Posts Tagged "rain"

The memory of squirrels – Patch walk, 17th July

Yesterday’s rain was so welcome, not least for its cooling effects. Everything was nicely aligned for a patch walk. Felt good to be filling the food bag up again, grabbing the camera and going.

Quiet seems to be the order of the day, that quiet of high summer. I only heard the first sound from birds when encountering the sparrow colony at the top of the road. Always a welcome sound! Yet on the main road all is quiet and only a handful of sparrows are showing on the back lane. The copse, so rich in the sounds of life only a few weeks ago, now stands completely silent. Traffic is the only sound I can hear in there now. That and the crunch of leaves underfoot, the heatwave having forced the early exits of some leaves this year. I can’t resist crunching leaves!

Into the park and the quiet continues. Apart from the noisy altercations of quarreling magpies and the ambitious amorousness of a woodpigeon no bird is making a sound. Not even those I get fleeting glimpses of, like wren, dunnock and robin.

The horse chestnuts have been very busy though, growing this year’s crop of conkers so quickly that I suspect that if I stood long enough in quiet I could perhaps hear them growing. For those who favour things that grow, summer really is a boom time. For those (like me) who favour things that move, summer really can be the quietest time.

Still very much on the move though are the squirrels, who clearly haven’t forgotten about me during my absence from the patch. They’re fair sprinting over to the the spruce tree where I feed them as soon as they see me.

The three usual suspects are all there, all eager to take nuts.

A very happy 20 minutes of watching and feeding follows, as all 3 squirrels vacillate between burying the nuts…

….or deciding they can’t wait and eating them instead!

This tree is also one of the best places to pick up natural found objects and today I’m collecting cones and feathers for a pocket hitchhikers post, a new side project inspired by the artwork of Raspberry Thief. On the way home I add the first fully ripened blackberries I’ve found this year to my foraging pouch, from the same little patch of ground that helped me rescue a downed bumble bee just a few weeks ago.

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Of sparrows & squirrels, Patch Walk 20th June 2018

A soft rain starts to fall as I step out of the door. I could go back in and get a waterproof, its probably the sensible decision, but…no, its a very welcome chance to take a walk in the summer rain. Grasp the chance and go.

Up the road there’s a sparrow trying to hover by a garden wall, trying to pick insects off the wall. Then, it flies up to the eaves of a nearby house and disappears. Hang on, did I just see what I think I saw? I watch a while longer, seeing other sparrows coming and going from the same spot below the roof. Could it really be a sparrow nesting colony? I’ve had sparrows in my garden and on my feeders for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never seen where they’ve nested before. I’m very excited that this might be it! Best of all, they’re nesting in the house where the new occupants replaced their whole garden with astroturf. Nature fights back…

Nature also fights back on the back lane, when the soft rain turns into a sudden deluge. I shelter under a tree for a while, enjoying watching how the rain can turn even the most unappealing looking nook or crannie into something with a dash of magic.

As the rain softens again I head off towards the copse, enjoying seeing some interesting wall decorations along the way. Not entirely sure how this dandelion managed to root itself, but its undeniably impressive work!

In the copse the wind is stirring the trees into wild dances, the leaves acting like giant sails. The sound of it is glorious, but its the only sound I do hear in the copse today. Despite waiting and watching the bushes at the edge of the road for a while all I see today is a pair of drenched woodpigeons.

The rain seems to have emptied the park, I’ve got the place practically to myself. The tree cover is so dense in parts that there’s still no rain on the ground beneath some of them. Very useful when you’re standing and watching wildlife and I expect the robins at the robin spot find it useful too.

Only one parent appears to collect mealworms today and interestingly they’re flying off in the opposite direction to where their nest is located when they’ve collected the food. Could they have already fledged from the nest, or is parent robin flying a deliberately deceptive route today?

Onwards, past singing chaffinch and wren and calling great tit, until I’m at the black spruce tree. A shake of nuts and the squirrels start coming.

Its fascinating to see their different personalities at work. From the bold and the brazen, who know exactly where to place themselves to ensure they get a nut, to the cautious and the clever, who watch for an opening from a distance before sprinting in.

One is almost apologetically polite in the way its little face pops into view to ask if it can have a nut.

There’s at least 5 squirrels taking nuts again today, Autumn can’t come soon enough for these little fellows. Once again they eat every single nut out of my bag and I’m left handing out the shelled nuts left in the bottom, as well as I can do, anyway. Buddy the squirrel soon works out the best way to get them.

The robin from the laurel bush is also being brazen in its efforts to make sure that I’ve seen that they’re there and they want some food. They’re instantly on to the nibbles I throw and swiftly joined by the resident blackbird too.

With the food bags empty, its time to go. Its been good to see the patch in the summer rain.

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Patch walk, 16th June 2018

The rain has stopped, but its still cloudy and cool in the stiff breeze that’s blowing. Its fresh and changeable and interesting. Blackbird feeding on the grass verge is unconcerned as I pass by, walking up the road. Privet is starting to flower, joining the riot of summer on the back lane.

The copse has had a resident blackbird for months. Pulling worms from the same small area of grass. Its all the territory he has needed, but I’ve not been paying attention. I’ve been walking past his little area at the entrance to the copse and not been noticing his absence. While I’ve not been paying attention, he’s been busy; he flies past me with a beak full of food, disappearing into a bush where the copse meets the road.

He emerges soon after and he’s clocked me, standing there watching and reflecting on how foolish I was to make declarations like nesting in the copse was over for this year. Nature will always find a way to surprise. He perches up, calling in the direction of the bush, not an alarm call but a silence call. There’s so much evidence that there’s a nest there, but I can’t risk going to look and eventually he cracks and reverts to the classic alarm call, flying off in the opposite direction. Its textbook diversion. I’ll be keeping an eye on this bush from a safe distance.

With him gone I can see that the horse chestnut he was perched in has had an eruption of bracket fungi.

Of what type it is I am completely unsure. I’m fascinated by the world of fungi, but have very limited identification knowledge. Its a spectacular looking arrangement nonetheless.

The park is quiet for a Saturday, the rain putting off the fair-weather folk. Robin is calling before I even reach their territory, clicking and fussing in the trees and then diving down to the mealworms.

I don’t hang around there too long today, just long enough to check that all is well and to leave them food. I’m so fond of these particular robins and right now its all good news from them. I don’t want to risk anything there.

Round at the black spruce and there are squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels. They’re on the tree, they’re foraging on the ground and they’re very happy to see me. Once I start handing out nuts its a steady stream of little faces appearing on the stump and in the V of the branches.


Braveheart and Buddy are to the fore, they’re well practiced at this drill, but there are more squirrels than that today. I count 5 of them taking from me today, some for the very first time. They mostly behave themselves, only a little bit of chasing going on. They’re all hungry I suspect so they manage to keep themselves apart from each other, perching in different parts of the tree to eat. Eventually they start running off to bury nuts but thankfully this is at the same time as I’m running out of nuts. They’ve eaten everything I’ve brought with me!

The robin from the yew trees has been flying to and fro while I’ve been standing there, landing nearby to catch my eye. With the nuts all gone he finally gets his reward for persistence and flies straight down to eat the suet nibbles I dropped in the usual spot below the laurel bush. Its been a great walk, lots to see, but time to head home.

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Crow Patrol

The sparrow gang are out feeding, as are the starling fledglings. The male blackbirds continue their scrap about territorial boundaries. Goldfinches, wren and blackbird sing, then the heavy rain starts and the birds disappear for a short while.

Not quite all the birds though. Crow is out, patrolling the pavements in the rain.

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