Summer 2007

I went for a walk at the end of August and thought that my findings in Gimswood on that day would summarise the season. After all, do you really want to read about my usual weather report and the flooding and rain we’ve had? No, I didn’t think so, after all, everyone has their own memories of this rather unusual summer weather. However, there are some photos when the flooding was at its peak, but you don’t have to look at them if you don’t want to.

What struck me when I entered Big Field were the colours. Already there are Rowan and Spindle berries, Spindle leaves turning red, berries on Alder Buckthorn, Purging Buckthorn and Guelder Rose. Even the Wayfaring Tree is turning. In Rye Field the trees are not yet very big so the Dogwood shines out bright red across the field. I noted that at last the trees are starting to grow taller; what a difference heavy clay soil makes to the rate of growth.

My first impression on entering Oat Field (the first planted) was one of very large Goat Willows and stinging nettles. Of course, “very large” is all relative! Most of the Sea Buckthorn are covered in golden berries. Many Whitebeam have died from the late spring frost and not recovered. I’m not fussed because my supplier unwittingly gave me Swedish Whitebeam instead of the British native. Sorry Heather, because it was you who planted them that year. Your Crab apples, on the other hand are doing well despite the woolly aphid that seem to threaten them.

The hedges are full of blackberries and sloes and haws: great food for the birds in winter. There are some stragglers of wildflowers: Ox-eye Daisy, Musk Mallow, Yarrow, Purple Loosestrife, Marsh Birdsfoot Trefoil, and Red Clover.

Wildlife is in the small creatures: dragonflies, darters and damselflies, grasshoppers and crickets, waterboatmen. I also disturbed a deer but did not see it. There is evidence that it hides in the shelter of the thickets that are now covered over and make great dens. I believe it to be a red deer. Luckily there is little tree damage.

The pond levels have fallen since the heavy rains have ceased. Where there was a lot of the yucky green pond algae in Oval Pond last year, there is very little this year. However, Square Pond has this year gained some and Corner Pond is thick with it. On the plus side a pair of mating Large Red Damselflies were using the green algae for their eggs. Reedmace is making an appearance in more of the ponds, despite our efforts in spring to pull them out. I had a go but got a wellie full of water. Must do it again soon.

One of the scrapes has filled well and seems almost permanent. It now has 50% cover with Branched Burr-reed. The other scrapes are variously empty or part empty.

Deer footprints were in evidence at Complex Pond, as were the more expected heron and smaller birds. A large family of swallows were dipping and diving over Square Pond and the hedge bordering Big Field. A green woodpecker flew away with much squawking. There was no sound of buzzards, and I have actually been missing them for much of the summer. My impression is that they have not nested in the neighbouring coppice wood this year. And I picked up a tail feather from a pheasant but did not hear its call this time.