The last letter for 2022. How time flies!

First and foremost may I thank all those who throughout the year have enlightened us about the many different ways in which they are enjoying wildlife and helping it to thrive.
I have found it a delight whilst wandering round the village to be stopped by friend or visitor with even the smallest remark; “By the way , Mary, we have foxes in our garden and (name given) have quite a family in theirs!”

One early morning I was standing at the end of the jetty gazing at our magical river when an unexpected voice calls up from the water as a lady poles along on her surfboard; “Have you seen the kingfisher in the car park? I’ve seen him three times!” Sadly I haven’t. Have you?

Or sitting on the Green; “sparrows in those bushes are chasing off the Robin, poor little chap!” Dozens more of these sort of out of the blue remarks without introduction are so encouraging, responding to our aim to discover how many people are engaged in helping the return of our precious wild flowers and creatures.

A pot of delicious honey was pressed into my hands from a keen bee keeper. She was picking herbs in a a pot in her tiny garden in front of her cottage. Several bee keepers now live in the village.

Another kind friend sent me a video of the Beavers on the Otter River he had taken with ardent patience: a new friend showed me his stunning bird photos. We must see more of them. A prominent boring bank has been brought to new life with loving labour, a hedge, and Wild flowers which are still flowering in November!

Rebecca interviewed a professor amongst us who at one time had sat for days studying the Estuary birds and another naturalist friend was “woken each morning by the call of the curlew” by the river. His job has been helping farmers on Dartmoor to return the old farming methods. Elderly Lympstonians have fond memories of how their grandfathers went about farming when there were so many more farms in the village itself, friendly to the soil. A newer villager acquaintance manages Woodland near his relatives and there’s a lady here who assists up at Woodbury Common. I can count at least 5 mixed hedgerows that have been planted since 2020 right in the village.

Our two schools are very busy with wildlife pursuits helping to plant trees and hedges or down on the beach watching the birds, the tidal movements and studying the history of our rounded pebbles.

Our churchyard displayed a miracle carpet of Spring primroses and followed the ‘No Mow May’ slogan.

Of course Jimmy the hedgehog caused a dramatic stir as did the discovery of tiny mother field mouse cozily suckling her three babies in a compost heap. Toads are making a comeback in a number of places.

Several bigger projects too progress at pace with much love and hard work; Gulliford Burial Ground is one. A great success.

The transformation of an overwhelming unloved patch of bramble- ridden lifeless ‘field’ with meadow plants bringing pollinators and a freshly planted hedgerow quickly colonised by small shy animals and a copse planted of indigenous trees. In one corner a patch for apples, plums and cherries with a productive veg patch are planted. A pond is in the making completing this little sanctuary the result of hard physical labour as well as the aesthetic attribute for which our wellbeing yearns.

So many others are casting out old practices in their gardens no longer using pesticides or peat or untimely mowing or over conscientious weeding and practicing companion planting in the vegetable patch.

Hundreds more Lympstonians have been as busy as ever feeding the birds, studying the movements of the wild nightlife by camera in a little copse where on a sunny daytime an old pond attracts dragonflies and damselflies and a stream continues to rush down cutting a deep Goyle in the sandstone cliffs.

The Wotton brook is in roaring spate today after months of drought almost marooning the family in the Old Mill where birds and beasts flourish.

I am sorry I cannot mention more of those wonderful people in our diverse Parish stretching from our unusual boundary in the River Exe to our proudly guarded patch on the Common reaching as it climbs the steep hill through diverse soil structure and flora rich in sacrosanct habitats where the hamlets of Wotton and Hulham used to be.

And to all of you for providing the positive hope we must keep alive for a beautiful new world. One special thank you to Rebecca for her support and positive action and ideas and to Mary T for Facebook messages (quite beyond me!).

A very Happy Christmas and a 2023 full of more lovely wildlife stories. Nature’s power to restore in every way gives us courage and enchantment.
Mary Truell