The grassy bank below the Octagon Pond had been roughly strimmed, leaving a few small patches of bugle and lady’s smock – both in flower. Lady’s smock (Cardamine pratensis) is a delicate and graceful plant, the most attractive of the crucifer family. It is often the first spring flower of damp meadows - arriving; it used to be said, with the cuckoo. Indeed, some call it the cuckoo flower. Around here, these days, it comes without the cuckoo. The lady’s smock name seemingly also comes from its early spring appearance and association with milkmaids and their smocks. You don’t see many of those these days either. I’ve no idea as to why bugle (Ajuga reptans) is called bugle.
Anyway, back to the strimmed grass… We raked it, bagged it, loaded it on to the back of a truck, and carted it off to restock some of the would-be grass snake nest heaps. The theory is that fresh grass cuttings in the mix do a good job of rotting down and generating heat enough to favour incubation of any eggs that grass snakes might choose to deposit there. So far, that’s the missing ingredient. The things we do for grass snakes. Maybe they’ll arrive with the cuckoo.
|A hardy volunteer cutting bracken with secateurs!|
|A completed nest site|
|No, not a grass snake nest but a chiffchaff nest discovered |
whilst cutting bracken. It was left undisturbed.
Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne