"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, 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


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

First orange tips, peacocks and holly blue for me today. It's been lovely and due to be lovelier!

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon. So good to see so many species - just seen a Speckled Wood in the garden :)

Rosie said...

Fascinating story about the development of the nature reserve. I love the 18th century grave stones, there are some fascinating ones.I see the husband of one of the people was actualy buried in Bow, London. Love the carvings on the church and your lunch looks very good. The Lesser Celandines have been all over this year. Now I'm noticing wood anemones everywhere. Only saw two butterflies yesterday whilst out in the garden and they fluttered by so quickly I didn't spot what they were:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks very much Rosie. I'm reading a fascinating book at the moment on Gravestones and Memorials which is full of so much information on how tombs, gravestones etc. have changed over the centuries. Seems to have been a good year for Lesser Celandine and Wood Anemones do seem to be everywhere :) This was the first weekend I had seen butterflies well enough to id! Before that just fleeting glimpses of unidentified white ones as I was driving!

Pam said...

I saw my first Peacock of the year on Saturday, the sunshine brought them out didn't it! Shame you didn't get to see any Voles but I guess that means a trip back?! :)

Midmarsh John said...

It was nice to see the bird and identification notices. Much more interesting when you know what you are looking at. Always like to se the carvings on churches. So much time and effort put in to the elaborate decoration.

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks Pam. Yes the weekend really did bring them out (for the first time for me - had only had one fleeting glance of a butterfly prior to that this year). From my experience water voles can be pretty elusive! Doing a survey for them (elsewhere) next month. Also going to Isle of Wight this year which is a bit of a hotspot for them (no mink) so may go to a little reserve there where we have seen field signs before:)

Midmarsh John - Thanks John. Yes, those id notices can be very useful especially when you are somewhere new. I too like the carvings in churches stone and wooden - so much history if you take the time to look :)

Kevin and Seri said...

Interesting as always Caroline :-)

Never heard of that reserve, if I tell Seri about the
cottages she'll drag me there tomorrow lol

Last time we saw a WV it was in the beak of a Heron,
one of the anmals released at Brandon, none left now we think....

Anyway, hope you're keeping well - and it's now about 6 years since we last met :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Kevin and Seri - Thanks so much Kevin :)
It is a very small reserve - I only found it by googling water voles Warwickshire!

I never did see any of the Brandon wv's but heard the same that the herons had taken a liking to them! A shame really the re-introduction wasn't successful!

Hope you are feeling ok in yourself - whenever I think of Brandon I think of you! :) I really must make the effort to visit more this year - it is ages since we went and I will let you know what I think of the changes :)

Take care and best wishes to you both. Caroline

amanda peters said...

Looks like you had a nice day out, Mink can have a devastating effect on wildlife> there is one on the river at Denso and last year they ate all the Moorhen's eggs so they didn't have any young. The mail bird has a bad leg due to a confrontation. They have tried putting humane traps down but animal right people came along and destroyed them.

I do like it when they put information boards out, you can see what's about.Nice to see some butterflies and I am still getting used to how quickly thinks are moving on, although it feels like winter today...

Not had a Ploughman's lunch in ages, looks good, and I like the photos of the corbels, doorway and the church yard.
I would have loved being there..
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda - yes it was an interesting place to explore. Agree about mink causing problems for birds and young too - very sad when you get a non-native invasive species causing problems for native wildlife.

Agree too about the usefulness of information boards :) Yes, there was a cold wind today although at least it was dry :)

You would have loved the churchyard Amanda - thought of you when I was there :) Could have spent ages reading the tombstones and getting more photos but OH's patience was running out!

Caroline Gill said...

Another lovely and varied post, RR. The bird columns immediately took me back in my mind's eye to the wonderful sculpting in the Iona Abbey cloister - here.

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - Thank you :) and thanks too for the link. Gosh those sculptures at Iona are just superb - would love to visit and actually see them :) I just love the workmanship and craftsmanship you can see in churches/abbeys/cathedrals from the masons and wood carvers.

Chris Rohrer said...

Sad about the voles:( It's amazing how several of our species from the US and several from Britain have come over here and taken over. And when they do, they take out our native species. European Starlings and House Sparrows are the most abundant bird ANYWHERE. Even the Eurasian Collared Dove has become common. But the Starlings and Sparrows are the worst as they take over Purple Martin nests, etc etc....pretty crazy stuff. I've seen the mink that you mention. It's a nasty mammal that always creeps me out. Fascinating animal but still creepy in the way that slinks like a snake around water areas. Everything has there place....maybe even Canada Geese I suspect:) Anyhow, thank you for posting that bird board up. I hope you don't mind but I saved it to my desktop so that I can study your area birds. Thanks for sharing your area info.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thank so much Chris - very sad about water vole decline although thankfully they still do well in areas where there are no mink like the Isle of Wight. The recovery of otters seems to be helping as they tend to displace mink. Interesting about European Starlings and House Sparrows doing so well where you are - both declining here although still fairly widespread. Dreadful at times the damage introduced species can do all over the world when they are introduced to ecosystems and cause problems for native species! So glad you saved the information board - hope you find it useful :)