Rectory Wood held me, and probably many others, together in 2020...

By Jane Rhodes ǀ Volunteer, Forest of Marston Vale

We returned from visiting our son in Brazil at the end of January when reports of an impending pandemic were still spasmodic and not overly concerning. We quickly settled back into our daily walks through the area known as Rectory Wood and even then could see small signs of Spring. The artist in me decided to make more effort to record the area and the seasonal changes - little did I know that we were about to go into an imposed lockdown and I would have ample time to dedicate to just that! 

No two walks are the same here: different time of day, different weather and of course, the different seasons all provide abundant stimuli. Being a local ‘girl’ I remember the fields of wheat, barley or rapeseed in that area and have been in awe of the project that aims to plant thousands of trees to re-forest our valley.  The ponds that were installed at the bottom of the hill as catchment for run-off from new builds in Cranfield have become well established. We have seen frogs, dragonflies, ducks, coots and moorhens and even seen swans - we know there are fish, as evidenced by the visiting cormorant!

On a quiet early morning walk we have caught the antics of a fox cub, later in the day it could be goldfinches feasting on the abundant seeds or birds of prey: kestrels, sparrow hawks, buzzards and red kites are frequent visitors.  Of an evening we may be lucky enough to catch sight of a deer, or rabbits or even an owl.. what a privilege. 

The wet winter last year was followed by an incredibly warm spell throughout May and resulted in a summer of beautiful meadow flowers including three types of orchid. This carpet of colour attracted many different butterflies, bees and other insects. We continued to marvel at Nature and all that we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep.  I took the opportunity to record many of these changes in my sketch book which I have since entitled  “Surviving Lockdown” !



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