appeared out of the reeds every so often although failed to pose for the camera.

This Moorhen was more obliging.


Platform built to encourage Ospreys to linger and breed.

It eventually stopped raining and we made our way back to the Carlton Hide which again overlooks Newlands reedbeds and water channels and is a good spot to see Otters.

A pristine Red Admiral

We popped into East Marsh Hide - the Work Party had finished for the day and birds had started to return to the Pool - Lapwings, Black-headed Gulls, Coot, Mallard, Mute Swan, Grey Heron and

a lone Cormorant.

We had a quick look in Teal Pool Hide in the hope of seeing Sandpipers but water levels were very high and a Grey Heron was the only sighting.

Walking back along the path B spotted this Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

There were lots of Hoverflies on umbellifers including this

Hornet mimic hoverfly Volucella inanis - thanks to K for id confirmation :)

Autumn approaches!

I took the Canon bridge camera with me today which I am slowly getting used to. Still having problems though getting it to focus on small insects but I have discovered why some of the butterfly photos D took with the camera on our walk recently were a strange colour - the white balance on the camera had been accidentally changed to a very peculiar setting! Its now back on auto!

Some of you may remember that I have often mentioned that it would be lovely if someone could write a book explaining the origin of moths' names. I was reminded of this a few days ago when Caroline on "Wild and Wonderful" asked if anyone could confirm that the Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia) got its scientific name from the eyespots on its wings resembling a peacock's eye spots.

I mentioned this on Twitter and huge thanks to the people who pointed me in the direction of this rather wonderful book which arrived today (in view of the rather expensive price I had to tell B it was his Wedding Anniversary present to me in a couple of months time!!!). It will, however, remain in an accessible place until then as I won't be able to resist checking butterfly and moth names!

This book is actually mentioned in the excellent book by Matthew Oates called "In Pursuit of Butterflies" but I incorrectly assumed it just explained the history and meaning of butterfly names.


Since writing this post last night and before publishing it this morning - the Government has announced that, not only will it continue with the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, but it will be extending them to Dorset. How on earth these slaughters which have been proved to be unscientific, inhumane, ineffective and uneconomic, can be justified is totally beyond me. Did no-one from Government or DEFRA read and take account of the IEP report into the first set of pilots? I've been in rant mode all morning but all I will say on here is that yet again this is a very, very sad day for English badgers and I just wish the Government would follow Wales example which is working (a 48% decline in bTB rates in just 4 years due to cattle based measures alone) and where badgers are vaccinated not killed in the cruellest way imaginable.


Millymollymandy said...

LOVE the moorhen photos! The first one looks like it's admiring its good looks in the reflection. Sounds like a great place, with handy hides!

The photos all look great, but I know the camera can be frustrating when it refuses to focus on something. Sometimes I have to point it at something else as that seems to clear its 'mental block'. If it won't focus close up, it can help to focus on something like your hand held about the same distance away as the small thing you are trying to focus on, that seems to help it focus at the right range. I was just doing that this morning with some spiders hanging on webs.

Funnily enough just seen some of those tiny ladybirds too, but I'm not very clued up on their ID. The Hawker is lovely. :-)

SeagullSuzie said...

A wonderful 200 acre site and a lovely visit with you, thanks. I love the swan images, I think it must just be the white against the blue contrast which is so appealing to me.
Badger tragedy continues, it is a terrible, terrible thing to do to our beautiful wild animals.

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much - I had the same thought about the first moorhen photo!! Yes, its a wonderful reserve - have been visiting for about 30 years so its always like going home! Only downside is its a 90 minute return trip and in the last 2 years I have got in the habit of going to Marsh Lane which is only 15 minutes away from home. OH doesn't like Marsh Lane though :( so will probably be visiting BM more!

Thanks very much for the tip re: focusing on your hand! I do have a similar problem with the Olympus dslr and 70-300 lens when trying to get insect photos - sometimes you just hit lucky! I still need to read more of the Canon manual because its much lighter to carry round especially when you've also got binoculars strung round your neck! Also, its so handy to have all the lens in "one" so you can take landscape, insects and birds at distance! I know you won't get quality of a decent dslr and top quality lens but for me its enough especially as I can't afford the latter!!The Olympus is only entry level dslr and the lens the cheaper range. Sadly, Olympus don't do much dslr stuff any more as they seem to be focusing on compact camera systems and their pen range.

I'll try and put the ladybird on i-spot when I can a minute and will let you know if I get an id.

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much. I was pleased with the Swan images too :)

Dreadful news about the badger slaughters re-commencing. I still haven't calmed down. I am so mad that its just happening to pander to NFU and farmers and won't help solve the bTB problem. If only the Govt would listen to the real badger experts and scientists (and understand RBCT and IEP) and conservation and wildlife organisations and realise what a huge waste of time and money the culling is. I dread to think how many badgers will die futile, inhumane deaths before they finally see it isn't working :( If the cull zones were closer I would be joining one of those badger patrol groups! Of course there is always the dread that they will start culling in Warks. If they need I would definitely be out in the field!!!

Countryside Tales said...

