Home Counties fieldscapes are a testament to how the weather has adversely affected our crops, and a reminder if ever we need one that food prices later this year will be higher than before. The rape fields in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire show large barren areas and overall patchy coverage quite clearly, and the long cold spell has left the bees keeping to their hives. I have tried to do my bit, by picking up weary bees that have been near no vegetation outside, and carefully placed them near wild flowers, and inside in just the last couple of days helped trapped ones indoors to reach the outside. One way I have learned that can help is to place a small saucer or somesuch with a few pebbles and water near to where they frequent – they need water, and the pebbles will ensure they do not drown.
Whilst photographing in country lanes and woods, I am really saddened by the numbers of plastic drinks containers, crushed cans that abound maybe we should have days when we hold littergather days and give out prizes for the amount collected within designated areas, and also have a star grading for areas of natural beauty that remain clear of our detritus.
Sunday was cool but bright and the kerbside near Studham caught my eye with its clusters of opening fern fronds, gorse bushes with Cow Parsley entangled, bluebells and really surprisingly: white bluebells. It would seem from information I have gleaned these are native, as their pollen appears to be creamy white.
I only stopped awhile as I was heading for Hudnall and Nettleden, I wandered for a short while in the woods where there were surprisingly few bluebells, and at one stage spotted the towers of Ashridge College, but the most stunning wildflower that I do not remember seeing before, was in abundance here, and I spotted it in three different stages – I now know them to be ramsons; it has broad floppy leaves, and what look like seed pods, but these sheaths protect the flowers till they are ready to emerge and then burst open to display a cluster of white six-petalled flowers, and I saw bumble bees hanging precariously from these fragile flowers, obviously enjoying the nectar they provided. One area was simply a green and white carpet surrounding a tree trunk. Above in a canopy of green, backlit from the sun, a chaffinch sang its melodious heart out out.
By my feet I spotted a tiny butterfly, which I took to be a grizzled skipper, but this one had unusual ‘roundels’ dotting its wings, and when I first spotted it, it was amazingly well-camouflaged, as only the flick of its wing gave it away, and if I glanced away, it took a while to relocate it. These woods had numerous stone-built walkways and bridges, and there was new brickwork and fencing going in in places, I came out of the woods and returned to my car by road, spotting tiny blue creeper flowers clinging to the ancient walls of the building opposite to where I came out. When I arrived at Nettleden, Yew Tree Cottage sported a new flowering of Wisteria lending a chocolate box air to this delightful 16th Century building, and the road that led from its side uphill sported some more colourful gardens. I then drove towards Tringford, so that I could visit the Grand Union Canal and the Tring reservoirs.
I parked up and walked almost the entire distance to Bulbourne Lock taking in what I could of the wildlife and occasionally chatting to members of the public along the way. It became obvious that this was the time for chaffinches to be singing their hearts out for a mate. I also spotted a young Mallard family out for the afternoon away from the reeds, and some slightly older ones in a mad dash for some food offered by some of the public along the bank. The anglers were also out in force, but the conversations I overheard did not suggest they were having much success. The locks on the other hand were working overtime and considerable energy was being exerted by young and old alike to keep the boats flowing in both directions.
I found one spot near Lock 40 to sit and watch what was happening on Marsworth reservoir, and was greeted again by a chaffinch, and then a young robin approached, and a kingfisher flew by at high speed three times, and coots, mallard and grebes came close and after watching one heron land amid the reeds, another pair appeared and flew by, and the few common terns that I saw seemed successful to a degree in their swoops for food, as did the swallows, the flies were out in profusion which seemed to be handy snacks for the chaffinches.
Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire fieldscapes, chaffinches bluebells, white bluebells, woods, common tern, grebes, coots, Marsworth reservoir, Grand Union Canal, herons, Canada geese, mallard ducks, Hudnall, Ashridge, Oilseed rape, Nettleden