Sunday, 10 July 2011

what a day.......

A hugely exhausting day yesterday when I was 'ambushed' at our annual school PTA summer BBQ by staff, parents and former pupils. Completely taken aback by the generosity and warmth I felt and left  like a squashed beetle by the time I got home.

A comatose night ahead, we opted for an evening meal at our favourite pub (Fox and Hounds, Blid'th Bottoms) and then an energising sunset walk in the woods. The sky was clear and we were greeted by two groups of mixed corvids (mainly Jackdaws and Carrion Crows) totalling around 720 birds. This was the highest count I have had here. They settled in their roost (in what we call 'the valley') in the pines making a noisy bird city until 'way past dark'*.

Although the woodland is dominated by plantations of conifer, at the margins our native flora thrive and

Yarrow (achillea millefolium)
Field Scabious (knautia arvensis) (photo)

St Johns Wort (hypericum perforatum)
Red Campion (silene dioica)
White Campion (silene alba)
Honeysuckle (lonicera pericyclenum)

were all flowering. Collected honeysuckle cuttings and made a note to return to find seed of the beautiful scabious, yarrow and St. John's Wort. Each gives us a clue of the kind of plants that will flourish on the 'Old Mushroom Farm' site and these three would flourish in our meadow.

Chunky Woodcock (scopolax rusticolor) were still buzzing the twilight sky with their roding flight but sadly, we only heard one nightjar (caprimulgus europeus) churring. I understand that in our local population, only the males returned from Africa. The females arrive later and for some reason they did not return this year in what would, presumably, have been a vintage breeding year for this rare bird. This is very sad, since the nightjar population is under pressure and we have been seeing fewer birds in recent times.

In the trees, common pipistrelle fluttered after dark and we struggled to make sense of another frequent echolocation reading at around 40 kHz.

One hedgehog was off on its evening 'womble'.

All this and our beautiful daughter too: a lovely end to an unexpected day.

*For Bruce Springsteen fans - from which song am I quoting and am I five days late!?


Anonymous said...

"'And the wizards play down on Pinball Way on the boardwalk way past dark" - 4th of July, Astbury Park. C'mon make 'em difficult! Is there a prize?

Spenno xx

Rob said...

You googled that!
Anyway - congratulations spenno. Your prize is to spend time on the dance floor with me on Friday.
That'll learn you!!!

Will said...

Wow! 720 crows. How did you count/estimate? A few of those we grow in the landscape here in Southern Oregon. Is St. Johns Wort native there. We grow hypericum calycinum here. And hedgehogs? We call them porcupines here I think. We see them once in a while, but make sure to steer clear!