That Red Admiral is very beautiful. Hardly seen any here this summer. My understanding re badger culls is that the NFU are so solidly behind it that they won't countenance another view.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks CT :) I haven't seen many Red Admirals this year either although they have suddenly started to appear in the garden. There were 3 on the buddleia at the same time yesterday.

I don't think anything will ever budge NFU over culling - complete nightmare that the slaughters are about to re-commence. I have had massive arguments in the past with pro-cullers on Twitter and you just can't reason with them. Some of them are pretty horrible people too :( I try not to engage with them anymore and just ignore it when they try to goad.

Bovey Belle said...

Great photos - glad you were near a hide when the heavens opened! That book looks like it has your name on it alright! A perfect gift.

As for the badger cull - well, it's like the bees - they just ignore all scientific advice and do it anyway. CRAZY.

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thanks :) Yes it will be a lovely gift :)

I gather the badger cull started last night in Somerset :( Makes me so angry and frustrated (as does the bee issue) as you say they just ignore the scientific evidence. Such a sad day as the vast majority of badgers killed won't have bTB so they are killing perfectly healthy badgers in an inhumane way for nothing :( Its such a pity they won't follow Wales example and vaccinate.

Caroline Gill said...

What a post, RR! I love the way we can enjoy a spin around the nature reserve with you. I am so pleased that the book has arrived. I hope it will be a fruitful mine of information, and it seems set to be just that. I studied (a year of) Latin and Greek at university, and find even this sketchy knowledge pretty helpful when it comes to unravelling names. What I would also like to know is who gave moths their common names? So many of these are intriguing and very appealing! Names are so vital it seems to me in conservation. I'm wondering if I pointed you in the direction of Malcolm Guite's name poem about wildlife ... here? Oh, and others may have pipped me to the post, but I would agree with your ladybird ID. We counted seven on comfrey plants at Flatford last w/e. Ours were all very tiny.

Caroline Gill said...

Hoping my link worked. The preview bit wouldn't let me check!

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - Hi Caroline - Thanks so much for your very kind comment :)

The book will be exceedingly useful! :) I've never studied any Greek :( although I scraped an "O" level pass in Latin - (after learning large chunks of Vergil off by heart!!!!). I do still have a latin dictionary though which is useful!! Its a shame the book doesn't seem to cover common names which, as you say, is a very interesting subject in itself! I have got some books and articles cut from magazines that go into a little detail on common names. Bugs Britannica is one and "Enjoying Moths" is another. If you look at "My Blog List" on RRNN there is a link to a blog called "Martin's Moths" and he occasionally ventures into the world of moth names. His blog is also a good read!

I think the link does work as its come in blue now I've published your comment - I will certainly check out the poem. Am currently working my way through the Selected Poems of Edward Thomas. I go through phases but do try and read a poem a day! Thanks for the link.

Pete Duxon said...

not been to brandon in ages!! well done on the hobby and rail sightings!

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Many thanks Pete. Not sure how long since you went but there is now at least one if not 2 new hides.

Chris Rohrer said...

There's so much to respond to here on this post. Glad you got to return to a favorite spot. Nice birds for your efforts! I would love to get stuck inside a nature center while it was raining. And blackberries sound good. I would have eaten a few:)

Regarding Badgers. I hate that conservation part about your government. Granted it's happening all over the world but it doesn't make what they're doing any less terrible. My state is Arizona. It is run by mostly morons BUT I will say that our conservation program is pretty exceptional here. There are wild wild areas for people to explore. We are careful with our water. And we, most of the time, take care of our wildlife. However, I have seen a number of Badgers this past month dead on the road from getting hit by cars. That's sad. The states surrounding us like California and Utah are terrible with conservation. CA is going to burn up and fall into the ocean. The people there use too much water and it's all overpopulated. Nature areas are locked into cities and it's sad to see. Utah is not good about conserving either. Water wasters all. New Mexico and Colorado are excellent places. My point is that if we don't take care about protecting these wild places and creatures around our world, it will all be too late. What one country does affects the other. I just feel bad for the badgers.

Regarding moths. I've been thinking about you this month as we've been seeing a higher number of moths during our wet season. You would absolutely love them. Don't ask me what their names are because they have the strangest names of any of the critters I know:) So a book explaining the names is actually a great idea:)

Hope you are having a great week! Chris

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris for your very thoughtful comment. Brandon Marsh is a lovely reserve - lots to see :)

You are so right about the need to care and protect wild places and wildlife - once gone they are are gone for ever. We need to live sustainably too otherwise it will become too late for our species. Its good that some Governments do a lot to be sustainable and protect but so many do not. I am hopping mad over the badger culls - totally unnecessary, unscientific, inhumane, uneconomic, unselective. I could go on and on. The best way to control bTB in cattle which is mainly a cattle spread disease is better biosecurity, and above all more frequent testing of cattle together with vaccination of badgers (and eventually cattle). Sadly, our Govt is just pandering to the whims of a handful of farmers and their Union :(

Good to hear you are seeing lots of moths - I would imagine you get a far higher number of species than we get over here!