With the cows safely corralled into one field we explored rather tinier beasties that swam, hopped and flew around us. Damselflies, both azure and common (the differences to the untrained eye pretty nigh impossible to spot!), Four-spotted Chasers (a kind of dragonfly), and Banded Demoiselles were all around us. Whirligig beetles glinted in the river and, when our guide took a river sample to show us, we saw the tadpoles of toads, along with a miniscule froglet, and this tiny thing, a kind of cocoon made of shells 'glued' together.
I missed the snake, and the duck chasing a kingfisher down the river - but saw a heron patiently sitting by the side of the water on the other side of the field, then taking off, like something held on strings, flapping slowly as it lifted into the air.
Traditional summer cattle grazing, combined with winter flooding, means that these water meadows are seeing the return of plants that were in decline, such as the Tubular Water-dropwort, and the Pyramidal Orchid. Starting with just 15 of them on the site, they now expect to count between 900 and 1,000 this year.
What a day for it, tho'. It was blisteringly hot, so there were no lizards or snakes to be found hiding underneath the lengths of corrugated tin left out for them - they'd clearly escaped to cooler, damper spots. The Scouts were out on the river, people were having picnics in the fields, and after a couple of hours baking in the sun the cows needed to be let back into the meadows and the shade of the trees. So we headed back for lunch and to check the results of the Horticultural show..
Well, talk about a bad loser... My banana and chocolate cake came third of three entries! I was so grumpy about it - especially because I had to leave it there for the next 24 hours, festering in the heat, not even able to eat it as compensation for my disappointment! When I got it back next day (C left me in front of the telly with a tall glass of Pimms, cheering Andy Murray on like a mad thing, while he went to collect it) I found out it was a bit dry and not up to my usual standard. Must've been the chocolate I added at the last minute. C said if there had been any other entries I wouldn't even have come third...
I'm glad I didn't enter my blanket, as the winner for the crochet/tapestry/embroidery category was a piece of crocheted lace - I can't compete with that! Entries in other categories included...
|...and finally, the winner for 'a handicraft open to all types of craft except crochet/ tapestry/ embroidery/ knitting, etc.' I know when I'm beaten.|