It is the last day of July and the countryside seems to be filling up with berries. Berries and other natural fruits are important food sources for birds and mammals so it is good to see the annual cycle in full flow.
Dark blackberries in July whilst not exceptional is however rather unusual. We would normally expect to see hedges full of blackberries in September. The old folklore always said never pick blackberries after Michaelmas (11th October) – I can’t see that being a problem this year – they will all have long gone by then.
Perhaps even more unusual is the appearance of sloes on our blackthorn trees – we wouldn’t expect to see these until September / October and the sloe gin maker’s advice is never pick sloes until after the first frosts.
I guess these very early fruits are a consequence of the mild winter and the hot spring and summer – maybe it is also another signing our our changing climate. Whatever the causes I fear a bit for our wildlife which relies on these fruits as they prepare for the autumn and winter. What will the redwings and fieldfares eat when they return from the north and what will dormice eat as they prepare for hibernation?