May 22nd – It’s always great to see the flag irises out along the canal banks for another season – such dramatic, beautiful yellow flowers that add real colour to urban and rural landscapes alike.
Only one snag: They really aggravate my hay fever. Looks like I’ll be sneezing my way along the canals for a wile then… but a price so worth paying.
May 11th – A dull day without much to commend it, and a rather nagging wind. Coming back through Brownhills along the canal in the evening, I noticed in the very beginnings of a rain shower that the canal was developing one of it’s periodic organic scums – this time it looks like a mixture of willow fluff and may blossom petals.
This comes also at a time when many junctions, bends and winding holes are also covered with floating, dead reed stakes and leaves, making the canal as a whole look pretty untidy.
It’s nothing to worry about though; such detritus will disappear as quickly as it came, as it does every year. It’s just curious while it lasts
July 16th – This curious flower was found in the reed bed at the edge of the canal at Newtown, near the Castings factory. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and it seemed to exist in isolation.
It turns out it’s a common reed: branched bur-reed, and the flowers – little spiky gloves about the diameter of your fingernail – are remarkable. It’s an apparently common canal plant, so I must have seen loads of it and never realised.
I really should open my eyes more!
July 14th – Also spotted in suburban Walsall – Bentley Bridge to be precise – momma mallard standing guard over her two duckings on a simple reed nest. It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and I can’t think of a better spot for a little siesta.
She looks so proud.
April 13th – An odd thing on the local canals – lots of reed debris all of a sudden. Not sure if this is natural detritus as part of spring, or the result on thinning redheads for boats.
Anyone know? Lots of it around Brownhills, Catshilll Junction and Clayhanger.
August 20th – Much as I hate the current fad for obsessively mowing the canal towpaths, I quite like that they seem to be leaving the reed beds alone for now (although I don’t doubt they’ll be next).
Here near the Pelsall Road in Brownhills, they are little oases of disparate species, havens for insects and other wildlife.
And they just look really, really good.
Do we have to keep cutting everything back? Put the mowers away!
July 25th – I headed to the supermarket in Aldridge late, and a golden hour had set in early. Riding along the canal at the back of the old Duckhams factory, I noticed several patched of these beautiful crimson flowers in the reed-beds.
I’ve not seen them before, and can’t find them in my (admittedly poor) wildflower guide. I’m assuming they’re a garden pond escapee.
Any ideas, please?