Thursday, 28 April 2011

Damselfly and friends!

My first damselfly of the year

Enallagma cyathigerum
The Common Blue Damselfly

Celastrina argiolus
Holly Blue Butterfly

Coccinella septempunctata
7 spotted ladybird

Blackbrook Nature Reserve

Welcome to Black Brook.
as you can see by the welcoming poster, this is a large Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Reserve, in fact it is their largest to date and unfortunately we arrived quite late in the day, so didn't have much time to explore it.

We did find time to walk up to Gib Torr, and take in the spactacular scenery.

                                         While we were up on the rocks we could hear the curlew on the moors and we saw a green hairstreak butterfly - my first ever so even though it was a wind blown fly pass, it was very special!

This is somewhere I need to return to and explore more

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Our Magnificent Dandelion

I don't think there are many people out there who would view the dandelion as anything more than a pesky weed which should be eradicated from their lawns and flower beds at all costs. Thankfully our neighbour doesn't seem to think that way and their lawn is a stunning carpet of yellow at the moment and is an absolute joy to behold! I haven't photographed it as it is on private property so you will just have to trust me!

I want to dedicate this blog post to the wonders of this stunning flower. It will be an unusually long post for me, with a lot of words as well a pictures.

I was fortunate to have lived on the edge of the countryside and spent many a happy day playing in the fields near to the village, I would often pick the flowers, to take home and put in a jam jar.
The next period in my life when I actually started to think of this flower as being of any use was when my children had pet rabbits, then we would gather armfuls of the leaves for the rabbits to munch away on.
Last year I was bought a camera and the way I viewed flowers changed totally. I noticed how absolutely stunning they are. In fact I only noticed this year how similar they are to Van Gogh's sunflowers!!!

Browsing through a book the other day I came across a list of colloquial name for these flowers in  - 'Food for Free' by Richard Mabey, please take time to read these!!!!
'Bum_Pipe', Burning Fire', 'Clocks', 'Clock Flower', 'Clocks and Watches', 'Combs and Hairpins', 'Conquer More', 'Devils Milk-Plant', 'Devils Milk-Pail', 'Dog-Posy', 'Fairy Clocks', 'Farmer's Clocks', 'Golden Suns, 'Horse Gowan', 'Irish Daisy' 'Lay A-Bed', 'Lion's Teeth' 'Male', 'Mess-A-Bed', 'Pishamoolag', Piss-A-Bed', Pissimire', 'Pittle Bed', 'Priest's Crown', 'Schoolboy's Clock', 'Shepherds Clock', 'Shit-A-Bed', 'Stink Davine', Swine's Snout', 'Tell-Time', 'Time Flower', 'Time-Teller', 'Twelve O'Clock', 'Wet-Weed', 'Wishes'.
It goes without saying that some I like more than others and I was in two minds whether I should include all of them or not!
Apart from feeding the rabbits, dandelions have other uses which may one day come in handy to know.
You can collect the flower heads to make a dandelion wine. Apparently you only need 2 litres of flower heads; a gallon of water; a Campden tablet ( whatever one of those is); 4 oranges; 3lb of sugar; 1 teaspoon of wine yeast and 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient.
You can also collect the leaves for inclusion in a salad although you should be warned that it is also a mild diuretic!
So for the time being I am happy to enjoy it for it's beauty and enjoy walking down dandelion lined lanes such as these:-

It won't be long before all this yellow turns to white fluffy fairy clocks instead - and that will be another post but for now here is just a taster of what is to follow.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Brown End Quarry

This was my first visit to Brown End Quarry
A fascinating little Staffordshire Wildlife Trust reserve, providing lots of interest, as it not only is a quiet little haven for wildlife it also holds a lot of geological interest too.
All of this used to be the floor of a warm tropical sea.
Brown End Quarry

Brown End Quarry

If you look closely at the rock fall you can see fossils 

There is even a pile of stones you can go fossil hunting in, next time we need to take a geological hammer with us. But we did come across some evidence of shell like fossils...


This is a great place to visit and just sit, enjoying the tranquil surroundings

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Can't see the flowers for all the grass!

After catching a glimpse of a white flower on the common I had to go and investigate at the weekend. I am so pleased I did. The Common has all of a sudden burst into flower but most of it is hidden away so you need to look really hard to find the gems out there.
So here are a few of the hidden flower jewels, I found!
Marsh Marigold



Field Woodrush

Ladies Smock

Monday, 11 April 2011

Another hidden gem!

I really enjoy the walk out of Gnosall towards Newport along the disused railway line, especially during the spring with so much to see. Yesterday it was magical, it was hot and sunny, not a cloud in the sky and the tree line track provided a welcome shade at times.

There were so many butterflies flying around although they are strong fliers at this time of year and they weren't interested in resting on any of the vegetation, so we didn't manage to get a good look at any of them but I can tell you that we saw Speckled Wood , Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Green Veined White butterflies. We also saw a pair of blackcaps and chiffchaff, and there were robins flying in in and out of the hedges all the way.

The spring flowers looked magnificent we had Primroses, violets, bluebells, wood anemone and wood sorrel,

And in the hedges the blackthorn was out in it's full glory and the pussy willow looked stunning too

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

and all of a sudden our country lanes are full of colour again!

Even though it was a grey dull day, my spirits couldn't fail to be lifted walking along our lane today, with the sound of distant curlew warbling and a wren singing for all it's might on the top of the hawthorn hedge, such a big song for such a tiny bird!
Take a closer look at the hedge and the verge and glimpses of colour catch your eye. whites and yellows and a very well hidden patch of blue.





white dead nettle


ground ivy