. . . the Peak District . . . but I don't remember the last time we walked
around our home patch. We set off through the wood this afternoon where
the wild garlic, also known as ramsons,
is now lushly green. The white flowers have yet to appear.
I pause and look at the spreading area of ramsons and willows, which
was just an open grassy clearing by the stream when we moved here 23 years
ago. I like to remind myself that somewhere wildflowers are on the increase.
They're even poking their leaves up at the bottom of the high fence around
the new housing development.
Bluebells v. Bikes
the quarry area there was a bank of bluebells that had
escaped the tracks of mountain bikes which have worn down the old banks
of quarry waste, which were once covered with bluebells. The network of
bike trackways cut down to the clayey subsoil and then joined up to leave
the whole slope bare.
This particular bank had survived because it was too steep - as steep
as a step-ladder - for even the keenest biker to descend. However the
bikes themselves are only half the problem. During school holidays you'll
see boys taking spades into the wood with them. As the exposed subsoil
is so clayey they prefer quantities of woodland soil to make ramps to
run bikes over. So they've chopped into the banking and destroyed the
bluebells. It used to be so green in there. It's so scarred now.
Down by the canal there's another type of garlic, no relative of ransoms,
just coming into leaf; jack-by-the-hedge, also known
as garlic-mustard, Alliaria petiolata. The white
flowers haven't appeared yet but its good to see the fresh green leaves;
a taste of things to come.
swans are nesting again. The female (the pen) is on the
large twiggy nest at the canal's edge by some willows while the male (the
cob) is patrolling, wings raised above his back, head arched as if he
means business, 300 yards downstream, near the post the RSPB had erected
when storks started nesting on a power line pole two
years ago this month. This was the first record of storks building a nest
in Britain since medieval times.
Richard Bell, email@example.com