Another week of mixed weather has brought on the wild flowers. The pink rosebay willow herbs are making a good show, looking as though they have been planted in a flower bed. The cross-leaved and bell heathers are forming larger clumps of pale and spicy pink. Yellow St John’s wort is shining bright, but I’m pleased to say that this year there is hardly any ragwort in flower.

Although good for insects, in particular the cinnabar moth (with yellow and black stripey caterpillars), ragwort is poisonous when dried and its alkaline content is concentrated. It can be fatal to horses if they graze in a paddock full of it later in the year . Each year on the heath our volunteers use ragforks to dig up any threatening plants. Some of the plants we look at have already been stripped of their flowers and leaves by the caterpillar.

There are also some lovely shades of green, especially when the morning sun shines on the bracken, and the evening sun on the birches.

All the Spring nesting birds, except for the nightingales, are still singing, so you can be sure of good sounds when you visit.

Back from furlough, I’ve been working a stage at a time to keep paths open for walkers. Soon Tom, the heath volunteer assistant warden, will be back to help out. He will definitely be needed now that the vegetation is growing so quickly, especially the brambles!

I’ve also removed some of the more dilapidated dens that were built earlier with large logs and were becoming not only dangerous, but also an eyesore. For any children, or dads, who enjoy making dens, the Scout Association website gives ideas on how to make good ones, but because the heath is public common land, only natural materials should be used, preferably smaller ones!

Again I am pleased to report that, in this current situation, heath users have been very mindful of other people, which is much appreciated. Others often say that when they drive past the car park looks full, but there has always been plenty of space to walk apart from others.

Hope you enjoy being able to be out again and visit the heath.

Joan Pinch
Tiptree Heath warden