Sunday, 8 February 2015
Snowdrops, first Moth and Primroses at St Giles and a Brief Visit to Henley-in-Arden
After dropping B off to attend a re-union with old work colleagues and friends, D and I went along to St Giles Church, Packwood in search of snowdrops and primroses.
St Giles is a medieval church dating back 800 years.
This is a Scratch or Mass Dial on the exterior south wall of the Nave. This type of sundial was used when a stick was inserted in the centre point to indicate when Mass should be celebrated using the sun to tell the time.
and the first few early Primroses were flowering.
I took some photos of lichens on the church walls and it was only when I got home and uploaded the photos that I realised there was a moth right in the corner of one of the pictures I took. I am not sure how I missed it - I must have been too busy focusing on the lichens!! My first moth of the year and a new "tick" for me - a Grey Shoulder Knot (Lithophane ornitopus). Sorry the moth is a bit blurred as its heavily cropped from the original photo.
There are many mature yew trees scattered around the churchyard
and areas which are are not too neat and tidy but left alone to encourage wildlife.
This particular churchyard is a very rich site for wildflowers with other 100 species being identified - some of which are quite rare for this part of Warwickshire. It was a visit to this particular church several years ago that sparked off my interest in churchyards and the benefits that many of them provide for wildlife.
Some churchyards are manicured and neat and tidy but more and more parishes are creating a haven that can be used by wildlife and people. With the conversion of old pastures to arable farmland and improvements to grassland, churchyards, which have more or less escaped the appliance of weedkillers and fertilisers, often contain the last remnants of ancient, flower-rich grassland in an area. A wealth of wildlife can be found from ancient trees, lichens growing on gravestones and walls, fungi including waxcaps, ferns, reptiles and mammals.
With the decline of many common woodland and farmland birds, churchyards provide important habitat for these species providing shelter, food, roosting and nesting sites. The church building itself provides roosting and nest sites for bats and birds such as tits, starlings,house sparrows, kestrels, swifts, jackdaws and hirundines. Trees, including the evergreen yews and hollies are attractive to thrushes, greenfinches, coal tits and goldcrests. Graves, stone walls and crypts are home to invertebrates providing food and nesting sites for wrens, robins and tits. Grass which is often cut short near the more recent graves provides foraging areas for starlings, green woodpeckers, thrushes and wagtails. Grass that is left to grow longer where the graves are old is interspersed with wild flowers attracting insects which provide feeding areas for swallows, flycatchers and warblers. Quieter areas of the churchyard left to their own devices will contain nettles patches, elder and brambles and ivy will scramble over old tombs and trees.
There is a lot of interesting information on the website www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk and a few years ago I bought a very informative and delightful book (secondhand as its out of print now unfortunately) by Francesca Greenoak called "Wildlife in the Churchyard - The Plants and Animals of God's Acre" exquisitely illustrated by Clare Roberts.
Before leaving we stopped to take some pictures of sheep in a nearby field - no lambs yet!
D took these with the bridge camera - illustrating yet again the usefulness of the zoom!
Before going home we had a wander along Henley in Arden High Street. First port of call was Henley Bakery for a cup of tea and a gingerbread man.
This is one of my favourite art galleries - Brian Tovey does some lovely paintings of the local area - D bought me a small original oil painting of primroses for Christmas. I've just been searching through loads of photo files as I thought I'd taken a photo but I can't find it when I do I'll post it in another blog post.
The White Swan - a restored 16th century coaching inn.
There are quite a few pubs and restaurants along the High Street.
George House - once the George and Dragon Inn - a 16th century timber framed building although the frontal work is more recent.
There are several interesting Charity Shops - well worth visiting.
15th century Market Cross
The Guild Hall
Some of the stone sculptures on St John the Baptist Church - I wouldn't have got a photo of the second one as it was too high up on the building - thanks again to D and the bridge camera!
Stone sculptures, Cottage Signs, Doors and Gates
and finally the florist's shop.
Apologies to those who've been following my blog for some time as I know I have done several posts before on St Giles and Henley in Arden so the photos of the town may be a trifle familiar although this time I have tried not to waffle on too much yet again about the history of the town!!
A-Z of Henley in Arden
An Historical Guide to St Giles Church
"God's Acres' Live on as Local Nature Reserves" - article from BTO News 233 March - April 2001