This was my first visit of the season around the reserve at Greystones. Spring seems always a bit slow to arrive up there, but the meadows were starting to come alive. The Cow Parsley was in full bloom on the Iron Age ramparts; meanwhile orchids (Spotted, Southern Marsh and Early Marsh) were all in bloom, as were some nice patches of blue Vipers Bugloss. It was a bit windy, but even so very few butterflies and dragonflies to be seen.
Back at Greystones today for a walk. Despite the windy day there were still some butterflies about in the sheltered spots. Several Commas around the brambles, Small Coppers and also some Speckled Wood butterflies. The meadows are growing back a bit after their July hay harvest haircut, allowing some flowering of Devils Bit Scabious, Silverweed and hawkbit. Four Little Egrets on the nearby gravel pit were a sign of the season.
My first Guide duty at Greystones Farm, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reserve for a month or so, and it was a beautiful Cotswold morning. The hedges are yawning with berries, including wild hops - not something you come across too often. Lovely colours, and lots of food for wintering birds later in the Autumn. Some bird passage was in evidence, with a fly-over Meadow Pipit and a flock of Pied Wagtails, with one White Wagtail, feeding around the cattle.
Back at the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reserve at Greystones Farm, Bourton-on-the-Water today to pick up my cheese. I went on a cheese-making course last week with Simon Weaver Cotswold Organic Dairy. The course was a pilot for a series of courses to be run at the farm starting sometime in August, and it was really great. Learned so much about about different types of cheese and how to make them, and now I have a big Tomme de Savoie maturing in the kitchen, ready to eat in about a month. There's not many places where you can see the cows, visit the wildflower meadows that feed them, watch the milking and then make cheese from the fresh milk. Big thanks to Roger Crudge, the Simon Weaver Dairy team and GWT for a fantastic day.
Details of forthcoming courses are to be found at https://www.simonweaverorganic.co.uk/courses
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has built a new visitors centre at their Greystones Farm nature reserve near Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds, and needed some volunteers with good knowledge on nature to guide groups around the site. Having been through some training and learned my way around the reserve I started guiding in June. The reserve is a great place to visit, even without a guide. It's a site of special scientific importance (SSSI) for the wildflower meadows, which have never been treated with artificial fertilizers & pesticides, and also for a visible history of human habitation from the Neolithic & Iron Age periods on-wards. In the summer it's covered in flowers and buzzing with insects of all kinds; a great place for a walk and a paddle in the clean Cotswold rivers. There's a wild-play area for kids, and at the weekends you can even get a cream tea at the cafe.
I've just done my second visit to my BBS square on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border near Broadway. This British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) survey counts breeding birds, with two visits in April and June to log the birds encountered along two transects running through an assigned 1 km square. The BBS itself is great to be part of: it's been running annually since 1994 and the data enables a detailed analysis of population trends for over 100 UK breeding birds. This provides massively valuable input to discussions about the impact of changing climate and land-use on the nation's wildlife for the Government and organisations like RSPB. I'm lucky with my square that it's very scenic and has plenty of wildlife, so as well as feeling like a worthy citizen I get to enjoy some good birding.