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Rivers Heritage

Wild @ Rivers - August 2016

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Diary Entry by Charmaine Cooper

Small White

August has been very hot and dry. The earth is rock hard and has cracked as the water has been evaporated from the soil by the intense heat of the sun. The hard surface has produced problems for the ground feeding Blackbird which seeks earthworms in the depths of the soil. As the adult Blackbird attempts to recover from its parental duties it has now gone into moult and needs a good diet to recover. It has resorted to digging in the drying moss which it scatters over the scrub’s footpath in an attempt to find grubs and insects hidden within. The Blackbird is not often visible at this time of year as it knows how vulnerable it is as it waits for a new growth of feathers. Passing the ditch the bird can be heard scratching amongst the dry foliage as it seeks food; disturbed it flies off and hides deeper in the hedge.

The orchard’s meadow is wilting under the scorching heat; most of the wildflowers have bloomed and withered. The Prickly Sow Thistle dominates most of the meadow with its yellow miniature Dandelion flower heads. This tall plant waves gently in a welcome breeze. The occasional Small White Butterfly flutters in to quickly feed on the Sow Thistle before settling amongst the grass and dying Selfheal.

The orchard grass is long and drying. Crickets and Grasshoppers call infrequently as in the meadow, but the heat has driven the birds deep into the hedgerow to shelter from the sun. The fruit on the trees looks small as it needs water to swell. A few of the Apple trees appear to have very little fruit or none at all.

A Muntjac Deer wanders out of the scrub. In the quietness of the afternoon it stands staring before dashing back into cover. Everywhere is quite and still, absorbing the heat of another hot August Day.

In the last days of August the meadow’s and orchard’s grass is cut and after the machinery has left the site the smell of cut grass lingers in the air and Magpies descend to hunt for insects.

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