The blackthorn blossom was followed by the pussy willow; then the hawthorn and the snowstorm of fluffy willow seeds. Now elder is in flower, reeds and rushes are growing tall and lily pads have appeared on the surface of the ponds and now their yellow flowers are opening.
Joining residents like the Reed bunting (cover image), migrant birds have arrived: martins, swifts and swallows across the Med from Africa and all sorts of the warbler family, which reminds me that I must make more effort to learn their different songs as they are so hard for amateurs like me to identify by sight as they flit into reeds and trees and bushes.
Dragonflies and damselflies are emerging from their watery life as nymphs. Four-spot chasers have been climbing out of their exuviae by the Big Pond and I’ve been watching Hairy dragonfly ovipositing (egg-laying) nearby. Azure and Red-eyed damselfly have been easy to spot doing the same, all hooked up with the male and female in tandem.
And yes, people have come. Although all organised visits have been off, we’ve had lots of local people find their way to the reserve on their statutory exercise allowance, and enjoying its peace and beauty. I’ve chatted to people (socially distanced, of course) who last came for the official opening three years ago, or who learned about it through local social media; young adults furloughed at work and families with young children, not used to Mum and Dad being off work at the same time and deciding to get out and be close to Nature.
One person who is regularly at the reserve, often from early in the morning, is keen photographer and nature lover Albert Butcher. Foxearth Meadows (and A Rocha UK) have become joyful beneficiaries of Albert’s skill and patience with the camera and his open generosity with the results. We asked Albert to add some words from his perspective:
“Since first visiting the Foxearth Meadows reserve in May 2017 on opening day, I have spent many happy hours watching and recording all kinds of wildlife on this small but very interesting site. There is an abundance of insect life, bird life and plant life. “In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1). On my first visit three years ago, I glimpsed a Kingfisher through the trees over the river and have been fascinated by this beautiful bird ever since. I have spent hours, coffee in hand, and camera of course, behind a camouflage net waiting for our most colourful bird to arrive on a perch above the pond. I have not been disappointed or wasted my time as I have hundreds of pictures of kingfisher behaviour. Fish are caught and dispatched, mating dances are performed and speed of flight reflected in dodging a hungry sparrowhawk. All in all Foxearth Meadows is a wonderful haven of wildlife, a thriving reserve and well worth a visit.”
We hope you are able to visit Foxearth Meadows soon, please remember to keep the reserve including volunteers, visitors and conservation work in your prayers.
Thank you to Andy Jowitt, A Rocha UK’s Volunteer Community Engagement Officer at Foxearth Meadows, and regular Foxearth Meadows visitor, Albert Butcher, for this spring update at A Rocha UK’s rural nature reserve.