Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tomlow (prospecting)

Monday was forecast to be grey and cold so obviously not a butterflying day. As we are now moored in a new spot Buddy and I used our walks to find locations that were likely to be good for butterflies.  Our first walk took us up to Stockton where we found a disused railway line.  This looks a perfect spot to revisit during the week when the sun is out.  The steep banks provide a microclimate on the old railway bed.  Buddy thought it was pretty good too!

Perfect spot for butterflying and running round puddles!

The area we are in is well known for its deposits of blue lias – a bluey grey clayey limestone.  This is why the water in the canal pictures tends to be blue lately.  This is an old blue lias quarry…

Blue lias limestone quarry now full of water

…and this is the spoil heap which may also be a good area for butterflies.

Spoil heap from an old limestone quarry

Many fossilised dinosaur skeletons have been found in the quarries; the most famous was an ichthyosaur found in 1898 which is one of the most complete specimens ever found and is now in the Natural History museum in London.  A drawing of it can also be seen on the traffic signs announcing the village of Stockton.

Icthyosaur on the village sign

Later on we came across Nelson's Wharf which is currently being renovated.  This arm used to lead to a limestone works which was demolished in the 1960s.  Apparently the army used the opportunity to train their demolition engineers.  Boats used to bring coal into the works up the arm and carry cement out.  Willow Wren boat training are now based where the arm joins the Grand Union and several of our friends have taken their helmsman courses there.

The restoration of Nelson's Wharf

The renovation is being carried out under the eye of the Warwickshire branch of Butterfly Conservation, amongst others, and they have erected tis helpful board to help the uninitiated identify butterflies on the site.

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