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Summer turns to Autumn

Over the last month the summer has definately rolled into autumn. After a damp but warm August we had lots of grass, which was still growing well during September. It got a bit exciting at the very end of September/early October when we had nearly 4 inches of rain in 4 days - the river Thames jumped up by a good metre, caused some small floods, but then dropped fast - so grazing can carry on on the flood plain, which is key to managing the species rich grassland.

The bulls are now out with the summer calving herd (Rambo pictured below), so him and Nigel the Hereford are enjoying themselves. The spring calving herd we pregnancy scanned, and 100% were in calf which is great. Also our one eyed cow in this group is thriving (see picture). Back in the spring she got an eye infection which despite treatment we couldn't cure, so very unusually the vet had to remove the eye and sew the eyelids closed. This was quite a major operation but our vet is highly skilled, its great to see her doing everything a 2 eyed cow does.

Its been a great month for wildlife with lots of birds on passage passing through, the most interesting being Redstarts. Only once have I recorded one here (a fleeting glimpse one April 4 years ago) so to have them turning up in ones and twos regularly when checking cows was great. They dont breed here but the fact that they stayed around for 2 months showed that the habitat here can provide some of what they are looking for. Its a long shot but I'll be getting the kids to manufacture half a dozen Redstart adapted bird boxes this winter (no hole, an open front) and putting them up just incase spring migrants fancy staying. The odd Swallow is still around but over the last week numbers of these and martins have dropped off. 2 weeks ago I had a cloud of 100 plus mainly Sand Martins leisurely feeding over the cows, fuelling up before the long trip South. They are the smallest member of the swallow family (Hirundines) that breed in the UK, and breed locally in heaps of sand around gravel pits.

The winter ducks are starting to appear, which decent numbers of Pochard massing in the gravel pit adjacent to the farm. Local reports of the odd Redwing, but I've not seen one yet.


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