Trees at sundown

Late evening around the western edge of the village, the light reflecting in the upper branches of the tall bare trees highlighted them with colour, or threw them into silhouettes against a tinted background, as the sun was going down.

Holly berries in April

It seems a bit odd to me but I saw a couple of holly trees in a hilltop hedgerow the other morning which were laden with plump fresh red berries. How can that be? It must mean that flowering and fertilisation took place over winter.

Weathered Peacock Butterfly

I have been surprised to notice a couple of Peacock (Inachis io) butterflies around lately. One was in the Community Orchard and the other on Higher Charlton Down. It’s fairly early for them to be out I would have thought. They looked a bit sad and weather-beaten so I guess they may have been overwintering somewhere and have been tempted out on sunnier, warmer days. The recent sharp frosts will have been a bit of a shock to them. I wonder if they will have survived.

The Butterfly Conservation Trust has a lot of information about moth and butterfly identifications, reserves, and the state of their conservation in a beautifully illustrated site.

New Shoots in the Fields

It doesn’t seem as if any time has passed at all since I watched the farmer ploughing the big field – but here already are the short green shoots of the new crop. It was wheat in that field last year and I think it is probably the same again. I will watch its progress. Always good to see things grow and develop.

Free Bee ID Guide

Does any one of my Greenwood House neighbours want a Field Studies Council foldout guide to identifying bumblebees? Contact me if you want to put your name in the hat for a chance to have this free guide. I will need a flat number to post it through your letterbox if you are the lucky one.

Ramsons in waiting

Ramsons or wild garlic grows in profusion around the village in the wilder patches. At the moment their broad leaves are forming an extensive carpet beneath the trees that encircle Herrison House. At the bottom of the grounds to the south of Greenwood House they do not seem so far to be as abundant as last year. But beneath the beech trees to the west of Chestnut Court they are plentiful this Spring. Last time I walked that way, the flower buds were still wrapped in their white papery covers so you could see that it would not be too long before they were out. I must stroll up that way soon and see what progress they have been making.

Celandines 1

The glossy yellow flowers of Celandines look a lot like ordinary buttercups but their flowers are not so persistent throughout the year. In March and April the plants carpet the ground with their dark shiny leaves and flowers beneath trees and on field margins. These pictures show some that were growing among the trees planted on the eastern edge of the village when the new development of houses at Charlton Down was completed. The tree border separates a field that I often refer to as ‘the meadow’ from the cultivated fields beyond. My ‘meadow’ was the location of the incinerator used by the former Herrison Hospital!

Flowering fields 1

A walk along the footpath towards Waterston Ridge at Higher Charlton Down this weekend proved delightful in the sunshine. Acres of yellow oilseed rape flowers glowed in the bright light while skylarks sang overhead and bees of many species took advantage of the fresh nectar.

Dandelions 1

I always think that dandelions are such lovely flowers. They make such a wonderful splash of golden yellow colour. I know they are a nuisance if they put their long roots down in places where you want to grow other things, but out on their own in the wild where they belong, they look as ornate as miniature chrysanthemums.

Blackthorn blossoms

The numerous small blossoms of the blackthorn shrubs are flowering in profusion – clouds of soft, hazy white adorn many of the hedgerows around Charlton Down. They belie the spikiness of the twigs which bear them, and, come the autumn, will have produced the dusty dark blue fruits known as sloes that people sometimes flavour gin with.