"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, 31 October 2013

Another trip to my local Nature Reserve

I returned to Marsh Lane Nature Reserve earlier this week on Tuesday afternoon, 29th October. I noticed dark clouds gathering on the horizon as I left home and just managed to make it to Oak Hide which overlooks the Railway Pool before the heavens opened!

View from Oak Hide towards Siden Hill Wood taken after the rain had finally passed

The Black Swan was again on Railway Pool - if you click on the photo to enlarge you may be able to make it out next to a pair of Mute Swans - sorry for heavily cropped photo but the swans were a long way away! I really could do with a 400mm lens or better still a new camera set-up but as I can't justify the cost I'm stuck with what I have for now!

A rainbow appeared as I left the hide.

I had a quick look through the screens at the Reedbed Pool and finished off the visit with a quick look at Car Park Pool from the hide near the car park.

I added quite a few species to the list of birds seen here so far - Carrion Crow, Moorhen, Blackbird, Pochard, Wren and Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tits on the feeders. I also saw a couple of jays collecting acorns along the Old (Kenilworth) Road which leads to the reserve and a Grey Squirrel was the first mammal seen there. A Common Darter was spotted by the car park.

I've just received a Newsletter for the reserve for the period July to September and it reinforces my view that its a good site for butterflies. One or two Clouded Yellows (a species I've never seen) were on the reserve throughout the last two weeks of August. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was also observed.

One side of the reserve is bordered by a railway line (sorry real rubbish photo - it was taken into the sun!!) and

this reminded me that the dreaded HS2, if it goes ahead, will come exceedingly close to this reserve. I've checked out the HS2 interactive map and suspect if may even cross one of the fields of the reserve on the other side of the Old (Kenilworth) road which is not good news. Checking out the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust website it appears that the route of HS2 will affect 16 ancient woodland sites in Warwickshire and Solihull and 6 sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's) are within 500 metres of the line in Warwickshire.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Local Birding and Garden Moths

The permits for Marsh Lane eventually arrived last Friday. With rainy weather and a strained back muscle I hadn't been able to return to the reserve. Yesterday though it was lovely and sunny and my back had improved slightly so I decided to pay a brief visit to Marsh Lane. I can't believe its been a month since I last went when I took out a day permit before deciding to join.

I spent most of the hour I was there in the hide overlooking Car Park Pool - you can see part of the view from the hide in the photos. Sorry the photos aren't very good. The birds were too far away for the 70-300 lens and the lens isn't really suitable for landscape type photos as you can hardly get anything in the frame!!There were lots of Wigeon,Black-headed Gulls, Mallard and Greylag Geese interspersed with Canada Geese, Teal, Shovelers, Coot, Teal, Pochard, Mute Swan and Cormorants. I didn't see the Bar-headed Goose this time but there were good views of a Buzzard.

The wood in the distance is Sidden Wood - I think the best way to access this area is via another car park at the other end of the reserve. I might save this area until I visit with Brian as he gets bored very quickly with ducks and geese :(

Highlights of the visit were a Kestrel and a Green Woodpecker near the set-aside crop field planted to attract finches etc.

Here's a list of the species seen so far at the Reserve - not many so far (but total visits so far only add up to a couple of hours and I have barely started to explore the reserve)so I am sure the list will grow rapidly once I start visiting on a more regular basis.

Wood Pigeon
Greylag Goose
Mute Swan
Grey Heron,
Tufted Duck
Green Woodpecker
Black-headed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Bar-headed Goose
Black Swan (last two species - escapees)

Butterflies - Speckled Wood

Dragonflies - Common Darter, Migrant Hawker

Garden Moths

Numbers of individual moths and species in the trap have dropped considerably this month but I have managed three new species for the year - Feathered Thorn, Red-green Carpet and Spruce Carpet. Sadly no holy grail of the autumnal moth world i.e. Merveille du Jour that looks like a Choc Mint Icecream!

Feathered Thorn

This lively moth managed to fly off whilst I was trying to take photos and twice nearly flew into this spider's web on the kitchen window. Eventually after a lot of clambering over worktops the moth was safely re-potted and released.

Red-green Carpet

Spruce Carpet - both the Carpets were hard to photograph as they were exceedingly lively so sorry about the blurred photos!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Packwood House

I was in Solihull on Friday afternoon (family chauffeuring duties!) and had two hours to spare so, despite the rain, I decided to visit Packwood House and Gardens and have a look round the house as I haven't been inside for years.

The House was restored and renovated in the 1920's and 1930's with the aim of recapturing its orginal 17th century style by Mr Graham Baron Ash who gave the property to the National Trust in 1941 in memory of his parents.

I know many National Trust properties are dark inside due to the necessity of drawn blinds and curtains to protect various treasures inside but this House was probably the darkest and gloomiest I've visited although the dire weather outside probably made it even darker than usual. In fact, I was having problems myself in seeing items in some of the rooms let alone trying to take any photos without flash.

So I concentrated on taking pictures mainly of some of the beautiful stained glass in the windows - most 16th and 17th century and some Flemish.

It appears Baron Ash hated disorder and untidiness!

I did manage to get a photo of the Great Hall this was originally detached from the main house and used as a cow-byre and barn. It was restored in 1924 and 1927 and connected to the House by a Long Gallery.

There are some beautiful tapestries on the walls but this was the only one where I could get enough light to even attempt a photo.

One of the rooms held a very interesting exhibition on textiles and dyes.

The Ireton Bathroom with some beautiful delft tiles.

It would be rather nice to have a bedroom with a view like this!

Having finished a tour of the house the rain had more or less stopped so I had a brief walk round the walled Carolean Garden which includes the

Sunken Garden

The gardens were looking very autumnal

I can't decide whether I like this photo or whether its total rubbish! The effect of moving flowers was created by the wind.

I had a walk round the lovely Kitchen Garden before leaving - still plenty of flowers in bloom and lots of pumpkins!

I have a feeling I'm overdoing the House and Garden posts in the course of the last week - hopefully a trip to a Nature Reserve next (if it ever stops raining and if the permit ever turns up :) )