I had a very good day yesterday. The weather was much better than it had been for a week and I was nearly back to normal after my cold. I hung some washing out on the line in the garden and then set off for Bungay where I had to get some shopping. Just as I was nearing Flixton I noticed some birds at the side of the road, mainly woodpigeons but among them were a pair of Turtle Doves. I was so pleased to see them I nearly shouted out loud! Turtle Doves are becoming so rare, not only because of the reduction of places to nest in this country but also because of the dangers they face during migration – being shot for sport for example – and the lack of suitable places to spend the winter because of deforestation in Africa. Even if we get no Turtle Doves in our garden this year I am happy that there are at least one pair in this area! Their song epitomises high summer for me – a lovely drowsy, purring noise. We used to get them every year and they stayed around until the end of August. In recent years we have had a Turtle Dove sing for a day or so and then go off elsewhere in search of a mate. Last year they didn’t turn up at all. Many people believed that was because of the terrible spring we had had. Turtle Doves had arrived in this country and then we had the late snow and frost which killed some birds and others just turned round and went back to France.
I went to my usual car park in the centre of town and noticed all the trees planted around the car park had come into flower. They are all Red May trees – Red Hawthorns – and look so pretty with their deep pink flowers.
Red Mays are not as popular here as where I grew up in Kent. My father thought they were wonderful and planted one in one of the houses we had when I was a girl. As I walked about the town I remembered having seen another red-blossomed tree recently and thought I would go and have a closer look at it later in the day.
I found the opportunity to go for a quick walk in the early afternoon. The day had warmed up considerably but there were still a few black clouds around. As I walked down to the end of our lane and out into the next I listened to a Willow Warbler singing in the top branches of a group of trees nearby. The Willow Warbler is another bird whose song I couldn’t do without – it has a sweet song of descending notes in a minor key. Weep, weep, weep, weep it says and makes my heart swell and I find I am near to tears at the beauty of it. It is another bird whose numbers are reducing drastically. Again, we used to hear them all summer long but not any more. I hope this one finds a mate and stays to sing for me. I stood under the Field Maple tree it was singing in and eventually saw it in the top canopy. It sang and then busily flitted from twig to twig in search of food and then sang again. I tried to photograph it but wasn’t quick enough.
This is the result. Can you see it? No, neither can I.
On the corner of our lane where it meets the other lane is a wide area of common land and a couple of ornamental trees have been planted there. One is a Sweet Chestnut which is only just coming into leaf and the other is a Whitebeam, a native tree but not one that usually grows in this part of the country.
Common Whitebeam tree
Common Whitebeam blossom
Common Whitebeam blossom
The grass of this patch of common land was covered in Lady’s Smock flowers and a female Orange Tip butterfly was feeding from them.
The red-blossomed tree that I had remembered seeing is a Red Horse Chestnut and it had been planted only a couple of hundred yards down this other lane. To get to it I had to cross yet another wide area of common land and in doing so I was surprised to see an Early Purple Spotted Orchid in the grass. This one was a little past its best but I rather liked the colour combination of the petals.
There was more Bugle or Ajuga flowers and some Red Clover.
I love the pale markings on Red Clover leaves. I am also fascinated by the grass in the photo which is just about to flower. It looks like a row of tiny balls are packed into the grass stem or a lot of minuscule snails.
The Red Horse Chestnut is a fairly young tree so I was able to photograph the flowers easily.
A Red Horse Chestnut is a hybrid between a Horse Chestnut and a Red Buckeye. On the way back to the road I found another Early Purple Spotted Orchid.
Our lane is looking very nice at the moment.
On my way back home I heard another summer bird but this was one I hadn’t heard before. It’s song was a little like a part of a Chaffinch’s or a Yellowhammer’s song but without the end flourish. It also had a few little sweet quiet notes to start off the song and they sounded very much like a Warbler. When I got back I listened to a few of my bird recordings and found I had been listening to a Lesser Whitethroat.
I managed to get all my washing dried outside which was really good and took some more photos of the garden while I fed the birds. I had started on a great heap of mending by the time R came home from work. He didn’t seem to want his evening meal straight away so I suggested a walk across the fields.
This is one of many ancient oaks we saw on our walk. Once they get to about seven or eight hundred years old they start to die back a little. A little like us humans: when we get to a certain age we start to shrink a bit too. When they get dead branches sticking out of the top of the canopy they are described as being ‘stag-headed’.
A young Horse Chestnut.
View over the fields.
A field of ripening barley.
A Sycamore tree with flowers.
Bridge over the Beck.
Views across the fields on the other side of the Beck.
The lane going up the hill from St Peter’s Washes.
Another ancient oak tree. I think this one’s trunk must be about twelve feet in circumference – it must easily be about a thousand years old. I must try to bring a tape measure with me next time we walk this way and see if I can get through the hedge and measure it.
I love standing under trees and looking up through the branches. Trees are the most magnificent awe-inspiring things.
We looked down across the fields in the direction from which we’d come and then down the lane. Many people think that East Anglia has no hills and no hedges. This proves that we do have both though the hills aren’t very steep or high.
St Peter’s church over the field.
Fruits on an Oak Tree.
The top of the tower of St Michael’s church can just be seen above the trees.
More views across the fields from the top of the lane.
The signpost at the end of the lane.
Another view from the top.
An oak-apple with fruits
This is a picture of a Lesser Whitethroat! It is just below and just to the left of centre and has a curly leaf over its face. You’ll have to take my word for it that it really was a Lesser Whitethroat.
A Wych Elm and fruits.
We walked back home quite content and I cooked our evening meal.