Friday, 30 May 2014

Upper Cherwell Valley: when it's good to get wet feet

Running home from Banbury through the Upper Cherwell Valley this evening, standing water from recent rainfall was very noticeable.  Hemlock water dropwort is now flowering along the canal next to Grimsbury Plantation (thanks for the tip-off Colin).  Further along, an oystercatcher and a curlew stood in a damp pasture field, with another curlew calling in the distance.  Oystercatchers are quite scarce in our area, and this is the first I've seen locally so far this year.

A footpath crosses some rather nice hay meadows just before the slope rises up to Williamscot.  I was pleased to get my feet wet as I jogged along the path.  The fields are still somewhat "wet" meadows, and thus better for moisture-loving plants and wildlife.  Flower-rich meadows are something of  rarity locally, where most pasture is heavily improved and grazed.  Managed under a "Higher Level Stewardship"agreement, the farmer is doing a great job and wildlife benefits from some protection for the short term at least. 

The meadows are yellow-splattered with buttercups.  Yellow rattle is just coming into bloom.  I photographed this field last year about the same time (you can tell they weren't taken this week as there is blue sky and the sun is shining).

yellow rattle

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