Ramblings

June 2011


Gull

Wednesday – Worcester – We have stayed overnight on the boat. I wander around the dock again with Maddy. A dead Wood Pigeon lies in the car park. The Mute Swans have departed but a pair of ducklings are under the bridge and rush around frantically in circles as Maddy stands and stares at them from the tow-path. We have breakfast whilst being entertained by a Lesser Black-backed Gull that is pulling the dead pigeon apart. It flies off with feather stuck to its beak and later lands in the dock and plunges its head into the water to clean them off.

Thursday – Wightwick Manor – Fran and Derek have come to stay for a short time so we all head off to this lovely Victorian house Beedecorated in the Arts and Crafts style that we visited a couple of months ago. Back in March, the gardens were bare but now they blaze with colour. The kitchen garden is a delight. I proudly point out that my peas are doing much better than those here, but have to admit that a lot of other beds of vegetables put my efforts to shame. The house is far busier with visitors today and the experience is not as good as when we visited before. In particular, the introductory talk about the Mander family and the house is a brief ten minute sketch, not the in-depth talk we had last time. Knowing the background makes the visit much more meaningful and I feel the National Trust is in danger of prioritising visitor numbers to the detriment of the experience. However, nothing can detract from the magnificence of the William Morris company furnishings and decoration and the extensive Pre-Raphaelite art work.

Friday – Mortimer Forest – The sky is a pure blue and the land intensely green. It is a beautiful summer day. A Robin is singing his fluid song and several Chaffinches rattle out their brief greetings. Speckled Wood butterflies dance pirouettes over the track. Behind the bird song is a background chatter of tits. Iridescent flies, green and bronze sun themselves on Blackberry leaves. The track passes through the territories of various songsters, first a Chiffchaff, now a Wren, next a squeaking Great Tit, there is a Blackcap and here a noisy Nuthatch although it is Coal Tits I can see searching the conifer branches. Small Skipper Mothbutterflies land on leaves, little copper and yellow gems. A pale silvery-buff moth with grey lines across the wings alights briefly on the track. It is a Brown Silver-line, Pertophora chlorosata. A Red Admiral suns itself on the leaves of large Willow. The Red Admiral is the butterfly I remember from my childhood. However, it then seemed to disappear from my life for decades. Other butterflies seemed plentiful, Small Tortoiseshells, Commas, Whites, Blues and Coppers, but not the Red Admiral. Now it has returned and I am grateful for that as its red, chocolate and white markings are such a pleasure to see. The track heads along the hillside. Willow Warblers are singing in the conifer plantations. A breeze has sprung up and high cirrus cloud is moving in from the east. Small Blue butterflies are plentiful along the edge of the track. A small yellow and black moth flutters at the base of grasses. It rises and heads off but never stays long enough for me to catch up and get a good look, so its identity remains a mystery. It is beautiful here and as an airplane passes high above I wonder about all those people up there burning tonnes of fuel to get somewhere that will not be better than here. A Whitethroat is dancing over the Iron Age enclosure, scratching his song.

Sunday – Home – Rain overnight is very welcome. Despite the downpours just a couple of weeks ago, the ground had dried out again. Peas are cropping well now and broad beans are swelling in their pods. French and runner beans are all beginning to grow. Courgettes are still struggling to get started – I do not know why they are being so difficult. Potatoes are starting to flower. The garlic still looks good, although some by the greenhouse has already got white rot and has been pulled and thrown away. This piece of ground is obviously infected and I need to keep alliums away from it for the foreseeable future. Small cucumbers have developed on the two triffid-like plants in the bathroom. The tomatoes here have decent bunches of green fruit, although they are smaller than I expected. The peppers in the greenhouse are growing slowly and the cucumber here looks like it will soon give up the ghost. Flowers are providing a wonderful spectacle. The white rose that covers the Howgate Wonder apple tree is just coming into bloom. A pink rose has formed an arch over the path that divides the garden. Other roses are in perfect flower.

