We were lucky with the weather, bright sunshine although breezy for most of the day. The Moat is a local nature reserve adjacent to a church with an amazing gothic style tower in the centre of Shawbury. The moat used to surround a medieval manor house and was a domestic, rather than a military, installation.
Our first sighting was of a male brimstone, which boded well for the day. It was only 10:30 and the butterflies were already flying.
As we clambered down the bank of the old moat we were pleased to see English bluebells with their narrow one-sided bells drooping downwards. On returning to the circular path an anxious local stopped to chat. She wondered what we were doing and was pleased when we explained we were recording the flora and fauna of the site. It’s good to know that local people are taking an interest in their local wildlife patch.
A male and two female blackcaps spent the morning serenading us, flitting from tree to tree, obviously pleased that spring weather was here at last.
On the banks meadow foxtail was very prevalent with occasional clumps of Yorkshire fog. Also in abundance were green alkanet, a garden escapee, and garden daffodils. Together with lesser celandine and ground ivy the grassy banks were colourful. Down near the waters edge was wild garlic and common comfrey
A few sightings during the morning kept us recording but we were not inundated, just steady. A micro moth, Stigmela aurela, was identified plus a 10 spot ladybird. There were many sightings of orange tips and of a small white butterfly, with a large white recorded just before lunch. A common carder bee was spotted along with cream spot ladybird.
Near the pool area were wavy bittercress, yellow iris, creeping buttercups and slender speedwell. Small clumps of cuckoo flower, lords and ladies and wood anemone were found and a common froglet leapt in the long grass.
We spent lunchtime sitting on a sunny bench, looking across the rough meadow with a pathway winding around it and imagining what it must have been like before the trees were felled. We had seen a variety of trees in the morning, including oak, elder, beech, silver birch, holly and hawthorn.
As we looked across the meadow we saw a stand of tall, grey barked trees and on closer examination saw the lines of diamond shaped pits on the bark. The trees proved to be grey poplar, a hybrid between aspen and white poplar. These are commonly planted as wind breaks as they sucker freely and form thickets.
The sun continued and we paused by an old felled tree to examine the bark beetle galleries. In so doing, we disturbed a tiny 22 spot ladybird and I then spent time photographing an impressive oak tree. Nearby was a bench with a hyacinth in full bloom peeping from beneath it, not what you would expect to see.
Small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies were spotted on our walk back towards the car park, along with large groups of marsh marigolds in the water logged sections of the field. Then we bagged a dock bug, our last find of the day, which concluded with us admiring the impressive doorway and gargoyles of the church.
A very pleasant day spent at Shawbury Moat in the spring sunshine.