Sunshine and Swallows
July is the hottest month of the year in West Wales and this year saw some exceptionally hot days, far higher than the average 20C; but there were some very wet days too and this has provided farmers with challenges. Plenty of long sunny days for silaging, straw baling and haymaking , but battered crops in the summer storms too. The delicious ‘Pembrokeshire Earlies’ – our county’s potatoes – are in the shops for all to enjoy. The barley crop in the field featured here was drying and changing colour, but now looks a bit battered and crumpled by the occasional heavy downpours.
July’s hedgerows look very different than earlier in the summer – grasses and flowers going to seed, with banks of meadow sweet becoming most noticeable. Blackberries are already forming and some leaves beginning to turn yellow and gold . Purple thistle flowers have taken the place of the foxgloves and the air is full of butterflies when the sun is out. At the end of July, the farmers have trimmed the lane edges ready for the school holiday traffic and this makes me feel that summer is rushing by.
Up above, the swallows enjoy the warmth and plentiful insects, while below, the scourge of Pembrokeshire growers – the slugs – are thriving, too. On early morning field walks, all the tall grasses and cow parsley stalks are decorated with slugs of varying hues and stripey snails.
The meadow brown butterflies love the waving grasses and Pembrokeshire’s habitat supports many other varieties of butterflies and moths. With a stream at the lower field edge, July also brings dragonflies of dazzling colours – I was astonished to catch some film of this one consuming a bee…
Pembrokeshire Goldenringed Dragonfly eating a Bumble Bee – Video:
The field grass has been cut again and more muck spread to make the most of the growing season – working late into the night farmer David Dixon and his team collected the grass all in just before the rain came and I admire the tenacity and hard work of the farmers.The seasons change so fast and every day brings new things to note and enjoy for the walker.