"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

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A Fleeting Visit to Brueton Park

I paid a visit to Brueton Park, Solihull, on Monday afternoon.

As usual there were plenty of ducks and geese loafing around on Brueton Lake

Having a wash and preen

and Canada Goose having a snooze.

Mrs Mallard

Black-headed Gull


Canada Goose

The River Blythe which runs through the park, together with woodland, was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature in 1989. English Nature called the Blythe a "fine example of a lowland river on clay".

There are several wooden carvings around the park

The main purpose of my visit was to spend an hour or two wandering round The Marsh Field (designated a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation - SINC) looking for dragonflies and butterflies. The area contains a pond surrounded by marshland, hedgerows, a wildflower meadow and adjoining woodland. This area is on the opposite side of the River Blythe to where I did the Wildflower Survey earlier in the year.

Unfortunately I really should have taken more notice of the weather forecast as within minutes of reaching the area I noticed dark clouds looming on the horizon and claps of thunder could be heard in the distance.

After a few minutes with lightning in the distance and more thunder I reluctantly decided it might be a good idea to return to the car :(

I just had chance to photo a Large White Butterfly (hopefully, its a Large White - I have been known to get my Large, Small and Green-Veined muddled up!!)

Monday, 29 July 2013

More Moths

I wasn't able to get out and about last week as, after husband's car had an unfortunate encounter with a flash flood, he "commandeered" mine so its yet another post on moths! Luckily husband's picked up a hire car now so hopefully, weather permitting, I'll be able to go somewhere this week.

A few moth photos from last Thursday's trapping session

Middle-barred Minor

Edit doh!! :) Cant believe I got this one wrong - thanks so much to Bennyboymothman for the correction - its Straw Underwing!

I've been having a bit of a debate on Twitter as to whether this is Foxglove or Toadflax pug. We think the former because the central cross band on outer edge is kinked rather than curved. Apparently its very late for a Foxglove Pug so I've emailed the County Recorder for his opinion.

Edit - Thanks to Bennyboymothman for confirming this as Foxglove Pug - they are still around - please see his comment

The photo below of two Marbled Beauties illustrates the problems you can face when taking moth photos. When I tipped this pair out of the pot the one remained obligingly still for a few seconds whilst the other was immediately ready to flee.

Smoky Wainscot (I hope - Common and Smoky are very similar!!)

I decided to pot a few micros to attempt id but already struggling with this plume species

Edit Huge thanks again to Bennyboymothman for identifying the Plume as Platyptilia pallidactyla
(In some ways I am improving id wise as this was on my short list of two possibles :) )

and I am not sure what this moth is - I think its a Wave but I don't trap many. Its tiny - wingspan only about 15mm

Edit - Really can't than Bennyboymothman enough for all his help - this is Small Dusty Wave

If anyone has ideas re: the last two please leave a comment and also if any of the earlier id's look incorrect.

Summary of Moths Trapped Thursday, 25th July

Minimum Temperature 13.8 degrees centigrade

15w Actinic Skinner Trap

1713 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) x 4

2321 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) x 9

2381 Uncertain (Hoplodrina alsines) x 38

1921 Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria) x 1

2160 Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea) x 2

2198 Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura) x 1

2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) x 2

2289 Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) x 1

1378 Phlyctaenia coronata x 1

2343 Common Rustic (Mesapamea secalis) x 1

2293 Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica) x 7

2340 Middle-barred Minor (Oligia fasciuncula) x 1 Edit This should be Straw Underwing!

2434 Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis) x 1

1817 Foxglove Pug (Eupithecia pulchellata) x 1 tbc Edit now confirmed

To finish off a few photos from around the garden

The rockery replanted last year after the waterfall was constructed is starting to look more established

Wild carrot is dominating the wildflower mini meadow

but there is still a lot of St John's Wort - much loved by bees and hoverflies

One of these days when I have sorted out who on earth will look after them when we are on holiday I will keep hens but in the meantime I've treated myself to a wire one! She is not in permanent position - have still to decide where I want her to go.

