"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

Tuesday 31 December 2013


Many thanks to everyone who has visited my blog over the course of the last year and for all your lovely comments.

I would just like to wish everyone a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year with many magical wildlife moments.

Monday 23 December 2013

Friday 20 December 2013

Local Birding

I popped to Marsh Lane NR for an hour yesterday afternoon. It was very cold but good to get out for a walk and some solitude and watch some wildlife. Its probably the last chance before Christmas to recharge my batteries :)

I saw a Buzzard as I drove along the Old Road and there were still quite a few Redwings about - although nowhere near the numbers seen previously. The various feeding stations on the reserve were attracting Blue and Great Tits, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, House Sparrows, Robins, Chaffinches and Reed Buntings.

The Mute Swan pair had managed to escape the Black Swan and were on their own on a different pool.

This is a rubbish photo with all the reeds in the way but I love the way the swans are mirroring each other's movements :)

And here's the Black Swan - in its usual place on Railway Pool keeping the Black-headed Gulls company this time.

Teal (heavily cropped)

Gadwall - sorry the photos aren't very good the light was awful

Gorse in flower. This species flowers most of the year hence the saying "When Gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion" - which was discussed recently on Dartmoor Ramblings blog.

I was really pleased to get fairly close views of a Water Rail from Oak Hide - unfortunately the sound of the camera shutter sent it scuttling fairly quickly back into the reeds. But it was a new bird "tick" for the year and a new species for the reserve.

I saw 31 species altogether which was quite good for an hour's walk and added Pheasant, Water Rail and House Sparrow to the list of birds seen at the reserve which I am keeping. The list now stands at 46.

To change the subject completely we've finally got round to putting up the Christmas Tree. I do have a much smaller, real one which lives outside in a pot on the patio all year and I only bring it in a few days before Christmas as it doesn't seem keen on the central heating and I would be very sad if I lost it as we bought it as a little tree about 6 inches high when D was a baby.

Here just for CT is a photo of the original fairy looking rather lopsided at the top of the tree!!! Again I bought this for the tree when D was a baby for his first Christmas.

It appears it no longer has a competitor for pride of place at the top of the tree as E's very modern, large fairy appears to have disappeared! Last Christmas B started decluttering in earnest by announcing that we could only keep the Christmas decorations that would fit in one large storage box and I fear E's fairy was one of the casualties and found its way to a charity shop as she declared she wasn't particularly bothered about keeping it. I suspect it may turn up somewhere hidden at the back of a cupboard as I have a feeling I didn't want to throw it away for sentimental reasons and usually when this happens I retrieve items from the bin bag when no-one's looking :)!!!

Monday 16 December 2013

Christmas at Packwood

I had an afternoon out last week with a friend and we decided to go to Packwood House as the house for the first time had been decorated for Christmas and the new Visitor Centre and Garden Kitchen Cafe are now open.

Packwood House is Tudor but during the 1920's and 1930's the owner Graham Baron Ash extensively re-designed the house, adding rooms and converting a barn into the Great Hall.

The house had been beautifully decorated - just a few photos as I had the usual problems with low light and most were only fit to be deleted.

Here's a rather extreme example of the effects you can get when the light is that gloomy that the shutter remains open for about 5 seconds!!!!

The Carolean Garden with the famous Yew Garden in the background.

Can you spot me in my badger jumper :)

We had lunch in the new cafe - for some reason I omitted to take a photo of the outside of the actual visitor centre but I'll take one next time I visit.

I just loved this rabbit lampshade

Flower prints on the walls

The tiles around parts of the cafe were beautiful - a "tribute" I would imagine to the old delft tiles in the Ireton Bathroom in the House itself.

Sorry for the lack of posts recently - Christmas preparations have meant I have less time than usual to go out and about.

I was busy making mincemeat at the weekend - its well worth the effort and it really doesn't take that long.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Garden Wildlife, An Interesting Church and Village and Lunch at a Historic Pub Overlooking a Battlefield

We're getting more birds visiting the feeders now its getting colder and the highlight this week has been a small flock of Redwings visiting the garden each day to bathe in the pond and feast on Rowan and Whitebeam berries. We don't usually get visits from this species until the weather is a lot colder or there's snow on the ground. I tried to get a photo without any success - they fly off at the slightest movement in the garden.

I did manage to get a photo of one of the frequent grey squirrel visitors though.

I've put the moth trap out quite a few times over the last few weeks only trapping a couple of Winter Moths (sadly no December Moths to be seen here) but there's a Winter Moth perched on the windows attracted by the light most evenings. Sorry rubbish photo but it is a pretty plain uninspiring moth!

It was my birthday last Sunday and plan A was to visit Upton House and then go for a pub lunch. As usual though we left far later than planned so ended up following Plan B which was a walk round the picturesque village of Tredington followed by the lunch. I drove through Tredington some months back when visiting Shipston-on-Stour with E and the village looked so lovely I was determined to return.

A few of the cottages and houses seen as we walked round the village.

Should I win the lottery in the foreseeable future I will definitely consider buying this cottage for sale as a weekend retreat :)

The River Stour runs through the village and the UK's second largest pike was caught here by a Geoff Crabtree - the pike weighed 451b 7ozs!

The parish church of St Gregory has a 210 foot tower and spire - the highest in Warwickshire. The oldest parts of the Church are Saxon dating back to 961

Valerian in flower by the churchyard

Many of the gravestones were covered in lichens - according to someone I spoke to later in the church there are quite a few rare lichens to be found in the churchyard.

The North door is fourteenth century and has lead bullets lodged in it dating back to the Civil War. A lady I spoke to inside the church told me that parliamentarian troops and horses had spent a night in the church on their way to the battle of Edgehill and the village had been divided over which side it supported with villagers on one side of the river supporting the King and those on the other side supporting parliamentarians.

A fifteenth century brass

Octagonal font - there are old staples on the steps said to guard against witches!

An ancient brass on the floor depicting Alice Barnes wearing a sixteenth century gown with puffed sleeves. She died in 1568 and the brass is a memorial to her and to her husband.

Seventeenth century pulpit installed in the church just before Oliver Cromwell became Protector.

We had lunch at the Castle Inn built on the summit of Edgehill, 700 feet above sea level, overlooking the battlefield of Edgehill where Englishman fought Englishman in the first major battle of the Civil War. There are superb views from the beer garden over several counties. The inn is also known as The Round Tower or Radway Tower and the octagonal tower built in 1742 marks the spot where it is believed King Charles I raised his standard on Sunday, 23rd October, 1642, prior to the battle.

The lunch was delicious with a starter of Brie and Cranberry Parcels

One of the main courses - I couldn't get a photo of the vegetarian option as the family were getting rather embarrassed at this stage with my constant photo taking in a crowded pub

Profiterole Cheesecake to finish the meal :) - I was determined to get a photo of this :)

As we drove through a village on the way home I spotted a "Sun Dog" in the sky. Sorry the photo doesn't really do it justice especially as it was taken from a moving car.

A beautiful sunset from the garden on reaching home