Saturday, 8 April 2017
Wolvey - Wetland NR (butterflies but no water voles), Pub Lunch and Church
We went in search of Water Voles today. Water Voles (Arvicola amphibius) have undergone a catastrophic and accelerating decline in numbers and range over the course of the last century. Two surveys carried out by the Vincent Wildlife Trust demonstrated that the population had decreased from 7,294,000 in 1989/90 to 875,000 in 1996/98 - a decline of almost 90%. The reasons for the decline of this species include habitat loss, habitat degradation and fragmentation, predation by the introduced American Mink, fluctuating water levels, water pollution, accidental poisoning due to mistaken identification and disturbance. Although the Water Vole has become extinct in many areas of Warwickshire, a few "hotspots" do remain such as around the waterways of Wolvey in North Warwickshire including a small wetland reserve known as the Old Cricket Field Nature Reserve and this was our destination today.
The reserve covers around 3.5 acres of pools, reedbeds, grassland and stream with boarded wetland walks. It was originally a boggy field but in the early 1900's it was drained and levelled to provide a cricket pitch for the village of Wolvey. It was closed in 1957 and the land returned to pasture. The land gradually became swampy again and, in 1999 to celebrate the Millennium, a group of villagers decided to buy it so it could be enjoyed by the residents now and in the future.
There was a mink raft on this pool - these are used to monitor the absence or presence of mink in the area. Mink are highly efficient predators being fast runners and excellent swimmers and female mink are small enough to enter water vole burrows. A female mink with young to feed can kill 50-100 water voles and effectively wipe out whole colonies.
Lesser Celandine seems to be having a superb Spring.
Sadly, the woodland walk was closed.
Well, we didn't see any Water Voles but we did see several butterflies - my first Brimstone, Peacock and Orange Tip of the year. Centre of the picture below is a Peacock! It has been a good day for butterflies as I saw my first ones in the garden - a Holly Blue this morning and an Orange Tip early evening.
Buds on Hawthorn
Snakeshead Fritillaries were seen on the edge of the reserve and on nearby grass verges.
Plants growing in slanting slabs in nearby front gardens.
Time for lunch and a visit to the Blue Pig for a Ploughman's.
The inn dates back to the 15th century and sadly was once a renowned site for cock fighting. Around 1470 Warwick the Kingmaker and Duke Clarence visited the hostel for refreshment. Their armies were camped in the village and the next day they captured Edward IV at nearby Wolvey House.The pub has changed it's name 4 times. It was first called The Black Lion - the name taken from the pennant of the Baron of Wolvey. When the Gloucesters became large landowners in the area the name was changed to the White Boar's Head after the Gloucester's pennant. Following the death of Richard III at The Battle of Bosworth the name changed to the Blue Boar and then in the 1800's it was changed again to the Blue Pig.
Before going home we had a quick look round the village. There were a few thatched cottages.
St John the Baptist
There were some interesting corbels around the exterior of the church
Sadly, the church was closed but I was able to get some photos of the Norman South doorway with 2 orders of columns, chevrons and fleur-de-lys like motifs.
This looks like the carving of a bird?
Lots of Lesser Celandine flowering in the churchyard too.
In the past my main interest in looking round churchyards has been to search for wildlife especially wild flowers. My interest in gravestones has been mainly limited to looking for mosses and lichens but having read The Quiet Walker's posts on Edinburgh and cemeteries see here I have been inspired by Amanda to look more at the different types of gravestones and memorials and the history behind the inscriptions. So here are a few photos of different types of tombs/gravestones of varying ages seen today.
The last few are 18th century and the earliest I could find (at least where I could read the dates!).
*D Photos taken by D with the Canon Bridge camera