Spring 2009

You may remember that I had been concerned about the dwindling wildflowers in earlier reports. Yes, they were not as prolific this spring, but where they were, they were a colourful picture. Particularly going well now, as we go into summer, are the ragged robin and soon the oxeye daisies. But earlier in spring there were some snowdrops that escaped the rabbits’ notice, daffodils, primroses and cowslips, all doing so well where they were planted. I have a mental note to move some more to join them. Then there is the hope that they will all spread by seed themselves.

All the fields had taken on the “savannah” look with the winter dry grass. Quite attractive in its own way, but too tall for the owls to hunt mice. I therefore mowed the rides while I was spraying the thistles, so now there is a difference of habitat which hopefully should benefit all wildlife.

I mentioned thistles: the bane of my life. Circumstances dictated that they were not sprayed last year, but only cut here and there. It seems that it was not the ideal management. In places this spring they were a solid mass, covering several rows of trees in one direction and as far as the eye could see in the other direction. That’s creeping thistle for you. In April and May the management was a combination of mowing and spraying. That means that the mown ones will be galloping away with the summer warmth (if we get any) and rain (ditto), but hopefully the sprayed ones will never be seen again.

Now to the small creatures. There are indeed frogs and toads in Gimswood. It was late spring and there were male toads apparently waiting in the ponds for the ladies to arrive. No sign of spawn. Later, at the time of our spraying, there were thousands of large tadpoles hunting in huge groups, so something must have happened at some time! The scrapes had neither spawn nor tadpoles, which was fortunate because they dried out in the spring dry spell. Also exciting was that I found a couple of great crested newts when tidying behind the newly laid hedge.

And the large creatures. Not ideal, but nonetheless exciting are the deer. I had thought that they were red deer does that we saw, but when they move so fast it can be hard to tell. Maybe they were. However, I disturbed a doe that was definitely a roe, having a black muzzle and being of a smaller size. She may have been distracting me from a fawn in the hedgerow. There were several patches of trampled grass where she, or others, had lain for the night.

And finally, the apology for missing the most exciting part of the winter report. I am very privileged to have been offered cuttings from an Elm tree that appears resistant to the beetle. They are going well, all five of them and their new leaves are starting to sprout. I do so hope that they take off.