old country lawn

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Walking on the Wild Side

Good weather for last Sunday's Wild Plant Walk, (attended by a small but enthusiastic group), when Gerald Dawe discoursed expertly and amusingly on the habits and history of our wild plants. We found many plants which were indicators of ancient woodland, and of course the rare 'Goldilocks' and 'Town Hall Clock' and also 'Pignut'. Even an insignificant short grass or patch of moss is interesting when you look at it closely and consider its staggeringly long history. Since then the weather has remained cold and wet and this morning I was amazed by the sight of a Spotted Flycatcher on the bird table choking down the tit food! We have several pairs of these lovely little birds here this summer, haunting the old buildings and the orchards in their quest for insects. Clearly they are having a hard time this season. The apple blossom itself is very late, and a number of fruit trees look ill, I think the very wet winters have done them no good. Worse still, last week, in the gales, I heard a terrible rending sound and went outside to discover a huge oak tree, apparently healthy and in leaf, had wrenched itself out of the ground and lay across the farm track, fortunately damaging little and hurting nobody! Looking at the roots, we could see they had become rotten, and I speculate that might have happened from compaction around the roots as in the 50's and 60's heavy lorries passed along that track every day to and from the gravel pits. The trunk is huge, an awe-inspiring sight, and sorting it out will be an interesting exercise for Will!
The next Farm Walk will be led by Peter Garner, who has 'naturalised' in these parts for many years, and is entitled 'An Evening Nature Walk', on Thursday, July 4th, at 7pm, with refreshments at the end. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing what Peter has to say about the various habitats to be found here and their importance for certain species.

Monday, 13 May 2013

From Frogs to Flowers in a few short hops!

Nigel Hand's Pond Walk here attracted a good number of people, all keenly interested in how to make and manage ponds for wildlife. We took in three ponds of different types on the farm, some of which need to be given more light, or to have some of their sludge cleared out, so there's more vegetation for the newts. Nigel had kindly brought a good selection of creep-crawlies to aid identification. We also heard some Blackcaps singing well and a lesser-Spot Woodpecker drumming away.
Next event is on Sunday May 26th at 2.30 pm, when Gerald Dawe will lead a walk looking at the botany of the farm. Gerald, who lectures on the subject at Malvern Hills College has led a walk here last year and I know the walk will be both informative and amusing. Home-made cake and coffee/tea will be supplied.