June breezed into July with all the splendour and fullness that nature displays this time of year. The rain showers still fell but were more infrequent, allowing for the torrent of flood water from previous weeks to slowly recede. Puddles evaporated under the heat of the mid-afternoon sun, but any water that still lay on the fields became stagnant and pungent too. Cumulus clouds scattered across the cobalt blue sky, reminiscent of a fine porcelain pattern; slowly gathering during the warmth of the day to form cumulonimbus, threatening yet another thunderstorm. However, Edith Holden’s account of early July told of mostly dry days.
I wonder how much the British countryside has changed since the early 1900’s, when steam engines and horses worked the fields. Science and technology were leading the way for the introduction of successful petrol-powered tractors, which were light-weight and more general purpose. Over time though, progression only lead to a suffering eco system and loss of biodiversity. British wildlife species saw rapid decline in numbers through toxic pesticides and herbicides, changing habitats, lost woodlands and hedgerows.
Since we learned from our past mistakes, meadows have been re-planted, hedgerows and woodlands re-set, herbicides and pesticides re-engineered, all in an effort to return the eco system and biodiversity to a restored balance. But at what cost?
As the sun was lost to dense cloud cover, any dull moments provided relief from the intense heat of the day. The warm breeze was gentle and, though it wasn’t bright, Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies seemed plentiful in numbers. A chiff chaff could be heard singing her familiar tune high from a tree top, and as I listened intently, I suddenly became bewitched by the fly-past of two Brown Hawker dragonflies. Their presence was awe-inspiring and I felt compelled to stop and watch their majestic aerial display, the first I’d seen this year.
Thistles now decorate the field’s headland, attracting a host of visitors to their vibrant purple heads. Tiny pollen beetles, bees and even the odd hover fly flock to this ‘newcomer’ for a different taste of nectar. Field bindweed is on flower too, its pretty, delicate white bloom attracting other insects, while its leafy tentacles choke the slightest stems of anything growing in its path.
A family of pheasants; mum, dad and three little ones, enjoy their stroll in the morning sunshine. A youngster takes comical flight to keep up with the rest of the family, who are on the move to stay out of harm’s way.