"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

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Late November at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Lady Bridgeman's Garden

I paid a quick visit to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens yesterday afternoon.

Looking towards the Upper Wilderness from My Lady's Border

After the recent rain water levels are much higher in the South Pond.

I managed to find a few plants still flowering

Mirror or West Pond

Although there was still some sunshine when I arrived it soon completely clouded over and light levels were really low. Camera rather struggled even with high ISO shutter speeds were really low.

The Spinney and South Pond - I was chatting to a member of staff there today and was pleased to learn that there are still Great Crested Newts in this pool and, even better, they have spread to the other two ponds.

I found these fungi on a fallen log in the Spinney - I think they are Turkeytail. If anyone can confirm the id I would be very grateful.

Edit Thanks so much to Abbey Meadows who has confirmed these are indeed Turkeytail. See comments.

Lower Wilderness

Spindle berries

Upper Wilderness looking towards Castle Bromwich Hall - now a hotel

Lichen growing on the trunk of an Ash tree

Just the usual species of bird around although it was nice to see a party of Long-tailed Tits. This is usually a good site for Redwing during the winter months but no sign yet.

After leaving I did visit a nearby road where a couple of Waxwings were seen two weeks ago. No sign today but I counted 30 trees or bushes still full of berries so I will keep an eye out.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Quick Trip Out

For one reason and another I haven't had chance to get out much recently. Hence lack of posts! I did pay a quick visit to the RSPB Middleton Lakes Reserve on Friday.

There was a White-Rumped Sandpiper on the North of the Reserve but as it would have taken me an hour to walk there! and I only had an hour to spare I had to forego the chance of what would have been a "lifer". There were a couple of Fieldfares feeding on berries at the start of the entrance track to the Reserve. I spent a while walking through the woodland - some beautiful Autumn colours.

Then I spent half an hour watching the feeders by the Heronry. A couple of Brambling had been reported feeding earlier that week. Sadly, they failed to appear when I was there but there was plenty of activity - Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Chaffinches, Blue Great and Coal Tits, Greenfinches, House Sparrows and Robins. Unfortunately, the feeders were too far away for me to get any close shots with the 70-300 lens.

Highlight of the visit was a flock of Redpolls (presume Lesser) feeding on alder seeds.

I have been regularly checking berry trees and shrubs in my local area due to the influx of Waxwings. No sightings so far but I live in hope!! We had a Goldcrest foraging in the garden earlier in the week - my first garden sighting this year and its been back again today :)

I've just planted some pots for the patio with winter flowering pansies, violas and wallflowers to provide some winter colour and an early nectar source.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Millennium Wood

I had planned to visit Brandon Marsh NR earlier this week but plans were abandoned as I read many of the paths were flooded and barely passable.

I haven't been back to the small Nature Reserve of Millennium Wood in Bickenhill/Marston Green for ages so as I was passing I decided to stop off.

I hadn't got my camera with me and the photos above were taken last year.

As usual the walk round the main part of the reserve revealed only Magpies, Carrion Crows and Wood Pigeons. Things started to look up as I approached the car park with blue tits and blackbirds being added to the list. There is no doubt this is the best area for birds - there are mature oaks not far away and lots of holly berries on the road approaching the reserve and car park.

No sign of any Lesser Redpolls on the silver birches yet but I did spot a mixed flock of 15 plus Long-Tailed Tits, blue tits galore and even better a pair of Goldcrest ( a new species for the reserve). Got some good views and watched them foraging for ages and was rather annoyed that I hadn't brought the camera with me!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Autumn at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

I visited Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens one lunchtime last week and there is still much to see with a few flowers still blooming, lots of berries, autumn tints in the leaves and fungi are beginning to appear.

Melon Ground

The Gardens grow a huge variety of apple and pears from the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and there were still displays in the Green House from Apple Day held earlier in the month.

The Green House built around 1729 from North Orchard

Lower Wilderness

North West Pier with the Lamia - a creature from Greek and Roman Mythology, half woman and half serpent, who preyed on human being and sucked children's blood.

I then walked around the Extra Gardens outside the formal walled garden

I found these Toadstools near the Stumpery. Still haven't been able to identify them although they look a bit like Clouded Funnel. If anyone has any idea I would love to know.

Back in the walled garden spindle berries are appearing in the Lower Wilderness.

There are lots of berries along Holly Walk

The Upper Wilderness

The Gardens are a good place to see Redwings in the winter months - no sign yet but I did see a pheasant fly over - a new species for the Gardens bringing the total number of bird species seen there up to 27.