And tomatoes are finally starting to form on the plants - only pea size at the moment.

Friday, 26 July 2013

A Fifteen Minute Butterfly Survey

Each Summer Butterfly Conservation, in association with Marks and Spencer, organises "The Big Butterfly Count" - a nationwide butterfly survey. This year its being held between 20th July and 11th August and all you have to do is spend 15 minutes in your garden, or park, or woodland etc., and count the butterflies or certain species of day flying moths that you see in a fifteen minute period.

The survey was launched in 2010 and last year 27,000 people participated spotting 223,000 butterflies. Butterflies react quickly to environmental changes and are, therefore, excellent biodiversity indicators and can provide a warning also of other possible wildlife losses. The survey will also help the charity to spot butterfly trends and identify any declining species.

For more information please visit the website www.bigbutterflycount.org which gives details on how to take part and you can also download an id chart. You can repeat the survey as many times as you like and submitting results is really easy and only takes minutes.

I spent 15 minutes looking for butterflies in my garden on Tuesday, 23rd, seeing one Large White and one Small White.

Unfortunately its a bit like the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch when half the species you normally see refuse to visit the garden during the hour you are doing the survey - only to appear a minute after the hour has finished!!! So the Holly Blues and Comma seen the same day remained absent during the 15 minutes!!! This doesn't matter though and nil results are also important.

I tried again today and managed 2 Gatekeepers, 2 Large White and 1 Small White.

If you get the time give it a go because its good fun and you are helping science at the same time and it would be a great activity for young children in the school holidays.

I haven't had much luck so far this year in taking photos of garden butterflies so have to admit that the Gatekeeper below was taken in 2010.

I've managed some butterfly photos at Brandon Marsh in the past but most of the better ones seem to have been taken at National Trust gardens where there are that many flowers the butterflies just seem to get "drunk" on the nectar and are quite happy to pose!

We are starting to see more hoverflies in the garden and lots of Red-tailed, White-Tailed and Buff-tailed bumble bees plus the Common Carder Bee as in the photo below nectaring on bramble flowers.

We finally have a decent clock in the garden so it was easy to keep track of the 15 minutes - a birthday present for Brian from David.

And a reminder that there is a BBC Springwatch Special on Butterflies tonight at 9.00.

Monday, 22 July 2013

More New Moth Species for the Garden

I put out the moth trap again on 16th and 19th July (GMS night) and caught several new species for the year and a few totally new for the garden.

Swallow-tailed moths are absolutely beautiful and look just like butterflies. They are often attracted by house lights to windows so even without a moth trap its worth looking out for these. In fact, I trap very few - most are seen here at windows or doors. This is the first one I've seen this year.

Another yellow moth - this time Barred Straw again new for the year

Double Square-spot) - New for the garden

Phlyctaenia coronata - again new for year

And here's a mystery lbj. To be honest it looks like one of the Flounced Rustic variants - but seems too early. Is it a variation on markings of another common species? Any help much appreciated.

The identity of this beautiful white moth had me flummoxed for ages but I eventually identified it as a White Satin Moth (new for the garden)

On this photo you can see its black and white ringed legs!

It looks very comatose in the photographs but within a few minutes of taking the photos it recovered from being put in the fridge and was whirring busily round in a moth pot.

Dark Arches - new for year

I was absolutely thrilled to trap this moth - a Beautiful Hook-tip again a new garden "tick"

Bright-line Brown-eye (new for year)

Grey Dagger (new for the year). This species is very similar to Dark Dagger and its impossible to distinguish between the species without genitalia dissection (a route I have no wish to take!!)

Leaving moths for a while - I discovered this unusual looking "beetle" on wild carrot in the garden wildflower mini meadow. On looking through the id books I was put in a state of panic by its (slight) resemblance to a Colorado (serious agricultural pest) Beetle grub. Luckily, twitter came to the rescue again as someone had posted a photo of the same insect - its actually another unwelcome "alien" - a Harlequin Ladybird pupa.

