"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, 29 September 2012

Early Autumn at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

I popped into Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens for an hour one afternoon last week. There is still plenty of colour in the flower beds but plenty of signs of Autumn - berries, seedheads and some autumn colour in the leaves.

Lady Bridgeman Garden - always looks lovely whatever the season with changing planting schemes.

Slender Vervain

Looking towards the Green House

Most of the fruit from the Orchards has now been collected in preparation for the yearly Apple Day - this year to be held on 6th and 7th October.

Cockspurthorn Berries

I couldn't find any sloes this year in the Extra Gardens and it seems to be a poor year for hawthorn berries as I only found a few.

These dangling berries looked like a fairy necklace

Tar Spot fungus on Sycamore leaves

The only other fungus I could find was in the Stumpery growing on a log.

Lots of Sunflowers are still flowering in the South Kitchen Garden although some are now going to seed.

A Red Admiral was fluttering around some of the flowers in the Vegetable Garden but I couldn't approach close enough for a photograph.

A few Honeysuckle flowers were found in the "Secret Garden".

Rosehips in the Lower Wilderness

I'd love to know the history of this stone found in the West Claire-vole - I haven't been able to find any information on it in any of the books I have on Castle Bromwich village and the Gardens and Hall.

Holly berries are ripening in Holly Walk

Autumn colours appearing in the Upper Wilderness

These pretty pink and purple flowers (I did once find out the species from one of the gardeners but sadly have now forgotten) were attracting a lot of bees

Thistle seedhead by the Visitor Centre

There were a few birds around - mainly Magpies, Wood Pigeons, Blackbirds and Blue Tits and I couldn't see any Moorhen on the North Pond. I'll visit again next month as the area always attracts overwintering Redwings and Fieldfares.

For more information on the Gardens including admission prices and opening hours please visit www.cbhgt.org.uk. For a fascinating series of posts on the gardens please follow the link to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Blog on "My Blog" list to the right.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Straw Dot

A large decrease in the moths caught last Saturday, 22nd September - only 6 moths. Minimum Temperature overnight was only 6.0 degrees centigrade so its not surprising there were so few.

There was a new species for the year though - Straw Dot. It flew away before I could get a photo so here's one I took last year!

Summary of Moths Trapped Saturday, 22nd September

8.00 p.m. until dawn
Minimum Temperature 6.0 degrees centigrade
15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Large Yellow Underwing x 2

Lesser Yellow Underwing x 1

Lunar Underwing x 1

Straw Dot x 1 New for Year

Friday, 21 September 2012

Returning to my Favourite Nature Reserve

It looks as though "old blogger" has finally disappeared for ever and "new blogger" has arrived for good so I am not hundred per cent sure how this post will look!! Initially it appeared I had lots of new features to play with like colours, different fonts etc., but returning to create a new post these have disappeared?? Lost in cyberspace?

Anyway to return to the post it was lovely and sunny and I finally had time yesterday afternoon to visit Brandon Marsh NR - my favourite nature reserve.

Since my last visit the Sensory Garden has been completely redesigned and replanted and was looking lovely. I'd got the 70-300mm lens on the camera so couldn't really get a picture of the whole garden but it was great to see yet another bug box design. There were a few Comma butterflies on buddleias.

I walked most of my usual route in a reverse direction for a change i.e starting where I normally finish! So I walked round the back of Grebe Pool passing the windpump and had a very interesting chat with a couple of staff from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust about the badger cull. One of them had received training in the vaccination of badgers and they are working their way round WWLT reserves catching and vaccinating badgers against bTB. Don't forget you can still sign the Govt e-petition created by Brian May against the Badger Cull.

I stopped off at the Jon Baldwin Hide overlooking East Marsh Pool and managed to miss a Kingfisher as I was too busy rummaging in my bag for a pencil!!! Doh! Luckily it flew past the hide again a few minutes later. Lovely to meet you Kevin and thanks for all the tips on birds to be seen on the reserve yesterday :)

Here's a few photos of the same species that I saw at Brueton Park last week

Greylag Goose

Canada Geese seen from East Marsh Hide

Also spotted a Snipe from this Hide and a few swallows.

I continued onto Carlton Hide and saw my first Hobby of the year - you can tell how little birdwatching I've done this summer! Fascinating to watch interactions between Hobby and Sparrowhawk and Sparrowhawk and Jays - although I gather I missed the best of the action :(

I didn't have time to walk through Central Marsh and Horsetail Glade but managed a photo of a Mute Swan on Goose Pool.

Walking through Hope Wood back to the visitor centre I came across a really tame baby rabbit. One of those magical encounters when you can get fairly close to a wild mammal who seems totally unafraid.

