Wet & Dry (2)

Returned from my trip to Pembrokeshire last Monday, via Lancaster. Council highway crews still cutting verges and banks far further down and back than necessary. Vegetation already baking brown in the continual hot weather. On the M6 caught glimpses of thin coils of smoke on the hills above Bolton. A few days later these peat fires had grown dangerously and Winter Hill was well alight, as were Saddleworth moors to the east, dense smoke billowing everywhere. Back in the north-east at last and no need to cut the grass here. Lack of rain translates to lack of growth, the short dry sward awake with white clover. The big Hebe by the porch, long rooted out of its pot, looks like a giant macaroon, and is alive with bees feasting on the tiny white flowers. At the railway hut a low persistent hum lead ears and eyes up under the eves to a long roll of gauze netting. It’s become the home of a colony of white-tailed bumble bees (bombus lucoram). In another cool corner of the old wagon’s carcass is the swallow’s nest where the young are being fed by the parent birds, who at this time are in a constant state of motion, filling the air with the most wonderous flight.  I step over the wall for an evening walk around Southridge’s big field, all the growth cut and baled as haylage last week when I was away. Most of the farmers round about have done likewise to take advantage of this prolonged dry spell. They’re also worrying about getting enough water for stock as these rainless days roll on. Southridge have opened a borehole on another of their fields to cope. My late stroll turned up, at the field’s uncut margin, a prettily patterned small moth, later identified as a silver carpet. Also saw a small tortoiseshell sunning itself on a fence post. Another time, back at the pond logged a diving beetle larva in the water; saw a large red damselfly at the edge on a stone and, most thrillingly of all, blue-tailed damsels in a copulation wheel followed by the female laying her fertilised eggs under the surface of the water. I shall be looking out for the nymphs as they grow. Also delighted to find, at different times, two frogs of various sizes, palmate adult and very young newts. The water level is steadily dropping but a trip to the aquatics section of the garden centre has resulted in a fresh drop of weighted oxygenating plants into the existing established mix, plus a few floating ‘lettuces’ to give some shade against the fierce heat of the day. We’re using saved bath & shower water on the garden most nights but it could desperately do with a proper soak. (Damselflies image courtesy of British Dragonfly Society)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *