Blackthorn?

Flowers from a bush in our garden, tentatively matched in the Spring 2021 issue of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Magazine, page 13 in the Nature Spy section.

It says ‘Blackthorn is one of the first native shrubs to burst into flower around mid-Marsh.’ (I think it means March) ‘Its fluffy white flowers, tinged with pink, provide vital nectar for the first of the years butterflies, bees and flies. See how many different insects you can spot feeding on the blooms.’

Geese

On Westport lake yesterday. The water was as still as a millpond one minute, then blustery gusts of wind rippled the surface and blurred the reflections.

Seeing a row of geese standing on one leg was an amusing picture. The water was very shallow at the edge, but these are old pit workings I think and there are deep sections. People have drowned in them two lakes, caught up in the weeds that spread inwards from the sides. This is more of a nature reserve than a leasure area and now it is being run by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust you can see how much it has improved. The one fly in the ointment is that the local council is thinking of introducing parking charges. There is a petition against this. A lot of people using the site don’t have the means to pay high prices, and it would probably impact on the cafe when it reopens.. I signed the petition against it…

Westport today

A cold sunny day until the breeze blew clouds across the landscape. Ducks, geese, pigeons, moorhens and swans looking out for food, so we got two bags full to grain to feed them. I thought we would just go round the small lake which is a quarter of a mile, but instead we did the mile walk round the large lake. We’ll it was more of a slow dawdle. My hip is not right yet after pulling a muscle, but we did extend the walk into the maze that Staffordshire wildlife Trust have made on the area of hedging at the far end of the lake. The paths were muddy and difficult to get out of when we tried to regain the main path.

When the sun went behind the clouds it made a fantastic and dramatic picture. I took numerous pictures of the birds and trees and landscape around the lake. I feel much better for the walk, though I was very chilly when we finished. I need to be able to walk much further than this, but it’s a start.

July at Westport lake.

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It’s good to look back at old drawings as the days grow colder and shorter. Remembering warmth and colour, the view from the cafe there, then a gentle walk round the lake. Watching the place mature over the years, the trees have grown up so tall. Now Staffordshire wildlife have taken over running the site there has been a programme instigated to improve the area and make it more wildlife friendly. I saw four cormorants perched on a man made island there a couple of months ago. I thought these birds were costal, but maybe they are coming inland like gulls.

Must visit again in the near future, maybe if it snows…. Then I can re draw this scene…

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Wild fowl

We just went for a walk round the small lake at Westport and decided to feed the birds. Mostly pigeon and Canada geese with a mix of a few others and some swans and ducks. I fed the pigeons by putting the food on the top of a fence. Once they were confident I tried holding the food out in my hand and they pecked the food while standing on the fence, finally they all took turns standing on my hand and pecking the food out of it. I only did it because I knew I could wash my hands afterwards.

The management of the lakes are now with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the whole place looks more managed but wild if you see what I mean. Colourful poppies and other wildflowers surround the visitors centre. Drifts of nettles feed butterflies. I saw an electric blue damsel fly skittering about them. I also saw a peacock butterfly and a cabbage white.

We were sitting up on the balcony at the visitor centre when we saw a large carp in the lake. It’s pale colour meant it was visible from above. Looking at its size compared with some terns sitting on a piece of wood in the lake it must have been about 18 inches long.

An enjoyable afternoon.

Katkins in the sun

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A warm evening in March, out at Westport lake. One of my favourite places for a walk. Over the last few years the trees have grown and the management of the lake has been taken over by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The sun reflects off the water and ripples from the swimming birds make it sparkle. The lake was artificially created from the remains of a marl pit (where they dug out the clay for potteries) and old mine workings. It was created for wildlife in the 1980s I think when Shelton Bar Steel works closed ?

Life spreads and grows. Greenery overtakes the tallest buildings, ivy scrambles, buddlea infiltrates. And beauty comes from waste and destruction.

I promised myself I would paint.

Today I started a painting for the first time in months. I saw an image by photographer David Tipling of a Barn Owl from a Staffordshire Wildlife Trust bookmark and just had to paint it.

Why the owl? The photographer has captured it in flight beautifully  The sinuous curve of its wings seems to scythe through the air. Its face is both impassive and intent.

I hope the photographer does not mind me painting his image.

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