Wild @ Rivers - September 2014

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Diary Entry by Charmaine Cooper

Hay Bailing in the Meadow

The early drizzle has gone and a beautiful warm September evening aids the drying of the meadow's cut grass. A Jay flies silently over the rows of drying grass into the young Oak tree and disappears amongst the still dense foliage. Along the hedgerow two Red Admiral butterflies seek overnight shelter in the Ivy as the alarm call of a Robin is drowned by the shrill alarm calls of two Wrens.

Another warm September day and the dried grass is baled and removed from the meadow. In the Orchard’s hedge a Great Tit calls from the Hawthorn. Above, on a bare dead branch, a Green Woodpecker clings to the side of the branch before flying off emitting its distinctive yaffle. Like a small shoal of silvery fish, several chattering Long-Tailed Tits fly busily through the hedge and taller trees. The rosy-red chest and black head of the male Bullfinch is glimpsed as he and the duller female flutter through the green leaves. Speckled Wood and Small White butterflies seek out the Scabious and Knapweed that was missed by the cutting blades. Squirrels bound through the Beech hedge searching for the ripening hairy husks that contain the triangular nuts that they and the Jays seek. The large Woodpigeon also takes advantage of the Beech nut bounty and can be seen balancing on small branches to reach the nuts. Those nuts that tumble to the earth will be collected and stored by Squirrels and Jays and even the Great Tit may eat a few that are not taken.

Beech Nuts

Rabbits bound through the orchard’s mown grass as Large White and Red Admiral butterflies dance through the air. The Green Woodpecker rises up from the grass and flies off in a flash of yellow and green. A gentle tapping can be heard as a Great Spotted Woodpecker makes a infrequent venture into the Orchard to search for insects under the decaying bark on the old fruit trees. As the bird searches the rotten pieces fall with a gentle rustle.

Across the meadow the yaffle of the Green Woodpecker is heard as the colourful Jay searches the Oak trees for acorns. This year the meadow’s trees seem to have none or very few. As the Jay flies off its wings gently clap together.

Small Tortoiseshell

Early morning mist melts away and warm September sun bathes the meadow. A Kestrel hovers above, its wings beating as it hangs in the sky. Suddenly it tumbles and drops lower, hovers and then dives down into the grass. Emerging, it swiftly takes to the air, its prey clutched in its talons. The Kestrel climbs higher and disappears over the hedge. In the scrub of the old nursery site a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly basks in the sunshine on the flattened grass. Hoverflies seek nectar from the sticky buds of the Ivy that flowers along the path and long chains of unripe Bryony berries dangle from the trees. Hawthorn berries ripen on the bushes and already Blackbirds greedily seek the fruit. The Blackberries are finished and Michaelmas Day past. Autumn is on its way.

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