Monday – Croft – The morning started cloudy, brightened up but is now darkening again. Robins, Song Thrushes and Chaffinches sing. The pernicious rhododendrons, which had been cut right back are sprouting again. The pools in the Fish Pool Valley are brown and rather morbid. A Green Woodpecker calls briefly, a Blackcap sings and tits squeak. I try to cross the stream by the old Gothic pump house but the bridge has been removed and the area taped off. Foxgloves are in flower, one growing on a fallen tree bole rises some ten feet into the air. A white-bottomed spider scrambles across the track. I fail to identify it but it is likely that the white bottom is actually an egg sac being carried by a female. Chiffchaffs are feeding in the branches, occasionally one will call. Many birds are flighty and easily disappear in a trice in the thick foliage. I think I see a female Pied Flycatcher, but it is gone. However, I do get a decent view of a male Spotted Flycatcher wooing his mate by bobbing and fluttering his wings before attempting to mount. Alas she is off before he can do the deed. A Garden Warbler with a beakful of bugs is chattering quietly as it seeks more at the base of pine trees. A bright yellow Great Tit fledgling sits on a low branch and is fed by its parents. The bracken and brambles have been mown at the north-eastern end of Leinthall Common. A Red Kite glides over. A moth is in the wet grass, Silver-ground Carpet, Xanthorhoe montanata, which has nothing to do with carpets. The old Hornbeam by the gate of the path up from the Fish Pool Valley is looking in bad shape. There is much damage and rot in the trunk, although it still has a large crown fully leaved. A Tree Pipit perches in a bush on the top edge of Croft Ambrey. Willow Warblers are both singing and searching Hawthorns for grubs. The sun makes a brief appearance. The quarry workers must have an eleven o’clock break as suddenly, a few minutes before the hour, the machinery falls silent and only bird song can be heard. Much of the interior of the Iron Age hillfort is covered in bracken, brambles and tussock grass. In a few barer patches, scrubby White Clover and Common Chickweed flowers. Down near the castle, Swallows gather mud from the patch around the cattle trough.

Friday – Bringewood – The conifer covered hills are quiet in bright sunshine. The sound below is of human activity on Monstay Chaferfarm. A few birds squeak and insects drone. A Chiffchaff still calls although it is late in the season. Green fields lay below, one dotted with white sheep. Two others containing herds of red cattle lying closely together. A path leaves the track and heads through the woods. The last few remaining Bluebells are nearly finished. Another Chiffchaff is calling strongly. A family of Long-tailed Tits buzz as they search the trees for insects. Blue Tits, many juveniles, follow them. There are also good numbers of Chaffinches here. The path provides an oasis for flora from the dark, lifeless conifer plantations. In one open patch, pink Foxgloves rise alongside a yellow Great Mullein. Several Garden Chafers, Phyllopertha horticola, are on leaves, several pairs mating. The path runs along the ridge through dense conifer plantations, then curves around the top of a valley. Ahead is Burrington Hays which would lead down to Downton Bridge, but there is no linking Pipitpath.

My path continues to turn until it enters a cleared area of forest. Unfortunately, the area has been replanted with conifers, the Forestry Commission eschewing the chance to reinstate the old Oak woods, although it is necessary to remember this area has changed many times in the past. These woods consisted of open woodland which provided pasture for animals in the mediaeval period, as well as deer forests for the local lord. In Tudor times, the Bringewood Chase appears to have been divided up into a number of areas and perhaps enclosures, the valletts of Prestwode, Busshley, Redehurst, Maryknoll, Quenesvalet and Blakestone being named in documents. The Book of Survey of 1585 records that Bringewood and Prestwood are set with old Oaks of 200 and 300 years growth whereof the most part have been lopped and shredd to make cole for the council at Ludlowe and set with birches and lyme trees of 100 years growth by the said measure 1068 acres. The woods became privately owned in Elizabethan times. However, by the 17th century, much of the chase had been converted to farmland, although it was poor quality and eventually reverted to woodland. By the early 20th century, the high points of Bringewood were a mixture of natural scrub, rough pasture and trees and it was not until the middle of the century that the dark ranks of conifers started smothering the area. The edge of Hope Dale with the tower of Flounder’s Folly lies to the north. Downton Castle sits below. A Tree Pipit displays, parachuting from a soaring leap from a pine pole down into the trees. The path heads back to the main forestry track. A Mistle Thrush fools for a moment as it looks ghostly grey in the dark trees. It is clouding over by the time I reach the triangulation point. A Whitethroat sings in the mass of stumps, bracken and brambles that covers the hillside. A Linnet watches from the top of a sapling.

