The Countryside About Us - February 1998

posted 1 Feb 2018, 09:49 by Earl Soham Web Admin

On a journey in December, which took me through the vast agricultural plains of Worlingworth, I witnessed “seed time and harvest” all on the same day in the same field! Certainly it involved a lot of high tech. machinery but there it was for all to see. The harvest time was the lifting of the sugarbeet. This involved a six row harvester and a tractor and trailer carting the beet away. The land, so cleared, then received, at high speed, a generous coating of farmyard manure. That involved tractor number three. Following closely behind (but not TOO closely!) came tractor number four ploughing in the muck. Tractor number five was equipped with a powerharrow to “force” a seedbed and the sixth tractor drilled, what I thought to be, seed wheat, to be combined in September 1998! Obviously such a “tour de force” is not the normal procedure but so much happening in such a short space of time was truly astonishing.

Every now and then somebody flatters me by relating how they spotted an unusual bird and what did I think it was! One of the attractions of ornithology is seeing the unexpected and putting a name to it. How difficult it is, however, to retain the colour, shape and characteristics in one’s mind until a reference book can be opened. Then the head scratching begins because, for example, a chiffchaff is not dissimilar to a willow warbler, and so on. It is as well to bear in mind also, that nature can produce its “freaks” like the albino pheasant or a blackbird with white flight feathers. There are many reference books to choose from but my favorite is a book I inherited from my grandfather. It was published in 1917 entitled “A Bird Book For The Pocket” by Edmund Sanders. The illustrations and text are superb.

The short days of wintertime are now slowly giving way to that perennial anticipation of springtime, and all the activity of farm and garden that goes with it. Somehow the sapped enthusiasms of dreary dull winter days are quickly forgotten in the expectancy of fulfilling plans to do much better than last season. I daresay moles, caterpillars, aphids and miscellaneous problems will still dent our gardening and farming hopes but for now “let the battle commence!” At least we have had handsome rainfall over the winter months, with December producing a creditable 3½”. It was good to see water flowing through the ditches and field drains again.

Roger Sykes