It has been such a hot dry Spring and early Summer that our meadows look very different to previous years. The grass is beaten right back and it is surely a poor hay year for the farmers.
Talking of farmers, our big question every year is how to get these fields cut and baled and everything taken away. Its only by removing nutrients like this do we gradually make adverse conditions for grasses allowing flowers to flourish. The cattle farmer near Sandwich who cut and baled the meadows last year has now retired and is unable to do that again now and and in the future and so we have to find an alternative solution.
We plan to ring an agricultural contractor in Ash that the farmer has recommended and hope that he can come and cut them in early September when most of the insects will have completed their life cycles. Fingers crossed that this can be arranged and at a cost that means its a feasible long term solution.
There are still plenty of meadow flowers growing amongst the grass, covered in bees, beetles, butterflies and hoverflies.
One of my favourites is Wild Carrot. The new flowers are in the shape of a bowl which opens up to a lovely white Umbellifer, eventually closing to a clenched fist of seeds.
An expert birder and accredited ringer who lives locally is using the meadows to ring birds. This ringing generates a lot of vital information about their habits and life cycles that can be used to inform conservation decisions.
On this occasion he caught 18 birds, which included 9 long-tailed tits in the net that he set up by the feeders. The long-tailed tits were all this years fledgings that had formed a little flock of juvenile birds
They were all going through their first moult and so looked a bit ragged but they were all fine and safely released to go about their business.
I also got this photo of a linnet. Never have I seen one with quite such a red breast:
I will just finish with some photos of the wonderful butterfly life going on here this month: