Chris McCully


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The first swallows

Thursday, 27 April 2023 at 16:45

The park I've had little opportunity recently to get outside and see the first swallows, so for all I know the swallows and swifts might have been back for weeks. Still, I was thrilled to see a pair of swallows working the shallows this lunchtime. The wild flowers, too, were trying their best despite this cold spring - bluebells were coming out, there were carpets of celandines and wood anemones, some late butterburs, primulas.... Wren, robin, kingfisher and overhead, the mewing of a young buzzard, completed the vernal picture. It was very lovely - but the trout were conspicuous by their absence. I released one lively trout under the rod-tip and returned a handful of grayling (I don't care for catching fish out of season but they were hard to avoid). Nevertheless, water temperature was a chilly 8C and I saw very little fly.

A cold and glittery light

Monday, 3 April 2023 at 21:38

ECH nymph ..and it was that which probably compromised the hatch of LDO. I struggled through what was a bitterly cold morning (a glorious 1C when I began). A few LDO began to show around 1330 and it was then I spotted a tiny rise in a foam line. The ECH nymph (pictured) was offered and was accepted. After a spirited tussle a wonderful trout of 18 inches was drawn into the net, unhooked and released. The fish was still lean but was fit and handsome. Half an hour later I rose another, this time to a CDC hatching olive, but that one failed to stick. I packed up soon afterwards.

The wild meadow and Stinky stork's-beak

Sunday, 2 April 2023 at 09:53

Dog violet I started the wild meadow as a desperate remedy last year, when the crows and jackdaws destroyed one of our lawns in search of chafer grubs. I treated the lawn with nematodes - of course I did - but eventually decided to develop the plot into a wild meadow. I scraped off the remaining surface layer of grass, explained to our neighbours that the plot was going to look like hell for a bit, did a preliminary autumn seeding and then last month, more scraping and seeding. It still looks awful...but this morning I found dog violet (pictured), bird's eye speedwell, forget-me-not, grape hyacinth, wild cyclamen and also some clumps of herb Robert. That term arrives in English (C13th) as a translation of Latin herba Roberti > German Ruprechtskraut, 'Rupert's weed'. According to Grigson, St. Rupert or Rudbert was an 8th century Austrian saint whose assistance was called in to stanch 'bleeding wounds, ulcers and erysipelas' for which Geranium robertianum was given. I asked Monika whether she knew the term 'Ruprechtskraut' and she didn't - although she did know a vernacular name for the same plant, Stinkende Storchschnabel ('Stinky stork's-beak').

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