As avid readers (Sue this is you!) will now know I am stuck indoors, on this loveliest of days, with my feet up and my ankle gently reheating a bag of frozen peas. I have therefore decided to make a virtue of necessity and bring my hedgerow reportage up to date.
In short, (and ideally in the voice of Bill McLaren) It’s kicking off oot there.
We are awash with birds. The swallows and house martins are back, swooping and diving and (I wish!) hovering up the midges at a rate of knots. We have nests under the eaves in most of the bedrooms and one of the bathrooms (and the tell tale trails of poop this entails). There’s a very welcome pair of thrushes (and Keith thinks one junior thrush) doing their level best to keep the snails in check. Go thrushes!!! The gold finches are also very busy – they seem to favour the cherry trees (I wonder if this is because they are taller?). As we are at “peak weeding” (when not on the sick bench) the friendly robins and blackbirds are faithfully trailing us around in hope of worm action. Everywhere the hedgerows are almost bursting with nest builders, fledgeling feeders and general tweeting and tootling. The dulcet warbling tones of “avem incognitem”, which remains tantalisingly just out of sight, are everywhere. Even the rooks are sounding almost tuneful, in a Cornish sea shanty sort of way. A couple of days ago a wren shot out of a hedge at me like a chestnut in a slingshot, stopped stock still in mid air and then just as quickly shot back. It was the strangest slow motion blink of a moment. Having now definitively identified my yellow bird as a yellowhammer (thank you Instagram!) I am now on the quest for the identity of a black headed little bird found balancing on the top of the rape flowers. Maybe another gold finch, but I didn’t spot the red flashes……….
Lyra has been very happy to see the baby rabbits (officially these are kittens you know) and leverets venturing out. Alas the cats also – we had one headless bunny gift last week and doubtless more to come… The young deer are becoming venturesome and, not being so jaded and cynical as their elders, will often pause and watch us watching them for quite a while. walking by the river a few days ago we spotted two lying down, relaxing, between the shaws of a potato field. At first, with them being in the dip, all I could see was ears and I thought they might be hares until they tottered to their feet (see if you can spot them in the pic below). We’ve also seen more weasels this year than ever before. No fox sightings as yet, but you can tell from the smell that they are most definitely around and about.
Huge clumps of comfrey have sprung up, to the intense satisfaction of the bees. There is cuckoo flower in damp meadows and the first froth of cow parsley in the verges. In the shade of the many little wooded pockets between the fields forget- me-not clouds hover above the new grass, with curly fern fronds peeking through as they unfurl. The first outriders have arrived and before long the roadside verges will be shocking pink with campion. In the ever narrowing alleys between field and hedge the salty marzipan tang of hawthorn cuts through the musky sweetness of the rapeseed and in Tractor Tom’s wake there is the clean summer cologne of mown grass.
Alas, into every eden there comes a serpent, or rather, in this case, an insect. We are all agreed – Myself, Lyra, the Coos and even the horses at the Hirsel who are sporting bizarre deterrent headpieces in lavender tones. No good ever came of a horsefly. They appear out of nowhere, hovering maliciously like Sikorsky helicopters, with threatening, dangling stingy bits. Begone foul fiends…