July 2006

I write this in a heatwave. My reports always seem to say something about weather extremes and this is no exception. The trees are still alive, having had several months in which to settle their roots. They survived the heat last year, so no doubt will manage again. That is not to say that the odd heavy thundershower would not be welcome!

A stream delineates the southern boundary of Gimswood and a branch runs through Brookfield. The stream is now completely dry, as happens in exceptional years. The Brookfield branch is still running – only just.

The ponds have been low all winter so were on to a loser even before this summer heat. However, I designed them so that there would always be a small deep pool even if the rest of the pond has dried out. It has not come to that yet. The scrapes have dried out, but that’s OK; they are meant to do that.

There was no frog/toad spawn in the scrapes this year, so no frantic rescues have been required. There was spawn in the ponds, just where it should be. And lots of tadpoles sunbathing on the water edges. There is a great deal of green algae clogging things up, but it gives cover to the smallest creatures, and anyway is to be expected in fertilised farmland. The damselflies and dragonflies are making the most of the fine weather.

The bad news is that caterpillars have eaten many Alder Buckthorn plants. It is a plant that is host to several butterfly and moth species, so depending on where you stand, that is also good news. However, several Guelder Rose have been attacked by Viburnum beetle and that is not so good; the plants will be challenged by this increasing pest and may well have to be sprayed next spring if there is a sign of repeating damage. I hate spraying, so will have to consider how to approach this problem.

The spring and early summer flowers were spectacular again where I sowed seed; Ox-Eye Daisy seems to be very happy here. The flowers that arrived spontaneously after the Big Field ploughing are notably absent despite ample opportunity to set seed. Grass cover is now almost complete cross the field. I am waiting for a hay cut and meanwhile the tall grass is host to huge numbers of moths and butterflies which fly up as I walk or drive through. Very rewarding!