The Countryside About Us - July 1994

posted 30 Jun 2014, 11:04 by James Mansell
I am glad you can join me to continue our ramble we began last month. I cannot guarantee it will be sunshine all the way.

This early summer weather has been very mixed with quite a late frost doing its worst amongst early potato crops as well as my courgettes. You will recall we were skirting a large expanse of oil seed rape in full flower. Whilst the pollen from this plant is rightly blamed for our sneezing and snuffling it is by no means the only offender. At this time of year many of the grasses, not least black grass, produce pollen which although far less obvious is equally to blame for the discomfiture of many. 

Having left the path by the rape, we approach a small wooded area. Nettles, so important for many butterflies on which their larvae feed, are waist high each side of the track. It is prudent to keep hands well away from the stinging hairs of the nettle leaves.  The river close by, where minnows can be seen, has some very old crack willow trees by its edge. To my delight a group of long tailed tits, almost indifferent to my noisy approach, flit around insect hunting amongst their favourite haunts. I wish we could spot the nest. It is a work of mossy art even by bird standards.  

Suddenly, just on the pathway leading out of the copse I noticed a high speed exit from the ground. A sparrow hawk zoomed away along the hedge side. As I approached the spot all that remains is a spread of feathers.  The obvious excitement that my golden retriever shows indicates a fresh kill. The remaining feathers indicate the victim was probably a greenfinch. Crossing straight over the road, our route has a good dense hedgerow on our right being the boundary to a “set aside” field. The hedge is rich in blackthorn which in the autumn will provide a good crop of sloes. Hawthorn and wild hops are also in evidence. 

I wish I was more expert at recognizing bird song. Now all that remains is to cross the footbridge over the river we passed along earlier and on to the road towards home. However I am sure the finale to our walk was the “mono” note of a chiffchaff tantalizingly hidden as they usually are, from view.

Roger Sykes
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