"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

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Another Bird "Lifer", Brief Church Visit and the Davis Cup

I managed to persuade B to go on a local "twitch" one afternoon last week. Sightings of a Great White Egret had been reported from Middleton Pool and if I managed to see this bird it would be a "lifer" for me.

Middleton Hall where the pool is located is an interesting place in its own right. There has been a residence on the site for almost 1000 years and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 although the oldest building that remains today is the Stone building constructed for Philip de Marmion of Tamworth Castle in 1285. Elizabeth I stayed at the Hall for a week in 1575 and knighted the Hall's owner a Sir Francis Willoughby. The Hall has also been home to 2 renowned naturalists - Francis Willughby FRS and John Ray who published the first book on ornithology.

The West Midland Bird Fair which was a great event was held here for several years although, sadly, the Fair hasn't taken place for some years.

Snowdrops and


Middleton Pool - please note how distant the far reedbed is - top right of photo (will be mentioning this again later!).

Typically, there was no sign whatsoever of the Great White Egret although we did see a Grey Heron,

Cormorant, Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe.

Another view of the Hall on our way back to the car park - it seems to be open quite regularly in the Spring and Summer so I may return and have a look round when I

will also check out the Cheese and Ale Barn advertised on this sign!

The RSPB Middleton Lakes Reserve is very close to the Hall. We didn't go on the main wetland part of the reserve (its a long walk to get there through very muddy woodland and, although I had my wellies, B didn't :( ) but we did have a look at birds on the feeders and the heronry.

The feeders were full of birds - Blue, Great, and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Lesser Redpoll and a

Great Spotted Woodpecker (hidden behind branches!).

Coot sitting on a nest - the male was bringing pieces of reed to her to add to the nest.

As we drove past Middleton Pool on the way out the Great White Egret was visible just in front of the reedbed right at the back of the pool (see photo above!). Just a few record shots of the bird - have discovered its very difficult to keep the Canon bridge camera steady when the zoom lens is fully extended :( In fact, I've more or less given up trying to use the fold-out screen (I find it hard to locate birds with it and B was getting exceedingly impatient with my ineptitude!) and will try using the viewfinder in future.

Cropped version of the above photo.

I was hoping to visit a church in a nearby village but in the end B only agreed to go there for me to see if the church was open so I could revisit on another occasion on my own! As you may have gathered he is even less keen on church exploring than D!

Ooh look! A Green Man pub :)

The church (and yes it was open so I will return) although I did rush in and out to get a few photos

of the stained glass - the zoom on the Canon came in handy!

D and I had tickets today to watch Day 2 of the Davis Cup matches between Great Britain and Japan at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham. It was the doubles match today and we were really thrilled to discover that Andy Murray was playing with his brother Jamie.

Great Britain won 6-3, 6-2,6-4 and it was a great afternoon out with a superb atmosphere.

All the photos were taken by D with the Canon Bridge Camera.

Finally, some good news the National Wildlife Crime Unit I featured in a post recently has secured funding for another 4 years which is great for wildlife.

I think I have finally (thanks to D's help) discovered what I have been doing wrong when trying to insert a link so hopefully this link to an article in the Guardian will work! Please see here


Ian said...

Always nice to capture a first time moment even if the distance was quite daunting. As always enjoy following your outings. Sorry it will not be GB v's Australia in the Davis Cup as we have been knocked out by USA.

David said...

So glad you managed to see the GW Egret and well done on a new 'lifer'. It certainly looks and sounds like the locations are fantastic for birding, the sighting board for the reserve has some cracking species listed on it :-)

It must have been an enjoyable occasion watching the tennis, plus you even got to see what a winning team looks like, something of a novelty I would imagine for a Villa fan this year ;-)

Hope you and yours are well and kindest regards to all :-)

PS. The link works fine :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Ian - Many thanks Ian - hope you are keeping well - have been enjoying seeing your Australian wildlife when you post :) Such a shame re: Australia and the Davis Cup :(

David - Thanks so much David. RSPB Middleton Lakes is a good reserve from the few visits I've made although rather lacking in hides!. Lesser Spotted's seem to be doing fairly well in the Tame Valley as birds have also been seen near Shustoke Reservoir and Ladywalk. In fact one of the few sightings I've had of this species was at the latter some years ago.

