In the absence of a Mortimer Voices newsletter, we are publishing local resident Tim Lee’s regular nature notes here instead…
The Mallard duck is nervously watching over her brood of seven ducklings as they dart back and forth across the slow moving river, busily chasing the insects flitting about on the water surface. Startled by the sudden movement of a harmless hare moving through the long grass on the river bank, she gives the alarm call and instantly, the ducklings race to her side for safety. She leads them off amongst the upright stems of yellow flag iris growing in the water until she is sure that the coast is clear.
Back in march, with her dapper mate, she selected her nest site in the fork of the old willow tree. In a storm two winters ago, a branch split away from the tree, exposing a sheltered hollow where she would lay the clutch of olive green eggs. Each evening, she carefully covered the eggs in the warm down plucked from her breast to insulate the nest and with her mate, flew to a secluded pool nearby to wash, feed and stretch her legs.
On her return, the moisture on her chest feathers helped keep the eggs internal membrane soft and allow the ducklings to penetrate through when its time to hatch. After 28 days of this routine, she can hear the ducklings peeping call from inside the eggs and feel them chipping at the shells with the tiny ‘tooth’ at the end of their beaks, designed for this moment.
Within 24 hours, they have all hatched, dried and are fidgeting beneath her. She knows its time to get them to the relative safety of the river. At first light, she flies down beneath the tree and calls softly, encouraging them to follow. The ducklings fall to the ground but there is always a reluctant one that needs extra encouragement! Together at last, she makes her way through the grass – each blade is a challenge to these black and yellow bumble bee like bundles of fluff but they’ve spent a month growing inside an egg and just jumped ten feet, so they’re not about to give up now!
Tumbling down the river bank, they are instantly expert swimmers, bobbing about like corks and taking in their new world. Inquisitiveness and instinct drives them to search for the high protein insect life that will transform those that survive, into fledglings. They will be able to fly in 60 days but until then, mum has an anxious time protecting them from the many predators that both she and they will face.
These are difficult times but connecting with nature is recognised as having a positive impact on our physical and mental well being. If you can get out there is so much to see and experience locally. Engage all your senses, sit quietly and watch for a moment, listen to the buzz and hum of insect life and birdsong, look at the clouds moving, smell the heady scent of hawthorn blossom and wild garlic after a rain shower, dabble your toes in a cool stream, look at the stars….there are many ways to enjoy and connect with nature, perhaps think of it as a tonic for the soul!
As I write this article, we are now in week 4 of restricted movement and for some such as myself with significant underlying health issues this means remaining in your home or garden but venturing no further. This is a challenge particularly if you live alone and it is at times like this that a phone call from a neighbour, relative or a friend is so important. To my knowledge across Mortimer ward, groups of volunteers have set themselves up to deliver shopping, collect prescriptions and phone those who are isolated and I thank those volunteers for all their hard work. It is at times like this when we most appreciate the community, we have around us and those who are continuing to work on the front line to ensure we are looked after.
You will I am sure have seen much in the news about various funding arrangements for small businesses, voluntary sector groups and for those who due to circumstances beyond their control find themselves unable to pay their bills. I felt it therefore important in this article to give you some information on what help is available to you in these difficult times. I hope that most of you who have found yourself in need of some support have already managed to apply for assistance but to ensure that nobody falls through the net, the following may be of use to you.
If you are a small business requiring a grant in order to sustain your company please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a voluntary organisation in need of a grant to continue to provide a vital service to your community email email@example.com or tel: 01432 260636 if you are a Social Enterprise email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01432 383030.
If you are an individual or a family suffering from financial hardship at this time and a Council Tax deferment would help you during this period email email@example.com or tel: 01432 260000.
I would also like to make a plea on behalf of the NHS. If you have any unwanted medical equipment, please do not hesitate to arrange for a free collection by telephoning 0300 100 0045.
Finally if for some reason you are not aware of the volunteer support in your area and you either want to offer your services as a volunteer or you would like someone to do some shopping or collect a prescription for you, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01568 780583 and I will happily put you in touch with someone. Similarly, if you have a problem not related to Covid19 which you wish to raise with me, please do not hesitate to contact me. There is still a lot I can do to help from the confines of my home.
