we walked down Cake’s Lane yesterday in the early evening, and visited the old water meadow. it has been cut around the edges, but not having been mown for hay or grazed for some years, the lower section has more fen sedge and thistle than grass. walking round the north side under the trees of the next door wood is hard on unprotected ankles, the brambles have taken over here.

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where there is grass it is full of meadow sweet

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and the yellow spikes of agrimony.

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a lot of this is so bristly that nothing domestic would eat it. there is probably quite a lot of forage for deer. I wonder whether it is much of a habitat for the rodent prey of the barn owls and kestrels which patrol it, compared to a carefully maintained but yet unsprayed hay meadow.

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there are quite a few butterflies; mostly little brown ones. although they fly too fast and too far away to identify them, they are most likely ringlets, which like wet grassy places, or meadow browns, as John Clare described them; “Where their old visitors in russet brown, the haytime butterflies dance up and down”. or maybe both.

I saw this gatekeeper butterfly in Cake’s Lane, guarding his patch of nettle and bramble in the hedge. in this photograph you can clearly see the small white spots on the underwing. the Lane is very overgrown at the moment, it needs a haircut. it is a county road, an old bridle path or track owned and maintained by the local council, and they cut it with a tractor every so often, the hedges and banks less frequently, but the track itself about three times a year.

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bracken and nettles tower over both sides of the narrow track, punctured by hogweed and in places dense clumps of great willowherb, with its large bright pink flowers, favoured by the ditch of running water which edges the track on its south side.

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hemp agrimony flourishes in several places along the Lane. it likes the damp too. it is not related to hemp, although the leaves look similar.

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we walked through the middle of the farm, not our old way along the wood, it was too hot to wear the kind of protective clothing you’d need at the moment, and Tilda suffers badly from nettle stings.

the wheat is a lovely colour, a couple of weeks off ripe, I think. looks as though barley fields should be combined any day now. combine harvesters on all the farms have come out of storage and are being given hasty last minute services and power hosed off ….

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then we will hear the droning and whirring of machinery until late at night, and the air will be full of dust and harvest bugs.

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