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I’m not quite sure how it is mid-August already but somehow it is, and I am continuing to be amazed at the changes taking place at Poppy’s Farm. This time last year I was busy working away sowing seeds and imagining what it would look like in a years’ time, there’s no more imagining needed as the nature trail is in full bloom.

As the season is maturing, the meadows are at the height of production and I am pleased with the plants that are colonising it such as Figwort, Brooklime, and Fleabane. Interestingly, none of these are species I planted so they must have already been in the soil, been blown in, or brought in by birds – this is nature doing its thing. They are all a great source of nectar and as such, are loved by the insects.

The list of wildlife I have spotted on the nature trail continues to grow. This week I was delighted to see a Brown Argus butterfly, to most people it’s just a brown butterfly with bits of orange on it but it is very unusual for the area, so I was really pleased to see it.

Earlier in the summer I spotted a variety of different damselflies including the Large Red Damselfly and both the male and female Banded Demoiselle, these have now been joined by a Common Darter Dragonfly which I have seen in Oliver’s Allotment and down by the water. These stunning insects are known to fly long distances and colonise new ponds and streamways quite quickly and it’s a pleasure to have them here at Poppy’s Farm. 

At last, the bees have arrived, this was later than expected as the colonies have been a bit tricky this year and so the beekeeper was waiting for a calm colony which would stop swarming long enough for them to be re-homed. Now they’re here they have taken to their new home very well and are feeding on the wildflowers. Interestingly, I have noticed that one hive wakes up earlier than the other but by 10am they’re both buzzing - the bee man thinks the hive which is later to rise must be full of teenage bees! I’m pleased to report that there have been no stings yet (famous last words!) and that I’m thinking I might take up beekeeping as my next hobby!

Images that we love

On the subject of wildlife, we’ve all been excited to learn that the otters have been back, and we have some lovely footage of the three of them playing in the wildlife pond, diving and interacting with one another. We’re not sure how often they come but they are obviously using it as a regular stop-off point on their way up and downstream. We’re beginning to see evidence of them on the riverbank where they go in and out of the water, I even noticed a tiny footprint by the bridge the other day.
I have strimmed the meadow and been pulling out some of the more pernicious weeds like thistle to give the less bullish plants a chance to get a foothold. It’s interesting to see which plants have colonised the place as this gives an indication as to what will be prominent next year. 2022 will be the year of the Teasel! Every few years this will change with different plants becoming dominant and then making way for something else. Fortunately, Teasel is a great plant for wildlife.
There’s not too much in the way of birdlife because of all the people we have on site, but I have seen a kingfisher once or twice and also a kestrel. I’m not disheartened though as it’s important to concentrate on the insects as they’re at the bottom of the food chain, they’re great for nighttime animals such as mice and bats, the latter of which have taken up residency – I have invited the Worcestershire Bat Group in to identify the species. I don’t know much about bats but I’m excited to learn. 
If I take a moment to reflect on what we’ve achieved here at Poppy’s Farm in less than a year, I am amazed that doing what we have in this relatively small space has resulted in so much wildlife flooding in, it gives me hope for the future…