A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"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
Monday, 3 June 2019
A Churchyard full of Wildlife and Nesting Activity Update
A few years ago I read in a book on Warwickshire's Butterflies about the churchyard at Oldberrow which is regarded as the best churchyard in Warwickshire for wild flowers. I have been meaning to pay a visit for years and then I also read more recently that it was a good site to see slow worms so it immediately went near the top of my list of places to visit.
The churchyard is an area of unimproved neutral grassland with a huge diversity of flowers including several that are uncommon in Warwickshire. Until the early 1980's it was traditionally managed as a hay meadow and scythed just once a year to provide fodder. Sadly, later "tidiness" was encouraged and it was mown regularly but fortunately many of the species, including unusual ones survived. In 1993 a change in management took place and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust gave advice on the best way to "manage" it. In 1998 the church received a grant from Rurual Action for a full survey to take place and a management plan was drawn up. Management is now carried out in "compartments" with grass being cut at certain times of the year to suit the species that flower in that particular area be they Spring flowering plants or Summer flowering plants. The site is carefully monitored and a balance is sought between allowing plants to flower and set seed and also creating an appearance acceptable to parishioners.
Plants in flower when we visited included Buttercups, Cow Parsley, Tufted Vetch, Self Heal, Ribwort Plantain, Daisies, Bugle, Herb Robert, Common Sorrel, Germander Speedwell, and Bistort (which is a rare plant for Warwickshire). Other plants recorded on the site include Cowslips, Betony, Devil's Bit Scabious, Hoary Plantain, Common Birds-foot Trefoil, Black Knapweed and Lady's Mantle. It is a site which would be worth visiting at different times of the year.
Cowslips now going to seed.
I was thrilled to find Bistort in flower.
The Peshall Tombs
We looked carefully and quietly for Slow Worms (Anguis fragilis)without success and then we came across a couple of black sheets being used as refugia so very carefully we lifted one - nothing underneath but under the other we saw at least four or five slow worms of varying sizes. They are beautiful little lizards looking like burnished gold.
My record shots (I was holding the camera with one hand and lifting the sheet with the other and obviously we only lifted the sheets for a few seconds in case we disturbed them).
D's shot was slightly better
It was a thrilling moment as the last time I saw one was in the Lake District about 15 years ago when there was one in the drain of the cottage we were staying in.
The Slow or Blind Worm is a legless lizard. They hibernate underground between March and October, mate in April and May when the males will fight each other. In August or September 10 or 12 young are born. They eat live prey such as slugs, insects and spiders but will not consume carrion. Predators include adders, hedgehogs, kestrels and rats and frogs and toads will eat the young. They are widespread and common but shy and therefore rarely seen. They spend a lot of time underground and in gardens will use compost heaps.
I did have a very quick look round the church which has medieval origins but was very largely re-built in 1875 although it does still retain a few medieval features.
The age of the font is uncertain but it could be 13th century; it has a Tri-lobed, stiff leaf flower motive and the lid is 19th century.
The beautiful West Window with a bird, sheep and views of the church and a nearby house.
The East window
19th century encaustic tiles
The book below which was in the church has a different cover to my version but the book is highly recommended if you like wildlife churchyards and wild flowers.
Timothy having fun.
We had lunch (cheese and salad sandwiches and a flask of tea in the car) and then B and D went for a walk along the lane while I returned to the churchyard. I didn't disturb the slow worms again but did look for more flowers and insects. I didn't see many butterflies apart from one that flew off without being identified but Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Skippers, Common Blue and Marbled White have been recorded there.
There were several bees about mainly common Carder.
I saw many of these Common Malachite Beetles (Malachius bipustulatus)
Cuckoo spit which houses the nymph of a Froghopper
On Bistort and Buttercups I found loads of Swollen-thighed beetles (Oedemera nobilis
On the way home we stopped off in nearby Henley in Arden to visit the bakery - here is the Green Man on St John the Baptist.
Blue Tit Update
These record shots were taken at the end of last week. As you can see one of the chicks was far larger than the others and sitting on them to get more than his fair share of the food. They all fledged last Saturday morning. One had a lucky escape - as B was in the garden when he spotted a fledgling about a foot off the ground and a cat stalking up to it (cat was frightened off thankfully)
*D Photo taken by D with the Canon SX50HS bridge camera
Rest of photos taken by me with the Panasonic FZ330 Lumix Camera
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.