I am sure that I’m not alone in having felt a bit wobbly this week. Although of course this is combined with feeling guilty since there are so many people much worse off than us.
Around 1980 I went to see Ian Dury and the Blockheads playing at Exeter University and they sang Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3. This song had been released in 1979, following a near fatal accident when one of their roadies got electrocuted from a microphone stand whilst they were touring Italy. The song lists many reasons to be cheerful, included because they were important to Ian but also because they rhymed with the item that went before. Oatmeal breakfast cereal, generosity and politeness, equal voting rights and cheddar cheese and pickle sandwiches all got a look in.
Now, as the UK goes into its second national lockdown, it is another good time to focus on the many reasons to be cheerful that surround us. Here are some of the things that perhaps haven’t quite made me cheerful, but have given me some comfort this week.
We walked down to the white cliffs this week, the first time for several months. It had all got a bit popular over this most unusual of summers, but now we had it to ourselves once again:
Lots of Black-headed Gulls, in their winter plumage these days, were loafing around in the waves. Although the meadows are very close, we rarely see Black-headed Gulls here other than on flying Ant days.
It’s lovely to see bird photos taken by the trail cameras, but it is even better to see the birds with our own eyes. This Sparrowhawk was idling in one of the Pines in the meadows. He was a long way away but we digiscoped him:
When I next went through the trail cameras, it turns out that he had just previously had a bath in the pond:
This is probably him as well:
This Kestrel allowed us to get pretty close to him:
It was a full moon on Halloween, last Saturday night:
It has been so long since we have had a visit from the Heron that we had forgotten to be scared of the full moon, when there is enough light for them to hunt in the middle of the night. But here a Heron is, at midnight, relieving the pond of one Frog and then one Newt before the camera ran out of batteries.
Well, it was time for us to pull our secret weapon out of the shed: MacKenzie, the saviour of our Amphibians.
After we built him last year and placed him by the pond, we had no more visits from the Heron, even over the most tempting of times when the Frogs gathered in large numbers to spawn. Two years ago, a Heron ate hundreds of Frogs and Newts from the pond – it was carnage, and has reduced our tolerance of these birds down to zero.
This is the darker, older Fox with only half a tail, but he is the keenest of consumers of the nightly peanuts, often waiting around for a long time for dusk to arrive which is when I put them out. I notice that he also has a bright white star on his chest.
Although I can’t tell all of the Badgers apart in the meadows, I have been paying attention to try to work out which, if any, are missing. One night this week there were six of them together at the peanuts:
During the summer there were seven – one adult male (Scarface) and two adult females. One of the females had big, bouncing triplets and the other had a single cub who was much smaller and more delicate. I’m afraid that it is this littlest cub that I haven’t seen on the cameras for some time.
Over in the wood, it is a good idea not to lose concentration when you step through the undergrowth. After all, you would not want to put your foot in this, a very full Badger latrine:
The Dormouse is still using the nest box:
A Blue Tit actually went into the box with it several times:
The Squirrels continue to check the nest box out very thoroughly. Presumably they can smell the Dormouse in there and would eat it if they could get at it?
Sun rise yesterday, November 4th, and a Border Force vessel slowly patrols the waters below the meadows. This is the dawning of the day before England goes into lockdown and the day after the US election. Also looming is the need to support the dog through fireworks night tonight. What an emotionally exhausting week it has been.