Lockdown Blog #2: The Changing Landscape in Lockdown

June 26, 2020  •  1 Comment

Scotland followed the rest of the UK into lockdown on March 23rd 2020. The weather then was still very cold and Spring was yet to arrive. As I write this in Summer, we have gone through three seasons during the Covid-19 pandemic.

East LothianEast LothianEast Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom. 22nd April 2020. UK Weather: A tractor ploughs furrows a field with a mass of gulls following in its wake

We wondered if there were more gulls around during ploughing and planting given the increased lack of food in coastal towns

One of the benefits of lockdown is the opportunity to pay a lot more attention to to the changing landscape as the seasons unfold and the landscape alters from brown ploughed fields to green crops. As we go out for our daily walks, the subtle changes to the landscape are much more noticeable: the growth of a crop in a field; the beginnings of buds; or the colours of the hedges and trees.

East LothianEast Lothian   East LothianEast Lothian

I had never noticed the unusual purple buds on an ash tree before they start to flower

East LothianEast Lothian

A crab apple tree in full Spring bloocm

East LothianEast LothianMoody rural landscape view with bare budding tree showing signs of Spring, East Lothian, Scotland, UK   East LothianEast LothianSolitary sycamore tree with fresh buds and new leaves in Spring overlooking rural landscape, East Lothian, Scotland, UK

From bare branches to leaf cover

We live in a largely arable area of the country in East Lothian. In past years the local farmers have sown and harvested a variety of grain and vegetable crops. We noticed that the variety this year appears to be much more limited – grain and potatoes mostly.  We suspect that the type of crops planted have been determined by which can be harvested mechanically with as little human intervention as possible given the potential lack of immigrant farmworkers.

East LothianEast LothianTractor planting seed potatoes in farm crop field with Edinburgh skyline in distance, East Lothian, Scotland, UK East LothianEast LothianTractor spraying field in arable landscape with view of Firth of Forth, East Lothian, Scotland, UK

From brown ploughed fields with seed potatoes being planted to green crops


Usually, a solitary farm tractor weaves its way criss-crossing a field. Occasionally, several farmworkers team up for planting. It reminded us that the lot of a farmer can be a very lonely one out in the fields all day alone.

East Lothian agricultureEast Lothian agricultureEast Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom. 24th March 2020. Rural daily life continues as usual during the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. A farm worker tractor plants seeds in drills in a field East LothianEast Lothian

During the first weeks of May the weather warmed up and the countryside burst into yellow hues with oilseed rape fields and gorse bushes in full bloom.

East LothianEast Lothian East LothianEast LothianEast Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom. 15th April 2020. UK Weather: Sunshine on a rape seed crop field on a Spring day.

East LothianEast LothianLine of telephone poles across a grain crop field on sunny day, East Lothian, Scotland, UK

East LothianEast Lothian

Mothballed Fred Olsen cruise ships in the Firth of Forth framed by gorse

As Summer approached, the lack of rain over a number of weeks made the fields very dry and the little rain we did have quickly soaked away into the ground.  Huge wheels with watering cables started to appear around the fields.

East LothianEast LothianLarge water cable reel in crop field for watering crops in dry weather, East Lothian, Scotland, UK   East LothianEast LothianWater hose spray watering crop field on sunny day with view to Fife, East Lothian, Scotland, UK

The highlights of rural rambles have been horses: playful horses enjoying the warmer Spring weather, riders out for exercise and a newborn foal.

East LothianEast Lothian East LothianEast Lothian

A neighbour's horses enjoying the Spring sunshine

East LothianEast LothianWomen riding horses past Scots baronial style fortified Ballencrieff House, East Lothian, Scotland, UK

Riders in front of Ballencrieff House

East LothianEast LothianEast Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom, 8th June 2020. UK Weather: a newborn foal takes jittery steps keeping as close to its mother as possible East LothianEast LothianEast Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom, 8th June 2020. UK Weather: a newborn foal takes jittery steps keeping as close to its mother as possible

A newborn foal sticks close to its mother
 

I was hoping for an explosion of poppies like a field I found last year, but so far there has only been a scattering of them around the crop fields. I have paid more attention to flowers on walks that I don't recognise and online research usually reveals what they are. 

East LothianEast Lothian
These pretty purple flowers are purple or blue tansy or lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)

East LothianEast Lothian

These colourful orange flowers are called fox and cubs

but also known as devil's paintbrush, grim-the-collier or orange hawk bit (Pilosella aurantiaca)

East LothianEast LothianEast Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom, 6th June 2020. UK Weather: Summer wildlife. A wasp on a red poppy growing in a wheat field in sunshine   East LothianEast LothianEast Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom, 8th June 2020. UK Weather: the sun comes out and lights up poppies in a field with the volcanic plug of Berwick Law in the distance

But I did find some poppies, too

Despite lockdown easing, we are not likely to venture far this year. We certainly won't be going on holiday anywhere this year or next - for a couple who travel a lot to far flung places, this is a big change for us. Soon the landscape will change again as the crops are harvested and Autumn approaches. 
 

Coming next....Lockdown Portraits
 

 

 

 


Comments

Lyn Reynolds(non-registered)
This has been my privileged experience during lockdown too. In sharp contrast to the months of slog put in by the essential workers. I wish they could all have a paid month off now.
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