Summer 2014

The ragwort is under control! There have been few pieces this summer, which have been pulled up. We will win! But it is a shame when we see the butterflies, bees and wasps so enjoying the flowers.

The ponds have been up and down, depending on rainfall, but at last the ground has dried out from the standing puddles. There seem to be new deaths among the smallest shrubs. Maybe it is Nature's way of saying that they were planted in the wrong place, or due to drowning or drought. To my mind, if they choose to die then it is natural selection. At this stage it would be hard to replace them, even though there are only a few, because the baby trees/shrubs would be challenged by the bigger tree canopy which is increasing every year. It is just as well that I catered for this at the initial planting to cover this contingency. I must have the density I said I would produce in my contract with the Forestry Commission at the end of the 15 year grant. No worries on that; there are places where the density is so close that I cannot get in to thin out anyway. Will have to think about that one.

Good news. I am progressing with the projects under the Higher Level Environment Scheme. There is now green hay (freshly cut hay) all over the grass field that had fewer good wild flowers. The idea is that the seeds fall onto the ground, get trampled in by Dexter cattle and the remaining dry hay is eaten by the cattle. At this point, no one knows whether it has succeeded, so we will manage it to the best of our understanding and ability in the hope that it will turn into a wild flower-rich meadow. In due course it could act as a source of wild flower seed to enhance others' meadows - hopefully.

The bird boxes have been used. Matt saw blue and great tits flying in and out of some, but maybe the tree sparrows haven't found them. Or they have gone elsewhere because the hedge they were heard in that spring of the first bird survey is dying back... It is not my hedge so I cannot take action on it, even if I knew what it is caused by and what to do about it. Anyway, let's see how the bat and bird boxes pan out in autumn when they will not be in use and need a clean-out.