Thursday, 12 August 2010

Water Buffalos

Cream tea at the Swan Hotel in the Cotswold village of Bibury is a truly English affair. The village is an extremely popular tourist destination, particularly in the summer and most visitors head for the outdoor tables. Inside the hotel there’s a quintessential picture postcard atmosphere. Tea is served in the small cosy writing room with a specially lit, but totally unnecessary log fire. Lashings of strawberry jam and clotted cream piled onto old-fashioned scones and accompanied with the tea of your choice would bring tears of nostalgia to any fly-on-the wall ex-pat.

The crystal clear stream running the length of the main street is filled with magnificent trout from the fish farm across the road from the hotel. The small wet meadow running along the stream forms part of a partnership between the National Trust and Natural England to use old native cattle breeds as a means of improving important rich Cotswold grasslands. A few grazing Belted Galway and Welsh Blacks are doing this a few feet away and look pretty content. The resulting grassland look in good shape too, with a rich and diverse sward humming with butterflies and dragonflies.

I’m reminded of home and the herd of non-native water buffalos doing the same job on two of our large Wildlife Trust reserves, but this time keeping reed beds in good shape.

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