I was up on The Chalk at 5.30am yesterday. The air was damp and the paper I was writing on softened and twisted beneath the pencil as the moisture in the air infiltrated it. We were completing the second element of the BTO's Breeding Bird Survey and recorded the songs of Yellow Hammers, White Throats, Blackcaps, Skylarks, Swifts, Swallows, Wrens, Chaffinches, Chiffchaffs, Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Wood Pigeons, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, a Tree Creeper. Apart from a solitary lady watering her six dogs outside her cottage who scuttled off as soon as she saw us, there was not another soul about.
We came down off The Chalk an hour or so later and walked back to the car through the village of ancient, crook-beamed thatched cottages that hugs the river valley. In the driveways, expensive four-by-fours with not a splodge of the countryside on them competed with those next door. There was no one around- the entire village was asleep and soundless. I was suddenly struck by how different it would have been a few hundred years ago when 7am would not be considered an early hour to be up and doing. When perhaps you had to be up long before 7am if you were going to get all the work done for the day.
I found my thoughts straying to the people who lived in these cottages then, and to the cottages themselves. Much valued and highly prized these days, these old wonky wattle and daub constructions would have sheltered people who lived and died according to the dictates and vagaries of the weather and the resulting harvest. Today, the inhabitants make brief detours from hectic city lives to sleep the best hours of the day away inside them.
Have we grown lazy I wondered, or just so disconnected from the cycles of the earth and the way the land moves through the year that so few of us feel the urge to get up and go outside to enjoy the world in the early hours of a summer morning?
Talking of Earth Cycles, Bop is still with us. He is moving to a quieter location at Jill's. Tawnys can become used to people if hand reared and Jill wants to make certain he has every chance to return to The Wild. We talked about him coming home to be released- that's probably still six weeks away, but it is On The Cards and I am pleased. It feels right, like a circle completing.
I've been getting Moth Withdrawal Symptoms- I've been too busy over recent weeks to put the Light Box out much- but today I have a clear day ahead of me so last night out it went.
The nights are cool here still and moth numbers and species are down on last year as a result. I've seen no Ellie Hawks yet and normally we get lots. Still, numbers are improving and this morning's wasn't a bad haul.
Two blood-veins, one new, the other so faded there was no pink left on it at all and it had me scratching my head for a moment until I worked out what it was.
Two bright-line brown-eyes
Two brimstones (although one had provided breakfast for the robin)
My first buff ermine of the year
A beautiful grey arches
And a green arches to match
The first clouded silver of the year
Three clouded borders
A burnished brass
Four heart and darts
An elderly Light Emerald
A tiny marbled white spot
Four peppered moths (all non-melanistic forms)
A plume moth (emmelina monodactyla?)
A rather unusual scorched carpet (they feed on Spindle and are therefore usually moths of The Chalk, so I'm not sure why this one has turned up here)
The first small angle shades of the year (I'd love a velvet cloak like his)
Three small magpies
A treble brown spot
Two treble lines
And I think this is a willow beauty (although it could be a mottled beauty- I find them hard to tell apart)
So, Not Bad but not as good as last year I think. Let's hope the nights warm up a bit and they can all Get Going.
I've a Busy Week coming up- talks on flutters and moth ecology, a dormouse survey, a glow worm survey and then a school educational day on countryside things. Not to forget T and P have a hair cut with Mrs Danning on Thursday too :o)
I'll leave you with some shots from the weekend, starting with Poppy's New Club, which is The Vole Watching Club. She has set this one up herself after becoming obsessed with it- it has even over-taken Teddy's Pigeon Watching Club in terms of the hours she devotes to staring at the various vole holes she's found round the garden. No doubt she will be Canvassing For Members in the not too distant future....
|Brian is now 16mm long!|
|Goldfinch Children who are Very Noisy Indeed|
|Eclairs for tea. All Gone.|
Hope you've all had a Nice Weekend and have a Good Week Ahead,