We know farmers in particular like to talk about the weather, a lot, but we are heartily glad that the weather has finally dried up and turned a little warmer.  In April, we had 130mm of rainfall; in April 2011 we had only 5mm in the hottest, driest spring in 100 years – the complete opposite of this year which has to be the wettest and coldest on record.  So, despite our light sandy soils, crops such as potatoes, onions, and sugar beet are struggling, whilst cereals seemed to have thrived in the constant wet.

We now boast a herd of Red Poll cattle (poll = no horns!) who are happily grazing our wet meadows and keeping us all fit chasing after them when one decides that they prefer a different meadow to the rest of the herd.  They are great escapologists!

Newcomers in our bird world include Great Gray Shrike, Nuthatch, and Crossbills.  All our regulars have arrived with the spring namely Woodlarks, Skylarks, Yellowhammers, Dartford Warblers, Redstarts, Nightingales, Cuckoos, and masses of Goldfinches, whose brilliantly coloured plumage is startling.

An unwelcome visitor has arrived in the shape of the caterpillar of the Brown-tail moth.   They form web-like homes in hawthorn and blackthorn hedges and have devoured whole hedges in the process.  They have nasty hairs that cause skin rashes, headaches, and breathing problems, so best avoided.

Some plant species have benefited from the wet conditions and a whole carpet of heartsease (wild pansy) has appeared on Sutton Heath.  Primroses and bluebells have put on a good show, if a little late.

The start of 2012 saw the arrival of Portland sheep who have just about finished lambing.  This hardy rare breed will
graze the heathland to the benefit of a huge array of flora and fauna.  They are joining the established flock of Hebrideans.

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