What a very fine time of year it is to be out in the English countryside and particularly on Sudbury’s beautiful riverside. All growth is young, lush and fresh; the pastures spangled with buttercups and on the river, here and there, a young brood of ducklings or cygnets with their parents. The ditches on the pastures teem with a wide range of life which can be easily appreciated with a bowl and net or by careful observation of the clear water. On warm days damselflies and dragonflies are on wing and various species will continue to grace these waterways until the cold of winter arrives once more.
In the pastures and ditches various plants also continue to put in an appearance. It is interesting to note how site faithful the less common species can be. For instance, round fruited rush and adder’s tongue can be found in the same vicinity as twenty years ago with little evidence of range expansion which, of course, is why they are rather uncommon.
Summer is the time for educational visits and group guided walks and it is always a pleasure to show people first hand what the riverside has to offer in terms of wildlife. There is always surprise at so much life in such an apparently ordinary landscape but careful farming management means that our riverside is particularly rich in wildlife.
Of course, there are certain limitations on the public open spaces. For instance it is highly unlikely that skylarks will nest again on the Sudbury Common Lands because the area has become so very popular as an informal recreational site, both for humans and their canine friends. On Friars Meadow the uncommon marsh orchids are unable to establish themselves because each year they are picked or possibly dug-up. Fortunately species can thrive where there is much less disturbance and site visits are generally only made by guided groups. Here orchids can bloom and set seed without danger of being picked, lizards can rustle through the grasslands in their quest for small insects and barn owls can nest and rear their broods undisturbed. Thus the increasingly rich diversity of Sudbury’s unique riverside is ensured.