Monday – Croft – A grey day following yesterday’s continuous rain. The water has created channels in the leaf mould covering the ride down to the Fish Pool Valley. Song Thrushes and Robins sing, Wood Pigeons coo and a Magpie squawks nearby. Across the bottom of the valley, past a murky looking pool and up into the Beech woods. Several Wood Warblers are calling. One is on the branches, calling its spinning coin song whilst looking up at the branches above for insects. By the path junction, a cock Blackcap hops through an Ash tree with a beakful of something white, maybe feathers. Another male attacks, trying to snatch the prize away. They tussle and chase off into the foliage. Another is singing nearby and a female is tapping her call. Up the track through Lyngham Vallet. A Chiffchaff sings. Montagu, the ornithologist of the late 18th and early 19th century, knew the Chiffchaff as the Lesser Pettychaps (the Greater Pettychaps being the Garden Warbler). He states that provincially it was called Chip-chop, Chiff-chaff or Choice and Cheap. A juvenile Robin, adult sized but no red breast hops through the undergrowth. Yet another Wood Warbler sings, this is encouraging as their numbers have declined substantially over the last few decades and the species is on the BTO Red List. A Common Buzzard flies through the bare trunks of conifers setting off a chorus of alarm calls. Once out onto the top of Croft Ambrey, Willow Warbler song predominates. Distant hills lie black under the rain filled clouds. To the west the cloud sits on top of the Radnor Forest. Five paragliders are landing on the Old Luctonians’ rugby pitch near Kingsland, no mean feat I imagine in the blustery wind. Pair of Treecreepers scurry along a branch in the car park.

Wednesday Orchid– Bodenham Lakes – A grey sky threatens rain. It is warm and humid. Plenty of flowers are blooming just beyond the gates, some in the undergrowth beneath the trees, others pushing out of the remains of the tarmacadamed roadway – Lady’s Mantle, Common Spotted Orchids (particularly tall specimens with large flower heads), a flowering shrub I suspect is a Hebe or maybe a Spirea, a tiny Geranium species, a creeping yellow flower I cannot pin down, Teasels, Meadow Thistles with globs of froghopper spit on the leaves and one of the St Johns Worts. It is clear a number of these flowers are garden escapes. A female Blackcap taps near the orchard. Along the meadow, a Sedge Warbler starts its song but stops before getting into full stream. Tint froglets crawl across the path by the gate into the plantation. On the lake a pair of Mute Swans have four cygnets and a large flock of Canada Geese swim away. It looks like a mixed year for apples, some trees are fruitless whilst others have a decent crop developing. I expect it all depended on exactly when the tree flowered as to whether one of the late frosts caught it or not. A Common Buzzard circles high above Dinmore woods.

Saturday – Mytton – On the River Severn near Montford Bridge a few miles north-west of Shrewsbury. Peter has a year’s fishing rights on a syndicate stretch of the river and is here dreaming of large Barbel. We drive through the hamlet of Mytton and down a long, potholed track to a parking space. We pass an enormous mound of manure which is steaming with a powerful ammoniac smell which certainly clears the tubes. As we walk along the top of the high river bank, AgrionCommon Pheasants explode out of the long grass. A Small Skipper sits on Yellow Toadflax. Large stands of Cow Parsley tower above the grasses. Damselflies, the Banded Agrion, Agrion slendens are numerous, flying up several at a time from the grass. Whitethroats sing in the bank-top Willows. Swallows sweep low over the recently mown meadow. Peter finds a suitable spot down the bank and sets up his tackle. A pair of Grey Herons fly downstream but decide not to pass us and wheel up and away round the edge of the wood opposite and across the fields. We sit quietly, Peter watches his rod tip, I search for the persistently singing Whitethroat. Eventually he emerges from a large Beech and after rising and falling in the air alights on the bare branches of a fallen Beech. Suddenly, Peter gets a bite, the rod tip jerks again but nothing more. We sit and watch the river, the Whitethroat, Jackdaws strutting across the field and a visiting Blackcap which burst into song before moving on. The sun shines. Numbers of damselflies flit through the grass, large and Riversmall. The sky suddenly darkens and rain, followed by hail pours down. We shelter under Peter’s fishing umbrella. A Mirid bug, the Meadow Plant Bug, Leptopterna dolabrata, shelters on my rucksack out of the rain. A few minutes later the shower has gone and the Whitethroat resumes his serenade.

