Saturday 6 April 2013

Little comfort after a wet and cold start to Spring 2013

It was so good to feel warm sun on my skin this afternoon when I walked in Fryent Country Park in preparation for a Brent School Without Walls LINK visit by three classes next week.

The city from Barn Hill
What a contrast to this time last year during the mini-heatwave when the blossom was out and ponds were drying up in the drought. Today there was just a small amount of blackthorn blossom in bloom and the first leaf buds of hawthorn were hardly evident.

 Last year much of the frogspawn shriveled up in the sun as the ponds dried up. I was optimistic that this year with ponds over-flowing the amphibian population would have a chance to recover. Alas, many spawned before the severe cold spell and the spawn's jelly does not appear to have protected them from sub-zero temperatures and frozen ponds Much of the spawn is discoloured and tell-tale flies hover over it. The pictures below contrast the damaged with a rare clump of healthy spawn.

Today's sun did bring out the Lesser Celandines which are always a bright relief after a grey winter:

There is a chance that some frogs, toads and newts have not spawned yet and the presence of heron at several of the ponds may indicate activity.

Overall, I reckon Spring is 4-6 weeks behind last year. Back on my Birchen Grove allotment the soil is waterlogged. Autumn sown onion sets, garlic and shallots have been squeezed out of the wet clay like pus from an adolescent's spots. Many seeds will have to be started off inside given the cold and wet soil conditions. With such a poor start and the weather unpredictable it is likely to be another poor harvest this year with a further rise in food prices.

Still, enjoy the view across Fryent Country Park to Edgware on a sunny afternoon...

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