Summer’s survivors

I’ve had a few days out and about on wildlife patrol with Lyra, now freed from the post op “no scratchy” T shirt, recently (ably assisted by Keith and Mum, respectively, as side kicks) so thought I’d submit my late summer report.

The heat of the last few days has turned the wheat to gold, hustled the hogweed into seed and brought on the brambles but there are still a few flowers to lift the spirits. All along the grassy top of the river flood defences there are gentle clouds of cranesbill tangled into the plumes of dried grass. In the fresh grass which has, to Lyra’s delight, replaced the mowed strips, the green is broken by bright yellow dots of creeping potentilla and dashes of white and pale pink yarrow. Convulvulus is climbing vampishly up the drying stalks of hogweed and down by the riverbank where its (slightly) damper there are large drifts of tansy competing it out with the Himalayan balsam and intermittent clumps of ragwort and gowan (both quite short and stocky this year – I wonder if this is the result of the hot weather?).

I’ve been glad to see a few butterflies at last. Mostly just the little local broon yins and white yins, but the odd flash of red and orange as well. There’s still very few of the migratory fellows. The buddleia is just coming out though, so I’m hoping that it’ll attract a few. Plenty of bees are still around, making the most of the echinops and lavender in the garden, the last of the knapweed and thistles in the hedgerows and the wild marjoram growing in the grassy stretches by the river.

Our sky is full of newly hatched swallows and house martins, swooping and diving and trying out their wings, chittering and chattering all the while. At around five, if we are lucky, we see a beautiful white barn owl on her afternoon circuit, likely still feeding young. One of the woodpeckers has also taken to popping by to take a prod at the bird feeder from time to time. It never ceases to take me by surprise by peering in at the window when I’m filling the kettle. As the heads of daucus and fennel (everywhere!) are turning to seed it likely won’t belong before we see goldfinches balancing improbably on the stalks. Yesterday, to top it all, on a spin round the Hirsel, we attracted the attention of a bold little cygnet who came over for a good look.

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