Thursday, 14 October 2010

Mini creatures

Spent the day outside so of course the lovely weather had disappeared: cooler, overcast and light drizzle-much more appropriate for this time of year but I missed the burst of sunshine and warmth from earlier this week.

It was an autumn clear up day with no little people, just little creatures to keep me company. Had a large area of production beds to clear which kept the robin happy-all the insects and worms were laid out buffet style and it certainly made the most of the bonanza.

Next I moved into the walled garden and found the most gorgeous little lizard hiding against the wall-I could have watched it all day it was stunning. The saying small but perfectly formed is true!!!

Reluctantly I carried on with my task of weeding, large numbers of nettles most of which stung me as I pulled them out! However it was worth it because kneeling low down, hidden by the plants I was suddenly surrounded by a flock of long tailed tits chattering away incessantly-checking in with each other all the time, and then just as suddenly they were gone, only to be replaced by a wren, less than two foot away from me.

Its certainly been a day for small creatures all of which gave me infinite pleasure...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mists and all that

Another stunning day. Last night was much colder and there was a real chill in the air as I left the house at 730. The mist over the fields waxed and waned, in some places so thick you could only see a foot or two from the roadside, and watching the sun rise above the mist reminded me of how small we are and I was thankful to the queue of traffic for my enforced slowing down so I could savour the view.

Why as adults do we find it so hard to slow, where does the pressure to go faster and rush from place to place come from? I have spent the day with children who could happily spend an hour examining a maple seed. They played helicopters and then carefully dissected the seed from its locomotive source, and then wondered allowed how difficult it was to open the seed case and how did it happen without any help. Finally they prised them open and were rewarded with the bright green 'tree' all curled up, waiting for the right conditions to grow.

Just like our children, who also need the right conditions to grow, including the opportunities to slow down and stop, and equally as important, adults who are prepared to slow down and stop with them-sharing those experiences.

As American naturalist Rachel Carson wrote: "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." My pledge to my children, and all the children I come into contact with is to be that adult-can you slow down enough to make the same pledge.....?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Autumn Beauty

What an amazing day. Dragons breath this morning much to C and W's delight-our first properly cold night and as the sun rose the sky was the most dazzling blue. The leaf colour is becoming more intense every day and because its been so dry the leaves that are on the ground are crinkly and crunchy, perfect for wellie walks. W has discovered that a conker is a whole tree in his hand and is avidly collecting them to plant a whole forest. Another child I know can't wait and instead of collecting seeds, picks any seed head he finds and plants it instantly-he is desperate to spread the beauty of trees as quickly as he can.

The birds seem to be making the most of the plentiful insect supply and are ignoring the feeders-a large flock of longtailed tits spent a happy hour hunting under the peeling bark of our neighbours eucalyptus with much chatter and frivolity. They are a household favourite-how could they not be when they are so fluffy and they bob with that ridiculously long tail!

A definite day to stand and stare...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Wind in the Willow

Really windy today-children hyper, caught up in the gusts and swirling round as fast as the leaves and small branches that have been dislodged from the trees. The willow circle looked amazing, the silver of the leaves glinting like a shoal of fish twisting and turning. No rain yet today despite the forecast and it still feels warm but autumn is definitely in the air. Saw field maples today with their leaves already yellow and Wh came home from the library with a bag full of books and a bag full of conkers still in their cases-they look so full of promise, I wait with interest to see how big the seeds inside are...

No birds this afternoon, but over the last few days the smaller ones are flocking together, greenfinches, goldfinches and blue tits, keeping each other company and providing safety in numbers.The sparrows keep themselves to themselves but then they are a flock on their own, 26 was our highest count-not bad for a garden that previously has only seen the odd one or two. The blackbirds and Robin have been back this week too having been absent since about July, not regular visits yet but enough to let us know they are around and about.

Unlike the collared doves who have been brazenly mating whilst on the feeder a few feet from the kitchen window, difficult to ignore as were the questions it led to from Wh!!!! What with the doves, the cabbage white butterflies and the wood pigeons you could be forgiven for thinking about spring rather than autumn.

The veg patch is looking too tired to continue the illusion though, and the pumpkins give the game away, a gorgeous orange colour and swelling nicely with the rain and more due tomorrow. Shame there isn't more sun forecast yet as my tomatoes are looking very green still-chutney rather than pasta sauce is looking a distinct possibility!!!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

1st September 2010

Welcome to a year in the wildlife of my family!!

After a long summer holiday which involved, amongst others, listening for wild boar in the woods, hunting for water voles in the pouring rain and watching merlins chase above us in the peak district, its the final day of the summer break and we're contenting ourselves with the nature in our back garden...

Early breakfast to get us back into the routine!!! and we get a great show of the house martins skimming the roof tops. It was a cold night again last night, so the children get a fantastic view and the air is filled with the calls of the birds and the "Wow's" and "Wooo's" of my two wishing they could be up there with them.

Lunch in the garden and we're watching the butterflies and hoverflies get their lunch too. Whilst we enjoy cheese and ham rolls they are lunching on verbena, which is in full flower, and getting a little taster of the sedum on which the buds are just beginning to break. There is a persistent painted lady, maybe one of the ones Cj hatched earlier in the year, and it doesn't leave for the whole hour we are sitting there. The children are fascinated by its eyes "they're freaky" and its proboscis, watching it dip in and out of the flowers. Cj wants to know how the pollen creates seeds, she already knows the stigma and stamen, so we get the books out and look at pictures of dissected flowers and ovaries, with her comparing them to the flowers in front of us. We are also lucky and get a small copper join us for lunch, a first in our garden, and it is truly beautiful in the summer sunshine.

The next find is not a new addition but a plentiful one, as it seems to have been a record ladybird year with the children finding one on nearly every plant in the garden and almost as many pupae waiting to hatch. Wh loves the tickly feeling they create walking across his fingers and keeps trying to persuade them onto his hand, not sure they like the taste of cheese tho, unlike the wasp which keeps returning to rest on WH's discarded cheddar!!!

A little later whilst i'm cooking there is a yell from the garden and when I head out to investigate the children are captivated by the collection of butterflies on the gable end of the house enjoying the warmth of the evening sun. There are 8, one each of small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral, but the others refusing to open their wings to give us a recognisable view. They seem happy to stay and I have to call the children in several times to eat before they are prepared to leave the butterflies to their sunbathing, maybe they all feel its the last of the summer...