Nature marches on regardless

I have bought an exercise bike. I am not really the type but it is important to keep up physical strength in our isolation.

Normally, I have been cycling down the lane. But our lane has become crowded with joggers, walkers, and other cyclists. It is narrow and so I decided not to risk it anymore and I bought my exercise bike.

It came in a flat pack but was soon assembled and looking like the real thing. It’s in our garage and so I go there each day. I sit amongst the assortment of garden machinery, the freezer, and the tumble drier, but my mind is on other things. I leave the door open and I can look out of the window as I pedal away on my imaginary journeys. In my mind I cycle down the almost deserted A5, to Shrewsbury and whizz through the empty streets where I used to shop. Ludlow is a bit far at the moment, even for my imagination.

Through the open garage door, I can see Oak Meadow and the mallard ducks near the pond. They are sure to be nesting there, as they do each year. There is also a pair of moorhens and I can see the flick of their white tails as they dodge through the wild iris leaves.

Nearer to me are the bumble bees, some come in the garage and get caught up in the window cobwebs. When I have finished my journey, I will set them free. There are lots of bumbles about now. Although we are told that they are declining nationally, what a disaster that would be as they are important pollinators for much of our food. They pollinate our strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and make sure we have plump juicy fruits.

We welcome the bees as we are trying to be self-sufficient this year, in lockdown, we do not want our crops to fail. Later, the bumbles will crawl into the yellow trumpet flowers of our courgettes and pollinate them too.

The bumble bees we see now are the fertilised queens. They are looking for flowers to feed on, like the stunning blue grape hyacinth and hanging heads of the fritillaries. Then they will find a little mouse hole or plant pot or holey log to hide their eggs and start a new colony.

A new addition to the wildlife here, is the orange-tip butterfly. It is taking nectar from the purple honesty flowers.

Look out for their fluttering orange tips as they search for food. They are the males waiting for their mates. You will see the white females next week as they emerge from their nine-month-old chrysalises. You could mistake them for a small cabbage white but look closely at the underwing and you will see a delicate pattern of interlacing green lines. She lays her eggs on Jack by the hedge and the delicate ladies smock plant.

One very unusual thing this year, with living in isolation, is that my diary has no events in. Except of course the supermarket delivery date (when I get one). Everything I thought was important has been deleted, cancelled, or postponed.

But the wildlife is on schedule and all that should be happening this month is, indeed, taking place.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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