Wild @ Rivers - October 2014

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Diary Entry by Charmaine Cooper

Sloe Berries

After a warm start the temperature drops, rain drizzles from a grey sky and the Beech hedge in the meadow responds with its leaves changing to a vivid gold. The Bryony berries are now fully ripened and hang like scarlet beaded necklaces from the hedgerows and along the footpaths through the orchard’s scrub. Sloe berries have ripened to a glossy blue black in the orchard’s hedge and a small flock or volery of Long-Tailed Tits are flitting excitedly through the dense thicket. The misty rain fills the air with a rich damp earthy odour.


The warm sunshine returns and out comes a Red Admiral butterfly. The distinctive red and black markings of this butterfly flash through the orchard as it searches for rotting apples, eventually descending onto an apple still retained by the tree where it feasts for awhile.


In the scrub a female Pheasant wanders under the dense foliage, barely visible in her mottled fawn plumage. Above, the trees are full of the calls of the returning Redwings as they gorge themselves on the ripe ruby red berries of the Hawthorn bush. On the Elder leaves a Wasp grooms its antennae in the bright sunlight before moving on to forage for food in preparation for its winter sleep. Other insects are still on the wing. Large Bumble Bees buzz along as they seek the rapidly diminishing nectar sources and the occasional Dragonfly drifts through the air. A Speckled Wood butterfly settles on an old Plum tree in the meadow to absorb the heat of the sun into its body and is shortly joined by a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. Bright red Rosehips glisten on the bare thorny stems of the Wild Rose and the feathery seed heads of the rambling Traveller’s Joy plant adorn the Blackberry bushes.

Travellers Joy

In the orchard’s meadow the wind blasts along the Beech hedge, tugging at the leaves and whistling through the wires on which a Kestrel perches, its sharp eyes observing all below. Close to the meadow's hedge another predator sits watching. As the sun begins to slip below the horizon, a Fox waits for the dog walkers to disappear and he too will begin to hunt. There is still enough light to see the Fox turn tail and slip into the undergrowth displaying his red russet coat and bushy tail tipped in black.


In the orchard the Cherry trees' leaves are brown and curled; the dying leaves rustle in the strong wind. The sky is darker and the air is cooling and a faint mist begins to twirl around the trees. Tumbled apples lay as they fell, waiting for the birds that depend on them for food in the coming winter, but signs of new life are already showing on the hedgerow. Hazel trees’ immature catkins are appearing under the old leaves in readiness for Spring.

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