Stour Valley update 31 July 2011

Marsh Woundwort
A visit to the Stour Valley at 8.00 am this morning
Stour Valley update 31 July 2011

A visit to the Stour Valley at 8.00 am this morning looked initially as though it was going to be a little disappointing. I drove down today and parked up in Brecon Close and started walking eastward. The sun clouded over and not much appeared to be happening along the river, except that I can confirm that the six cygnets and one parent are still thriving where I last saw them.

So I decided to move away from the river just a little and ventured into a wild flower meadow through a wooden gate. What a beautiful vista opened up before my eyes – corn marigold, mustard, poppies, cornflowers, bindweed, marsh woundwort(didn’t know it’s name until I researched it upon my return home), and a small five petalled white flower with vivid blue stamens (which I still have yet to identify!). But better was yet to come because, as the sun outwitted the light cloud cover and won the temporary battle for dominance, the whole area became alive with bees, hover flies and butterflies, all of whom skimmed and danced their way across this little haven of natural beauty. Just to stand and watch was a pleasure, but – decision time - which way to proceed in my photographic venture of the day! I decided to follow a gatekeeper butterfly who had decided to take a rest and provide my first opportunity of a close shot (see my Wildlife Gallery for the result). But the flowers were perhaps the winners of the day, not only were they beautiful, but the sustenance they provide for the insects is absolutely imperative. I know I’ve said this before, but everywhere I go, despite what I read, THERE ARE BEES! I know it’s vital for our very existence that bees thrive, and I’ve read so many headlines and articles asking where the bees are, that I wonder why – if you are not seeing bees – then plant whatever is necessary to encourage them back!

A favourite flower today was the marsh woundwort – standing approximately 2’ high (I still like to think in feet and inches!) and with small purple flowers reminiscent of tiny orchids. The butterflies however seemed to prefer the yellow mustard and corn marigolds.

Upon leaving the meadow and walking along the hedgerows (where the blackberry bramble flowers and thistles are in their element at the moment, the predominant species of butterfly appear to be comma, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, speckled wood and gatekeeper (although I did spot a few skippers – momentarily!).

All in all – a very rewarding morning’s walk. Try it sometime!