1 December 2011

The exceptionally dry season we have had this year is illustrated well by the picture of the ditch at Fox Fritillary Meadow taken earlier this month. Normally in November, the ditch has some water in it and in previous years it has not been unknown for water to over-top the banks during this month. This year the ditch has been dry since the early spring and the sheep have been able to walk across and along it, rather than using the bridges at either end.

As can be seen from the photograph, the ditch banks have had a particularly good show of teasels this year and the sheep left them ungrazed. The stems and heads of teasel are very spiny so are probably not the sheep's favourite meal. Instead, the striking seed heads have provided a welcome source of seed for charms of goldfinch.

In the past, the seed heads of teasel were used for 'carding' wool in preparation for spinning and were also used for fluffing up or 'teasing' cloth, hence the name teasel.

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