What a wonderful August we have just had and can you remember ever seeing so many beautiful peacock butterflies on your buddleia bushes?
Wild flowers have really done well this year, most birds have had a very good breeding season with so much food and insects about and now the fields are awash with more young finches buntings and wagtails than I have seen in a long time.
During the last couple of weeks I have noticed good numbers of sandpipers that are currently migrating south for the winter probing about in the creeks on my local salt marsh. Greenshank, common and green sandpipers as well as those new ‘pearls’ of the UK's waterways the little egrets. So white, looking like small white herons, common in the Med but not so many years ago extremely rare in the UK but last night I counted 34 of them going to roost in a nearby spinney. Climate change has certainly changed some of our bird populations and species.
I popped a hide up on the side of that creek and settled down for a couple of evenings to see what would turn up. Of course the first wader to show was the redshank, probably our commonest wader and guaranteed to be ‘on scene’ in any creek. As it came closer it bobbed its head up and down as they do, wondering what this big tent thing was that had suddenly appeared in its territory. It quickly relaxed and carried on feeding, seemingly sure now that my hide was ok. As the sun lowered the light took on that warm golden glow and a wood pigeon landed on the bank side, had a look around and came down for a drink. They may be a farmer’s pest but when seen in this quiet situation they are a very handsome bird. It looked up when it heard the shutter but seeing as the sound wasn’t followed by anything threatening it carried on drinking. Pretty soon I heard the familiar “peep peep” as a pair of green sand pipers dropped in. When they land they tend to hold their wings up in the air angel-fashion for just a second, I will catch this one day!
The green sandpipers were quickly followed by Common sandpipers and Greenshank with a flock of six little egrets landing some way down the creek but heading my way. Over the next two or three hours they all gave me some very nice photo opportunities and I think I will re-visit that creek again before this month is out.
Not everything in the countryside is doing so well though. East coast farmers are suffering the worst attack of ‘black grass’ in many years. This pernicious weed’s germination was delayed last autumn/winter because of those dreadful cold wet conditions that never seemed to end. They still hadn't properly germinated until after this year’s wheat crop was sown. Because black grass is a grass in the same way wheat is it could not be sprayed off without killing both and now things are so bad crop yields are going to suffer and losses are likely to be significant.
On a more nostalgic note I was watching the combine harvesters rapidly munching their way through the wheat and the barley and those lorries taking the grain away and my thoughts strayed to how quickly all this is done, how rapidly a field changes from gold to dark brown as some fields are ploughed while others are still waiting for the combine harvester, farmers of eighty years ago or so would not believe their eyes.
It gave me an idea for a picture I fancied ‘creating’. I visited an old barn where I knew there were some old wooden Lincolnshire hay carts that still stand proud even among all the dust and cobwebs. I just needed a clear image of one of the carts, not so easy in the clutter of an old barn and then another image of a harvested wheat field with the intention of putting that old cart out on the fields again.
Well, here is that image, I hope you like it and along with this image I would like to share with you a poem called “Redundant” that was especially written about these very carts by an old friend, wonderful countryman/naturalist Mr Ron Baumber, sadly no longer with us.
Banished to cluttered cobwebbed sheds
Where raindrops leak their musty tears.
Last survivors of their kind,
Veterans of the yeomen years.
To see again those graceful lines,
Creations of the wheelwright’s trade.
Timber galleons of the land
In brightest liveries arrayed.
Down rutted lanes all overhung
With trailing briers clinging strand,
They’ve carried many creaking loads
through all the byways of the land.
Drawn through life by gentle giants,
Mighty shires or Clydesdale teams.
What memories of harvest home
Re-lived again in precious dreams.
But time will take its weary toll,
In darkened corners now they hide.
Disguised in scarred and faded paint,
These derelicts that once knew pride.