Nature Notes Nature Notes 2011

May 2011

The April showers never really showed up, but April Flowers certainly did! I cannot recall a better show of spring flowers than we have in progress even as I write. Drifts of snowdrops gave way to hedgerows filled with primroses and shy nodding violets which were eventually complemented by woodlands full to overflowing with blue bells and through it all, the ever reliable campion plodded away, gaining ground and profile as more and more flowers appeared on over wintering plants. The umbelliferae are well represented with alexanders, cow parsley, sweet cicely, chervil and all showing to great advantage, so really the best thing I can say is to get out there and see it for yourselves!

We are truly blessed when it comes to wild flowers on the Roseland, but even so we were very excited over Easter to spot not one but two groups of orchid growing away in a field not a million miles from our house. The first orchid we spotted was a grand plant some 18 inches tall with several good sized flower spikes, but luckily it was set back from the path.

Further on we saw maybe 15 more pyramidal orchids growing well across maybe 50 square yards of field. Sadly they were strung out along the side of the path and when we went that way again yesterday not one of them was left! I was so disappointed! Now those flowers will not grow and develop seed and so there is now a gap in the growth cycle of a rare and wonderful plant.

No, actually I wasn’t so much disappointed as livid! How selfish! How unthinking! How stupid! And what’s more- how illegal! Wildlife is not protected for its own sake- it is actually protected for our sake! Remember the old saw about “for the want of a nail a shoe was lost, for the loss of a nail a horse was lost and for the loss of a horse the battle was lost” (my abbreviated version). We need a strong, balanced ecology and we simply do not know what the loss of a bunch of flowers could cause. Remember the countryside code and if you need reminding, it is shown in full here. But I like the shorter version “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”.

Lots of animals are on the move (as well as emmets!). Badgers have moved from their winter to summer quarters but a ranging far and wide as they feed young families. I have seen lots of deer around and about, in fact sometimes I think the A3078 should be closed till say 0700!

Birds are also hard at work tidying last year’s nest up, looking for new quarters or in some cases feeding young. Tawny owls breed very early in the year, which is why now is a good time to spot them as they are hunting for large babies that are almost ready to fledge and fly the nest. The adults are being run ragged at the moment, so keep an eye out for them on fence posts or low branches along paths. But please pass by quietly- they are trying to catch a few moments shut eye!

As I said earlier, you shouldn’t be reading this! Get out there and go for a walk, but please remember, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”.

Ian Bennett

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