Monday, 29 August 2011

Castern Wood

Our August Bank Holiday Monday was spent at Castern Wood  It certainly isn't one of the easiest  Staffordshire Wildlife Trusts reserves to find but it is well worth a visit!
Having driven down a very muddy, narrow lane we then opened a field gate and drove along the side of the field following a rough track to the reserve.

Despite the rain the Manifold Valley still looked magnificent from up here!

 But of course we can't just enjoy the views we need to explore the reserve, so we needed to make our way down there too!
pausing at times to enjoy the flowers.
Unfortunately the weather wasn't great for butterflies today, but normally this is a great place to watch them fluttering around too!

 We eventually came to the path leading to the lower part of the reserve.

 And near to the valley floor was this adit to an old lead mine known as Hurts Deep Level,  nowadays this a bat cave, home to five species of bat: Natterer's, Daubenton, Brant's, Brown long-eared and whiskered

Bat cave
 So once at the valley floor we needed to make the ascent, camera away, How fit am I? Not very!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Barkbooth Lot

What an absolute delight Barkbooth Lot nature reserve is. It was only a hop, skip and jump away from where we were staying in Cumbria last week, I would have been happy walking around the reserve for the whole week, but two visits in one day had to suffice!
Our morning visit was spent mainly concentrating on the search for High Brown Fritillary butterflies, a butterfly I had never seen before, we didn't actually have to search that hard though, the first butterfly spotted was a Meadow Brown, and as we get those in my Staffordshire garden, I wasn't that impressed, but then oh joys - what was that, yes there it was in it's full glory, so I quickly got the camera and focused on it, but alas I decided I wasn't close enough, I very slowly and carefully moved nearer... the butterfly flew off! so I watched it eagle eyed waiting for it to land again and I then followed, camera at the ready, again I tried to get close and again it flew off! I blamed the dog and told my husband to keep her with him, so for about half an hour daughter, husband (with dog) and I were spaced out along the path through the bracken waiting for a sunny interval, so we could see another one fluttering around and then settling and then I would gingerly approach, but every time the butterfly would fly off and I remained photo less, getting more and more frustrated!!!! 

this was as good as it got for the time being.

I did manage to get close enough to a common blue and small copper butterfly though- so some form of compensation.

Eventually I gave up with playing this standing around and waiting game, after all we could still see the gate where we had entered the reserve, and so much still remained hidden out of our view, so I continued along the path to see what else there was to see! I had seen plenty of High Brown Fritillaries by this time, they were stunning butterflies and I decided I would just enjoy watching them!
Having followed the path down through a small glade it opened out onto a lower sheltered meadow area  with bracken and other vegetation, at the same time the sun came out and with the sun out came the High Browns, and at last I got my photos!

Returning triumphant, I found the rest of my family, and declared I wanted to take some photos of the damselflies I had also seen flitting around the fell land vegetation, so I was then taken to a small tarn which they had discovered while I had been on my Fritillary mission. There were several damselflies resting in the vegetation and I set to looking for them.

Then the sun came out, WOW!!!!!! It was an explosion of colours I have never ever seen so many dragonflies and damselflies flitting around at the same time, they were just everywhere you looked and moving so fast, how on earth were you supposed to photograph these!!!!

So I just pointed my camera and clicked.
... and then it happened this common hawker flew past me and my camera for a split second focused on it and I clicked!

Our return visit in the afternoon started with a stroll around the woodland

before returning to the fell for one last look at the tarns, the dragonfly activity had calmed down a lot since the morning visit but it was still fantastic to watch!

Just an amazing place!!!!