Although it has only been in the ground for a fortnight, the game crop is showing some encouraging signs of progress. Clusters of turnip plants have appeared, and some of them are almost as big as fifty pence pieces. I had imagined that they would be starting to dry up after almost three weeks without rain, but the little things are stubbornly pushing on. I hope that they are concentrating on sending their roots deep down into the soil where there will still be some moisture – the soil surface is starting to feel very powdery and barren.
Very little to report on the millet front so far. Some odd shoots have appeared here and there, but the main bulk of the crop is lying in wait for a drop of rain. I have a plan afoot to add some Nitrogen to the whole field in an attempt to hurry things along and get all of the young plants off to a good start, but that too will depend on a wet day to wash it all in.
Even while the soil is more or less vacant, it is still serving a purpose for the local birds. Wheatears hunt through the drying clods and a squadron of swifts was skimming over the hot soil this evening when I went up around the hill. I noticed last year that huge gangs of pied wagtails get together in July and move around en masse, adults and juveniles together. This evening I disturbed about forty wagtails from the emerging game crop, and they flew off cheerily together down to the burn side. I wonder why wagtail families gather up like this – it’s not like shelduck pooling the nursery care all on one or two adults while the rest head out to feed and relax. Perhaps it’s a “safety in numbers” mechanism, but whatever the reason, it is certainly quite spectacular.
During a quick walk on the hill, I came across an extensive area of sundew up on the bog. I didn’t know that there was any sundew on the Chayne, and it is a plant that certainly warrants a closer look – after all, who isn’t interested in carnivorous plants?