"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

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A few Spring Wildflowers plus Daffodils Galore and Return to Berkswell

Every year around this time I try and make a trip to St Giles churchyard Packwood to see primroses and violets and Packwood House for daffodils and lesser celandine so some of you may have seen similar photos in previous years. Last Friday morning (I took D with me) we set off on this annnual "pilgrimage".

St Giles

Unfortunately I've never been able to take a photo that pays justice to the sight of primroses en masse but this gives a very small idea.

Primroses and Violets

A bank covered in primroses and lesser celandine

Lesser celandine

Off then to Packwood which is only about a mile away

Packwood House

Lots of forsythia in flower along the roadside

One of several sundials found at Packwood

The daffodils which grow along banks at the side of the road which runs close to Packwood are a beautiful sight.

Lesser Celandine dot the bank and ditches

We did plan to have lunch at the new cafe at Packwood until I discovered that to get into the tearoom I would have to pay an entrance fee for the grounds for David as he is no longer a member. This would have been fine if we'd had time to look round the grounds but I was anxious to visit a nature reserve to see butterbur before the rain which had been forecast arrived. So that idea was abandoned (rather miffed I missed out on cake though!!).

When I was a child I was always captivated by images of butterbur in one of the widlflower id guides I had and its a species I've never seen in flower. Thanks to Temple Balsall Nature Reserve Blog (please see link on the right under My Blog List) I discovered some years ago that it flowered on the reserve. I've tried to see it the last couple of years but have always been too late and it had gone to "seed". I knew it was in flower at the moment so as the reserve is not far from Packwood that was our next destination.

Temple Balsall Nature Reserve

Dog's Mercury is starting to flower in the hedgerows.

Lesser Celandine (again!!) I love this flower - a real harbinger of Spring :)

This is the marshy hollow on the reserve where the Butterbur grow.

And finally, I got to see this lovely plant in flower - a bit past their best but thankfully not yet gone to seed!

Scarlet Elf-cup growing on a bank near the butterbur

We would have explored more of the reserve but by now we were getting rather hungry and D suggested returning to The Bear at Berkswell for lunch. By this time it was 1.45 and it was a mad dash through the lanes to try and get there for 2.00 p.m. in case they stopped serving food then. We arrived at dead on two o'clock but apparently they serve food until 4.00 p.m. so we needn't have rushed after all!! Oh well, we'll know next time.

The Bear Inn, Berkswell

I know I wrote a post a few weeks back on Berkswell but here's a few items I missed last time.

Village Pump

Beehive Cottage is now being re-thatched

Beautiful old cottage

D was keen to see an old canon (from the Crimean War) which used to be in the pub car park. Eventually we discovered it by Berkswell Museum

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Marsh Lane NR, Garden Moths and another plea for help for Badgers

B was on holiday last Monday so I finally persuaded him to take advantage of the joint membership and visit Marsh Lane. The weather was dry but cold with a biting wind.

We walked to the most distant hide - Railway Hide initially. The next three photos show 3 views from the hide of Railway Pool - the last photo has Sidden Hill Wood in the distance.

Green Woodpecker, Shelduck, Redshank, Snipe and a pair of Dabchick were among the highlights of the visit. It was fascinating to watch pairs of Shovelers in courtship display with the male and female circling each other round and round.

I got a slightly better, though still very brief glimpse of the mystery mammals seen on the last trip by Oak Hide. In fact I saw two disappearing rapidly down holes under some tree roots next to the feeding station. Feeders are probably the best clue to their identity and I am 99.9% sure having seen the head of one that they are in fact rats.

It was nice to see dandelions starting to flower.

Brian caught a glimpse of an unidentified butterfly by Oak Hide missed by me as I was too busy looking to see if the rats would re-emerge. Although I did spot one Buff-tailed Bumble Bee.

Three new species were seen for the reserve list

Pied Wagtail (record shot!)

Great Spotted Woodpecker and Stock Dove.

Another record shot this time of Lapwing

I'm fast coming even more to the conclusion that the 70-300mm lens is a waste of time at this reserve - the birds are just too far away. I'm still trying to think of a way of justifying the purchase of a bridge camera because I suspect the bird shots would be better.

Anyway, B enjoyed the reserve even though he's not really that interested in ducks, geese and waders so I suspect when we next go together we'll be visiting Sidden Hill Wood as he finds woodland birds far more interesting!!!!

Garden Moths

I've only trapped a few times since the last post on moths mainly because of the colder temperatures and overnight rain. The sessions failed to produce any new species for the year.

Monday 17th March Min temp 5.9

Early Grey x 1
Clouded Drab x1

Wednesday, 19th March Min temp 7.3

Common Quaker x 4

Sunday 23rd March (GMS week 4) Min temp -1.9

Early Grey x 1
Hebrew Character x 1
Clouded Drab x 2
Common Quaker x 1

Clouded Drab


We are still waiting for DEFRA to publish the IEP report into last year's pilot slaughters and for Paterson to make a decision on whether he is going to roll-out the cull. Although according to one of the Sunday newspapers it appears the slaughters will continue in Somerset and Gloucestershire and may also commence in Dorset which is very sad news.

I know many of you are strongly opposed to the unnecessary, cruel and unscientific slaughters and the Wildlife Trusts have started a campaign where you can send a ready prepared email to David Cameron asking him to drop the cull. It only takes a minute to add a few of your personal details and send. Here's the link - sorry still can't get them to work so please just cut and paste


The Humane Society International also has a ready prepared email to send this time to George Eustice and DEFRA telling him that humaneness matters to you. Not sure how this link will turn out as I have had to copy and paste myself! -its too long to remember!!!


The more emails DC and DEFRA receive about this the more they will realise how unpopular their actions are.

Many thanks :)

Also I was sent a link last weekend to a badger video on you-tube of footage shot by Steve Hawkes of the Warwickshire Badger Group. The video has some lovely footage of cubs and is set to a song written and performed by Shirley Higton - be warned though the music is very moving and heartwrenching and you might need a box of tissues! The badgers are filmed at the sett I was privileged to visit last year.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Return Visit to Winterbourne

I made a return visit to Winterbourne House and Gardens (with my free re-entry ticket :D) the Sunday before last. Unfortunately the only way I could see I could find the time this month was during yet another family chauffeuring event which meant that yet again I was very limited for time. I've tried to show a few new areas of the garden not visited last time but some of the photos may be of familiar areas. It was a beautiful day and I saw my first Comma butterflies of the year.

The Walled Garden

House Terrace - a lovely place to sit and have a cup of coffee and gaze at the gardens (if you had more time!!).

Looking over the gardens from the terrace

The Winter Garden which I stupidly failed to visit last time - sadly, the snowdrops were past their best.

Pergola separating the Upper and Lower Lawns

Herb Circle

Hellebores were flowering everywhere

Sandstone Rock Garden

Bridge leading to the Woodland Walk

Stream Lawn

Walking back to the house

Entrance to the Nature Reserve which includes woodland and you might be able to make out a pool in the far distance - yet again no time to visit!

Glasshouses back in the Walled Garden

If I lived closer I would be very tempted to become a member of these gardens because I think they are just delightful. I will though try and go back in late Spring/Summer and will try next time to have a few hours to spare to wander round the whole garden and that nature reserve.