The rain and hail has knocked a good number of leaves off the trees and bushes into the river and they now float downstream past us. Rain can be heard creating pink noise in the tree tops opposite just before it reaches us. This shower is light and blue sky is approaching - not a lot of blue admittedly and there are some impressively sized cumulus clouds behind it. A Kingfisher flashes past, darting into the woods to avoid us. Chiffchaffs call in the woods intermittently. Other short bursts of song ring out, Robin, Blackbird and Blackcap. Something with mottled wings moves through the trees, difficult to see but then the familiar mewing of the Common Buzzard is heard. It flies across the field where it is joined by its partner. A tiny pale green Mayfly possibly a Pale Watery of the ephemeridae group dances by on the zephyrs. We wander downriver. A large number of canoeists pass. A pair of female Goosanders move downstream at an extraordinary rate. They are raised up in the water and driving themselves forward with powerful and rapid paddling. Damselflies are everywhere in the long grasses, mainly Banded Agrion but a lot of smaller pale ones, possibly White-legged Damselflies, Platycnemis pennipes. Scorpion FlyPeter finds a Comma butterfly resting on a grass. A strange looking moth-like insect in the grass turns out to be a Scorpion Fly, Panorpa communis. Eventually, there is a path down to a shingle beach which Peter thinks might be a good spot, so we get our gear and move here. Flowers grow near the bank which I have the greatest difficulty identifying. One I think is Field Cow-wheat, but the flowering head has not opened. Another looks like one of the cabbage family with tiny bright yellow ball-like flowers, but I still have no idea what it is. Sand Martins skim over the water. A long wait. Peter tries various baits and possible spots in the river. Then there is some movement at the rod tip. What is happening is unclear, so Peter reels in to find a tiny Minnow foul-hooked. Not what we are hoping for. We head into the afternoon without a single bite. Hundreds of tiny fish are darting around the shallows, probably Minnows and fry. A Sparrowhawk flies over being seriously mobbed by half a dozen Swallows. Eventually we move again, but still no bites. The wind has risen but the sun shines, so I hunker down with the crossword. After some time a few boats pass, one with an outboard motor. This makes Peter decide that enough is more than enough and we retreat. The fishing was admittedly a bit of a failure but the scenery and wildlife made the day hugely worthwhile.

Tuesday – Croft – Midsummer’s Day is grey. Luminous clouds glide overhead. It is odd that midsummer’s day is in June which is more like the beginning of summer. Maybe summer once referred to the period either side of the solstice rather than the season, or perhaps it should be mit-summer i.e. with summer meaning the day summer starts. The woods are damp with overnight rain. Blackcaps, Robins and Blackbirds sing, more overlapping individuals than a chorus. Hedge Woundwort flowers by the track down the Fish Pool Valley. Tall Foxgloves adorn the slopes. Buttercups and Cleavers grow thickly along the damp edge of the track. The old Limekiln is buried in green, ferns and grasses. Hart’s Tongue ferns grow in dark shining green whorls beside the path that heads towards the Keeper’s Lodge. In the dale below the path, a Garden Warbler mumbles a few phrases, not enough to call a song. Chiffchaffs move swiftly through the branches of Elder and Ash seeking insects. Treecreepers scurry up the towering trunks of pines. The path becomes less muddy as it climbs, the drainage improving. The Hart’s Tongues give way to Buckler ferns. Out onto the Spanish Chestnut field and sit a while on the bench looking out over the Arrow plain. The distant hills are hazy. The wind is rising and heavy clouds approach. I take the path along the southern end of Ladyacre Plantation and then turn north to pick up the main track. The dark conifer plantations are oppressive and little can be seen or heard. At Common Wood the conifers are younger and the occasional Willow Warbler sings. On down past School Wood into the area called Lucton Common, although it does not resemble a traditional common, just fields and woods, to an old barn at Hill Farm. Here I decide to head back up the hill. The clouds are breaking and the sun emerges dappling its rays through the trees. A path cuts through School Wood. A plaque dedicated to J.K. Henderson stands by a small enclosure. The National Trust obtained School Wood in 1990, the year Mr Henderson died aged 80. The spindly, half-dead Ash tree in the enclosure seems a poor memorial. A doe emerges onto the path ahead and looks around. She suddenly sees Maddy and is gone. Maddy’s chase is half-hearted and I do not think she is sorry to be called back. Back along the wood’s edge. Ravens circle overhead on an updraught. Back down the Spanish Chestnut field where I find some Field Mushrooms for dinner. It starts raining as I reach the car park.

