5th July 2020

As the lifting of the lock down continues and we start to get out more, many people I have spoken to say they feel as if they have missed the spring. Apparently, the displays of bulbs in our parks were excellent this year, the bluebells in our woods were stunning and the frog and toad road crossing near Upnor was busier than ever! I can sympathise with this feeling and have certainly enjoyed the longer countryside walks I have been on over the last couple of weeks. I have always enjoyed walking and this difficult time has brought home to us all how important this is for our health and wellbeing.

Summer is now in full swing and this is my favourite time of year. I have just done some harvesting of my summer fruits, just raspberries and cherries this year but an excellent crop. My first crop of potatoes is just about ready as well. Several of my friends have allotments so I am expecting various offers of their surpluses over the next few weeks. Every year it differs, last year I had half a dozen butternut squash given to me along with the usual glut of Jerusalem artichokes, which I really like cooked in a bit of butter and oil like oven chips.

The wildlife is also at it most abundant. One species of beetle in particular that seems to be thriving this year is the cockchafer. It is also known as the May Bug or Doodlebug.  The name cockchafer comes from the old English simply meaning a vigorous bug. Even though they are harmless they can be quite frightening as they can be up to three centimetres long and make a loud buzzing noise when they fly. After living for three or four years in the ground as larvae they emerge in May and then fly about for several weeks looking for a mate.

There is a children’s rhyme which I learned about a ladybird and her house burning down. In Germany there is a similar rhyme about the cockchafer, which translates as;

Cockchafer fly…
Your father is at war
Your mother is in Pomerania
Pomerania is burned to the ground
Cockchafer fly!

Apparently, this dates back to the 17th century when the Thirty Years war led to the destruction of Pomerania. It is amazing how these traditions spread across different cultures!

On a final note this week I want to mention the importance of record keeping. Our urban wildlife is now at its most abundant and this is a crucial time of for us to keep a record of everything we see. In our parks and greenspaces, along our roads verges and in our gardens we are working hard to make some real improvements to the biodiversity of Medway. However, we can only know if what we are doing is successful if we keep year on year records.

We can all play our part in this record keeping and you don’t need to be a wildlife expert. Just carry a notebook and write down the species you know and if you have a phone then take a picture. Simply send your records along with the date and place where you made them to the Forum.

As we create more wildflower meadows and plant more trees we will be able to report that the biodiversity in Medway is on the increase.

Stay safe

Simon

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