Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Year 2012

Regrettably no long walk was possible in December, due in good part to the weather. My walking year only started off in March, and by the end of the month it was hot and very dry. Concern about possible droughts and water shortages began. My walks around Newbury and Abingdon saw dry paths with plants beginning to wilt.

Abingdon,dry path

The change came at the end of April, when a particularly intense storm brought winds, rain and flooding.

Exbury,rain,rhododendron

After a few weeks of wet and record April rainfall, May was not too bad at all, with some of the best walks of the year. Towards the end of the month it turned really hot.

Whitehorse,Uffington,Dragon Hill

June was fairly wet, but excellent for orchids, they seemed to like the rain and the warm spell at the end of May. At Bramshill the most impressive insects were dragonflies, well actually Broad-bodied Chasers, which were large and striking.

Broad-bodied Chaser,Bramshill

I made a special trip to see the fairly rare Fly Orchids

Fly Orchid,Burghclere

In July it was a struggle to choose a dry, bright day. Everything was growing well with the ample rainfall, and with so much lush grass on offer grasshoppers and crickets were plentiful. The Roesel's Bush Cricket at Medmenham was a highlight.

Roesel's Bush Cricket

Following the alternating pattern, after a wet July, August proved slightly drier than average with a few brief spells of hot weather. Wild flowers prospered in the moist conditions, including a favourite of mine Eyebright this one near Chequers.

Eyebright

Following the pattern, September proved cool and wet, with a few sunny, bright days to compensate. A highlight was a patch of mint at Upper Chute that had attracted a good number of Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies. A good plant for gardeners to attract them.

Small Tortoishell butterfly

The continuing wet conditions favoured fungi, and 2012 proved a good year for many species. I chose walks through woodland to look out for fungi and was amply rewarded.

fungi

With yet more rains the poor state of footpaths more than anything prevented long walks, it gets tedious when spending the whole time avoiding puddles and slipping over in mud rather than looking at the wildlife. So my walking year ended in November near Theale.

autumn,maple

I failed to complete a number of walking projects in 2012, with the weather as chief excuse, so there is plenty of scope for walks in 2013, things I hope to see next year include Fragrant orchids to increase my orchid tally. I hope it is a better year for butterflies who have had a rough time together with most flying insects (and therefore bats). I heard a report that said that there will not be a drought next year, whatever happens. I think this is complacent, it only takes four weeks of dry weather for wildlife to begin to suffer, and if it turns hot, demand for water increases dramatically. So I am not wishing for a dry 2013, may be if the rain falls at night everyone will be happy!

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