Friday – Bradnor Hill – This hill lies to the north of Kington. On the way there a Red Kite was quartering the fields just before Lyonshall. Under a bright sun and in a welcome breeze, I climb the steep road north from the A44 near the wonderfully named Floodgates. Jackdaws chack noisily in the trees. Soon a path, Offa’s Dyke Path heads off from this narrow lane Offa's Dykepast a dried up pond and a cottage, Rhue-Ville according to the map. There is a wall built into the hillside to stop an old track tumbling into the pond. From the number of molehills it would seem the pond has been without water for some time. Still climbing through fields of sheep and the hamlet of Bradnor Green and out onto Bradnor Hill golf course. Looking back Kington lies in the sunshine. To the west Hergest Ridge arches across the landscape. Beyond, the peaks of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. The path leaves the golf course at Quarry House, a mainly modern construction, and crosses a field and then alongside an open wood. Old sheep pens and abandoned, rusting farm machinery lay in the trees. An odd rectangular mound in a fence is probably a water reservoir.

The path continues to cross fields, skirting The Bowers farm. An old abandoned artesian well windmill stands on the hillside. It would have stood at the head of a stream Dead Treewhich carved a shallow valley through the hill before either going underground or drying up altogether, although a plastic pipe sticks out of the hillside so maybe there is some water during the wetter months. A magnificent Oak stands nearby. Over the great open space of Rushock Hill, sheep everywhere. Running right across the top of the hill is the dyke itself, a six foot high rampart. The path follows the dyke, which separates Rushock Hill from Knill Garraway, for a while. A Common Buzzard mews as it sails effortlessly over the fields and woods. The dyke drops down past the southern edge of Knill Garraway Wood to Herrock Hill Common, a great dome formed by the retreating ice sheet at the end of the last Ice Age. Here a path heads off down the hill to Holywell. The Holy Well seems to be an enclosure of stone walls. At Fungusthe top is a large mound with an Elder growing out of the top. Stone walls stand on either side of the mound travelling down the slope for about twenty feet forming another small enclosure. The interior is a mass of tall nettles. On the Victorian maps, the building was called Holywell Farm. The path passes down through fields in a valley between Bradnor and Herrock hills. A bleached grey dead tree trunk and roots lies at the edge of the field. The path enters Bradnor Wood beside the stream that started at the Holy Well. On the far side is Dunfield farm. Substantial stone walls stand by the stream but their former use is unclear. A Great Spotted Woodpecker calls overhead. Through Bradnor Wood. Herb Robert, Foxgloves, Buttercups and Brambles are in flower. A piece of rotting wood on the path has a couple of orange beads on it, Orange Jelly fungus Dacrymyces stillatus. A Chiffchaff calls. Out of the woods by Dingle Cottage into the meadows of Sunny Bank. A black and red moth flutters by – a Cinnabar or a Burnet? It is gone before I can identify it. The path meets the A44 near Floodgates.

Monday – Titterstone Clee – A second day of sunshine. Yesterday the temperatures were around 30°C, today may be the same although a brisk wind on Titterstone Clee makes it feel cooler. The countryside is hazy, distant hills hidden in mist. Up the slopes towards the summit. Tiny purple flowers of Thyme sit in the short grass. A similar white flower is extensive, maybe a Sandwort? The radar dishes are motionless on the summit. Indeed, one of the receptors has been removed – have they been decommissioned? A Kestrel, the Windhover, holds station high above. It beats its wings vigorously indicating insufficient breeze to hold it aloft. Skylarks sing. I pause on the steep scarp on the north side but am beset by small black flies, so back to the triangulation point where the breeze has picked up again. The greens below are indications of the state of the land, yellow oilseed rape turning dark green, pale green newly mown hay fields, emerald grasses, even darker woods and even the occasional field of red soil. A path heads down to the east towards Callowgate, a cottage, through tussocks of Bilberry plants. It crosses the line of stones believed to be an Iron Age wall. The path steepens and drops down to the common where bracken replaces the bilberries and mosses. On the lower slopes the breeze is minimal and consequently it is much hotter. Insects buzz, grasshoppers rasp and Skylarks sing. Many of the sedges have turned brown as a consequence of the drought conditions boulderearlier in the year. Tormentil, a small, creeping, yellow flower is common here. Now we are lower down the hill, patches of gorse and Hawthorns appear. Meadow Pipits flit across the gorse and bracken. A path heads back but round the base of the northern slope. A male Stonechat perches atop bracken. I follow a network of paths and sheep tracks and eventually open ground. As I climb slowly higher the ground becomes rougher with frequent outcroppings of rock. Two Small Heath butterflies flit in the bracken. My non-existent path enters the rock field and progress slows further. An injury here could be a problem for, as usual, I have seen no-one all morning. Wheatears stand erect on the boulders and fly off with a white flash. Swallows flit over the jumbled boulders. Some boulders have been sculpted by the elements to look like pieces of fallen column. The crossing of the boulder field is arduous and it is a relief to reach the track back to the quarry. It has clouded over and to the west it looks like rain.

