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May News

An update from Lindy – our Tour Guide Manager and Conservationist

The explosion of life in the beautiful month of May means a walk on the Estate is a joy.

Spring has finally arrived and a meander through the meadows, orchards, vines and woodland reveals insects buzzing, shrubbery greening, wildflowers blooming and migratory birds returning –all contributing to the abundance of nature in May after a long, dark winter.

Bluebells are in full bloom and our native species grow in great swathes throughout the ancient woodland. They provide a delicate perfume and a shimmering lilac vista – bring your camera! Their range worldwide is very limited as they grow and thrive where the Atlantic damp climate influences their growth and because of this are considered a symbol of ancient woodlands in the UK. The bluebell’s pollen and nectar are rich and pollinated mainly by bumble bees.

Cowslips, buttercups, cow parsley, red campion and foxgloves are also abundant. Take a break to pause and listen to the constant hum as a myriad of insects go about their business amongst them.

As you walk past the orchards and into the woodland, you may encounter a cloud of mayfly which are emerging from ponds where they have lived as larvae until they reach adult life – briefly and solely to mate. The males dance around to attract females and they swoop and dip until they succeed, and the females go back to the water to lay their eggs. It is a brief existence as an adult – they do not have complete mouths and therefore cannot feed so their mating ritual is their last act which we can enjoy as their beautiful delicate bodies float in mid-air. Rich in protein as a source of food and important for their role in cleansing pond water, their short adult existence ensures that their species lives on.

The weather influences buds and blossom but strolling through the apple orchards you may see the leaf buds have unfolded and pink and white flowers have emerged. These are the beginning of the fruit as honeybees brush against the flowers and spread the pollen which germinates and produces fruit.

Birds are in full song and although their dawn chorus begins very early, they can still be heard during the day, reinforcing their territory and communicating with their individual species. Our woodland birds include blackbirds, bullfinches and thrushes plus cuckoos and woodpeckers – all of which have their signature calls and songs.

It is truly beautiful and a privilege to stop and listen as well as stop and look. Slow down and take in nature at its absolute best in the glorious month of May.

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