On April 26th I saw the first butterfly for this year; a large Cabbage White. On May 6th I heard the first Cuckoo and I think it was May 4th when I saw the first Bog Violet flowering on the edge of Radcliffe’s Meadow.

May 8th
A week ago I saw a goose in Radcliffe’s Hay Meadow that I have seen before, but never identified. It had a grey back and white face with black bars on the back of its head. I think from my bird book that it must be a Bar-Headed Goose. I couldn’t find any other Goose that visits Britain with a white face or black bars at the back of the head. The Barnacle Goose has been present again this year with the Canada Geese. I wonder if it is the same one I originally saw.

May 16th
The sun is quite warm but the wind is fresh and chilly. In the fields alongside Longworth Lane the Mayflowers are out. At home they are only in bud. Such a difference, probably due to altitude! At the bottom of Radcliffe’s Hay Meadow Globe flowers are blooming. I didn’t expect them to be out till June. At Egremont House Solomon’s Seal is flowering like some exotic plant, with long leaves and drooping flowers - which look like the fairies may play a tune on them.

Starlings have nested in the eaves, and their blue almost turquoise eggshells can be found up and down the place. There are plenty of lambs romping about now, and about forty young cows – not young enough to be calves, but not old enough to be heifers.

Lesser Celandines have been flowering for a couple of weeks in the front garden and the Willows Den. Yesterday for the first time I saw Swallows on the farm, though I’m sure they’ve been here for quite a while.

May 19th
An overcast day, with warm sunshine fighting its way through at times. Over the wall at the bus stop Hemlock is flowering, and along the pavement many Dandelions are raising golden heads. A male Chaffinch flew out of the plantation as I walked past. In the back garden the Moschatel I brought back from the Lake District three years ago, is flowering, and the wild strawberries have leaves on them. In the front garden the primroses still have plenty of pale yellow flowers, but they are past their best now.

Tonight I went a walk to the Willows Den which is a mass of flowers. Pretty white Wood Anemones dance in the breeze amongst golden Kingcups, yellow Celandines and Globe Flowers, and I found the first Mayflowers in full bloom. Also to my surprise the Greater Stitchwort is flowering. Pure white, star shaped flowers with long slender pointed leaves.

May 21st
The wind has been cold all day, with the sun trying to shine. In the Lane Field I saw three Oystercatchers and a mysterious reddy-brown duck, with black and white wings, which I saw yesterday. It was quite a large Duck and I wonder if it is an ornamental variety which has escaped from a park.

May 22nd
This morning at half four, I heard the Cuckoo calling. Again today I saw three Oyster-catcher in the Lane Field. I watched them through my binoculars and saw the characteristic long red bills, which distinguish them from any other wader. To my delight I discovered plenty of tadpoles in the channel in the Tip Field. I only saw one lot of frogspawn this Spring, so I am relieved that some was successfully laid and has hatched out. I’m thinking of catching a few and raising them till they are froglets, and then letting them go at the same place I caught them. I love tadpoles and frogs, they fascinate me.

May 23rd
In Radcliffe’s Hay Meadow, several Buttercups, Daisies and Dandelions are flowering. A couple of weeks ago it was just a bare green stretch. Everywhere you can see the Yellow Rattle leaves shooting up. Mouse-ear is flowering as well. Tonight at quarter to ten, as I walked home, I could hear the Cuckoo calling. It keeps busy and late hours.

May 27th
Today I saw the strange goose through my binoculars, quite close in the Lane Field. It has a large pink beak, greyish brown head, ginger and green tail feathers, brown-grey body and a large dark patch on its breast. I’d love to find out what it is. There are loads of Globeflowers out in the Willows Den. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many; and in Pump House Wood Earthnut is flowering. After much deliberation and consultation I have decided the strange goose must be an Egyptian Goose, and I am lucky enough to have a picture, although the breast is much redder brown on our goose.

May 30th
This morning it rained, but by three o’clock blue sky was showing through the clouds and bright sunshine. In the valley behind the ornamental cottages, Bluebells have been flowering for the past fortnight. Today I saw an Orange Tipped Butterfly there. It is only the second one I have ever seen locally. I was delighted to see it.

May 31st
The weather is quite chilly and there has been a wind blowing almost constantly for a week, but the sun has been shining. In Radcliffe’s Field red clover is starting to flower, and on the well in front of the house wood sorrel is flowering. Tonight I saw a pair of cuckoo flying together. One didn’t beat its wings every time but glided in between beating them and called “Cook, cook”. The other one called “cuckoo”. I presume that they were a pair courting.

June 10th
In the Tip Field today I found two white clover flowers, and on the Hawthorn are tiny white blossoms with red stamens. Up the Back Field I found a small patch of red clover, and in many places the tiny yellow starry flowers of Tormentil were out. Dusty caught a baby rabbit up the Back Field: I made her drop it. She also caught a shrew. It had short brown fur and a long nose with small beady eyes.

June 12th
A few years ago and on more than one occasion, I found a Bugle, and sometimes two or three Bugle flowers in the ditch area of the Tip Field at this time of year. So today I searched for them and found one. It was lovely to see – a little pyramid of purple flowers. It’s a pity there was only one but if the plant survives, one is never too many. In the front garden to my delight a White Deadnettle is flowering. It must be from the seed of those I planted there several years ago: I think I got them in the Lake District. On closer inspection I found there were two plants but one hasn’t yet flowered.

June 22nd
In the Willows Den, Germander Speedwell is flowering: a lovely haze of blue amongst the grass. Yellow Rattle is in flower in the meadow, and in Pump House Wood the Laburnums are covered with lovely yellow chains. In the Lane Field ditch, Brooklime is flowering. Tiny blue spots, all over the place.

For the past three weeks Bluebells have been flowering both at Tockholes and in the valley below the bleach works. Red Campions flower near Gale Brook, and in the surrounding woodland, along with Butterbur and Herb Robert.

June 26th
Last night while driving up the lane at about quarter to twelve, we saw, to my delight, a hedgehog routing amongst the vegetation. My brother had to swerve to miss it. It is only the second one I have ever seen on the farm – the first I saw some years ago. Around the gates, on what is very much like wasteland, the Pineapple Mayweed is flowering. In the Tip Field, the tiny purple flowers of the Self Heal are out.

June 27th
In a boggy patch in the Lane Field and quite near the pond, I found a single Heath Spotted Orchid flowering today. It is wonderful to find one in a different location from the Willows Den. Maybe they will spread successfully, which would be great. Chickweed is flowering in many places on the farm where there is long grass, and by the drive there is a furry-leaved Chickweed with white flowers which I think might be Common Mouse-ear.

About six weeks ago I saw a pair of Goldfinches at the bus terminus. I have just remembered and had forgotten for some reason to record it. We sometimes get Goldfinches in the Autumn because we have plenty of thistle seeds for them to eat. A Mallard has successfully raised four ducklings on the pond. She started off with about seven, but I think the crows may have got some.

Continued 1987 july