On the Wildiside: Houndwood walk well worth a visit

The Oxeye Daisy flowers seen along the side of the path near the River Eye at Houndwood.
The Oxeye Daisy flowers seen along the side of the path near the River Eye at Houndwood.

The July field meeting of the Berwickshire Group of the Scottish Wildlife Trust was an evening walk along the circular path beside the River Eye at Houndwood.

About 15 years ago the A1 was rebuilt at Houndwood, which involved moving the River Eye slightly to the south west and the landscaping of the ground along the side of the river.

A nice easy public pathway was created along with a bridge to cross the river and raised walkways over wet ground.

A small informal pool was also created for wildlife.

A large number of shrubs and small trees have been planted, most are British natives but not necessarily species found wild naturally in this area.

They are now starting to mature and provide good cover for nesting birds as well as lots of fruit and seeds.

On our walk some of the cherry trees had a heavy crop of ripe fruit. Although they looked very attractive I must admit they were not the sweetest of fruit and most were left for the blackbirds to enjoy.

The wild raspberries were another matter and it was difficult to get some members of the group to move on from the lovely ripe fruits along the path side. Some wild strawberries also met with approval.

A wild flower seed mix had been sown on the bare ground, this is now well established and has settled down turning the area into a superb, colourful flower meadow.

Throughout the season a succession of wild flowers provides a mass of colour. Earlier in the spring the white Oxeye Daisy, blue Geraniums, Red Campion and Ragged-Robin were predominant, now creamy flowered meadowsweet and the purple Knapweed predominate.

Some rich red flower spikes of the Burnet were much admired, especially with the sun shining behind them making the flowers look black with a red halo.

Throughout the meadow is a mass of Yellow Rattle. This plant is a partial parasite, gaining some of its nutrients from attaching its roots to those of grass and stealing the goodness from the grass, this suppresses the strong growth of grasses allowing all the other wild flowers to thrive.

In the small pond there is a fine stand of tall, flowering Bulrushes, lots of Pondweed and most interestingly some Fringed Water-lily. This looks very much like a small yellow water-lily but it is not related to the true waterlilies, Nuphar and Nymphae and amazingly is related to the Gentians. Its leaves float on the surface of the water and the yellow flowers are held a few inches above the water. It is not a native in this area and is to be found naturally in ponds and streams in south-east England.

This walk is an easy stroll and is well worth visiting throughout the year as the wildlife is continually changing and evolving.