Posts Tagged "nettles"

Playing in the traffic, patch walk 28th July

What a stupendous change to be walking in. Sunshine and clouds, but so much cooler in the wonderful wind that’s blowing. This is the sort of weather that I want to walk in.

There’s excitement practically from stepping out of the door as the cause of all the late night gull calling recently is uncovered. There’s a juvenile black backed gull in the road and he’s really in the road.

On evidence so far, junior is none too bright as he doesn’t seem to be aware that cars are going to hurt. He’s learned enough to move away from me, but not from moving cars. He’s far too busy constantly mewling for food to pay attention to things like moving cars. What really gets the juvenile moving, however, is a sudden mobbing from a pair of herring gulls. Black backed parents are having none of that though, swooping down from on high and sending the herring gulls packing. Cue much argumentative-sounding calling from the adults and from the juvenile? No prizes for guessing more food calls.

Kids, eh?

Juvenile finally gets some attention from a parent, sending him into full on begging mode and leaving even less brain cells for awareness, which is particularly dangerous as they’re now at a road junction and are literally stopping traffic.

Cars are going past just inches from juvenile – the parent bird having seen the sense of finding a safe perch – but still juvenile mews incessantly.

What’s that? Fast moving metal thing might hurt? I want food!

He strays into the road and then I intervene, hurrying the bird across the road and into a safer spot while the parent birds complain loudly. Gulls, there’s no pleasing them.

Its no point mewling at me, buddy, I’ve got no food for you. Now stay out of the traffic!

I’m so busy thinking about that encounter that I don’t really wake up again until I’m in the copse. It looks so beautiful in the sunlight and shade, with the wind making the leaves sing, but that’s the only noise out of it now. The birdsong days are long past.

In the park I can’t resist a trip around the formal garden just for the scent of the lavender planted there, before heading for the wilder fringes. At the black spruce, Braveheart the squirrel is happy to see me and the bag of nuts. Its just him today, so he’s not in a rush, taking the time to enjoy each nut. After about 5 or 6 nuts he disappears and so do I, off on a wander.

Plodding slowly around the edges of the park where there’s some more stands of nettles. Investigate, but the only creature I see is this splendidly well camouflaged creature:

I have no idea what it is, entymology never was a strong point of mine, but I do smile to see such excellent camouflage.

I loop back around to the black spruce, but there’s no squirrels there now so I head out of the park through the trees. Along the bottom road the wind and the heatwave have worked together and I’m crunching leaves underfoot at almost every step. In July. Leaf crunching in July. What an unusual year this is, I reflect, before hoping that it stays unusual and doesn’t become the new usual.

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Robin-by-the-hedge, patch walk 21st July

Its afternoon, but still not warm yet. The clouds and a steady breeze are seeing to that as it cuts through the muggy feeling. Busier and noisier on a Saturday afternoon though, people and traffic together making a volume that the fauna of high summer cannot penetrate. The clouds and the breeze are enough together to wipe the butterflies from the air also, so it makes for a fairly quiet start to the walk until I reach the park.

Its certainly not busy in the park though there are more signs of life here as a robin scolds me with “Tic, tac, toe!” before arrowing into the cover of a formal hedge. Other hidden birds are still leaving plenty of evidence that they’re around, in the shape of their moulted feathers. Interesting things to collect.

There’s signs of life over in the nettle patch too, on closer investigation. Plenty of part-munched leaves, though I can’t see anyone doing the munching right now. Given the number of blue tits resident in the park that’s probably not much of a surprise.

Round at the hedge another “Tic, tac, toe!” call tells me that I’ve been remembered and spotted. Its robin-by-the-hedge of course. His parental duties done for the year, he’s flying solo once more.

He’s a canny fellow, this robin, he won’t come down until I’ve thrown at least 2 handfuls of nibbles. He wants paying if he’s going to perform and perform he does, running through his repertoire of christmas card model poses.

The scots pines dotted through the park are witness to just how dry its been. Last year they were dropping damp and fully closed cones. This year there are dry and opened cones on the ground. The squirrels are doubtless happy about that, as the well-nibbled cones alongside the newest cones on the ground shows. So much of watching wildlife at this time of year seems to be about just finding the evidence that they’ve been there.

One squirrel is definitely happy round at the black spruce tree. Its the polite squirrel, the oh-so-careful and deliberate squirrel who very slowly makes his way over to where I’m waiting, pausing regularly and looking over at me as if to say “I’m terribly sorry to bother you, but do you perhaps have a nut for me?” He runs through this pause pantomime a few times before he’s finally at my feet, where he awaits another invitation to come up into the tree and collect a nut.

Then he’s off at the same pace to bury it before repeating the process. Its so funny and charming to watch and I’m glad he’s getting his chance to shine without his 2 much more forceful friends being around. It turns out not to be much of a chance in the end though, as a large dog comes loping into the scene, intent on squirrel hunting. Sounds like a good time to go home.

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Finding blooms, patch walk 19th July

The only birds singing now are goldfinches and so I’m particularly glad for their cheery tunes as I step out of the door. Get distracted by a little weeding and then head on up the road. There’s a shiny, iridescent black feather at the top of the road, likely magpie, perhaps crow. Either way, into the collecting pouch it goes.

By the top of the road the theme of the walk is set, small white butterflies are everywhere, they’ve really come into their pomp right now. They’re industrious creatures, never really staying still, which makes them more than a bit tricky to photograph. There’s even more of them exploring the hedgerow on the back lane, dancing up and down like a small child on a visit to Disneyland.

