"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

Friday, 29 May 2015

Birding at a Local Reserve

We spent a couple of hours yesterday at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve - I've postponed the butterfly trip to Gloucestershire until its a bit warmer as its a two and a half hour round trip so a long way to go if there aren't many butterflies about.

I resisted the temptation to take the Olympus and took the Canon Bridge instead. Its certainly very versatile as you can take landscapes, zoom in on distant birds and take macro shots. I am slowly working my way through the instruction manual - its going to be a long process!! I am struggling a bit with the macro function and trying to get close ups of flowers and insects as you will see from some of the photos. I'm not sure if you can use the macro facility when zooming in but will keep practising.

The causeway was a mass of wildflowers - vetches, trefoil, cow parsley, buttercups, gorse, broom, clover and Lady's Smock.

Many of the buttercup flowers contained these beetles - I haven't had chance yet to try and id them but it could be one of the Longhorn beetles?

Cuckoo spit is appearing on many plants - a home to the nymphs of a Froghopper.

Blurred photo of Lady's Smock (or Cuckoo flower).

Gorse is still in flower - many people describe the scent as smelling of coconut but to me it resembles vanilla. There were lots of bees feeding on the flowers although I couldn't get any photos.

Broom - we used to have one with these colours in the garden.

We spent some time watching Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Tufted Duck and Reed Warblers in and around Reedbed Pool.

Mute Swan

Rubbish photo of Great Crested Grebe - the reeds got in the way!

Lots of Clover along the paths

and Cow Parsley.

Creeping Cinquefoil?

I will return to this meadow hopefully in a few weeks to see the Orchids - at the moment its a mass of buttercups.

We stopped off at one of the Hides overlooking Railway Pool watching

Grey Herons, Mallard, Lapwing, Tufted Duck and Black-headed Gulls. The latter were sitting on eggs and there were a few young about.

The meandering path that leads to Railway Hide - this is my favourite stretch of the reserve - good for insects and butterflies in the summer and today we saw a Green Woodpecker anting.

Bramble is coming into flower


Sadly, half of the Back-gate Copse seems to have been chopped down :( Work Parties have cleared an area near the back gate to encourage more Twayblade Orchids to flower but the remaining trees, according to the Marsh Lane newsletter, had to be removed by Western Power from the side of the wires.

Path through what is left of the Copse.

View of Railway Pool from Railway Hide

Sand Martin bank

This Oystercatcher must have been sitting on eggs or had young because it was constantly chasing away Magpies and Crows that came to close.

I only saw two butterflies during the whole walk - 2 peacocks. This one sunning itself on the path was very worn.

I got exceedingly frustrated with the camera trying to get a shot of this Flower (or Swollen-thighed) beetle (Oedemera nobilis)

I certainly need to spend a lot more time getting to know the camera and experimenting with different settings.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

New Hall Mill and Meadow

We paid a visit to New Hall Mill on Bank Holiday Monday as it was an Open Day. There has been a mill on the site since the sixteenth century although the present building dates from the 18th. It is one of only 2 water mills still surviving in the Birmingham area. The other is Sarehole Mill which I have done several posts on in the past. Some of you may remember that I first discovered New Hall Mill last year and its a lovely place to spend a few hours.

The Mill, a Grade 2 Listed Building, is privately owned and managed by the New Hall Water Mill Preservation Trust. It was restored in the 1970's.

The Overshot water wheel drives two pairs of French Burr Mill Stones producing stone ground wholemeal flour for demonstration purposes. A Ruston and Hornsby diesel engine installed in 1949 runs a combined milling machine and sack hoist.

We had a look round the Mill first of all.

Reconstruction of the Miller's Workshop

There's a pretty little walk along the side of the mill pool where you can watch Grey Wagtails which nest close by.

The Miller's Garden

The Organ Grinder was there again this year.

Model of the Mill in the small museum and shop

I left B and D enjoying tea and cake (I missed out again!!) whilst I had a look round the meadow and tree trail.

Campion and Cow Parsley in the hedgerow.

Hawthorn is flowering in every hedgerow at the moment.

There are several pools and a stream in the meadow area.

Buttercups and Yellow Flag

Cow Parsley en masse

I was recently looking at a post on a pollinator meadow in Chateau Moorhen's Blog (so sorry I can't insert links on the basic blogger I use but please see a link to her blog under "My Blog List" on the right) where she had posted a photo which she had taken using Intentional Camera Movement where you use a slow shutter speed and move the camera as you take the picture to create an artistic effect. I've tried this before with fireworks but not with flowers and Cow Parsley seemed a good subject.

Clumps of Wild Garlic were flowering by the stream.

Buttercup Meadow

I bought a few plants home with me - Sweet Woodruff (trying to find a nice shady place for it in our garden) and Veronica gentianoides. If I can find room I might put them both in the rockery.

Apologies for smudges in the top right hand corner of some of the photos - I had forgotten to clean the lens after it covered with raindrops at Bakewell!!

I've had a bit of a bad back this week :( but if its better hoping to go to a rather promising looking butterfly reserve in the next few days. In fact, I'm off now to try and learn some of the basic controls on the Canon bridge!!