CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday, St Peter’s Church, 8am Holy Communion, 10.315am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Parish Communion followed by coffee in the hall.
OART: An interesting piece in the Oart newsletter is headed Stop The Spread, which I think that a lot of water sports lovers would not be aware that they are doing. Are you unknowingly spreading invasive species on your water sports equipment and clothing? Invasive species can affect fish and other wildlife, restrict navigation, clog up propellers and be costly to manage. You can help protect the water sports you love by following three simple steps when you leave the water. Check your equipment and clothing for live organisms, particularly in areas that are damp or hard to inspect Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. Use hot water where possible. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them. Dry all equipment and clothing, some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.
SHOW SUPPORT: For the important work that Oart undertakes by buying one of their attractive polos which come in deep navy with an embroidered logo. The price of £20 includes postage. Available in a range of sizes. Contact Neil Pringle at Little Knowlands, Spithurst Road, Barcombe BN8 5EF.
JIM’S DIARY: Jim starts his travels around the river banks very early in the year, this year from January 21. January 22 on a walk along the Ouse he saw the still water at the Mills frozen over. January 29 he was thinking of the old saying, ‘February Fill Dyke’s’ as some 17mm of rain was recorded. February 1, more heavy overnight rain and the River Uck was in full flood and all the ditches were running with water and at 4pm the Ouse was over the road at Barcombe Mills. February 5 he walked along the river bank and saw siskins in the riverside alders. February 9, a drab day but some shoots of green were showing in the hedge bottoms and he found a small clump of celandines in bloom in a ditch bottom. A cheerful splash of colour on such a dreary day. February 11, very cold and snowing from time to time. Extra bird food and water was needed with all sorts of birds appearing. A pair of goldfinches, some siskins and even a grey wagtail with many sparrows, all hungry for food. February 12, walking across the Brooks by the Ouse, Jim saw a few redwings and fieldfares as the berries on the hawthorn bushes had long gone. There were several teal on a small water splash. Very cold. February 16, primroses were out in a very sheltered area under the hedge bank and also the village pound which was once used to house stray cattle and restored by the parish council in 1990. February 23, Storm Doris was on its way and plenty of trees had already come down.
March 4, a walk along the Ouse and all the woodland plants were on the move. Jim disturbed five cormorants in the riverside trees near the reservoir and hears a report of a large pike being caught. March 11, after a misty start the sun comes out with lots of bee activity on the daffodils. A walk along the river bank and he sees red admiral butterflies and three brimstones, but he says not to be complacent that the blackthorn was still out, beware the blackthorn winter. March 22, a morning of heavy rain and the celandines are shut tight. Jim uses the flowers as his weather indicator, they will open again when the sun shines. Lots of milkmaids in bloom and he hopes to see some orange tip butterflies soon. March 27, he saw a pair of house martins around the nest sites on his house, also three brimstones, two peacocks and one red admiral.
April 2, the early wild flowers look splendid. Ransoms were pushing up with the bluebells. Also white dead-nettle, Alexander, dog violet and wood anemone. April 9, wall to wall sunshine and the warmest day of the year so far. Swallows and house martins were about with hopefully a lot more to come. Large numbers of queen wasps were also out dining on the blooms of the camellia’s in Jim’s garden. He hears one lone cuckoo. April 17, a very special day for Jim, helping to raise money for a good cause, The Children’s Trust for children with brain injury. A landowner friend at Horsted Keynes opened his field for people to watch the Flying Scotsman which went slowly past blowing its whistle. A god amount was raised for the Children’s Trust at Tadworth. The bluebells were a picture on the line. April 26, a cold day with a north east wind with snow, hail and sleet showers. The evening saw Jim at the Oart AGM where he presented the Tony Barnard Shield to a very worthy member of the Oart Task Force.
May 4, Radio Sussex rang about the drought-like conditions. A lot of arable crops were crying out for rain and it has been a long dry winter. The Winterbourne at Lewes has not run and neither have some of the chalk streams from the Downs. Even the house martins are having problems with no mud to build their nests. Some very nasty frost overnight. It even burnt the young bracken and nettles in Jim’s drive, as well as doing damage to vineyards. The words Blackthorn Winter come to mind. But it was nice to walk locally and hear the nightingales in the blackthorn thickets as well as seeing a good display of early purple orchids. In the afternoon the house martins were very active around last year’s nests. In the Brooks some large clumps of king cups, or marsh marigolds, looked splendid. On the front cover of the newsletter is a lovely picture of the king cups or marsh marigolds. I don’t know if Jim took the photograph, but whoever it was it is stunning. Jim Smith is Oart Field Officer and Honorary Bailiff of the River Ouse.
THE ENGLISH LAWN: I have just read the following. Climate change will soon put our lawns out to grass, an RHS reports says. With more frequent droughts and higher temperatures, gardens especially in the South East, will have to switch to artificial grass. I hope that it does not happen as I would need lorry loads to cover my lawn areas.
HUGE: I had an awful fright recently when I went to pull back the curtains early in the morning and saw, on the window sill, what I thought might be a huge spider. As I have always been terrified of spiders, I did not get to close to inspect it but did keep going back into the room hoping it had gone. Unfortunately it stayed there for most of the day. I waited for my son to arrive and asked him to have a look as he does pest control. He came out from the room with something in a piece of paper and told me that it was a European wasp. It must have come down the chimney and got behind the curtain. As you may imagine I am very careful now when I pull back the curtains.
BEAUTIFUL: Having written about all the lovely celandines, purple orchids etc that Jim had seen on his travels along the river bank, although my celandines have now finished, I have the most wonderful Rambling Rector rose which is laden with wonderful clusters of small white blooms which as you pass let off a lovely scent. In the centre of these wonderful blooms is a purple clematis. In all the hot spell it was swarming with bees and butterflies. The best year ever.
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