The copse is full of butterflies today too, though here the speckled wood butterflies are holding their own against the small white army. Its a perfect habitat for them as they hug the sunniest spots that are just like woodland edges. Pairs of them dance together in pools of light. Singles flit between grass and leaves. Just for a moment its like a perfect patch of summer woodland.

On into the park and its largely quiet. The small birds are once again absent from the robin spot, but there are friendly dogs and I’ve reason to be grateful that I always bring dog treats with me in amongst the wild animals food! Its not long before that bag is empty. No sign of small birds and no sign of squirrels either but there are plenty more feathers for me to collect and lots of cones beneath the scots pine trees too.

The wild area is filled with brambles, which have completely taken over whole patches. They’re fruiting well, but not enough sun to be ripe yet. Soon they’ll be popular with all sorts of creatures. Already popular are the thriving clumps of ragwort, flowering beautifully and covered in insects, just like I was told they would be.

Its the random things you find in the wild area that I enjoy finding most, like a bed of spearmint just besides the path, just waiting to be brushed against and let fragrant and delicious smells loose.

I take a cutting of spearmint and a bit of ragwort too. Well, you never know if they might be persuaded to grow. Spearmint has a shot, ragwort is almost certainly wishful thinking.

Delighted to see that the stand of nettles has been left and the butterflies are making the most of it, especially our old friends the speckled wood. Long may park keeping decisions like this continue.

Disturbed from my nettle reverie by a cawing commotion I look up to see what all the fuss is about. Its a rare park raid by a troupe of gulls! Normally denizens of the nearby playing fields, these Herring Gulls are on a bin raid and making quite a bit of noise about it too, right until a black backed gull arrives and establishes itself as the king of the castle – or the top of the bin at least.

Its a scene that plays out in towns everywhere, but it is no less welcome a sight for that, especially when they’re the only birds I’ve seen all walk. That’ll have to suffice until the next time, its time to head home.

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Patch walk, 15th June 2018

Its cloudy, its cooler and there’s a fresh little breeze blowing. A lot better and a lot more interesting conditions than empty blue skies and wall to wall heat, to me anyway. Blame my long standing membership of the Cloud Appreciation Society for that. Its quiet outside today, both on the roads and in the trees and gardens as I’m walking past.

Goldfinches still sing from hidden perches on the back lane. behind garden walls or on roof tops that I can’t see behind the high hawthorn hedge.

The hedge is filling with even more flowers, including a bindweed flower that is so recently bloomed that it hasn’t turned white yet. Avens, green alkanet, brambles and nettles abound alongside.

Chaffinch is singing in the copse again. Crow is moving lazily at the edges, half-heartedly looking for food.

There’s an unfamiliar alarm call at the top of the canopy of trees, but the leaves are too dense for me to be able to see. Love a good mystery like that. I’ll be wondering what it was for ages.

There’s a tractor out cutting the grass in the middle of the park. If you’re going to cut you may as well cut big I suppose. Looks like some smaller, hidden corner areas have been cut too, but credit where its due the big stands of nettles have been left. That credit will be spent very quickly, however, as I later discover.

Under the shadowy yews of the robin spot a robin is already calling to say he’s seen me before I even get there. As soon as mealworms go down on the ground, so does he. Both robins are back and forth to the nest, but in between their visits there are squirrels sniffing about…quite literally so in one case as one squirrel comes right up to my shoes and gives them a good sniff! I’m trying to get these squirrels to stay off the ground in this area, otherwise they end up being chased endlessly by the dogs in the park, so no one gets a nut if they don’t come up the tree to get them.

Seeing a fast-moving young squirrel was a definite highlight, not seen any 2018-edition squirrels before today.

Heading off around the park. Blackbird-by-the-oaks is out and about, watching me walk past. Seeing him is always good news, but going through the hedge and seeing the other side is serious bad news. Some muppet has been cutting the hedge and right by the robin nest too. Its a real mess. I see one of the adult robins close to the nest site, but they show no interest in coming down for food as they always have before. Has the nest been disturbed? It seems extremely likely, looking at the devastation of the serious cut-back the hedge has had. This is too sad to look at. How can people be savvy enough to leave nettles uncut but then cut hedges at this time of year, especially a hedge that was so obviously occupied?

Great tit and wren are singing as I wander past the overgrown areas of the park. Time to head home.

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Patch walk, 14th June 2018

Its cloudy and gloriously windy. I love windy days. The wind in your face is one of the best feelings there is. With trees in full leaf I expected there to be the odd casualty of last night’s stormy weather, but apart from the odd small branch down they seem to have emerged unscathed.

The strong wind that’s still blowing is taking its toll in other ways, however. Birds and insects are largely notable by their absences. Wind like this is unwelcoming to the little ones with wings. One bumblebee who ventures out of the safety of a hedge and catches a tailwind certainly discovers that. Never seen a bee move so fast.

The wild flowers growing beneath the hawthorn hedge on the back lane seem to have benefited from the overnight rain, more bramble and bindweed flowers opening and the avens and nettles have picked up. In the copse a chaffinch is the only voice. Perhaps its been reading my statement that the copse had fallen silent and wanted to prove me wrong. The chaffinch sings and the wind blows through the leaves, a sound I could listen to for hours.

The park is quieter today and the shelter of yew trees at the robin spot means that the robins don’t have to battle the wind to find food. One of the robins is quick to appear and is “Tik!” calling for mealworms. Such a delight to be recognised and trusted by these wild birds. I’d only put down a couple of handfuls before my phone goes. Problems suddenly press in and have to be dealt with. Patchus Interruptus, I have to leave, life and wildlife balanced together just for a moment before human life’s concerns take over for the day.

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