Hi, I’m Richard, the Estate’s Environmental Officer and this is my first contribution to the blog. There is so much going on but I will try and be succinct! You may remember I put Liz to sleep explaining the contents of the winery grass roof, I will try not to do the same to you!
On the southern edge of the Estate we have a perimeter of springy, downland turf and things are slowly coming into life. At the moment it is cowslip-tastic with an understorey of ground ivy providing a welcome nectar source. Although our cowslips are slightly eclipsed by the ones on the National Trust’s Cradle Valley the pyramidal orchids are showing well and the blackthorn blossom is contrasting with the ever flowering gorse. Other species of chalk loving flora will be coming into flower very soon so look out for further news from me.
I’m still waiting for our first swifts to dissect the sky and for those on Twitter you will already know about our influx of whitethroats and how excited I am about the continued presence of ‘our’ corn buntings. Just yesterday I was perpetually followed around the Estate by an alarmed wren. For a troglodyte their call certainly packs a punch!
The furry pom poms (not it’s Latin genus) are bouncing around in abundance – that’s a queen bumblebee for the uninitiated , and none is more prominent than the red-tailed queen bumblebee. I do have difficulty getting around the Estate at speed as there is so much to see and do and I am soooo easily distracted! The solitary bees are stealing my attention at the moment as they make excellent use of our headlands and inter row planting – this early miner bee was a little highlight yesterday – very distinctive body shape and colour.
The blackthorn is in full blossom at the moment so take a closer look the next time you a see a bush and try and spot Andrena haemorrhoa (the bee).
It’s encouraging to see that the wide headland adjoining the entire southern edge of the vineyard is slowly reverting from arable back to a species rich grassland sward. At the moment groundsel is winning the competition for space, due mainly to its high seed count, but we are planning to sow a wildflower mix and I’m looking forward to many other flowers and plants making an appearance – and for the initiated we had venus looking glass flowering last year.
An update on the wildflower roof on the winery will follow shortly – when the wind slows down a bit! I can’t wait to get up there with my camera, bee net, collection pots and sun lounger.
Now where are those swifts?
You can also follow me on twitter @rathfinnyrich