Tuesday – Hay-on-Wye – A spot of shopping in Hay. Kay is looking for some clothes, I wander around the bookshops. Hay is a bit like Berwick-on-Tweed, a border town with a long history of being changed from one country to another. Berwick has oscillated between England and Scotland but is now English, Hay between England and Wales but now the Principality claims it. Not that one would think so listening to people in the town, barely a Welsh accent to be heard. Indeed, back at the start of the last century when A.G. Bradley was on his travels as recorded in High and Byways of South Wales, he comments that the only Welsh language being spoken locally may be by graziers from Western Brecknockshire discussing the price of stock at Hereford or Hay, or old ladies from Merioneth or Carnarvonshire who have been on a visit to married sons or daughters, will peradventure be wrestling with the scant Welsh of a Radnorshire porter. These days even the porter has long gone with the loss of the railway. Bradley does note that older folk then referred to the town as The Hay, reflecting its Norman name of La Haie meaning an enclosure. One sight of note is a large articulated lorry turning around by the clock tower, a very impressive bit of driving.

Painscastle – Known as Llanbedr Castel-Paen in Welsh, this village lies some five miles north of Hay-on-Wye. The castle is just a large motte but we cannot find any way to get to it, being on farmland with houses between the mound and the road. It is believed the castle was built by Pain FitzJohn. In the 12th century, the castle was held by William de Braose. He had a grudge against a certain Trehearn Fychan, lord of Llangorse and invited him to meet near Brecon for a friendly conference in 1198. When Fychan arrived, de Braose seized him, tied him to a horse’s tail, dragged him through Brecon and then beheaded him, hanging his body on the public gallows. Fychan was an important man and related to Gwenwynwyn ab Owain, Prince of Powys who gathered an army and marched on Painscastle. However, the seige was unsuccessful and gave de Braose’s allies time to gather a force. They released Griffith ap Rhys, a claimant to the throne of South Wales and an enemy of Gwenwynwyn, from captivity and he raised an army to fight with the Normans. They overwhelmed Gwenwynwyn’s army and slaughtered three thousand men. It is believed the castle was built on the site of a Roman fort.

Wednesday – Bodenham Lakes – Towering cumulus clouds with grey bases are moving nearly imperceptibly across a blue sky. Flowers make the old roadway of the gravel pits look like a meadow. There is a carpet of yellow-green Ladies Mantle. Rich purple heads of Self-heal stand above white Clover. Self-heal, as its name implies, was used as an St Johns Wortantiseptic and said to be particularly good for food-poisoning. Yellow spikes of Agrimony, another all-heal herb stand next to Dark Mullein, also yellow flowered but with dark violet centres. The Greeks used Agrimony for eye complaints, the Anglo-Saxons for healing wounds and later it was made into a solution called eau d’arquebusade, or musket-shot water. Little blue Ground Ivy flowers peek out from under their leaves. Bright yellow stars of Biting Stonecrop creep along the ground. Another yellow, St Johns Wort stands higher, one flower with a tiny bee feeding on the nectar. Dog Roses have Common Toadflaxflowered and are now under attack. A powdery red lump indicates Orange Rose Rust, Phragmidium species and the aptly names Robin’s Pin-cushion is a spiky, red Bedeguar gall of the Gall Wasp, Diplolepis rosa. Common Toadflax has yellow and orange lipped flowers, leading to the name of Butter and Eggs along with many other colloquial names including Brideweed, Bridewort, Butter Haycocks, Bread and Butter, Bunny Haycocks, Bunny Mouths, Calf’s Snout, Continental Weed, Dead Men’s Bones, Devil’s Flax, Devil’s Flower, Doggies, Dragon Bushes, Eggs And Bacon, Eggs And Butter, False Flax, Flaxweed, Fluellen, Gallweed, Gallwort, Impudent Lawyer, Jacob’s Ladder, Lion’s Mouth or Monkey Flower. Many of these names also refer to similar species. The meadow is spotted yellow by Birdsfoot Trefoil. Water in lake is low and green. A large flock of Canada Geese drift across the southern end of the lake. Sheep have come down to the water’s edge. A pair of Common Sandpipers fly onto the shingle. One is hidden by the bank but the other is in the open, bobbing its tail up and down. Drake Mallard are going into eclipse. A female Great Crested Grebe is on the far side of the lake. A Cormorant is on the pontoon, a couple are fishing and another dozen in the Willows on the island.