Tuesday, 18 October 2016

My Gloucestershire Holiday (Part 1)

Westonbirt Arboretum
This week, I have moved from east to west of England to the counties of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. I am on holiday with my parents, but my holiday is more about visiting family rather than for bird watching. Both my brothers have moved out to this region recently with one in each of these two counties and for the last two days, it was about spending time with them. Day 3 was a bit different, however, as my parents and I decided to visit Westonbirt Arboretum. It was a great time to visit this large collection of trees as the autumn colours have started to look their best. And with 15,000 trees and shrubs of 2,500 species from around the world (including native species) growing at the arboretum, we were in for a treat.

Autumn colours


Japanese Maple

The colours were absolutely fantastic with a display of greens, yellows, oranges and bright shades of red. Perhaps the most vibrant of all the trees here were the Japanese maples. There were many species of them at the arboretum and the leaves vary in many intricate shapes and the colours they produced felt as if I was looking at the ever changing flickering flames of a fire. An absolute delight for the eyes.
More autumn colours

A tree with lots of berries on it

Sweet Chestnut
I am also delighted to see the leaves of sweet chestnut and ash in autumn colour without too many leaves riddled with disease. Back in Norfolk, the leaves of sweet chestnuts are swivelled up and brown after a summer plagued by the caterpillars of leaf miner moths. Luckily, it doesn't kill them and the tree grows new leaves the following spring, but they are still not very attractive to look at in the autumn. As for ash trees, the deadly ash dieback disease has been killing thousands of these trees across the UK and it has apparently only recently reached this part of England. So for now, it is great to see both species in splendid colour again before the diseases fully take hold of them here.

Pied Wagtail

As well as trees, there were also birds here too. We went inside the only hide on the site, but to be honest, I was not that impressed with it. The hide was dark inside and the sun shone on the glass windows, making it very reflective and difficult to see the birds on the feeders outside. Despite the problems, I did manage to see a few greenfinches and goldfinches as well as a nuthatch and a marsh tit. After visiting the hide, we had another walk, this time on the other side of the arboretum seeing even more species of trees. It was a great day out.

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