by Andrew Johnson
For the first ten days of May the dry northerly airflow and frosts continued so that early nesting birds failed and the dawn and evening chorus stopped. As I write (24 May) I have still to see a young blackbird. This cold, dry spell has had a huge impact on plant growth and germination. Then on the 9 May the wind changed to the south and brought significant rainfall and warm weather. On the following day a flood of house martins, swallows, swifts and a hobby arrived to feed over the village. Unfortunately the warmth has been very short lived and a return to cool, northerly airflow, punctuated by periods of heavy rain, has become the norm.
The only two plants which have really appreciated this weather have been daisies and dandelions! The recent Swale flood has inundated some of the sand martins and oystercatchers nests, but they still have time to nest again.
Many early summer flowers such as lupins, aquilegia and peonies are only just coming into bloom as is the May blossom. I trust this will be the harbinger of warm weather and the prospect of ‘casting ones clouts’*. It is good to see that our resident swallows, house martins and swifts have returned and are busy nesting. Hopefully June will be ‘flaming’, with trees in full leaf and roses blooming.
* ‘Ne’er cast a clout ’til May be out’. Clout is derived from the Old English for cloth or clothing. May could either refer to the month or to the hawthorn (May Tree) in bloom. In any event, a reminder not to be too hasty to discard your winter woollies! – Ed.