November proved to be a month of two halves with lovely warm days for the first two weeks. Sunny days highlighted the turning foliage of the trees in all their glorious autumn yellows and russets. On the Valley Trail this riot of colour falls on to the trail and, assisted by the rain, is soon turned to mud under the constant passage of boots and bike wheels. To improve matters the charity is now using a sweeper to reduce the accumulations of leaves in an effort to keep the surface of the trail in a better condition. The trail is a wonderful amenity and an excellent wildlife corridor and on both these accounts is well worth the management effort.
The second half of November was much more seasonal; a frost here and there and dull murky days coupled with plenty of rainfall. With the cattle now warm and secure in their winter quarters at Great Waldingfield, inundation of the floodplain is not a problem and is to be expected. Interestingly the Environment Agency did not open the floodgates for these recent events although the effect of the open gates is minimal in the face of such vast quantities of water. Visitors are constantly surprised at the spectacle that greets them when the green pastures become a temporary lake.
As the end of the year approaches it is a time to reflect on the successes. In line with the rest of Suffolk the riverside orchids had a tremendous season with thousands of blooms while along with the national picture our barn owls had their best breeding season since returning to Sudbury. Butterflies, which have been a serious cause for concern for many years had a much better time of it during the long sunny summer and while there are no longer the large numbers that we remember from days gone by, some species are expanding their range and new species are colonising from the continent in the same way as dragonflies and damselflies. The key to success will always be the provision of good and varied habitats and that is where the management of the riverside and Cornard Country Park is directed and most definitely not toward a tidy and sterile countryside.