22 November 2011

November is generally a quiet month on the meadows, the hay long since cut and the sheep finishing off the last of the aftermath grazing. Light levels are low, with dawn almost merging with dusk on gloomier days and grass growth has more or less stopped. November steadily eases the meadows into winter. But in contrast to the often grey skies and fading grasses, the autumn leaves seem to gleam from the hedgerows - a final encore before they fall.

21 November 2011

In recent months, the SWT sheep have been carrying out the important task of aftermath grazing some of the meadows - Fox Fritillary, Martin's and Mickfield. The term 'aftermath' refers to the grass growth that takes place after a meadow has been cut for hay. The amount of aftermath varies from year to year - this year it was quite strong as July and August were damp. The sheep also do a great job trimming up the fence lines by eating off any encroaching woody growth.

The sheep need to be checked regularly to make sure they are all OK and it is an aspect of my job I really enjoy. It means that I call in at the meadows very regularly and at different times of day.

After the first hard frost this autumn, I checked the sheep just as the sun was coming over the hedge. As the sheep moved out into the sun, the dew on their fleeces turned to steam, making the sheep resemble hot spring geysers!

At the end of another day I called in at Martin's Meadows just as the sun was beginning to set. I was fortunate enough to see a barn owl hunting in the dusk and the sheep with their eyes resembling a string of fairy lights. Hopefully, their eyes are visible in the picture above. If not try clicking on the picture.

16 November 2011

Fieldfares and Redwings

Visited Martin's Meadows today (16th November) and the flocks of fieldfares and redwings have descended to feast on the plentiful supply of fruit in the orchards and hedgerows.

A definite favourite seems to be shepherd's bullace. Although past it's best, the combination of the yellowing leaves and almost translucent pinkish fruit seems to glow in the autumn sunlight, acting like a beacon to the birds. The white berries of the snowberry near the entrance also seem to be high up on their menu - my arrival on site is greeted by a flurry of wings and fieldfare chattering as they leave the base of the snowberry bushes to watch me from the safety of the tops of a nearby ash .

9 November 2011


Here is my meadow companion Ellie brushing up her wildflower identification skills.