Wild carrot, Daucus carota
Most birdsong has ceased in the wood behind our cottage. Until a few weeks ago my daily walk in this smallish, newish patch of deciduous trees (planted in 1998) was accompanied by a cacophony of bird calls: blackcap, chaffinch, goldcrest, chiffchaff, songthrush, yellow hammer, wood warbler…Most of these species have now paired off and are raising young, or are moulting and they will not sing again in earnest until next Spring. The silence in the wood from mid July is only broken by the cackle of green woodpeckers, some half-hearted wood pigeon cooing and the chattering of a couple of grumpy squirrels.
Green woodpecker by Eldest
The birdsong may have finished for the year but the wood has reached peak umbellifer, a flower-form resembling a tiny firework. Jumbles of hedge parsley, cow parsley’s tiny, delicate cousin, wild carrot (queen Anne’s lace-see above) and the delicate yellow wild parsnip are lining the mown grass pathways just now.
Field scabious are in flower too and barring the appearance of cowslips in April this is my favourite time of year for wildflowers near our cottage. I’ve sometimes seen bees sheltering beneath scabious flowers during rain showers, like actual tiny umbrellas. Here male thick-legged flower beetles are preparing for a scrap.
Gatekeeper in the wood behind our cottage
There are more gatekeeper butterflies in the wood this year that I have ever seen before and there are still skippers, meadow browns and six spot burnets feeding on the knapweed and scabious in the clearings.
A week or two ago I stumbled on the small scene pictured above (marbled whites, small skipper, 6 spot burnets, small heath) and felt as though I was intruding so crept away.
Youngest and I found the first ripe blackberries in the wood on Friday and some of the bullaces/wild plums are ready to pick. Bullaces are similar to damsons and can be used like their larger domesticated plum cousins to make crumbles or blondies (recipe coming soon). I’m planning to make all the hedgerow gins this year and shall begin with these 2 excellent fruits. Bullace/wild plum gin is as delicious as damson or sloe gin but will be ready in October as the fruit is ripe now. Blackberry gin is wonderfully sharp and is a brilliant base for cocktails. This recipe (shown below) can also be used to make greengage gin. A jar or two of homemade hedgerow booze might even induce me to start looking forward to Autumn…
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