The winter has been dragging on for ages and even now, in the middle of April, the Hairy Violets have only just started to really flower in earnest and the Pasque Flowers are just poking up, long after Easter. Cowslips are just coming through and I saw my first beeflies on Saturday 8th, along with a Comma and Peacock butterfly – we saw a few male Brimstones on a sunny workparty a month earlier. I have been up looking for Gonia picea (a very early parasite fly) many times and still haven’t seen one.
The orchids seem to be growing well from all the winter rains but they are growing slowly, so we are all waiting to see when the weather will change and we might start to get some warmth. If the sun shines then I expect they will all romp away but we’ll need a decent period of warm weather, above 16C.
Winter workparties have concentrated their efforts clearing scrub around the lone beech between compartments 3 & 4 – to give the sheep a place to shelter in the summer. We will be summer grazing the top of 4 this year to suppress more of the Brachypodium grass. To this end Gerry has also bee topping-off the Brachypodium with the scrub-cutter and scythe, which in previous years has opened it up nicely to let the sheep get in and eat it down to the ground.