"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, 28 August 2015

A Long Overdue Visit to my Favourite Nature Reserve

B and I went along to Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve today - its been a couple of years since I last visited and I have so missed this reserve.

Brandon Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) located to the East of Coventry and is the headquarters for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve covers around 200 acres and is a mosaic of pools, wetland, grassland, scrubland, reedbeds and pools.

Leaving the Visitor Centre we walked through Hope Wood and along the side of Goose Pool. Whenever I see this pool and the lombardy poplars I remember a bat walk we attended years and years ago when D and E were little when we saw Pipistrelle Bats and Daubenton's bats flying over this very pool. That was the occasion that B managed to lock his keys in the car (don't ask.... but he had to wait for hours and hours for the AA to turn up and even more hours before they managed to get into his car!!) and D spotted what he was convinced was a puma near the Visitor Centre. I believe this may well have been the case as we have discovered since there have been other sightings in the vicinity!

We continued along the side of Central Marsh trying not to notice the ominous looking dark clouds on the horizon (no rain had been forecast so neither of us had coats!).

We stopped off briefly at the Jon Baldwin Hide overlooking East Marsh Pool which is often a good site to see Kingfishers but there was a work party on the far side of the pool and very few birds about.

Haven't had chance to try and id this fungi so if anyone has any ideas please leave a comment. Every year I say I'll try and improve my fungi id skills and every year I give up very quickly - there are so many similar species.

I love this spot on the reserve just before you reach the Carlton Hide - its often a good place to see Banded Demoiselle in the summer and in autumn the hawthorn berries attract quite a few species of bird.

We decided to continue onto the Ted Jury Hide which is a new addition to the reserve since my last visit.

Lots of Ragwort round the reserve though no sign of Cinnabar moths or caterpillars.

Looks like its more or less time to go blackberrying :)

I think this is a 22-spot Ladybird?

We arrived at the Ted Jury Hide just in the nick of time as the heavens opened.

View from the hide - we watched a Hobby (my first sighting this year) and a Water Rail appeared out of the reeds every so often although failed to pose for the camera.

This Moorhen was more obliging.


Platform built to encourage Ospreys to linger and breed.

It eventually stopped raining and we made our way back to the Carlton Hide which again overlooks Newlands reedbeds and water channels and is a good spot to see Otters.

A pristine Red Admiral

We popped into East Marsh Hide - the Work Party had finished for the day and birds had started to return to the Pool - Lapwings, Black-headed Gulls, Coot, Mallard, Mute Swan, Grey Heron and

a lone Cormorant.

We had a quick look in Teal Pool Hide in the hope of seeing Sandpipers but water levels were very high and a Grey Heron was the only sighting.

Walking back along the path B spotted this Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

There were lots of Hoverflies on umbellifers including this

Hornet mimic hoverfly Volucella inanis - thanks to K for id confirmation :)

Autumn approaches!

I took the Canon bridge camera with me today which I am slowly getting used to. Still having problems though getting it to focus on small insects but I have discovered why some of the butterfly photos D took with the camera on our walk recently were a strange colour - the white balance on the camera had been accidentally changed to a very peculiar setting! Its now back on auto!

Some of you may remember that I have often mentioned that it would be lovely if someone could write a book explaining the origin of moths' names. I was reminded of this a few days ago when Caroline on "Wild and Wonderful" asked if anyone could confirm that the Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia) got its scientific name from the eyespots on its wings resembling a peacock's eye spots.

I mentioned this on Twitter and huge thanks to the people who pointed me in the direction of this rather wonderful book which arrived today (in view of the rather expensive price I had to tell B it was his Wedding Anniversary present to me in a couple of months time!!!). It will, however, remain in an accessible place until then as I won't be able to resist checking butterfly and moth names!

This book is actually mentioned in the excellent book by Matthew Oates called "In Pursuit of Butterflies" but I incorrectly assumed it just explained the history and meaning of butterfly names.


Since writing this post last night and before publishing it this morning - the Government has announced that, not only will it continue with the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, but it will be extending them to Dorset. How on earth these slaughters which have been proved to be unscientific, inhumane, ineffective and uneconomic, can be justified is totally beyond me. Did no-one from Government or DEFRA read and take account of the IEP report into the first set of pilots? I've been in rant mode all morning but all I will say on here is that yet again this is a very, very sad day for English badgers and I just wish the Government would follow Wales example which is working (a 48% decline in bTB rates in just 4 years due to cattle based measures alone) and where badgers are vaccinated not killed in the cruellest way imaginable.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Brief Visit to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

We paid a brief visit to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens a few weeks ago. These 10 acre walled gardens are a unique example of an English Baroque Garden and are being restored to the period 1680-1762 when they were in their prime. The gardens contain 600+ plant species from that period.

My Lady's Border

Inside the Greenhouse

Fox and Hedgehog are the new mascots for the Gardens

Mirror Pool

Apples and Pears are ripening in both the Orchards

The Spitfire Willow Sculpture in the Kitchen Garden is new.

Rowan berries look nearly ripe.

Part of the Lower Wilderness

The Gardens are participating in Solihull's Hedgehog Survey and there are lots of these hedgehog boxes round the garden and several hedgehogs have been spotted :)

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in a new important project has chosen Solihull as the location for the UK's first dedicated Hedgehog Conservation Area or Hedgehog Improvement Area (HIA). The aim is to boost Solihull's hedgehog population, inspire the residents and to help hedgehogs as a response to this species recent rapid decline.

Holly Walk

Bumble bee on Lavender

The Upper Wilderness

There's a small exhibition in the Visitor Centre giving information about the gardens and Castle Bromwich Hall.