There was a glorious spell of weather at the beginning of the week and we pushed on and have now triumphantly completed this year’s cutting of the meadows. It got to a point in autumn last year when it started raining and never seemed to stop again for long enough to finish the cutting that we had planned. So we wanted to take advantage of this sunshine now when the newly cut, dry grasses effortlessly fly back into the collecting hopper and don’t all clog and stick.
We have left selected areas uncut in the much larger second meadow to provide cover for the Grey Partridge and leave seed heads for Linnets and Goldfinch. I always find it difficult photographing the second meadow because its curves seem to foreshorten and distort. In the photo below it does look as if we have left most of it uncut but this is not the case.
Perhaps this next photo better shows how much cutting has been done in there:
The Grey Partridge are still visiting the strip after the meadow has been cut – pleased we haven’t scared them away. Back in June, Grey Partridge were declared extinct in Switzerland, where once they had been common. They have suffered a terrifying decline in the UK too and we need to try really hard to look after them.
A Kestrel in the hedgerows watching for rodents fleeing from the tractor:
We were sitting out in the meadows having a restorative cup of tea and were treated to a Spitfire display, barrel-rolling over our heads.
Planes were painted with these invasion stripes especially for D-Day so that they were recognisably Allied planes and didn’t get shot down by friendly fire. Spitfires were single-seater fighters but this particular plane that we often see above us is a training plane which also takes a passenger:
I have been greatly enjoying photographing the Foxes and their penchant for Pears.
Then, we saw this photo below. In the top left hand corner, you can see that the Fox has actually climbed up into the tree:
The next night we hauled a second camera into action in case the Fox did it again:
This second camera took a whole series of photos of Foxes clambering around in the tree:
I think that whenever I see a pear from now on I will think of our tree climbing Foxes.
It is not the one-eyed vixen climbing in the pear tree, but can I once again ask you to admire how good she is looking these days and how her tail is bushing out:
Here she was earlier in the summer before we treated her for mange:
As the autumn bird migration continues, the Bird Ringers have been setting their nets up and ringing in the meadows. They’ve seen small flocks of Siskins flying around and have made several attempts to catch them by quickly putting up nets where they thought they might have been landing and playing their calls to lure them in. But the Siskins have always managed to avoid going into the net. That is, until this week, when an adult male was caught.
What a beautiful and colourful bird. It is the first time that one has been ringed here.
We are very accustomed to Magpies around these parts – we have far too many of them in my view. Once again, we were having a cup of tea in the meadows and there was a cacophony of Magpie rattling nearby that we ignored because we are well used to it. However, eventually it drew our attention because it was so insistent and we saw that there was a lynching going on. I took a couple of photos before I realised that I was actually witnessing attempted murder and moved in to break it up. One Magpie was pinned to the ground and the other was stabbing it viciously with its beak:
The Magpie on the ground couldn’t fly away immediately due to injury or just shock, but eventually it did. Magpies murdering their own. The more I get to know about them, the less I find to like.
What about the eye on this little chap below? Most odd looking.
This is a Dunnock undergoing a really unfortunate head feather moult. I checked with the Bird Ringer who confirmed that this was nothing to worry about.
This, however, is not good news. This Chaffinch has bumble foot:
The Butterfly season is nearing its close, but I was pleased to see these mating Common Blues this week:
The distinctive shape of a Comma Butterfly and the white mark from whence it got its name:
The UK has only 59 species of resident and regular migrant Butterflies. Italy, with the highest number of Butterfly species in Europe, has 252. But excitement is building amongst British Butterfly enthusiasts for the expected imminent arrival of our 60th species, the Southern Small White. Until recently, this Butterfly was only found in south-eastern Europe but it has been spreading towards the UK at 100km a year and was recorded in Calais in 2019. That is just across the Channel, only a few kilometres from here, and so could it already be with us by now? It has not yet been seen but then it is difficult to distinguish from the other British white Butterflies as this Butterfly Conservation photo shows:
I don’t usually pay much attention to white Butterflies but I am going to start doing so now. The larval food plant is wild Candytuft or related garden flowers.
Moving to the wood, I was delighted to see a juvenile Bullfinch:
Sparrowhawks and Buzzards continue to frequently visit the ponds in the wood. There is quite a size disparity between these two birds of prey. The following two photos are cropped exactly the same amount:
One of our sons and his girlfriend visited this weekend and wanted to make cider. The Foxes might have a Penchant for Pears but they appear to have no Appetite for Apples which are lying on the ground uneaten. Therefore, it was with a completely clear conscience that we picked what was left of the eaters on the trees and started the process of fermenting it into an alcoholic beverage:
While we were at it, we also picked Sloes from the Blackthorn in the hedgerows. Whilst Hawthorn berries are quickly eaten from the trees by the birds, the very bitter Sloes are often left to wither untouched. Therefore, we did not feel guilty about harvesting a few of these as well.
The birds might find these Sloes bitter, but they certainly add a most delicious flavour when added, along with some sugar, to gin and left to infuse for several months. We will look forward to tasting that next year.