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.
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.
I had never noticed the unusual purple buds on an ash tree before they start to flower
A crab apple tree in full Spring bloocm
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.
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.
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.
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.
The highlights of rural rambles have been horses: playful horses enjoying the warmer Spring weather, riders out for exercise and a newborn foal.
A neighbour's horses enjoying the Spring sunshine
Riders in front of Ballencrieff House
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.
These pretty purple flowers are purple or blue tansy or lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
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)
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