For many years, a monthly diary consisting of brief notes about the meadow's wildlife and condition during the preceding month, was published in the Keyworth News. Between February 2006 and February 2011, these were written by Neil Pinder and are archived below.
Prior to November 2006, the previous manager, Ken Jackson maintained this diary and these too are slowly being archived here.
Covering the near-vertical hard mud walls of a bend in the brook, a large patch of previously unnoticed liverwort is exposed like a sheet of bright green crinkly crepe paper, outwardly undistinguished, but inwardly a botanically fascinating symbiotic combination of plant and algae, more usually found on rocks around waterfalls.
Here and there on path and pasture large (one-foot diameter) green compass roses of the base leaves of Spear Thistles are set flush with the ground, while one tiny Hedge Parsley plant is the only flower in sight, a relic of last year, not yet a harbinger of spring.
Already hatching from the twig-and-leaf soup in the ditch, a jumble of tiny midges; little black torpedoes with invisible wings, circulate up and down, all facing into the gentle breeze. Two large dark shapes, accompanied by a sharp Blackbird's call, fly low and silently away through the Salvador Dali - like, green snakes of Hawthorn branches in the shrubbery. They leave behind a patch of white lime droppings on the shiny emerald-coloured Ivy leaves covering the floor, and a couple of tell-tale "pellets" of indigestible feather, beak and claw suggesting they were Tawny Owls. A Robin, silhouetted against the sunset, sings loudly, glad to be alive.
Spring is on the march again, the birds are all a-twitter, led by the Shakespearean "dying fall, the food of love" of a Chaffinch, reflected by the melodious if insignificant-looking Hedge Sparrow, echoed by the ever cheerful Robin, while a pair of Long-tailed Tits cavort excitedly along the hedge and four Blue Tits, with unexpectedly bright yellow bellies (although not from Lincolnshire) preen themselves on a Hawthorn bush.
In the ponds, the rafts of woolly green pondweed are full of oxygenating bubbles, and on the banks the first blue Violets and yellow Celandines make their tentative appearance to accompany silver-tipped Sallow catkins emerging on their reddish-green twigs.
Yellow and White! Yellow Dandelions line the path. Yellow Celandines sprinkle the Meadow. White Dead-nettles cluster under the Blackthorn - its furry white flowers first out before the leaves - and a couple of large furry white-tailed Bumblebees swing drunkenly on a couple of large furry Sallow catkins loaded with yellow pollen.
A young, shiny, black slug slithers its slow, slimy way, feelers swaying gently, up the river bank, grazing on the liverwort, while high above, the bramble and rose stems arch against the sky with their regular line of new shoots like toy soldiers marching over a bridge.
A high-diving Chaffinch, with pale blue head, pale pink breast and flash of white on wing, springs repeatedly upwards from a topmost twig to catch large flies circling slowly above his head while down in the shrubbery, a recently arrived pale grey Willow Warbler with characteristic dark eye-stripe, darts as though on a ladder, up the side of a bush on a similar hunt.
Early butterflies; yellow Brimstone, Small White, Speckled Wood and Orange-tip, jiggle over the lilac Lady's Smock and the miniature-raised fists of Cow Parsley flowers in the Meadow, while the dead grass around the shrinking pond is alive with short fat hairy-legged Hunting Spiders.
A sea of head-high, white, foamy flower-heads of Cow Parsley billows across the meadow, and similar shaped but in miniature, less than knee-high, Pignut spreads around the fringes, and occasional even taller stands of yellow-green Hemlock, not yet in flower, emerge from the tropical mountains.
A trio of Small White butterflies, one more yellowish than the others, cavort in a dizzy ballet hither and thither, while a couple of day-flying carpet moths (so called because of their elaborately patterned wings - not because they eat carpets) Silver-ground and *Mottled Umber lie more sedately on the grass and a brilliant Agrion demoiselle flashes near the brook.
*Mottled Umber flies in mid-winter - this was perhaps a Shaded Broad-bar which is similarly patterned and often seen at rest amongst grasses. NP
'A' is for August and 'ay' is for 'orses'. 'B' is for bees and babies and butterflies. Many different wild bees are buzzing around the brambles, some small, brown and furry, some larger bumble bees, one intensely black with a bright orange 'tail' (Bombus confusus?).
A baby warbler flutters secretly about in the bushes, not making any sound at this time of year, and a family of six baby, yellow-brown Pheasants, no bigger than larks, scurry through the grass watched over by drab brown long-tailed mummy stalking behind them, while many butterflies mostly Small Whites and Meadow Browns and a single Common Blue, diligently seek egg-laying opportunities.
The fluffy cream Meadowsweet flowers are rich with their liquorice-like perfume, surrounded on all sides by the taller straggly magenta flowers of Greater Willowherb.
What a terrible tangle! The completeness of 'natural' change is astonishing. Last year the little dell in the meander was a delight of fragrant Water Mint, this year there is almost none, replaced by a four-foot thick mattress of Reed Canary Grass interlaced with thorny bramble, an almost impenetrable jungle. In the rest of the meadow there are few flowers but fine fruit, notably drooping bunches of shiny black elderberries, weighed down with all the cares of the world and perhaps a heavy dew, while a Red Admiral butterfly perhaps celebrating Trafalgar, with its strikingly smart red and black wings, pauses near the entrance stile.
A bedraggled meadow following a recent rainstorm, dying Dandelions spread-eagled in the beaten grass, the remains of pink Periwinkle blossoms struggle among the fragile detritus in the bottom of the dry pond, round which, leaves of Woody Nightshade, perforated like Victorian doyleys by patches of rust fungus, support the invisible threads of tiny spiderlings hopefully waiting for even tinier flies to blunder into them. On the bank by the seat, two big, shaggy, brown-topped Parasol Mushrooms make their unexpected autumnal appearance, while the birds keep discreetly out of sight.
'All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing'. A blunt-headed Tawny Owl, disturbed from its daytime snooze, wafted through the shrubbery, followed shortly afterwards by a positive cacophony of alarm calls; cock Robin, Chaffinch, Wren, Blackbird and even the harsh cackle of a Magpie.
In the sheltered corners by the brook, wispy white seed-heads of Greater Willowherb like a vague memory of old man Ben Gunn, are surrounded by the tall skeleton-like 'bones' (without skulls) of dead Hemlock, contrasting with the smaller, browner, striated stems of Hogweed and an insignificant yellow Cowpat toadstool pokes through the grass.
A gaudy Goldfinch sits atop a hedge-high twig chipping out its short alarm call, outlined against an azure sky a bright red and yellow chequered face almost mimicking the few brightly coloured rose hips left, while a foot or so lower his less brilliant partner with a modest yellowish streak along an otherwise brown wing accompanies her husband.
With the low-angled sun, long horizontal thread, laid by spiders from bush to grass tussock catch the light against the delicate early morning haze over the silent meadow where a single yellow Dandelion is the only flower in sight.