I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that Mother Nature has a way of balancing her books and, in the last few days, she hasn’t let me down. I know that things are not as they should be in the natural world and that many species are becoming extremely rare or have, sadly, vanished from the face of the Earth but, just lately, after a few days of sunshine, this old Forest of ours is suddenly beginning to come alive!
It wasn’t so long ago that I was discussing the dearth of butterflies and insects with a very knowledgeable chum who was convinced that the situation was irreversible; but he wasn’t reckoning on old Mother Nature and, only yesterday, we stood together and looked down a sun-dappled ride and revelled in the sight of several species that neither of us had seen, so far, this year. In the garden, I’ve noticed hoverflies in abundance – something I haven’t seen for several years and on the mint the stunning, emerald-green mint beetles are happily chomping their way through the foliage; these delightful insects are, apparently, quite rare and if you are fortunate to find them on your mint plants then don’t despair; just think yourself lucky and grow a bit more mint so there’s enough for both you and the beetles.
The birds, of course, are taking advantage of this bountiful harvest of insects and the pair of wagtails that were nesting in the ivy beside the patio doors gave us hours of pleasure as they bobbed about on the lawn; running after or, occasionally, jumping up to catch any low flying insects. The cat soon got fed-up with trying to catch these agile birds on the open expanse of the lawn and took to sneaky ambushes from below the barbeque on which they often landed before diving into the depths of the ivy. The wagtails were unperturbed by his futile attacks and treated him with so much disdain that I’m sure his pride as a hunter took a severe beating.
The seasonal weather prompted our remaining bantam to sit on a clutch of fifteen eggs and, unlike her sister who sadly died leaving the unfortunate orphan ‘Year End’ (who I told you about in June) to fend for himself, she managed to hatch thirteen chicks – not a good number if you happen to be superstitious and, yes, sadly, the inevitable ‘runt’ died and the cat chomped another, which left eleven (I was always good at maths!). Now, this particular bantam proved to be an excellent mother; always alert and ready to defend her brood if anyone dared to come to close but I think the sun must have upset her hormonal balance! Suddenly, before her brood were anywhere near fledged, she gave them all a severe pecking and trotted off to the lower paddock where her ‘husband’ had taken up residence with the now fully fledged and extremely ugly ‘Year End’. There ensued a session of vociferous accusation and recrimination and much chasing about and feather rattling until, as the daylight began to fade, the brazen hussy was found, tucked up on a perch, between the bantam cock and ‘Year End’: the net result of which is that she is now laying a new clutch of eggs and the Doting Owner of The Spoilt Pony is keeping the deserted chicks in a coop until they reach a size that will not fit into the cats mouth!
Seriously though, isn’t it delightful to have all this fabulous weather after so many months of abject misery. Our garden that, for the first time in memory, flooded - not bad when you live on the side of a hill - has now dried-out and for the first time in many months I’ve had to put the hose in the pond to restore its dwindling depths.
Must go now, before they slap on a hose ban!! I