After the hottest summer on record, with only the very occasional light shower this autumn, at long last we have had some heavy and continuous rain.
Normally we complain about too much of the ‘wet stuff’ but our reservoirs are very very low. So with luck they are starting to refill.
But they have a long way to go to reach the fill mark, as you can see from the image of Carsington Water, just a week ago today. Look at the height of the dam wall on the horizon…and those stones in the foreground, they would be well underwater under normal conditions
(C) David Oakes 2018
Another year and I am pleased to visit an ‘old friend’….as each year goes by I wonder if he will survive the winter, the cold, the wind and the damp. So I was pleased to see him with a brand new head of leaves.
He was named ‘The Old Man of Calke’ to celebrate this area of parkland being designated as a National Nature Reserve. Ancient Oak’s are a major feature of these woods but this particular Oak was so named as it believed to be at least 1100 years old. An enormous hollow trunk now sports only a handful of branches but none the less still has a handsome head of new green leaves. One day it will disappear but I still expect it to outlive me.
It is early summer and the warm weather combined with all the wet weather we have ‘enjoyed’ has brought on an abundance of growth in the hedgerows. At the moment the big winner would seem to be Wild Dog Roses, their delicate shades of white and pink presenting a fresh and welcome appearance in contrast to all the greens.
I mention all the wet weather we have had, yes much needed rain to top up our reservoirs like this one at Staunton Harold now over flowing…….
I say much needed as water levels have been at drought level for a good while now. Just as a reminder here is the same reservoir some 11 months ago and as you can see a very different situation. The dark shape in the right foreground is a dead Pike one of many fish that didn’t survive.
I know lots of places arround the world suffer from drought and water shortages….but this is middle England, in April, and we are now officially living in a drought area. Admittedly, unlike other parts of southern England we have no water restrictions (as yet) but it is clear that we do need water to replenish the water table, reservoirs and rivers.
Mind you, right at this moment and for the past week or so you could have fooled me that there is a shortage. April has lived up to its reputation for being the month of showers…..only showers is perhaps an understatement!
Up on the Isle of Skye in North West Scotland. they are very familiar with Rain. So I guess this Art Gallery on the harbour side at Portree was named with the owners tongue firmly in cheek…..
The forecast for the immediate days ahead, that no doubt will please farmers, gardeners and of course the water authorities, is for more rain. I suppose we should be grateful but somehow it does seem like a hardship. So I guess it will be sometime before we can get the sun hats out again!
Explorer, Survival Expert and Wildlife buff Ray Mears has done much to encourage folk to explore the Great Outdoors……I have to admit to being a fan. I would even encourage you to attend one of his lecture nights if you get the chance. But it is the results of his TV programmes that have done much to irritate me of late. To be truthful its not so much the programme but the young (and not so young) that have been tempted to emulate their hero. From the wilds of Scotland to our local woodland on the edge of midlands city you come across numerous shelters built in the Ray Mears style….
Some are rather crude other very professional and show signs of having been put to good use overnight. In principle I have no objections but I am sure Ray Mears would join me in saying that the brave explorer should leave no trace of their passing. Yet you come across a growing number of abandoned shelters. Time will eventually rid of these as they naturally disintegrate. But perhaps what is worse are the camp fires also abandoned and these cause much more of a worry.
It is great that so many youngsters are discovering the outdoors for themselves and if Ray Mears is the one to thank, then well done. But please Ray, stress that you leave no trace of the campsite when you move on.
The autumn colours have yet to put in an appearance. The Gales of this last week have certainly stripped some trees, particularly the broad leaved, of their leaves. But these were leaves that have suffered most in this summers drought. The rains on the other hand that followed the gales have only served to re-set the other leaves that now look as if they are taking full advantage of their second life. Survival of a more natural kind!
It provides an interesting and different feel to the woodland. Autumn at ground level yet summer green above with just the odd leaf turning gold. No doubt the first frosts will change all that and overnight the colours will change.
Yep, back in the spring when I referred to the old folk law rhyme the goes like this…….
OAK BEFORE THE ASH
WE ARE IN FOR A SPLASH
ASH BEFORE THE OAK
AND WE ARE IN FOR A SOAK.
It was suggested by many that there could be no truth in such rubbish. Well as far as we are concerned in this part of the midlands the OAK was the first to come into leaf with the ash a long way behind by some 4/5 weeks….…..AND most importantly we have enjoyed a great summer and have had something of a drought. Here we are at the end of September and the Oak leaves are brown and drying on the trees. Yet the ASH looks as if it is still full of summer joy, its leaves a bright healthy green and looks as if it will remain so for some time to come.
There is a good deal of talk about autumnal colours, well not here on my patch. The Ash is not alone in hanging onto the summer greens. In fact what little rain we have had has just invigorated much in the fields, hedges and woods. Admittedly the farmers have started to give the hawthorn hedges there winter trim but apart from that it still looks like summer both in the fields and in the woods.
A walk to-day in some South Derbyshire woods showed the same story for the Oak (and Chestnuts) where again most trees showed signs of water shortages, yet on the Oak the acorn crop looked more substantial than over the past few years…this fine old specimen still retained many of its rich green leaves yet the woodland floor beneath it was carpeted with acorns a sight I have not seen for many years,
Usually it is Jays and Squirrels that are feasting on this pre winter bounty but to-day this years young Deer were able to enjoy the feast, so intent on feeding that even the presence of our two dogs did nothing to spook them.
And finally just to prove that we have had a dry summer this image of our reservoir illustrates clearly that we have had a lack of rain….where i was standing to take the shot is usually under water…
SO just may be there is some truth in these old country fables……..as there are lots of berries and fruits about we should now expect a severe winter.