The warmer weather that was forecast certainly arrived bringing with it hazy sky – and pollution. Everything outside was covered with a coating of fine yellow dust – from the Sahara Desert – and this was especially noticeable on our cars. Here in East Anglia our air isn’t as pure as we would like. As we live in the countryside many people think that the air is fresh and clean here; but they would be wrong. The prevailing wind from the south-west brings pollution from London and winds from the south-east bring pollution from the Continent – mainland Europe. The cleanest air is on winds from the north-east but that is also the coldest! East Anglia is a mainly agricultural area with plenty of agricultural vehicles and large trucks delivering feed, grain and other supplies on the narrow lanes. The farmers use herbicides and insecticides and the crops are sprayed at least two or three times a year. Because there is very little public transport we all have to drive everywhere that is too far to walk or cycle. R and I are fortunate to live in an area where the local farmers are trying to make the land better for wildlife. Wide strips of land are left fallow around each field with the hope that wild flowers will colonise them and animals and birds will find more food and shelter there.
Since coming to live in Suffolk twenty-six years ago I have developed asthma, hay-fever and other allergies that I didn’t have in south-east London and Kent. R also has hay-fever and E has asthma. This morning both R and I woke feeling quite unwell with headache, sore throat and other hay-fever symptoms. Fortunately we always have a stock of anti-histamine tablets in the house!
Yesterday, after getting home from taking Mum out, I had a letter to post so walked down the lane to the postbox. I was hoping to see the Jacob’s sheep in a field close to us as I had heard them arrive there on Monday. They always bleat a lot when they are in a new field but soon settle down and if I hadn’t heard them arrive I wouldn’t have known they were there. It was quite difficult to see the sheep and lambs as the hedge is high and thick but I managed a couple of photos.
Jacob ewes and lambs
I then took a few more pictures of the garden, fed the birds and watered the tubs of flowers. More and more birds are singing and the dawn chorus is getting louder and louder. Yesterday I woke to hear what I thought was a Garden Warbler, our second summer visitor, singing in a tree across the lane. As I was still sleepy I wasn’t sure whether it was a Garden Warbler or a Blackcap, the songs being quite similar, but having heard it again today I am sure it is a Garden Warbler. We do get both birds here in the summer but the song I heard yesterday and today was definitely the faster more garbled song of the Garden Warbler. The Song Thrush has been singing all day, every day for some time now and yesterday he was joined by the Mistle Thrush. We now have a wonderful chorus of birds in the garden – too many to mention without it becoming a long and boring list. Here is a photo of a male Blackbird and a Blue Tit on the peanut feeder.
Bluetit on the peanut feeder. A Chaffinch is in the tree at the back.
Today I took some more photos of the garden and also of some objects I have found in the garden. The belemnite I found in my herb garden on Monday. I remember finding lots of these when on holiday with A when she was little at Charmouth on the Dorset coast. They are fossils of squid-like creatures.
The feather I found a couple of weeks ago. No doubt from a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
The broken old clay pipe I also found in my herb garden but about five years ago. I can’t bear to get rid of it!
The rest of the photos are of plants, flowers and trees.
White violets in the grass verge near my mother’s cottage.
Ground ivy. This is an evergreen wild plant and if the leaves are bruised they smell minty. Also known as Alehoof, the leaves used to be added to ale during brewing to clear the fermenting liquid and sharpen the flavour. Even after hops were introduced to England in the 16th century liquor flavoured with ground-ivy was still made and sold for a time. Another name for ground-ivy is gill and a drink called gill tea was made by infusing the leaves with boiling water and adding honey. This was supposed to alleviate coughs and other chest disorders and was still being sold by street vendors in London in the 19th century. Culpepper says ‘The juice dropped into the ear doth wonderfully help the noise and singing of them, and helpeth the hearing which is decayed.’
A pink tulip.
The Amelanchier is just coming into flower.
R and I discovered another goose nest in the undergrowth on the other side of the pond yesterday. Unfortunately, today the goose was no longer there and all the eggs gone. The good thing about nesting on the little island is that foxes and other predators cannot get to you so easily. The bad thing about our island is that it isn’t big enough for more than one goose nest.