Wednesday, 4 May 2016
Shadowbrook Meadows NR
D is on holiday this week and we paid a visit today to the quiet local Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve of Shadowbrook Meadows. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), covering 4.4 hectares, and falls within the larger site of Bickenhill Meadows.
The reserve consists of old meadow pastures (2 dry and 2 wet fields), a stream, wet woodland and 600 year old hedgerows. The unimproved, unfertilised, unsprayed, unploughed and species-rich grassland has been maintained over centuries by cutting hay and grazing regimes. It is a good example of how the countryside would have looked before the agricultural intensification in the twentieth century.
This scarecrow peering over the hedge really made me jump when I spotted it as I was about to climb over a stile.
Thankfully the grazing regime seems to have finished unless the cattle were out of sight in one of the wet meadows. In the past I've never bothered about the presence of cows and just tended to march across fields ignoring them but these days there seems to be a glut of stories in the media about people being attacked and chased by cattle so these days I am a trifle more wary especially as I can't run anywhere near as fast as I used to!
Lots of Dandelions, Red Campion and Garlic Mustard flowering along the path.
The first of the "dry" meadows.
Lots of wild flowers in the pastures - Cowslips and Bluebells galore, Lesser Celandine, Buttercup, Speedwell and Violet species plus a few Lady's Smock or Cuckoo flowers
I spotted my first Orange Tip of the year in the garden before we left home but at the Reserve I counted up to a dozen (admittedly some may have been the same individual) and interestingly they were all males.
Cowslips are one of my favourite Spring flowers. Alternative names include "key flower", "herb Peter", St Peter's keys" "Our Lady's bunch of keys", "Our Lady's cushion", "galligaskins", "jackanapes on horses"and "hose in hose". The names linked to keys refer to the shape of the flowers which were supposed to resemble keys. Apparently cowslips were once thought to have the power to split rocks that contained treasure!
There are a lovely few lines from a fairy song in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
"The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see,
These be rubies, fairy flavours,
In those freckles live their savours...
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear."
We saw several damselflies in one of the wetter parts of the field - all the same species and D managed to get one record shot. I am not very good at damsel/dragonfly id but checking when we returned home I think it is probably a Large Red Damselfly (please correct me if I am wrong).
I really ought to visit this reserve more often as it is only 20 minutes from home. D and I first went a few years ago in June. The post can be seen here . Just hoping the link works!! I will try and go again this summer and an autumn visit would definitely be worthwhile as waxcaps occur. EDIT - the link sort of works but for some reason if you follow it it shows the latest post i.e. this one first and you have to scroll down to the original post which appears below. Have tried to change it without success :(
We ended up having a pub lunch at The Bear Berkswell and a stop at the farm shop Meriden and then home.
*D - photos taken by D with the Canon Bridge SX50.
Reference: "Discovering the Folklore of Plants" by Margaret Baker