Summary of Moths Trappped Tuesday 16th July

Min Temp 12.5 degrees centigrade

15w Actinic Skinner Trap

2050 Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) x 2

2381 Uncertain (Hoplodrino alsines) x 12

2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) x 2

2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) x 5

1937 Willow Beauty (Perbatodes rhomboidaria) x 3

2382 Rustic (Hoplodrina blanda) x 1 (New for Year)

2128 Double Square-spot (Xestria triangulum) x 1 (New for the Garden)

1378 Phlyctaenia coronata x 1 (New for the Year)

1922 Swallow-tailed Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria) x 1 (New for the Year)

1758 Barred Straw (Eulithic pyraliata) x 1 (New for Year)

2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) (New for the Year)

Flounced Rustic??????

Summary of Moths Trapped Friday, 19th July

Minimum Temperature 16.1 degrees centigrade

15w Actinic Skinner Trap

1713 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) x 4

2050 Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) x 4

2321 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) x 1 (New for Year)

2381 Uncertain (Hoplodrina alsines) x 9

2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) x 2

2160 Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanoba oleracea) x 1 (New for year)

1293 Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) x 3

2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) x 4

1937 Willow Beaut (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) x 2

1931 Peppered Moth (Biston betularia) x 2

2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) x 1

1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) x 1

2031 White Satin (Leucoma salicis) x 1 (New for Garden)

1524 Emmelina monodactyla x 1

2343 Common Rustic (Mesapamea secalis) x 1 (New for Year)

2473 Beautiful Hook-tip (Laspeyria flexula) x 1 (New for Garden)

2293 Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica) x 1 (New for Year)

2284 Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) x 1 (New for Year)

1941 Mottled Beauty (Alcis repandata) (New for Year)

If any of the id's in the moth photos are incorrect please feel free to let me know.

Friday, 19 July 2013

A Visit to Packwood House and Gardens

I had a day out with a friend yesterday at Packwood House Gardens. The new restaurant there isn't yet open so we stopped off on the way at NT Baddesley Clinton for lunch. There was a slight glitch in the proceedings when my friend discovered she had forgotten her membership card but the staff were so helpful and rang the NT to confirm she was a member and even gave her a note for when we arrived at Packwood. Excellent service from the National Trust :) Great lunch too - egg and cress sandwiches and a delicious raspberry and white chocolate muffin - both highly recommended!

One of the many sundials to be found at Packwood

We had a look round the Vegetable Garden first

A number of champagne/wine bottles containing plants had been hung from one the trees - what a great idea!

Another great idea - recycling wellies as plant containers!

Yet another great way to use up flower pots and fir cones - a bug house?

Another Bug House

It may not that clear from the photo but this part of the Kitchen Garden had been planted, in association with a local school, in the form of a clock. It was absolutely delightful!

The Carolean (walled) Garden which has evolved over the years since being planted in the seventeenth century

This herbaceous border is known as the Yellow Border and is crammed full of perennials in a combination of colours - pink, yellow, lavender, carmine and scarlet. I don't think I have ever seen it look so lovely.

The Sunken Garden installed by Baron Ash in the 1930's.

These rose bays contain the red Rosa "Lilli Marlene", Rosa "Bright Smile" and the wall roses alternate between the Red R. "Dortmund" and the yellow R. "Leverkusen"

Views of the House and Garden from the Terrace Walk

The Raised Terrace

This is the famous Yew Garden said to represent "The Sermon on the Mount" - some trees ("The Master" and "The Apostles") date back to the 1650's. During the mid nineteenth century the present yew "Multitude" was planted to replace an earlier orchard.

The walled garden was a bit of a sun trap and it was so hot we sat in one of the gazebos at the end of the Raised Terrace and just looked out over the Terrace Walk and Gardens.

More borders in the Carolean Garden

I haven't been in the house itself for years and years but one day soon, when its cooler!!!, I'll return and look round the house interior.

Out of interest (I did a post on this last summer) Edith Holden who wrote "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" and "Nature Notes" often walked through Packwood House Gardens and parkland.

Many thanks to J for sharing such a lovely afternoon.