Its been a busy few weeks on the Estate (when is there a quiet time?!) with plenty of guests and the English wine has been flowing. Behind the scenes the vines and the wildlife on the Estate have been going through some changes. The opening image is of a dropwort flower which is showing well on the chalk grassland slopes of Cradle Valley at the moment. When I started out learning wildflower identification, as a ornithologist I struggled. So I ended up using my own descriptive words to ID plants – this one I called ‘starburst’.
As the warm and wet conditions stimulate growth in the vineyard, wildlife on the Estate has really blossomed. Cuckoos sounded a few weeks back and the ground flora has really sprung into life. I’ve not been able to explore at the weekends as much as I would like. Sometimes you don’t have to venture far on our Trail to see, hear or grab the scent of the local South Downs flora and fauna.
Orchids are now out and some are in full bloom with others on their way.
On the left the pyramidal orchid (deep pink) is slowly unfurling and stretching its flower tips to show off its full glory. On the right the common spotted orchid has pretty much seen better days but is still standing proud above the grass on the upper slopes of Cradle Hill.
This week I was fortunate to lead a private tour for a contingent of international farmers around the Estate. It was during lunch (after the wine tasting) that a gentleman from Australia asked me about bird life on the Estate. He was mesmerized by our skylarks that accompanied the vineyard element of the Tour. When I pointed out the corn bunting sitting on the veranda railings he was rather gobsmacked. Up my Rathfinny sleeve I had my pièce de résistance – a barn owl flew passed the window. I couldn’t time it better if I had it on a remote control! Wildlife and nature always manage to surprise you.
Then last night on my evening perambulations down through the vineyard (with my 18yr old pooch 1/2 mile behind) I came across this beauty.
I know it doesn’t look much, but when you realise this creature has a light emitting bottom – then that’s pretty cool in my book. The glow worm is often over looked as many people don’t venture out at night to enjoy the wildlife. Give it a try. This time of year around the Estate we have glow worms, barn owls, tawny owls and long eared owls. If you’re not 100% about coming out at night, then walk the Trail, come on a Tour or just follow my twitter account (@rathfinnyrich) and you can enjoy all kinds of amazing things.