Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Parish Life - August

Predicting the weather is always problematic and it may be the reason that we, as a nation, are quite obsessed with it. Or perhaps it is the changeability that leaves us uncertain as to what will be the next forecast. I am writing this piece in the blazing heat of early July and wondering if August will be the same.

Continued dry weather brings problems for wildlife. If you are kind enough to provide bird-baths, please ensure that these are cleaned regularly and always topped up with fresh water. Birds will return to a regular provider and if this is not available, they may struggle to find another source close by. They will use water for drinking and bathing, but also a patch of dry earth can be used as a dust bath to discourage parasites, such as lice.

Plants use a variety of techniques to save water. Our Stonecrops (English and Biting) have small, succulent leaves with thick, waxy cuticles to slow down evaporation and water loss. Navelwort, which also grows on dry-stone walls, is similarly fleshy. It is so-called because the centre of the leaf resembles a navel or tummy-button; it should have a spike of yellowy-red, tubular flowers in August. It is a common plant in the west, but rarely seen in the east or north of the country.

Although bees seem fewer this year (reports suggest that honey bee populations may be down by a third) butterflies seem reasonably abundant. We have had sightings of Speckled Browns, Green-veined Whites and Peacock butterflies so far this year. Bats have once again used the church as a summer roost. Two types of droppings inside the church have indicated that we have colonies of Daubenton’s and Pipistrelle bats in residence. If you would like to be part of our enterprise in maintaining the churchyard as a haven for wildlife, please join us on Saturday 17th August, 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon. If you are interested in a tour, please call at the same time. We shall be carrying out our usual maintenance tasks, such as raking up the mown grass (we have a new grass-collecting machine, kindly donated by Lesley Maddock.) Tools and gloves, and refreshments will be available. Please come and enjoy a session looking after your local environment!

Contributed by: Liz, Coordinator

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