Three percent and growing

10/06/2020 - 14:18


3% and growing…



Most mornings, since the Lockdown and onwards I have been out early enjoying the sights and sounds of the natural world either by foot or on my mountain bike. It’s a wonderfully calming and uplifting way to start the day.



Rooks above Copland Hil, Totnes -  just before dawn




The days I chose an early morning walk, are ones that allow me the opportunity to take my SLR camera and a few lenses along (primarily a 50mm portrait; and 18-55mm wide angle and a super-telephoto 50-500mm).


Early morning dewdrops on the buttercup-strewn hillside at Follaton Arboretum




We are lucky to have a wildflower meadow about ten minutes, as a stroll, from our home and often have had family walks there during the Covid -19 era. I often find I am in there too for a bit on one or more of my solo early morning wanders, sat on one of the tracks through the vast glades of wildflowers. Earlier in the spring there were orchids, now in early June the meadow is waist deep in long grasses and tall wildflowers that sway like surface of a lake as breezes dance over the surface. Sitting down with a coffee from my flask, mindfully watching the breeze-choreographed dances of the plants is very calming. The low angles sunlight interplays with pearlescent dewdrop covered stems, stalks, and flowers. Enthusiastic hoverflies, bumblebees, damsel flies and butterflies make fleeting appearances drifting off like ghosts across the meadow sea.



The distant forms of Haytor, Dartmoor National Park, from Redlake Meadow, Cott





Early morning in the Redlake meadows, Cott




Sadly, 97% of the meadows we had before WWII have long gone as many of know only too well. We need for nature’s sake and for our own food sources for pollinators to have these meadows. The ancient hedgerows and green lanes of Devon are also great long-standing resources for wildflowers and act as wildlife corridors and havens. There are encouraging signs of restoration, rewildling at a small scale, and I hope such things grow exponentially. I have seen first-hand out in coastal South Devon - farmers setting aside wider borders of their fields to act as wildflower meadow strips. Our local arboretum, owned by the local council, has most of its ground left as meadow between the individual trees and copses – it is rich in wildflowers and grasses as a result.



Rim-lit grasses in the very early morning sunshine - Follaton Arboretum




“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”

John Burroughs




Carrion Crow in the meadows at Follaton Arboretum



As I write this, on the estate I live, in a chap on his sit-on lawnmower is currently zipping about manicuring the lawns of communal ground. Harshly shorn short grass now - where yesterday there were daisies, buttercups, dandelions, red clover, rattle grass and lots of happy insects flitting around.




Blackbird out searching for worms on the green space opposite my home, very early morning (between mowings)




“I should be glad if all the meadows on the earth were left in a wild state, if that were the consequence of men's beginning to redeem themselves.”

Henry David Thoreau




Follaton arboretum meadow - early morning




Thankfully, it is reassuring to hear neighbours talk of their ‘wildflower patch’ they have just put or have already established in their garden. I can see reassuring signs in neighbouring gardens for wildlife and mini-meadow havens from our upstairs window; foxgloves, ox-eye daisies, bug hotels, buddleia, bird boxes, and micro-ponds (including the one I made this summer), bird feeders. If everyone in the UK had a small patch of wildflowers in the garden, even a planter on the balcony of their high-rise flat, we would create a rich network of island oasis for pollinators and in turn birds and myriad other creatures. The sounds are great too - the cotoneaster plants in our front and back gardens have been humming for a few weeks with the sound of masses of both honey and bumble bees all day long, a gentle droning punctuated by the song of our local goldfinches, blue tits, jackdaws, black crows, woodpigeons, swallows, robins, dunnock and magpies.







Enjoy time this spring and summer observing nature in it's vibrant glory - a wildflower patch at a local 'wasteground’, heathland, wetland, local nature reserve, coastal path or other wild space – just sit there somewhere low down, if you can, for a while and do nothing… absolutely nothing, other than listen and see what is going on all around you.






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