Rare sight­ings . . .

Les­ley Dol­phin takes a dip and cam­paigns to save the county’s adopted wild­flower

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - You can lis­ten to Les­ley Dol­phin 1pm-4pm Mon­day to Friday on BBC Ra­dio Suf­folk

Can you re­mem­ber pick­ing wild oxs­lips when you were young? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve seen any re­cently be­cause they have just been put on the red data list for plants.

Most coun­ties have their own flower, Lan­cashire and York­shire are ob­vi­ous ex­am­ples with their red and white roses re­spec­tively, Bed­ford­shire has the bee orchid, Es­sex has the cowslip and Nor­folk has the com­mon poppy. Here in Suf­folk we voted for the oxs­lip in 2002 in a poll run by the char­ity Plantlife.

It was my reg­u­lar guest, writer and Suf­folk di­alect spe­cial­ist Char­lie Hay­lock, who was dis­mayed to hear that our Suf­folk flower is un­der threat and de­cided we should do some­thing about it. So he has come up with the idea of SOSO - Save Our Suf­folk Oxs­lip.

I have to ad­mit I had to dig out a pic­ture of one be­cause, al­though I grew up in the coun­try with prim­roses and cowslips in abun­dance, I didn’t see oxs­lips – mind you I grew up in Nor­folk.

One lis­tener, Gerry Turner, told us that he re­mem­bers his grandma tak­ing him, when he was lit­tle, to a wood near Bat­t­is­ford to pick ‘Five Fin­gers’ as she called them. He said the wood was full of these beau­ti­ful flow­ers. In fact he was so in­spired by his me­mories that he has man­aged to get hold of some seed and grown his own patch of oxs­lips in Nor­wich.

Ap­par­ently they are fairly com­mon in Europe but here in the UK they are dis­ap­pear­ing fast. I’ve learnt that they love an­cient wood­lands and clay soils but, be­cause of changes in agri­cul­ture and, more re­cently, an ex­plo­sion in the deer pop­u­la­tion, their nat­u­ral habi­tat is dis­ap­pear­ing.

In the same way that our blue­bell woods are a mag­nif­i­cent sight, the Suf­folk Wildlife Trust says a Suf­folk oxlip wood in spring is won­der­ful. “. . . with its grace­ful, nod­ding, creamy yel­low flow­ers and its del­i­cate apri­cot scent.” Bull’s Wood at Cock­field, and Brad­field Woods have mag­nif­i­cent dis­plays in April, ap­par­ently. I must try to re­mem­ber for next year.

Al­though Suf­folk Wildlife Trust is try­ing to man­age the wood­lands so the flow­ers sur­vive they are fighting a los­ing bat­tle against in­creas­ing deer pop­u­la­tions. I’ve seen lots of dead deer on the sides of the roads which is, I as­sume, an­other sign of their in­creas­ing num­bers.

The CLA (Coun­try Land and Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion) held a meet­ing re­cently to dis­cuss the prob­lem and in­cluded the plight of the oxs­lip on the agenda.

So what can you do to help? Well, we re­ally need to know where oxs­lips are still grow­ing, so if you can keep your eyes open and let us know that would be re­ally help­ful. We’re de­ter­mined to do our bit to try to save an­other iconic Suf­folk species. See also Sheena Grant’s fea­ture on iden­ti­fy­ing wild­flow­ers and what to see in Au­gust page 134

SPOT THE DOL­PHIN

I can’t leave with­out a men­tion of the won­der­ful June and July we’ve had, and of an­other rare sight­ing – a Dol­phin in the sea at Felixs­towe. Me!

I know the dry weather has been a huge prob­lem for farm­ers and our lawns look as if they’ll never re­cover (at least we don’t have to cut them) but hasn’t it been glo­ri­ous?

Mark and I have been de­ter­mined to make the most of our move to Felixs­towe, so I aban­doned my usual week­end housework for some time on the beach. There is noth­ing more spe­cial than the sound of the sea, and of chil­dren play­ing on the beach and in the waves. It felt as if we were on hol­i­day and I was even tempted into the sea for a swim – more than once!

suf­folk­wildlifetrust.org/re­serves/bulls-wood suf­folk­wildlifetrust.org/brad­field­woods

les­ley­dol­phin@bbc.co.uk

ABOVE:A Dol­phin en­joy­ing the sea at Felixs­towe

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