Friday, 28 September 2012

Bats at Dunster Castle

While I'm on the subject of bats at the moment, I thought I'd dig out one of my (our) old clips of bats at Dunster Castle. But a handful of years ago, we were caught in the spotlight whilst working at Dunster Castle, a National Trust property in West Somerset.
Lesser Horseshoe bats had taken up residency, and were the subject of much attention, especially after the fitting of an infra-red camera that caught excellent footage of a mother bat helping her pup to spread its wings in practise. Dunster has subsequently produced a brilliant bat focused area in the crypt at the castle, with an excellent interactive interpretation area. It was great to visit recently and we were really impressed with the team achievement.
It was great to be there at the outset, and we enjoyed many fascinating bat evenings walking down through the lushly planted garden terraces and river garden, when we were guaranteed sightings of bats in the fair weather months - which was most of the year to be honest! I thought I'd grimace a little in order to take a quick breeze down memory lane and add a little to the exposure of Dunster's amazing bats - do visit if you get the chance!
The link to the clip shows the humble if effective origins of the bat story at Dunster, and whilst I still cringe to see footage of me in particular, it is good to see how far Dunster has progressed with its bat interpretation since then, and it's also nice to see my good lady too, who tells it like it is (with a big National Trust SMILE of course!!)

Even better coverage of Dunster Castle's bats on the NT Webpage.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Bats at Compton Verney

A short clip recorded during a busy night at Compton Verney in September 2012. A survey trying to record Nathusius' Pipistrelle, which might have been present in the area. Pipistrelles were flying all evening, and Daubentons cruised effortlessly above the lake, but we await the full analysis of the recordings to see if the Nathusius was around.
Just over a week later, on the repeat survey, a Lesser Horseshoe flapped past whilst we paused in a dense part of the lakeside shrubbery.
Short Youtube Video with Pipistrelle bats just visible. Click Here!
Bats currently known to visit Compton Verney:


Monday, 24 September 2012

Rousham Park and Garden

Rousham has been on my garden visiting agenda for some while but recently, having focused on the garden for a study assignment, it suddenly rose up the rankings. I finally managed the visit on a warm September Saturday, but whilst the early arrival made for a peaceful garden walk, the glaring September sunshine made photography something of a challenge - please forgive the heavily edited pictures.
Rousham Park House and Garden more than lived up to expectation. I had a fascinating and engaging visit, and for much of the time there was but a handful of other guests around. The arrival was something of an oddity, as no visitor centre, shop or cafĂ© existed; just a ticket machine to cover garden entry. The efficiency of the robot like visitor welcome didn’t quite make up for the lack of a human contact, but it was quick, and the more I thought on this simplified welcome, the more I warmed to it.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Berry Bite - Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose, or Viburnum opulus to some of us, is shining its bright red berries just now and lifting an otherwise plain shrubbery in the process. We’ve a number of these shrubs around five to seven years old, which are establishing nicely within a woodland garden setting historically known as the Ice House Coppice, at Compton Verney, Warwickshire.
Although relatively new in its restoration, the coppice offers many hollows between mature Oak and Yew trees, where the Guelder rose plants are growing and merging together slowly, along with Laurustinus, PortugalLaurel, and a sprinkling of other shrubs. The plantings are all in an effort to recreate something of the atmosphere that once would have permeated throughout this stunning 18th century landscape garden, and also

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Plane Tree - Summer 2012

It has been a while since my last Tree Following/London Plane Update, June to be precise, but finally I've knuckled down to update those interested as to the progress of 'my' Plane tree over the season. In the process of preparing for this post, I've also stumbled across another Plane Tree Follower, and along with links to my updates during this season, I'll also post a link to his very informative 'Experiments with Plants' blog. Furthermore, don't forget to also visit the Loose and Leafy Blog if you'd like to get involved with tree following - it's never too late!
 I’m only going to mention the ‘weather’ word once, but suffice to say that it’s having a very unusual effect on our plants. At least (in opposition to last year) there's been plenty of moisture to go around and keep things green! Plants have survived, as they do, but the knock-on effect has been varied, with some tree species near me being slower to come into leaf earlier in the year and other plants growing very lush and green – the ‘wild’ lawn areas in particular have grown tall, plants having been flattened by the rain only to grow tall again – I’m not sure how you’ve found it near you?
I’ve been ‘following’ a London Plane at Compton Verney, Warwickshire, to track its growth and progress during a full season. The growing year started quite slowly due to the start stop start stop nature of the climate, and, as trees do, the Plane seemed to hold back somewhat until calmer conditions arrived. As the season got going however, the fluctuating temperatures, light and moisture levels made for a slightly scruffy canopy to the tree, with browning leaves refusing to drop from amongst the otherwise vivid green foliage. As with all seasons, plants will do their thing, and a few brown leaves here and there only add to the story. The tree otherwise sports its full crown, and looks majestic in its beautiful setting. 
As far as ‘following’ my tree this year is concerned, the general busy nature of the season has ensured I too often pass my London Plane, giving it little attention but to check for any damaged branches. Tardy I know, but there's so much landscape that surrounds the tree that it’s difficult to breathe it all in sometimes! In the main, the tree continues to nestle perfectly in a corner between the main approach, an ornamental bridge, and lake. Its branches dip down on one side to touch the water, and cause a timely break in the view as new arrivals travel along the approach to the mansion.
My eye for London Plane trees has become sharply tuned now, and I seem to be spotting them most everywhere I go these days. I guess they are widely planted in urban settings due to their tolerance to almost everything a city can throw at them, and also in parks due to their size and elegance, but either way - they are everywhere! I've added a few images at the bottom of this post of a few I have managed to snap whilst out and about, but if you're a London Plane Lover and would like to share your images, do get in touch and I'd be happy to add them to a future post.
 Well that brings this little Plane update almost to a close. The weather over the coming weeks will challenge the tree, so it will be interesting to see how it copes. I'll keep a close eye on how things go, and will be sure to record its progress photographically. Don't forget to get in touch if you've clicked any nice London Plane trees during your travels, I'd love to see and share them!
My previous Plane Tree Posts:
February 2012 Tree Follower.
March 2012 Tree Follower - Plane Update.
April 2012 Plane Tree on the Move.
May 2012 Plane Tree is Go!
June 2012 Plane Trees in London.

Experiments with Plants Blog. b-a-g, London.
Loose and Leafy/Tree Following Blog. Lucy Corrander links to many Tree Followers.