Country diary: Reaping the rewards from hedgerows

We frequently lament the neglected state of public footpaths and bridleways. Many are completely overgrown with nettles and brambles; ploughed over by farmers; diverted by reversal or removal of signs, and stiles rotting or unstable. The reason? You’ve guessed – lack of funds!

Blackberries are late ripening this year. On August 13 we found just sufficient to enhance an apple pie. Delicious! A local wild hedgerow contained several raspberry canes bearing a few berries to nibble along the way. Large hazel nuts adorned several shrubs easily recognised by their zig-zag twigs covered with reddish brown hairs. The toothed, rounded leaves end in a small point. The nut itself has a leafy husk, but will not ripen until late autumn.

Meanwhile, there’s no mistaking the slender rowan tree with steeply rising branches. Its flat-topped clusters of cream-coloured flowers have ripened to scarlet berries by August. They look good enough to eat, but certainly not raw. We must try a recipe for cooking them, they look so tempting!

The mason wasp, inhabiting a corner of our greenhouse, has been working very hard all week. When I previously mentioned its activities, the cylindrical nest was 11.5cm from the ground, and the nest itself 4cm long. Having constructed both above and below the nest, it’s now 9.5cm from the ground, and 8cm in length! It seems to collect sand or soil particles to mix with water we’ve seen it visiting our bird bath close by. A remarkable feat of engineering for a solitary wasp. It has just pollinatedthe cucumber flowers.

Scarborough’s Castle Hill cliffs alongside the Marine Drive are plastered with ‘guano’ – the dried excrement of fish-eating sea birds. (It makes a grand fertiliser.)

At any great seabird colony, kittiwakes are the most numerous. Nesting precariously on narrow cliff ledges, they noisily proclaim their name, “kitti-way-ake”, with clamourous calls. They are real birds of the sea and fish out at sea most of the year, only nesting near at hand in spring. Looking to the future, we observed they’d nested on the Futurist as well as the Spa Bridge and harbour lamp posts!

Soon – silence will reign, as already many have completed nesting duties and headed to northern fishing grounds.

Visiting Scar and Castlebeck Woods just north of Castlebeck Farm, Harwood Dale, we hoped to re-discover the Bog Pimpernel. Having waded through tall, shoulder-high bracken we reached the bridge spanning the beck. Many wild flowers were recorded, such as tormentil, eyebright, harebell, heather, fleabane, and water mint etc, but the pimpernel site had vanished, alas.

A memorable seat to Shaun Teasdale, 51 years, 2012 was inscribed:

“Come sit with me, enjoy the view,

Don’t be sad, I’m here with you.”

l Mind the midges don’t bite!