The beginning of June 2016 was so different to June 2015. No rain at all for the first 9 days, mainly sunny days and warm temperatures, becoming increasingly humid. And generally light winds, so that eating outside was an option most days. What a treat!
The garden responded to all this warmth with the most fabulous display of flowers and foliage that we can remember. After such a slow cool start to spring, such a temperature change meant most of the garden hummed with insect life, and as usual, the cuckoo’s call diminished to some very brief sessions in early morning. The occasional more blustery session created some impressionistic photo opportunities.
One consequence of the rise in temperature and humidity was our earliest ever cases of fly strike in one of our ewes – the scenario where blowflies lay eggs on damp, soiled fleece – in this case a very small section of mucky tail wool, and having hatched very rapidly, the maggots proceed to eat into the flesh. Very unpleasant and potentially life threatening, if not dealt with promptly. All our lambed ewes were quickly “dagged” – clipping off any mucky fleece from around the tail area. It’s a bit early for shearing yet, but this dagging reduces the risk of further incidents dramatically.
After nearly 10 days with no rain, conditions became cooler and damper, but unlike many parts of the UK, we were fortunate to avoid heavy rain until the longest day of the year. On many days, the dramatic clouds to the South and East, showed just how close we were to heavy deluges. A warmer day on June 18th saw the first appearances, for 2016, of several species in the upper hay meadow. Small Skipper, Thymelicus sylvestris, Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina, and Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus, – actually a couple of days earlier – butterflies; Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moth, Zygaena lonicerae, and our single heath spotted orchid hybrid, Dactylorhiza maculata, and first ever Eyebright flower, Euphrasia, spp.
This meadow has changed so significantly in the last few years, thanks to introduced yellow rattle seed, Rhinanthus minor, which significantly weakens some of the more vigorous leafy grasses, thanks to its hemi-parasitic nature.No opportunities presented for any hay to be taken off in June, as the weather remained showery up to the end of the month, without a really high rainfall total for the month. At 115.7 mm, it fell below the average for Wales for June 2016 of 139.6 mm, which, according to the Met Office, was 163% of the normal rainfall for Wales in June between 1981 and 2010. So the curious position for us, of being drier than average, in a year which was quite widely wetter than average for the month. The PV records the fairly average amounts of sunshine over the whole month, with just a couple of sunny days in the latter half.