When walking through the countryside, especially in the summer it’s not hard to appreciate all that is there. Apart from frequently enjoying the freedom of being naked, it is the feeling that you actually belong to part of nature that is the most pleasurable. In fact many words can sum up this feeling….enjoyable, satisfying, delightful, good fun, fulfilling, rewarding and so on.In spring and in summer the countryside is normally a tranquil and peaceful place,also it is a hive of activity which is not always obvious to the naked eye.
With the crops already planted by March, the warmer weather and the April showers then aid rapid plant growth. In Britain the types of crops grown has changed over the decades, where once the staples of wheat, barley, maize and oats were grown, we have seen a rapid increase of rapeseed (Brassica Napus). Production of Rape, as it is also known, increased sixfold worldwide between the years 1975 and 2007 and during that and earlier periods the UK’s own production went from 0.007 million tonnes in 1965 to 2.1 million tonnes in 2013.
While its colour a bright yellow definitely brighten up and gives colour to the countryside, its pungent odour can give hay fever sufferers a terrible time. Historically it was used as a lubricant for machinery, but more recently thanks to advances in science it is now more commonly used in the production of animal feeds and edible vegetable oils and also as biodiesel fuel.Many other typical British crops still get grown in the English countryside, with the like of Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots and Turnips being amongst the most popular.
Moving through the fields we often hear the rustling of animals and birds amongst the crops and in the ditches, but very rarely do you see that many. When you do they tend to run out or fly off and startle us at the same time. The animals (mammals and birds) we tend to see regularly are grouse, pheasants and even the odd rabbit while the birds tend to be either wood pigeons or doves.
All the time though you can see evidence of others such as Badgers or Foxes or hear the rustling of mice and voles. The Badger is a very shy mammal that can be found throughout the country on farmland, in meadows, on the edges of woodlands and on grassland that is regularly cut. It is very rarely seen because it is nocturnal which means it sleeps during the day and does most of its activity at night. Normally the sets of holes give the game away. When I got my new camera lens in September I was very fortunate to see and shoot some Roe Deer as the hurtled across a ploughed field.
In the UK we have twenty-four native land mammal species living in England today. We used to have more, but some mammals like the wolf, lynx, buffalo and wildcat have become extinct in this country. The natural environment of this country is actually well-suited to mammals and this is why so many other species of mammal that have been introduced to our country do rather well here. These introduced species include: house mice, black rats, brown rats, hares, common rabbits, fallow deer and more recently the Sica and Muntjack Deer, the American Grey Squirrel and the Mink.
Our native mammals form a group of varied creatures which provoke great affection in children and adults alike. As well as the Hazel Dormouse, we have three other mice. We also have three species of shrew, three species of vole and two native deer: the Roe Deer and the Red Deer. We have the Badger, the Red Fox, the Hedgehog, the Red Squirrel, the Weasel, the Stoat, the Polecat, the Pine Marten, the Mole and the Otter. Not forgetting of course our native Wild Boar and European Beavers which were both extinct in this country, but have now been reintroduced in the wild.
Whether trekking clothed or naked through the countryside you cannot help but notice the insects, especially during the hot weather. Insects, to many humans can be a nuisance, either with their bites, stings, touch on the skin or even just by appearance. The truth is though they form an important part of the food chain and they should never be disregarded as unimportant. Insects are in abundance especially in the shady areas and also among the nettles around the rivers and lakes. These insects are mainly: Gnats, Midges, Various types of Fly, Wasps, Bees, Beetles, Grubs and Bugs. Also in attendance are many animals the resemble insects: Centipedes, Millipedes, Woodlice, Harvestmen and other forms of Spiders.
The favourite insect among children tends to be the Butterfly as they are seen in the summer in the countryside and in the garden and tend to range in size and colour too. Butterflies tend to get favouritism over the Moth as they come out at night and tend to be seen as a pest in bedrooms and around lights.
When walking around the countryside over many years I get to notice what things have disappeared and also how the countryside has been carved up by overzealous agricultural policies. Bee’s for example, tend to nest in trees. A tree is the natural nest site for the honey bee. A hollow tree provides a dry, dark, cavity with wood roof on which the bees can fix their combs. Protected from rain and wind and some insulation, although honey bees have such a good air conditioning system this need only be minimal.
A small entrance helps the bees that guard the entrance against wasps and alien honey bees that might want to steal the honey. Honey bees also need a supply of water in the spring for diluting honey stores and in the summer for cooling the nest. Overall I love the countryside mainly because its peaceful and as these photos show if you hang around you’re bound to see some of natures wonders.
(All photos in this post were taken by myself and are copyright of Our World Photographics)