I’ve been in gentle exploration mode today – with the emphasis on stopping to look at things rather than clambering over stuff and moving quickly.
Although I’d originally planned a return trip to Ilmington Downs today (original visit here) for some hill based cardio exercise I’m still being troubled by some stubborn blisters on my left foot from over two weeks ago – and despite having a day here or there where I do a bit less to promote healing (and using some fancy plasters) they don’t seem to be shifting easily. Annoyingly others appear to be joining the party – which isn’t really helped by me buying some 2nd hand walking boots from eBay.
These are not the cause of my current blisters – but I need to wear them and get used to them at a time when my feet don’t want to be in boots at all.
Tread wise they seem hardly used – and the soles are very comfy – however the left foot appears to have part of the inner membrane above the toes slightly twisted, making the boot feel a little cramped compared to the right one. They were 1/3 of the cost of the same pair new though, so I guess beggars can’t be choosers!
On the plus side the leather is supple enough for them to not require much ‘breaking in’ and so far they seem to be quite servicable. They need to be. I have big plans for them in the near future. So – in order to minimise any further poking of the ‘blister bear’ (blister bear doesn’t like being poked) today my companion and I went for a leisurely stroll at yet another place I’ve not been to before.
Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve and the nearby Brandon Woods.
I’m beginning to wonder just how many locations there are like this that I’ve never been to. I’ve been exploring my local area for a while now and Warwickshire appears to continually throw up new (to me at least) and cool little spaces full of life and interest.
The nature reserve is one of those places however where teeny tiny bits of wildlife are completely missable if you don’t take the time to stop and look.
Take this little guy for instance. He’s about 1cm across and is teeny tiny.
I only just avoided stepping on him as he hopped across the path in front of me.
Shortly after meeting him we stopped at one of the hides along the way – and looked for a while at all of the serene water birds just going about their business. There’s a pretty varied bunch here – and it’s really calming just watching swans and other birds float past your seat.
After sitting just tantalisingly out of reach for a while (I need a longer zoom lens!!!) from the really interesting species we moved on and it was here that I started to pay close attention to all of the insect life – which is legion around here.
Although the flowers are currently well past their prime it’s not stopping the smaller residents enjoying the bounties they have to offer. A really varied selection of bees (the reserve also sells its own honey and candles) were all buzzing around busily collecting pollen and carrying it from place to place, making sure the delicate order of things is maintained.
Maybe because it was pretty humid and moist today it was easy to get a sense that this place wasn’t just about conservation – but also about procreation. As with the little swanling above there was evidence everywhere that this was a place where gettin’ jiggy with it was the way forward.
It’s a good thing these guys aren’t shy.
I got a ringside seat.
They weren’t the only ones taking time to enjoy the steamy conditions – there were many others nearby – and although the sun wasn’t shining brightly it seemed to bother none of them. They were all lost in their day jobs – which appeared to either be making whoopee, eating as much as they could before the seasons changed – or before their short life spans ended.
After we’d spent a little while walking around the reserve we were back at the gift shop and decided that a stroll around the nearby Brandon Woods would be a nice way to round off the day.
I have to say I couldn’t have agreed more. The words ‘moist’ and ‘woodland’ always seem to go well together – particularly if paths are well maintained – and in this case they were. Lots of eager people were busy re-barking the trails and trimming back the brambles that were encroaching a little too far.
Although small this little piece of woodland is clearly loved by people nearby – and I can understand why. It’s supremely peaceful.
By the time we’d returned to the reserve there was a definite need for coffee (isn’t there always?) and thankfully they had a really nice little cafe.
Initially I was confused. Normally there’s an unspoken table etiquette where you leave (if possible) a distance between you and the person at the next table – however in this cafe everyone was sitting close to each other, by the window. It was then I realised that the ground outside was teeming with bullfinches, sparrows, robins, blue tits, blackbirds, and chaffinches.
There were loads of bird feeders full of nuts, seeds and fat and the little guys were loving it!
This pretty much ruined any conversation we were having – as half way through a sentence both of us kept tailing off with ‘Oooh look at that!!!… Oh it’s gone!’ again and again.
Shortly after trying (and failing in most cases) to make conversation and take photos through cafe windows we moved on, headed for the car and then home.
However – sometimes it’s at the most unexpected moments when you see the nicest things, and just as we were driving out to the main road my companion noticed a slowly moving (I think it had a limp) but very beautiful pheasant. I stopped to let it cross the road – wound down the windows and quietly grabbed a couple of snaps as it passed by me and into the nearby reed beds.
This site apparently used to be a quarry – and it’s very heartening indeed to see something that used to be an industrial hole in the ground returned to something that holds so much life and diversity.
Overall a leisurely 6(ish) miles of strolling yielded some of the most pleasant views of wildlife that I’ve seen in a while!
Stop and look at the flowers internet – you never know what you’ll see – and watch out for teeny tiny froggies!