I realised how much I had missed my visits to Brandon Marsh so hopefully I will manage to visit more often through the autumn and winter.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Moths from last Weekend

Highlights from the moth trap last weekend were another Autumnal Rustic and Brimstone Moth and the first Lunar Underwing of the Year

Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa)

There were a couple of Silver Y too. A very pretty little moth with a white "y" shaped mark on each wing. We see these a lot feeding on valerian flowers in the garden - they remind me for some reason of Hummingbird Hawkmoths. I've not been lucky enough to see one here in England but saw loads when we were on holiday in Jersey several years ago.

Summary of Moths Trapped Friday 14th September

7.30 until dawn
Minimum Temperature 7.0 degrees centigrade
15w Actinic Skinner Trap

2441 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) x 2

1937 Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) x 1

2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) x 9

2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) x 2

2353 Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea) x 6

1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) x 1

1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) x 1

2297 Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea) x 5
(Thought at one stage I had a Svensson's Copper Underwing but it only had one of the four characteristics that distinguish it from copper)

2117 Autumnal Rustic (Eugnorisma glareosa) x 1

0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana x 1

2270 Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) x 1 New for Year

There were quite a lot of Daddy Long Legs (Crane Flies) in the trap too this week.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Ducks and Geese at Brueton

I've wanted to revisit Brueton Park and Parkridge Nature Area since I first visited last winter. Finally, returned one afternoon last week and this time took the camera.

There's a large pool near the car park where the ducks and geese are very tame and its a good place to practise bird photography.

Usually the only editing I do to my photographs is occasional cropping but on the first 3 photos below I have adjusted the brightness and contrast slightly - not sure if its an improvement on the original though!

Canada Geese

Mallard (female)

Drake mallard looking as though its coming out of its eclipse plumage


Juvenile Moorhen

Drake Mallard

Greylag Geese

I then went a walk around Parkridge Nature Area (a small Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Reserve and Visitor Centre) comprising woodland, an arboretum and pool.

There were quite a few Speckled Wood around

and an interesting looking bug house

I saw a few birds - coot, mallard, blackbird, a flock of long-tailed, blue and great tits and the highlight was a treecreeper. A grey heron posed motionlessly on the pool. Too far away for the 70 - 300mm lens so just a couple of record shots.

Malvern Pool

Today we went out blackberrying locally - won't reveal exactly where as we saw what looked like an active badger sett in woodland and no doubt the badger killing could well come to Warwickshire once the badger populations in bTB hotspots have been decimated.

We managed to fill a large icecream container with blackberries - certainly picked far more than last year when we left it rather late. Once washed and frozen they will keep us going through quite a few Apple and Blackberry Crumbles and Pies through the winter :)

There were loads of Red Admirals, Commas and Speckled Woods and the most dragonflies I have seen all summer.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Baddesley Clinton - Part 2 Butterflies and Scarecrows

Following on from yesterday's post, I was really pleased to see quite a few Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies, together with a few Large and Small Whites, nectaring in the Walled Garden.

Butterflies seem to adore Sedum spectabile and it was quite easy to get close and take photographs.

Red Admiral

Small Tortoiseshell

In the Vegetable Garden there were lots of themed Scarecrows celebrating the Summer of Sport. Some of the captions next to the scarecrows were quite amusing and I've put a few in quotes below together with all the Scarecrow names

Ivor Cushy Job (from H20 security)guarding the entrance to the Vegetable Garden

Swede Redgrave

Russell Sprout

"Scared of heights. Likes to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Never won a medal."

Zara Parsnips and her horse Radish

"Wanted to enter Horse of the Year Show but got lost and ended up at Crufts.... didn't win Best in Show".

Tomato Daley

Lord Sebastian Crow

"Campaigned tirelessly for 2 and a half days to bring the Olympics to Baddesley Clinton. Total cost to the tax payer nil. We'll show London how to do it properly"

Dame Celery Holmes

Geoff Grapes - "Baddesley's strongest scarecrow. Has been known to lift two cabbages and a whole turnip without taking a nap."

Andy Strawmurry - my favourite!

Zola Spud

Turnipisian Bolt

Sir Chris Pak Choi riding through rhubarb. "Hopes one day to enter the Tour de France. Where is France?...... Is it far from Lapworth?"

Fatima Cornbread "Very short-sighted. Can't see without spectacles.. but lost these in a dung heap in 1978. Please stand well clear"

And finally lots of activity round the bee hives

If you live locally or are in the area its well worth a visit to see the dahlias and scarecrows. There is so much to see and do in the House and grounds.