"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, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing Everyone a Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year with lots of magical wildlife moments.

Highlights of the Year - Part 8

I think next year I will think of a more concise way to write about "highlights"! Anyway the final post in this series.

A few images from my visits to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens in October and November. For some reason I never found time to visit in December.

The Gardens grow a huge variety of apples and pears and displays remained from Apple Day.

Clouded Funnel by the Stumpery

Upper Wilderness


David was on holiday for a week in November and we had a day out at the Rollright Stones - Pre-historic Megalithic monuments on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border.

The King's Men Stone Circle with an uncountable number of stones built between 2500 and 2000 BC

Lichens growing on the stones are believed to be between 400 and 800 years old.

The Whispering Knights - remains of a Portal Dolmen burial chamber about 5000 years old.

The King's Stone - a large single Standing Stone built in the Middle Bronze Age 1800 - 1500 BC

I found it a very atmospheric place and if you want to read more about the history and myths and legends connected to the stones just click on Rollright Stones under labels to the right of the blog.

For our Wedding Anniversary in October we made a trip to see Red Kites at Watlington where you can get superb close views of these lovely birds. Sadly, not close enough for the 70-300mm lens! but a few record shots heavily cropped.

A surprise visitor to the pond in October - a Grey Wagtail. Only the third time this species has visited the garden. Another record shot - too far away again!

A few shots of leaves, cobwebs and flowers in the garden in Autumn.

Finally, I made a couple of visits to Baddesley Clinton to walk around the grounds and see the House decorated for Christmas.

Finally, I can't not mention badgers - the proposed trial cull being a real low of my wildlife year. Everyone who visits this blog regularly is no doubt aware of my feelings concerning the proposed badger cull so I won't say too much this time but I was totally devastated when the Government announced plans to go ahead with the proposed pilot culls. Science has proved through the RBCT that culling badgers will not work and the proposed cull is totally unselective meaning around 85% of badgers slaughtered will be healthy and disease free. Furthermore, the suggested method of free shooting has never been tried before. It was a huge relief when the proposed trials were called off but sadly this is just a postponement until next year not a permanent end. I did discover the usefulness of Twitter at this time to make my feelings known to DEFRA and Natural England.

I just hope that this ill-conceived, unscientific, inhumane, uneconomic scheme will be called off next year. The main cause of bTB is cattle to cattle transmission. The way forward would seem to be vaccination of badgers, pushing the EU to allow cattle vaccination, more research into the DIVA test, increased biosecurity, increased bTB testing in cattle and improvements in cattle husbandry.

I was already a member of the Badger Trust but decided to join my local Badger Group and I really enjoyed attending one of their meetings in November to see a really interesting presentation on badger vaccination. I am really looking forward to attending their meetings again next year.

Best wishes to all my readers for a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2013.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

More 2012 "Highlights" Part 7

I am beginning to think I should have called this a Review rather than Highlights as its more of a precis of some of my better posts!

We grew Cosmos in the garden this year for the first time and one of the highlights for me was the number of hoverflies and bees it attracted. We shall grow a lot more next year.

Brian has always wanted a waterfall running down the rockery into the pond and this year, instead of using a solar pump to power a fountain which he had for his birthday, he used it to power a waterfall he finally built. Due to the bad weather it took months but we are well pleased with the result although it will look more natural when it has weathered. The birds love it and use the little pools it forms for bathing and drinking even more than they used the pond.

The number of moths trapped dropped off massively as the year progressed but here's a few I caught towards the end of the year.

Mother of Pearl

Autumnal Rustic

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Brimstone - one of the really beautiful moths

Lunar Underwing

Square-spot Rustic

One of the highlights of the Mothing Year was the publication of a really decent id guide for Micro Moths. I find a lot of the Macro Moths hard to identify but most Micros are a really challenge so am hoping this book will help!

I always try and visit Baddesley Clinton in September to see their wonderful display of dahlias. This year, if possible, I think they were even more stunning than usual and there was the added bonus of Scarecrows on an Olympian theme and the icing on the cake were the large number of butterflies on the wing in the Walled Garden.

Apologies for the number of photos but I have tried to be selective as there were hundreds I could have posted!

Most of the Scarecrows were in the Vegetable Garden - here's just a few

Zara Parsnip

Tomato Daley

Lord Sebastian Crow

Sorry same photo. Won't delete as last time I tried this I lost half the photos I'd uploaded!!!!

Andy Straw Murray

Sir Chris Pak Choi

Fatima Cornbread

Walled Garden

Small Tortoiseshell

Red Admiral

The Dahlia Bed

I paid another couple of visits to Brueton Park and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Parkridge Centre and NR in late summer/autumn. The birds on the main pool are very tame and I find it a good place to practice bird photography.

A collection of shots of Mallard, Moorhen, Greylag and Canada Geese

I've also discovered that there is a public footpath along the side of the river which I am hoping to walk along next year towards Widney. A walk done by Edith Holden and I shall be looking for some of the flowers she found.

Another visit to Brandon Marsh NR in September produced my first Hobby of the year from the Carlton Hide.

Mute Swan

By the Visitor Centre I was privileged to get close views of a young rabbit that had not yet learnt to fear humans.

There will be just one more, hopefully, shorter!!! post tomorrow to finish off the series. Hope you have all enjoyed revisiting some of these places with me.