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  1. Nature Reserve Update, Autumn 2018

    October 22, 2018 by Ant

    Our nature reserve is becoming successful with visitors and Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire taking a great part.
    Moth trapping records are rising, 25 species of butterflies have been recorded & grass snakes have returned (breeding in the unusual warm October weather – it’s been over 50 years since they were last here!).
    Our ponds are doing well, in spite of climate change with the hottest summer for many, many years. We have common newts, toads, frogs, many water beetles (some experts are coming next year to record them also our many different species of Damsel and Dragonfly). Biologists are also recording our diverse range of trees, shrubs and wild flowers.

    Hawkmoths: from left of picture…..Poplar Hawkmoth, 2 x Privet Hawkmoths, Lime Hawkmoth, & the Elephant Hawkmoth (the pink one!)


    My acrylic painting of Dave on poppy embankment 2018.

  2. Nature Reserve Update

    February 7, 2016 by Ant

    Throughout October/November 2015 volunteers from the Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire worked on tree felling on two areas of the South facing embankments.  This was a very demanding job which will ultimately produce a wonderful area for wildlife – particularly for the Chalk Hill Blue and Adonis Blue butterfly which were once seen here.  We are all working towards this by sowing Horseshoe Vetch and Kidney Vetch plus other plants that will encourage them.

    Volunteers, October 2015 East view after clearance

    In December 2015 three ponds were excavated on the Eastern side of the Railway Reserve.  These will complete the reserve enabling us to record so many other species such as Dragon Fly, Damsel Fly etc.

    2016 looks to be a very exciting year as we watch the Reserve develop.

    More trees, some of which were kindly supplied by the Woodland Trust, are being planted. Tree species will include Oak, Maple, Grey Willow, Goat Willow, Hawthorn and Wild Cherry. David is also planting various types of hedging and sowing more flower and grass seeds.

  3. Shakespeare’s 400th Birthday!

    by Ant

    The 21st April 2016 is the 400th year of William Shakespeare`s death.

    Stratford-upon-Avon is celebrating the bards life throughout the year  – the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Theater will be putting on special events (see www.shakespeare.org.uk  for details).

    Visitors will also be able to witness outdoor events on the Bankcroft Gardens, the Birthplace in Henley Street and throughout the town.

  4. The Railway Becomes a Nature Reserve!

    February 18, 2015 by Ant

    Firstly, during July 2014 my cousin and husband came down from Scotland and put their Lepidoptery skills to use. During our 3 night mothing experience we found a nationally rare moth called Waved Black – this was amazing news for us.

    Late Autumn, Lepidopterist David C.G. Brown, author of `Larger Moths of Warwickshire` and a representative of Warwickshire Wildlife, came to inspect our wildlife corridor. He was suitably impressed and organised the Warwickshire Annual Moth Count here in July this year. He suggested we name our Nature Reserve!

    So, we are now the proud owners of `The SMJ Nature Reserve` Cranhill! SMJ stands for the Stratford Midland Junction – the name of the railway line that used to run here. The last train to use the track ran in July 1965 – and we were there to see it!

    This April, ‘Warwickshire Wildlife’ butterfly expert Mike Slater is coming to inspect our flora and fauna and will hopefully be giving us some conservation advice too.

  5. September 2012 Update

    September 13, 2012 by Ant
    The flat has given many new visitors (and returning ones) a comfortable place to stay. In my attempts to give 4 star quality, the linen I use on the beds is now best quality 500 `Supima` cotton –  delightfully comfortable to sleep in.
    However, Little Haven garden has suffered with the weather as has most other gardens. We are now cutting down high hedges to give more light to areas which have seen two years of neglect! Our poor rose garden is one of those areas. 2013 should see a large improvement!

  6. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 2012

    by Ant
    The downturn in the world economies have not deterred the theatre enthusiasts from attending the 2012 celebrations of the Bard’s plays. We have seen ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Much Ado’ this year so far. ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was colourful, vibrant and noisy giving the atmosphere of India. An Indian cast –  Wonderful stuff!

  7. Dwindling Bees – Abundant Butterflies!

    by Ant

    The last year has been a very difficult one, with heavy rain and other projects, (not of our making) delaying planting of the perennials etc., Now we have the results we have been waiting for these last 2 years. Butterflies – in abundance! We have seen all the varieties listed below – a bumper year!

    Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Comma, Peacock, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Brimstone, Large White and Large Skipper.

    The photo below shows Peacock butterflies on the buddleia and meadow flower…

    Bees have had a hard time and the continuing drop in numbers (so few we could have counted them this year!) continues to concern us.
    Even numbers of our solitary miner bees have dropped to a dozen or so.

  8. Our first planting of our ‘wild flower meadow’

    July 7, 2011 by Ant

    Growing wild flowers on an old railway line you may think would be easy. It is not! David has removed tons of ballast, (read more…)

  9. Planting Wild Flower Seeds.

    May 11, 2011 by Jean

    Owing to this being the driest spring period since 1910, seed- sowing has, until now, been unthinkable!   However, after a very labour intensive time for David, levelling & weeding (I know that sounds rather counter productive but certain weeds are perennials which can become a nuisance) he has sown annual seeds such as :- Corn  Marigold, Corn Poppy, Corncockle, Cornflower,Corn Chamomile mixed with annual cereals Bearded wheat and Barley.  We may sow Perennials  in the Autumn

  10. Re-opening of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

    December 8, 2010 by Ant

    Stratford has seen the re- opening of its World Class, Royal Shakespeare Theatre in November 2010.  A truly wonderful experience, creating  a memorable tribute to the plays of William Shakespeare.  For all enquiries go to our info page and look into `Other Info` for rsc.org.