A sign of the times


It has happened again, just as it did last year in October. The grey wagtail has arrived and is bobbing around our pond. I wonder if it is the same bird and does he remember being here before? Its colour is not true to its name because grey wagtails are not really grey, they are bright yellow underneath and this one has a striking black bib. The long tail wags all the time which makes it easy to see on the margins of our pond.

My late father had an ornament of the grey wagtail, but he never saw a real one in his garden. When we cleared his house, for sentimental reasons, I brought his ornaments home to Shropshire. They are mostly kept in a cupboard, but I bring the wagtail out in October for his birthday and for some strange reason the real grey wagtail visits us at this time of year. I know that it is only a coincidence, but it is comforting all the same. And we need comfort, especially now, when our season is turning so rapidly.

One sign of autumn, apart from the spectacular change in the colour of the leaves, is the fungus. Some very unusual ones have popped up over our hedge on the roadside verge. They are like a little chorus of white stems in frilly dresses. They start as bulging lumps in the grass and in a day, they are about six inches high. That was yesterday, today they seem to have lifted their skirts and look black and slimy. This afternoon the older ones had disappeared, but I can see some more white ‘heads’ popping up. They are the fruits of the ink cap fungus and when it is ripe it sends spores out into the wind so we will have more fungi next year.

The autumn winds have also caused a near disaster here. The ancient oaks lining our lane have lost some branches. You must be careful driving along because sometimes twigs and leaves are strewn across the road. But worse than that was a thick branch that broke, it landed stranded over the internet and phone wires.

These wires, have for years, been happily weaving in and out of the trees. But now a forked shaped branch swayed in the wind as it perched precariously and tangled the wires. If I had a long pole, I could surely dislodge it. But I rang BT instead and they told me to keep away from danger. A ‘cherry picker’ came all the way from Coventry to sort it out.

My long pole could not be used but it would have been a lot cheaper.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

This branch was hanging on our internet and phone cable. Now it's out of harm's way, thank goodness


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