Trying to survive


Do you know what a robin’s pincushion is? There is one here and it reminds me of childhood. It is on a wild rose and looks like a mass of moss in a ball and some of it has a red tinge. It has nothing to do with a robin, but I suppose the reddish colour reminds us of the bird. In these days of flailing hedges instead of ordinary cutting, I think that this little den for a wasp’s developing eggs will be mashed up and fall to the ground. It would have been a safe place for the tiny gall wasp to lay its eggs so that its caterpillars could create this round pincushion for its pupae to overwinter here. But not anymore with our modern hedging machinery.

 I have only seen one swift over our garden swishing through the air this year and I have not heard their screams at all and now they will be on their way back to Africa. They are on the RSPB red list which means that they are in danger. It seems that it is because they rely on crevices in our old buildings where they can lay their eggs and when we renovate, we fill in any holes and of course new buildings do not have crevices. But I have noticed a planning outline for a new build near here which included bat bricks and bird boxes which gives hope.

Now it is a little warmer at last I have started sitting out again at dusk. It is surprising what I saw. The swallows and house martins were wheeling high in the sky. I was always told by my father that this meant good weather. Their favourite place to swoop is over our woodland catching the insects above the trees. They will be feeding with their young, to get stronger for their migration journey but for now they seem happy to circle the sky with a little shout every now and again. Another thing I saw in the dwindling light was birds coming to our pool to bathe. First came the robin with its red breast hardly distinguishable in the dim light. Then came the blackbird followed by a little wren. I wonder if night-time is a safer time to bathe.

Just before I went inside, I had another surprise, I saw a bat fluttering very near to my face. I was sitting amongst the flowers and next to the warm wall of our old cow shed. This is where there must be moths and flies which the bat will hunt down for its food. It is the only bat I have seen here this year.

 (Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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