Thursday, 31 August 2017

garden peace

There is a peace about the garden. A still warm day. Birds both more visible and audible now. The trickling song of robins: this one in the Fragrant Garden with a ring on it's right foot. An upside-down supercharged, 'whit-whitt-ing' nuthatch hammering at the sunflower hearts feeder - a masked ram raider. A ringed coal tit takes its turn there, then displaced by a ringed blue tit. And the goldfinches have returned. A dozen or so, white-headed young birds, still moulting their adult face feathers, swamped the feeders for a while yesterday. Low overhead, heard but not seen, the 'cronk' of a raven - the only sound in the sky above apart from that of a far-away jet.

The wooden bird seed hopper that Rich donated has been renovated and squirrel-proofed. I've used plasterers' metal corner edging to provide protection against arboreal rodent gnawing and a mesh too small for squirrels to squeeze into. The aluminium strips gleam back at me so that the hopper now has the jizz of the character 'Jaws' in James Bond 'The spy who loved me'. From its evil grin dribble great tits - the first to explore the new feeder.

Red admiral basks on rudbeckia
George's Pond is just a huge delight right now. We sat in the sun with after-lunch coffee and were dazzled by the number and movement of dragonflies. This will be one of the exceptional memories of the year. An inquisitive Emperor dragonfly, in sequinned skin-tight lycra hovering close enough to touch; dozens of red darters in nuptial coupling: her head attached to his thorax they travel the pond in tandem egg-laying flight, her ovipositor dabbing the meniscus of the pond water depositing eggs. One pair discovered my mug of coffee and began the bobbing dance above it. And the common hawker like a living golden snitch. Joanne Rowling must surely have taken inspiration from this amazing insect when inventing quidditch.
The large number of dragonflies may be attributable to the lack of fish in the pond. Fish will gobble up invertebrates and their eggs so without fish, water insects can thrive. A good reason not to add goldfish to your pond.
I had not expected a frog to be croaking from the meadow by the pond. But it was, in the thick of the vegetation.

Canary-shouldered thorn
The prairie beds (chock full of flowering perennials) are in their pomp now. Mighty Joe-Pye Weed was entertaining red admiral and small tortoiseshells as I passed. Rudbeckia stunning. Red persicaria humming with bees. Sedum spectabile flowers not yet open but crowded with honeybees like shoppers that can't wait for Black Friday. A newly-hatched brimstone butterfly - so distinctively butter-yellow- has been about, filling up on nectar before the long sleep. Brimstones use buckthorn as the food for their caterpillars. I've planted a number of these bushes but am always persuaded to add more when I catch a glimpse of that distinctive yellow. The caterpillars of large and small white butterflies ('Cabbage whites') have flourished in the Vegetable Garden, gaily shredding boricole, kale and broccoli.

Honey bees on opening flowers of sedum spectabile
Last night, whilst attending the moth light set up by George's Pond (118 moths of 26 species), a tawny owl screamed very close by. The call made the hairs on the back of my neck twitch - I can only guess how it is received by the small animals it preys on. A toad emerged onto the path by the pond while I was flopping about trying to catch moths. The noise it made around the waters' edge was out-of-proprtion to the size of its small body.

Blackbirds are still hunkered down somewhere. We haven't seen our old friend 'Andy - the pole-dancing blackbird' or any of his troupe for some time.

I disturbed a small hedgehog feeding at 'Le café de hérisson' (as named by Emelia). We've seen no hoglets but we take this as evidence of successful breeding. Happiness for me would be mama hérisson et les enfants dans la terrace.

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