by Suzanne Humphries
Under the present lockdown rules, walking the dog is a permitted activity so Dog and I, armed with a camera, set off to check on the park.
It’s almost eerily empty of cars and people, but full of life and birdsong. The trees are coming into flower (hay fever sufferers beware): the buds on the horse chestnut near the main gate are just beginning to open, the row of maple trees in Simpson’s Field is in flower and the blackthorn tunnel at the top of the hill is full of blossom.
1. horse chestnut flower bud 2. maple flower 3. blackthorn tunnel
There are primroses still open in the shadier places, and snake’s head fritillaries. The greater stitchwort is just beginning it’s long flowering season, as always a couple of weeks ahead of the bluebells; the bluebells and stitchwort will make a wonderful show together at the end of April.
This year, there are more forget-me-nots in all the copses than I can remember ever seeing before.
4. primroses 5. snake’s head fritillary 6. greater stitchwort 7. forget-me-not
It was among the forget-me-nots that Dog found a squeaky ball which made such bird-like noises that it had me looking into the trees for rare avian species.
A pair of dunnocks is considering building a nest in the hedge of the presently empty car park, a decision they may regret if the lockdown is lifted any time soon. Wood pigeons are courting in the trees at Fiveways and collecting sticks from the path as Valentine gifts for each other. There is a robin singing in almost every tree.
8. dunnock 9. wood pigeon 10. pheasant
Wearing its bright breeding-season plumage, a cock pheasant walked out of the willow bushes by the pond and strutted across Village Green, right under Dog’s nose, as bold as brass.
The marsh marigold that flowered in the Lambrok last year, seems to have disappeared. It’s a water’s edge plant that is easily moved around by flood water, which is probably how it arrived in the park in the first place; this year’s flood could have swept it on down towards the Biss. Perhaps to compensate for its loss, there are cuckoo flowers just opening in Lambrok Meadow.
11. marsh marigold 12. cuckoo flower
If you are within walking distance, the park is well worth a visit at the moment. Take your permitted exercise there, run your children and dogs around the fields and let go of some of the stress and anxiety of this frightening time.
Header picture: Dog with squeaky ball found among the forget-me-nots.