The Countryside About Us June 1998

posted 4 Jun 2018, 00:41 by Chris Hoare

In early June when these notes are being written I am usually distracted by a pair of swallows zooming in and out of the nearby stable beginning to construct their nest. Sadly they have not yet arrived. I have seen swallows flying about the Parish on April 21st but passing through I imagine. I cannot recall summertime without my visiting swallows rearing usually two broods before Africa calls them back again. Maybe they are a little late this year. Other bird maternity units in our garden have already produced a clutch of baby robins, now independent of their parents. We have two lots of blackbird chicks, and both great and blue tit eggs likely to hatch out any day now. Greenfinch and chaffinch are also in evidence. The greater spotted woodpeckers still come for a regular feed of peanuts, but nest elsewhere. Mid May should soon herald the arrival of the spotted flycatcher. Even the cuckoo calls its unmelodious notes quite regularly, but sadly no swallows or house martins for that matter. Talking to friends who live in the centre of the village it is quite interesting to hear them refer to pied wagtails, tree creepers and sometimes a nuthatch. These I rarely see at my end of the village. The explanation must lie in the immediate environment being more favourable to those particular birds.

The countryside about us can sometimes echo to sounds other than those produced by the birds of the air, and the beasts of the fields and even machinery working in the fields. In mid April there was a gathering in our village, and many others, of music makers of a different kind. To borrow the well known harvest supper theme song, “The bells of St. Mary’s, I hear them a’calling, across the village…..” Indeed they were. From the church tower of St. Mary’s came, one sunny and fresh morning, that unique sound of bells. I always feel that to gain the most pleasure from them, like bag pipes, listening to them from a distance is the best way. It gives a mysterious and haunting feeling not knowing exactly the source of the sound, but just the effect. Anyway, on that morning it was a perfect accompaniment to my activities in the garden. I hope it was for you too.

Generally speaking the rainfall we have had recently has done much good. Had we gone into another year with a serious deficit of moisture many young trees, shrubs and the soil in general, would have been under great stress. As it is, according to my rain gauge, March produced 1.9” (50mm) and in April 3.9” (101mm). The total this year to date is 8.4”(215mm) . This is about 33% of the annual expectancy. Grass is lush, and lawn mowers are more active this year than last! On the farms good crops of hay and silage can be expected. Indeed most of the arable fields and the crops they contain look full of promise. But no farmer will “Count his chickens….” so soon. 

Roger Sykes