We visited some friends this weekend in Marlow. This lovely town sits on the famous Thames and, although near to London, retains a real village-like feel. As the sun shone, it was a day for a river-side walk and an ice-cream. We were not alone as the river was busy with sailing boats.
A number of years ago the red kite was reintroduced near there by English Nature and is now doing really well. I counted around two dozen circling above a housing estate riding the thermals and occasionally clashing in mid air. Apparently they are fed by some people. Kites eat a wide variety of food including rabbits, voles, rats, mice, birds and earthworms, but many of these are taken as carrion following road collisions or pest control.
Further up the Thames lies a precious gem - North Meadow., Cricklade As we returned home (hot and tired) we could not resist making a quick visit. This is a National Nature Reserve and home to the majority of England's remaining snake's-head fritillary flowers. This is a delicate inverted tulip-like flower, which appears each spring before the more agressive grasses and other meadow flowers crowd it out. It is a stunner...
Snake's-head fritillary flowers
The flowers have a pretty chequered pattern and occur in a purple form and a less common white form. For more information go to the following web site from Natural England: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designatedareas/nnr/1006112.aspx
If you get a chance to go don't miss it. In summer this meadow is also spectacular for its other plants and insects...but get there before it's cut for hay!