Sunday, 1 April 2018

April 2018 -- Cyclamen coum and a fieldfare


Last month I wrote about the tiny Goldcrests feeding by the R.S.P.C.A. Centre and I wonder if they were able to survive the fierce storm known as the Beast from the East. Despite more bad weather, things are moving towards spring. Today at the pond in the King’s Meadow low prolonged croaking sounds, like the muted roar of distant motor cycles, could be heard as frogs thrashed about and mats of spawn covered the surface between the reed-mace plants.
     As the Beast receded a striking thrush appeared on the apple tree in our back garden. This was a Fieldfare — a winter visitor from Northern Europe — more often seen in large flocks. Somehow this chestnut and grey bird had recognised that fallen apples lay beneath the snow. As the snow thawed the Fieldfare vigorously drove a sharp beak into the over-ripe fruit, continuing for three days, and when last seen looked in very good condition as if strong enough to re-cross the North Sea. I once saw a large number of Fieldfares feeding in a derelict cider orchard near Hereford.
     I always enjoy watching (and hearing) our native Mistle Thrush. They are early nesters, strong and energetic and can be seen bounding about in local fields. I saw one the other day hopping along the top of a drystone wall with characteristic straight-ahead urgency.
Cyclamen coum
     I have had little success in the garden with the oft recommended winter flowering Cyclamen coum. Our bought plants died but left behind a cluster of minute seedlings. These were potted up last year and placed in the greenhouse.
Disconcertingly the leaves withered away in the autumn, the whole lot coming close to being thrown away, but within a few weeks fresh leaves appeared

followed by delicate pink blooms. Patience required.

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