"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

Monday, 30 April 2012

Blue Tit Nest Update

Mrs Blue Tit has been busy laying an egg a day and there are now six eggs in the nest. She has been covering the eggs with feathers during the day so you might not be able to make out the sixth.

Although she is roosting in the nestbox overnight she has not yet started incubating during the day so I would imagine at least one more egg will be laid.

Due to recent inclement weather I haven't been out birding and I haven't put out the moth trap either. The weather is actually dry, sunny and warm today (for a change) and it was heartening to see a male orange tip butterfly in the garden this morning!

Friday, 27 April 2012

St Giles, Baddesley and Packwood

I had a day out with a friend towards the end of last week - we were very lucky with the weather as heavy rain had been forecast and there were dark rain clouds constantly on the horizon but we escaped with just the odd drizzly rain shower.

We stopped off first at St Giles Church, Packwood, as I wanted to show my friend the primroses.

Yellow Archangel flowering amongst the ancient gravestones

A blue Wood Anemone - I would imagine this has been planted by someone - its difficult in churchyards to know which are truly wildflowers and which have been planted.

I think these are leaves of Wild Arum by the Primrose. Wild Arum has a range of descriptive names such as Lords and Ladies, Cuckoo Pint, Jack in the Pulpit, Parson and Clerk etc. and I will try and return to take photos later in the year showing the part of the plant which results in such names!

Bluebells are starting to flower

and, although the primrose display is not as stunning as a few weeks back, there are still plenty in flower.

I recently read an article in "Countryfile" Magazine on the wildlife to be found in churchyards and it mentioned this book. Sadly, as its a lovely informative book with charming illustrations, I think it is out of print but I managed to track down a secondhand copy for only 99p!

My friend has never been to Packwood House which was our main destination but, as they don't yet have a tearoom, we stopped off at Baddesley Clinton for lunch - a rather yummy vegetable soup with warm granary bread and, yes, I managed to avoid the temptation of a piece of cake!

There are always Mallard around the tearoom.

After lunch onto Packwood House - I know I have already done several posts on this garden this year so I have tried, where possible, to include some photos of different areas.

This flower bed in the Carolean Garden was full of lemon Tulips and Wallflowers, interspersed with a few Crown Imperials and Forget-me-Nots and looked beautiful.

These Hellebores have been flowering since my first visit a few months ago!

Violets (and Ladybird)

Sunken Garden installed by Baron Ash (who owned the property then) in the 1930's

If anyone has any idea what this gorgeous plant is I would love to know

View towards the Yew Garden from the steps leading to the Raised Terrace

Raised Terrace

The South face of the Terrace Wall contains 20 niches which were built to house bee-skeps

The first yew trees in the Yew Garden were planted in the 1650's when the lower part also contained an orchard but the "Sermon on the Mount" tradition for this garden apparently evolved towards the end of the nineteenth century following the planting of more yews. The lower part of the garden represents "The Multitude" with 12 big yews known as "The Apostles". Four even larger yews in the middle are known as "The Evangelists".

You can climb the "Mount" via a spiral path wending through box and get to the top where "The Master" or "Pinnacle of the Temple" - see photo below - has been planted.

Two metre deep bath in the North Court


These double Primulas were rather pretty

Cold Plunge bath originally built in 1680

It was a lovely day out in great company. Thanks J.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Blue Tit Nest Update

At some stage yesterday tea-time (between me leaving home at 5.00 p.m. for a theatre trip and Brian arriving home around 6.00 p.m.) the female blue tit laid the first egg! Unusual timing as I believe the eggs are usually laid first thing in the morning!. This morning another egg had been laid.
In 2010, when we acquired the nest box with camera, the first egg was laid on 28th April and last year the date was the same as this year i.e. the 25th. As to the theatre trip (David and I had gone to see the RSC's production of Twelfth Night at Stratford), once I had calmed down (traffic was horrendous and I had to drive to Stratford via a very circuitous route and we only took our seats with seconds to spare!), I enjoyed the performance. The scene where Malvolio dons yellow stockings and black garters was one of the funniest things I have ever seen! I've no idea how the layout of this post will turn out as some time after most other bloggers I have now been "lumbered" with the new Blogger interface and everything appears to have changed on the "Create New Post" setting! I've just looked at the Preview and my paragraphs have disappeared! Think I may try reverting back to the old set up if I can!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Moths and Garden Update

Finally last night an evening when at dusk it wasn't chucking it down with rain and I was able to put out the moth trap (well, as its got an actinic bulb I think you can use it in the rain but even with an upturned plant pot over the electrics I still worry and avoid trapping when its heavy rain - wimp that I am).

I did manage to trap two moths - Emmelina monodactyla and my first Shuttle-shaped Dart of the year.

Shuttle-shaped Dart
and once again many thanks to Stewart from The Orthosia Enthusiast for recommending slate as the background - the markings seem to show up much better!

Summary of Moths Trapped Monday, 23rd April

GMS Week 8

8.00 p.m. to dawn
Minimum Temperature 4.3 degrees centigrade
15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Emmelina mondodactyla x 1
Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) x 1 NFY

Garden moths species for 2012 = 12

Temptation has arrived in the form of this leaflet which fluttered out of "British Wildlife" magazine when it arrived yesteray!!

How can I resist??

At long last a comprehensive field guide to the micro moths in one volume. Hopefully, it will help my identification skills?! Although I fear there will still be many photos of unidentified or wrongly identified moths appearing here!

There are still no eggs in the Blue Tit nest but Mrs Blue Tit started to roost overnight in the nestbox from last Friday onwards (a promising sign!). Sorry for the poor picture quality but I have taken photos from the tv screen to which the nestbox camera is routed. It will at least give you an idea of progress.

Here she is roosting overnight

and feathers have been added to the nest starting with one last Friday

Over the course of the last week I have seen the Wren going into the nest in the hanging basket several times a day and as she has not been carrying nesting material I have a feeling she may be sitting on eggs.

A male Bullfinch was seen in the garden on Saturday and Sunday - the first sighting this year although they only rarely visit the garden and on Sunday a pair of Collared Doves were feeding - believe it or not the first garden sighting of the year for this species too. This brings the number of species actually seen within the garden this year to 26.

Common frog tadpoles emerged from the frogspawn a few weeks back - if you click on this image to enlarge you may just be able to make one out.

Seeds are just starting to come up in the part of the wildflower meadow which has been re-seeded.

Red campion which has self-seeded into a flower border from the meadow is just starting to flower

as are the wood anemones - I find this species really hard to photograph as the white always bleaches out - note to self to experiment with white balance function on camera!

I planted some sunflower and tomato seeds a short while ago. I really like sunflowers and they are good for attracting insects. We haven't grown tomatoes for some years but I just adore green tomato chutney and its very hard to buy green (unripe) tomatoes so I've decided to grow my own! No sign yet of the tomatoes but the sunflowers are just breaking through.

To me they look like the heads of baby snakes breaking through the compost!

At the end of last week I had a day out with a friend (will do a post on this later this week) and I couldn't resist buying this alium - hopefully another plant to attract insects this year.

I rather like succulents and this plant Aeonium Arboreum "Zwartkop" is my very favourite so I bought one of these too!