A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Thursday 30 June 2011

Silage Making

Silage making is a highly mechanised affair a far cry from the hay making of our youth.
We watched this crew in Frocester making short work of the removal of the grass crop with impressive precision in their driving through the fields.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Wild Cherry

The wild cherry is native European species which is often planted in woodlands. The fruit is small and usually ripens in midsummer and is popular with birds hence the latin name Prunus Avium .

Sunday 26 June 2011

Woodland Regeneration

The Woodland may be classed as ancient but trees do not last forever and in this part of Coaley Wood several trees have fallen and created a clearing.
The forest floor is now open to the sunlight and with it the beech mast is quick to germinate and an impressive number of young seedlings are competing to become new trees.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Summer Weather

Showery and windy weather again today as this view to the Berkeley Vale from Crawley shows.
It must be time for Summer to come back!

Friday 24 June 2011

Moon Daisy

Leucanthemum vulgare is commonly called the Oxeye or Moon daisy. Climate conditions seem to have really suited these daisies this year. We have noticed a profusion of them in the Cotswold grassland on our walks as in this photo taken on Uley Bury.

We call them Moon daisies, this name is said to come from the fact that they do not close at night and so look wonderful by moonlight especially at mid-summer.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Bird's Foot Trefoil

Bird's Foot Trefoil thrives in dry conditions and limestone pastures and is now in flower.
It provides food for the larvae of the Common Blue Butterfly and the Burnet Moth.
The children's name for it is Eggs and Bacon presumably from its colour.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Shorn Sheep

Sheep are looking strangely bald after removal of their woollen fleece. Wool was once the source of great wealth in the Cotswolds but unfortunately the move to modern synthetic fabrics has reduced its value and now hardly covers the cost of shearing.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Summer Solstice

Midsummer and the longest day today and we had a glimpse of the setting sun before it disappeared behind cloud.

Sunday 19 June 2011

House Martins

House martins have had a difficult time with the dry spring to find enough mud for their nest building but are now taking advantage of the puddles to repair their nests.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Old Walls

The stone walls of the Cotswolds were mostly erected in the mid 19th century and many have survived with little or no maintenance since that time
Tree roots are often a cause of damage as they distort the walls which have very little foundations.
There seems to be a revival in interest in the traditional drystone wall let's hope it continues.

Thursday 16 June 2011


Broomrape is a parasite particularly of the roots of plants of the pea family where it can be a problem on farmland. The plant is brown as it does not need chlorophyll relying as it does on the host plant for food.

Monday 13 June 2011

Rose Bay Willow Herb

Like so many other flowers Rose Bay Willow Herb is in bloom early this year. A common coloniser of waste ground especially burnt patches this now common weed was spread across the country by the railway network.

Friday 10 June 2011

Summer Sunset

We are now a few weeks away from midsummer and the sun is setting over the Berkeley Vale giving us some spectacular evening views over the river towards the Forest of Dean.

Thursday 9 June 2011


Earlier in the year we said that we rarely saw goldfinch on our feeders but it was worth persisting with the niger seed as they are now regular visitors.
They just sit one on either side of the feeder helping themselves, a joy to watch. We haven't worked out if there is just one pair or whether there are more. One good thing is that the squirrels don't find the seed interesting.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies are now flying and we spotted some on thistles near Slimbridge.
This widespread butterfly emerges from hibernation at the end of March and lays eggs on nettles. Males rest with open wings waiting for females to mate with.

Monday 6 June 2011


At last we have had some rain to encourage growth in the countryside. The soil had become parched and dusty and this is the first rain in months that seems to have soaked into the ground and it is amazing how much fresher the garden and surrounding farmland looks.

Sunday 5 June 2011


The dry weather seems to have suited the foxglove this year and our neighbour's collection on the roadside verge gives a wonderful display. They grow easily from seed and here are interspersed with other early summer flowers.
Digitalis purpurea is the Latin name for the common purple foxglove, digitalis meaning finger-like flowers. As to why it is called a fox "glove" one theory is that the shape of the florets look like little gloves.
The foxglove was widely used in folk-medicine for a variety of conditions. Later in the 18th century William Withering realised its value on treating heart conditions although the dose is critical! Today the Digitalin group of drugs is prepared using European varieties but apparently during the second World War the Women's Institute organised gathering and drying of foxgloves in the UK.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Hay Meadows

Most grass is cut earlier for silage but those left for hay give an impressive range of wild flower and grass species as they have time to set seed before cutting. They remind us of our childhood when hay was almost universally grown for feeding livestock, and made into small hay bales. Traditionally hay meadows were small, enclosed by walls or hedges and contained a mix of different types of grasses so that they were as nutritious as possible rather than the perennial rye-grass of intensive grassland.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Yellow Rattle

Yellow rattle is a parasitic plant that feeds on the roots of grass. When ripe the seeds rattle in their capsule , hence the name.It is said that when they rattle it is time to cut the grass for hay.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Grey Squirrels

Well as you can see our bird feeding is rather squirrel feeding at the present time. We put our peanuts & seeds for the birds but they are competing with up to three squirrels. Two at least are very small and we presume they are youngsters! The young ones make do with the bits that drop when the birds feed but the adult climbs up the pole even when we grease it, she is so agile!