Yes really enjoyed the tennis have so wanted to see Andy Murray play and as you say it was good to see a winning team :) Turned on the radio when we got back to the car to discover Villa were losing 4-0 :( Goodness only knows what is wrong at that club :(

Hope you are all well too David and best wishes to everyone.

Wendy said...

I'm glad you saw the Great White Egret, even if it took a while to show itself! I was fascinated by the photos of Middleton Hall as I'm very interested in the John Ray connection. He is regarded as a local man here (well - a few miles away) and I happen to have been learning more about his life and work recently. I'm glad the tennis match was good; the last time I saw live tennis was an Andy Murray match although he lost! It is a relief about the National Wildlife Crime Unit, isn't it?

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks very much Wendy - I so often "dip" when I go on local twitches so was very pleased to see it as we left! That is interesting about John Ray - if you look under labels on the right of my blog there is a link to another Middleton Hall post (its mainly about the Birdwatching Fair and RSPB reserve but there are a few photos of the Hall and a bit more on John Ray.) I think the Hall opens for visitors from Easter Sunday so will return and try and find out more about him for you.

Glad you've seen Andy Murray too but a shame he lost! I don't appear to have been successful in this year's Wimbledon ballot so we bought the Davis Cup tickets last week in the hope of seeing him although it was a bit of a gamble and I think we were lucky he did play yesterday. Very exciting game on tv this afternoon :)

Yes, huge relief here too about the NWCU.

amanda peters said...

How wonderful to see a Great White Egret, so wished we lived closer then you would have someone to look round Churches with :)
They are having a bird fair near me in June, on the same day we are planning to go away for the weekend :( and next week there is a Otter walk at Bingley canal, not far from me, on Sunday and I am at work :(. Sometimes things don't go to plan..
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks very much Amanda :) I also wish we lived closer as I think we could have a lot of fun exploring churchyards and churches :) I seem to remember we said something similar over the NPMS last year - it would have been so helpful to us both and we could probably have done a joint square :)

Bad timing re: the Bird Fair :( Perhaps they will hold it again next year? and also the Otter walk - organisations sometimes do more than one of these so do hope you can go to another one.

Have put out my moth trap tonight for the first time this year! Not very hopeful as its so cold but the Garden Moth Scheme re-commences this weekend and as I tell myself a nil return is as useful as a box full of moths! :)

Deb said...

Great photos Caroline. Middleton Hall and Pool looks a lovely place to visit.
Fantastic news about the funding for wildlife crime too. :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Thanks so much - I will return both to the Hall and the church! :)

Really pleased about the NWCU funding too :) It would have been very hypocritical if they had stopped it.

Countryside Tales said...

Great news about the funding. And well done on the egret. Have never seen one before. I can't see stained glass now without thinking of you! Glad to see there was no wobble in the Murray brothers pictures :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks very much CT :) Was well pleased that we actually saw the GWE as so often I go off chasing "rarities" locally and never find them! I think the bridge camera could be quite useful for stained glass photos! :)

My son took all the Murray photos - he is much better with the Canon bridge than I am! :) If I'd taken them there would have been plenty of wobble and I would have had trouble finding them in the fold out screen!!

Caroline Gill said...

I saw my first Great White recently at Minsmere. I wonder if they will do as well here as their smaller 'cousins'. Beautiful stained glass!

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - thanks Caroline. There is always something very special about seeing a species for the first time :) It will be interesting to see if GWE's spread too.

Millymollymandy said...

Congrats! Always exciting to see a lifer. These birds have become more 'common' around my area the last few years and in fact there has been one standing in a field in the same place the last two times we have gone to the supermarket! I used to think they were exotic!! Their range must be rapidly changing.To think we thought the Little Egret rare and exotic about 5 years ago.

You did well with the SX50 and I always use the viewfinder as you can steady it much easier held up against your face.

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much Mandy. Its great news the spread of egret species. Cattle egrets bred over here for the first time in 2008 and we get Little Egrets locally :)

Thanks for the tip re: the viewfinder - I will try using that more. I really can't get used to the foldout screen and I've never used the screen much on my dslr always used the view finder which to be honest is much better than the Canon one.