|Meadow Flowers at Rough Piece, including Common Spotted Orchid, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Buttercups|
I love seeing traditional wildflower meadows, although there aren't many around here. But I've been determined to see one this summer - and so I made a special trip to visit a meadow called Rough Piece near Basildon. Now Basildon - still known as a new town - has not and never will be a beautiful place (to say the least), but it was developed in the middle of some lovely countryside and some of this still exists on the fringes of the town. Rough Piece has been preserved as a wildflower meadow and has also been selected as one of the 'new' Coronation Meadows (these were launched by the Prince of Wales earlier this month).
Here are some pics from the meadow;
|Common Spotted Orchid|
I'm not sure about the middle flower. I wonder if it's one of the Marsh Orchids (unlike the Early Purple Orchid the leaves are unspotted).
War and Peace in the Reed Bed Lagoon
1. War: The Sad Story of Fighting Swans
I've had the chance, over the past few weeks, to go birdwatching in my tranquil reed bed lagoon. I've had some quiet and peaceful moments there (see under 'Peace' below) but there wasn't any chance of that last week, because instead I witnessed a very sad wildlife drama.
I'd been watching a pair of Swans nesting in the reeds and was looking forward to seeing the Cygnets hatch out...
The nesting pair had been so attentive to each other and the nest; the male (cob) would often come up to check on the female (pen)...
And so when I saw a family of Swans - cob, pen and Cygnets - swimming on the water I was delighted, thinking that the Cygnets had hatched at last. But I soon realised that this was actually a different family altogether - and that they were intruding too close to the nesting site of the other pair...
Within minutes of my noticing this new family, the 'home' cob came thundering in, furious that there were strangers so close to his nest. And so the inevitable happened, a vicious battle followed, with lots of loud wing-flapping between the two cobs.
The battle began in the open...
|The Two Male Swans (Cobs) begin their fight|
But the 'home' cob never really had a chance to dominate, perhaps he was the younger of the two...
The intruding cob had the advantage throughout, even when the nesting pen came over to protest.
|The two pairs of Swans are now fighting with each other. The Cygnets look on.|
All four Swans and the Cygnets disappeared deep into the reeds, where I could hear them thrashing about but couldn't see them. Then, after a battle that lasted a good half hour, the intruders emerged triumphant, with no sign of the 'home' cob at all, while his mate returned to her nest to lie low.
But the intruding cob hadn't finished. He now had his sights on the 'home' pen and bore down on her as she sat on the nest. He successfully drove her off and they both disappeared into the reeds. And then he emerged after a few minutes - without any sign of the pen - and returned to his family.
I don't know final the outcome of this. It could be very bad news. I've not seen the 'home' pen
on her nest since, although a single Swan can be seen gliding alone in a small pool near by. This could be a different Swan altogether, of course. On the other hand, perhaps the home Swans have just given up on this nesting site - and flown off to start again somewhere else.
2. Peace - Nesting Birds and New Life
Here are some of the peaceful sights I've seen in the lagoon. I've only been able to catch glimpses of the Reed Warblers flitting through the reeds. I know they're there from their song and because a line of reeds will twitch, one after the other, as the little bird travels through them. But at last I did manage to grab a pic;
Bearded Tit (quite rare here)
|Male Bearded Tit|
Female Reed Bunting (the male was there too, also with a beak full of food)
|Female Reed Bunting|
Grebe family: I've loved seeing the very young birds catching a lift on a parent's back.
|Great Crested Grebe and young hitching a ride|
But it isn't long before they're too big, although the Grebes are still very attentive parents...
And finally thanks so much for letting me know about bee-flowers after my last post. This information will help with my planting for June (and so help prevent any 'June Gap' problems for the bees).