Keep Safe Carole
Due to the threat of the on-going Covid-19 crisis it has been decided that the VE Day celebration event to be held in Wigmore Village Hall over the weekend of 8th-10th May must be cancelled.
Most forecasts by HMG, the Medical and Science leaders indicate that we will still be dealing with major issues for months. That being the case, we cannot proceed with the significant amount of planning required for the proposed event. If there are any positive changes in HMG recommendations then we can have a look at what we have and see what may be possible but for the moment please assume no event will be held.
Due to the threat of Covid-19 the talk by guest speaker Ros Bissell from Moors Meadows Garden due to be held at Wigmore Village Hall this Thursday March 19th @7:30pm has been cancelled.
Apologies for the late notice but these are extraordinary circumstances.
9th April to 18th April – Herefordshire Life Through a Lens – Photographs from the Derek Evans Studio Archive 1940’s – 1970’s
The PHOTOS is the culmination of the three-year Herefordshire Life Through a Lens project, and this multi-venue exhibition of photographs represents the first major retrospective of the Derek Evans Studio collection ever to be held. Many of the images have never been seen outside Derek’s dark room, or been exhibited for over 50 years. Catcher Media now brings a ‘bite size’ exhibition to both Leominster and Kington Libraries.
Enjoy a rare chance to get up close and personal with these fantastic photographs.
Firstly, may I wish you all a belated Happy and Prosperous New Year. For some of those residents in Mortimer ward the end of last year and the beginning of this year was very difficult, with properties being flooded on more than one occasion. I cannot imagine the affect it must have had upon them. Fortunately Wigmore parish itself did not suffer to such an extent although Bury Lane was affected by the flooding. I am looking at whether parishes could set up a Flood Group or at the very least have a Flood Warden and am speaking to parishes such as Bodenham where a scheme already exists.
Myself, and the parish councillors for Elton and Pipe Aston recently received agreement from the Wigmore Parish Council to submit a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to have the speed limits parts of these villages reduced from 60 mph to 40 mph to bring them in line with Leinthall Starkes. This request has now been added to Balfour Beatty’s list.
Barry and I attended the Leinthall Starkes Christmas theme coffee morning at the end of November which we thoroughly enjoyed and were delighted to win a Father Christmas in the raffle. It took pride of place amongst our decorations. I would like to thank all those involved in organising this event.
By the time you read this article, Herefordshire Council will have set its budget and I am very disappointed that so much capital money is going into Hereford City. Many roads in Mortimer ward are in a very poor state and I am not confident that any of the roads in the ward I have identified for resurfacing this coming financial year will be included. Balfour Beatty advised us on the 29th Jan following the flooding they had at that time 500 emergency defects and 4,500 Cat 2 defects outstanding. All work being carried out by BB was re-active
The gully jetting programme had been suspended in order to focus on priority sites and there was a 200 gully jetting backlog.
According to the DfT it would require an investment of £8 million per year to be spent on our roads just to stand still and BBs budget for 2020/21 is £1.7 million. Their high priority backlog of work at that time amounted to £15.9 million so you can see the huge challenge they have. There are 300 drainage schemes on hold awaiting funding.
We are hoping for some more money in the March Government Budget and I shall be pressing for that money to be spent on rural roads.
Let’s hope that the picture I paint turns out not to be so bad. If you need to contact me about a particular issue or just to have a chat please do not hesitate to do so either by emailing me email@example.com, or telephone either 01568 780583 or 07792882133. I am always happy to come out and visit you at your home if you feel that would be helpful.
Knighton Rotary Club are hosting the Rotary Young Musician competition for Rotary Clubs in Mid Wales and this includes representatives from the Rotary Clubs of Abergavenny, Builth Wells and Crickhowell. 6 talented young musicians ( 3 vocalists, 3 instrumentalists) will be performing ( all are of grade 7 standard or above ) and it would be great to have an audience for them. The venue is the St Edwards Church Hall in Knighton and the concert starts at 1pm – hall opens at 12.30pm. Entry is free and there will be refreshments. The youngsters will be judged on their performances and the winners will proceed to the next round which will be against young musicians from across Mid and South Wales on February 29th in Blackwood. All are welcome to enjoy these exciting young stars of the future.