The Countryside About Us July 1998

posted 28 Jun 2018, 03:23 by Chris Hoare
What a difference a wet springtime makes to the appearance of the countryside. April’s unusually generous amounts of rainfall encouraged an explosion of greenery which imposed itself upon ones vision wherever one journeyed. Approaching Earl Soham along the A1120 just before descending Mill Hill, the hedgerows, trees and fields present a wonderful verdant vista towards Windwhistle. This was nicely complimented by the mighty oak tree in the field opposite Mill House (which was probably a sapling when Queen Elizabeth 1 was Queen). In fact viewing the village from anywhere from the surrounding higher ground gave the impression of it nestling almost in a wood. The wet conditions, which counteracted to a certain extent the exact opposite weather in May (until of course the two days devoted to our County Show when over night nearly ½ inch (12mm) of rain fell and the sandy soil became liquid mud!) have greatly favoured Earl Soham mere. Before the great areas of Russian comfrey, whose flowers can be white, mauve or pink, assert themselves, big areas of that delightful plant of wet places, the perennial ragged robin, presented an eye catching swarth of crimson. Ponds have regenerated in many places. My small “natural” pond, that is to say without ornamental fish, has a good population of the common smooth newt, usually lurking under the lilyleaves, but none of the crested variety that I can detect, A good population of pond snails ensures a healthy environment as does the milfoil and water mint. The numerous water bugs both surface and “submarine”” are rather anonymous as far as I am concerned!

The activity in the bird world is at its peak just now. By all accounts several folk get much pleasure from observing their goings on. A friend told me how surprised she was to watch a cock pheasant and a domestic hen square up to each other, much as two cock pheasants will. Another told me of a blue tit building a nest and rearing some chicks in the extractor fan in their bathroom. gaining access through the outside grill! A young house sparrow, just learning to fly, provided sadly, a meal for an enterprising magpie that scooped it up and away in seconds. Some of the activity can be rather intrusive. There is more than one thriving rookery hereabouts. Nothing sounds more raucous, in the quiet of an early morning, than a young rook demanding to be fed by its ever attendant parent.

July is upon us already. Drive carefully because soon you will be confronted by wide combine harvesters on our narrow country roads. The cereal harvest is about to begin.

Roger Sykes