Emerging from the depths

Today is my big week. After over four months in lockdown I am now allowed out. I can join everyone else. Except that I am not going to exactly, I don’t think it is safe enough for me to fully follow – not just yet anyway.I have been at home watching wildlife and using the internet for shopping. But although I am nervous, I am venturing a little further. We have filled the car with petrol – a big adventure. I have not bought petrol for nearly half a year. My car has done several months per gallon because I have hardly used it.The car clock was still set on wintertime and was an hour behind. Time has not really been important in complete lockdown and neither has cash. My debit card had to be searched out and as for my PIN number, well, that had to be dredged out from the very back of my mind.I am moving on a little but nature is moving on in a big way. Dragonfly larvae, that have been lurking about in the mud at the bottom of the pond, are emerging (a bit like me). The larvae have spent…


A young robin, searching for juicy berries, got trapped in the fruit cage
I am going to escape soon. I have my mask, gloves, wipes and hand gel ready. Four months in lockdown is not something I dared contemplate mid-March but, knowing of the dangers out there, I did it just the same. I decided to watch wildlife in the garden more closely and we tried to grow vegetables and fruit so that we would be self-sufficient. I have had endless pleasure watching and photographing the wild creatures and we have more than enough fruit and vegetables.It is not easy and I am looking forward to the day that I can have a little more ‘freedom’ along with 2.5 million others. For four months I have not put my foot down outside our house and garden – except for when I went for the blood test. I have not been part of the queues keeping two metres apart. I have not visited shops and seen everyone wearing their masks this week. But soon I will be making a very tentative move.The wild rabbit in our garden has …

Flying through the air in summer

Here come the butterflies searching for flowers rich in nectarThis is the Peacock with the Holly Blue butterfly
They are back! Now the buddleias are in flower the butterflies are here to drink their nectar. I especially love seeing the beautiful red ones. There are whites too, of course, they have been here for some time. We don’t like the whites as much, because they lay eggs on our cabbage plants and, when their larvae hatch, they eat the leaves. But there is another ‘white’ butterfly that has just appeared.It is not quite white, in fact, this is the male and is very yellowy, the yellow of butter. I wonder if this where ‘butter-flies’ got their name. The female is harder to spot as she is a cream colour. I like them in the garden because they do not eat our cabbages, their caterpillars eat buckthorn leaves. Once you have seen them with their big yellow wings flopping around you will never mistake them for cabbage whites.There is something else flopping around our garden, but this tim…

Freedom at last

It is official, it can help with your health and wellbeing! Connecting with nature has made it easier for many of us to cope with the pandemic. We have noticed new wildlife that we have never been aware of before. We have seen and heard more birds and have caught sight of more butterflies and bees. We have used and appreciated open spaces more than ever. And now the RSPB is doing a survey to find out how much nature has helped us. Watching wildlife, in my prolonged isolation, has certainly given me a focus.The smaller songbirds are quieter now and some have finished nesting, while others will go for a second brood. Our larger birds, though, are still making their presence felt. The big pink breasted woodpigeons are still constantly cooing, while the magpies have been cackling loudly. Most of all, I have heard the mistle thrush.The mistle thrush’s Latin name is Turdus viscivorus, which doesn’t sound very nice and Its behaviour seems to match. It is bigger and more aggressive than our g…

Sweet treats in lockdown

An endangered bird is in danger in our ‘safe’ garden. The spotted flycatchers nesting in our climbing rose have successfully reared four nestlings. Suddenly, one morning the young fledglings flew to our woodland, one by one. The frantic parents are feeding them, but it is an even harder task now they are not all in one place.Desperately looking for extra food the parents have taken to going into our greenhouse through the open window. I think that they are attracted by the plentiful supply of flying ants in there. The problem arose when we found a flycatcher anxiously trying to get out and the window had closed. You see when the temperature drops the window automatically closed trapping the bird inside. It needed to get out to feed its young and it was desperate. It was flying with its beak full of insects. It flew from one side of the greenhouse to the other, backwards and forwards until, tiring at last, it fell to the ground.Now we have had to leave the greenhouse door open all the …

Baby sparrows fall

We have ‘July drop’. This is not a disease, thank goodness, but something perfectly harmless that happens to apples each year. Little apples, which have not developed fully, fall to the ground. It is nature’s way of thinning the fruit naturally. Ours have been dropping for some weeks now, but this year we had frosts late in the spring and so the fruit is not too plentiful. I am hoping the drop stops soon. We are relying on our apples especially at this time when we are trying to be self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit.Two baby sparrows had July drop here too. They fell from their nest, somehow, I don’t know why. Perhaps it was a bird of prey that they were trying to escape from or the wind that broke up their flimsy nest structure. In any case, I heard their parents chirping from the trees and the nestlings soon toddled off into the nearby long grass. The ‘common’ house sparrow is not now so common, in fact it is on the RSPB red list which means that there is cause for concern. The…

Things are not always what they seem

Did you realise that we are already past the longest day? Mid-summer day has gone and tonight we will have one more minute of darkness compared to last Sunday. It’s hardly believable but of course summer is not over yet and there is lots more to come.Getting out in the sunshine seems lots healthier and we are told that we are less likely to catch the virus if we are safely outdoors. A good excuse to go out is to see the butterflies. Amongst the grasses in the fields I can see the ringlet butterfly.The ringlet is a brown floppy butterfly with rings on its underwing and a little white fringe all around. It is good to spot because unlike others it will fly when it is cloudy. Look out for it now because it only lives a few weeks until it lays eggs in the long grass. The caterpillar hibernates and lives for about 11 months – a bit like us this year. In their life cycle they live much longer as caterpillars but when we think of butterflies we usually think of the adult and how beautiful it …