Wild @ Rivers - November 2014

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Diary Entry by Charmaine Cooper


Dusk is falling and a cold blustery wind whips through the orchard as a Fox streaks between the apple trees and into the hedge. The silence of the darkening skies is broken by the crackling screams of skyward rockets. Startled Blackbirds fling themselves from their night roosts and the air is filled with their alarm calls.

Lichens in the scrub

Although it is dull, wet and grey there is a bright coppery glow from the meadow’s Beech hedge that cheers the otherwise miserable day. In the scrub, Long Tailed-tits bounce through the fissured trunks and naked wet dark limbs of Hawthorn trees. Ruby red berries cling to the branches and are descended on by a large flock of Fieldfares and glossy Blackbirds. When disturbed the birds burst upwards from the trees in a cacophony of sound, swirl round and dive back down to continue feeding. Beneath them the air is pierced by the shrieking alarm call of the Wren as it explodes from the dense shrubbery, its chestnut plumage vivid against the dull branches. Further on a Female Pheasant is startled from the dying grass and there is a flurry and whirring of wings as she takes to the air displaying her fawn and mottled plumage and splayed tail before she rapidly descends back into cover. The Green Woodpecker’s call echoes across the old site as a Robin sings his territorial song from a high perch which is answered by a distant Robin also intent on claiming his patch. Robins begin early in winter to stake their claim for nesting sites.


The warm wet autumn has brought forth a multitude of Fungi throughout the Orchard and the old nursery site. Some of the larger species of fungus have tumbled over where they appear to have been nibbled by unseen foragers. Rabbits scatter along the footpaths and a small dark brown Bank Vole weaves its way across the path and darts for cover. Semi-circles of fungi fairy rings are scattered throughout the meadow. In the nursery scrub the grey lichen encrusted branches of the Hawthorn provide shelter for insects as birds gorge on the branches’ bountiful berries. Amongst the fallen berries a Common Shrew dashes, a flash of brown and it’s gone, a small mammal that lives life in the fast lane. A large Bumble Bee flies gently through the meadow. A dark shape passes overhead and settles on the grass, revealing itself as a Peacock butterfly, both insects still on the wing because of the unseasonably warm November.

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