I thought it would be good to keep a record of some of the things happening in the natural world at Birtley - with perhaps some encouragement to my colleagues on the garden and estate team to add their sightings and thoughts as we go along!
Our lovely summer is finally drawing to a close but it has left some indelible memories. Among the highlights have been an explosion in butterflies. Our small patches of marjoram at the Lodge have sometimes exceeded 30 butterflies for every five square metres and once reached 50 in the same area! Too many large and small whites for the gardeners perhaps but sometimes as many as 10 different species. Quite a surprise after last year hardly seeing any all summer. The house martins on the main house are down now to the last dozen trying hard to make sure the late-hatched young fledge and fly off south with them but overall they have been hugely successful with I guess at least 50 reared. Red Kites, kestrels, buzzards and sparrow hawks have been around much of the summer and I saw my first hobby of the year on Sunday. Dave Bayley’s bees have done well in the orchard and we have 25 lbs of Birtley honey in jars. The orchards are laden with fruit (well done hard-working bees!) and we are just starting to harvest some apples for the table and kitchen with the prospect of an encouraging first cider apple harvest to come!