The meadow area this afternoon, before cutting.
THE END of summer; I think that the time’s right for cutting back the small meadow area at the end of the garden. There are a few scarlet poppies but most of the flowers are over now and should have set seed.
As I empty the trimmings on the compost heap, a Robin comes so close to me that I could reach out and touch it. There are two of them, equally tame, one hopping around where I’ve mown, the other near the shed. For the moment they seem to be sharing the garden in peace.
But inevitably cutting back this grassroot jungle has left one or two creatures homeless.
I try to mow the grass in sequence of swathes that will allow frogs and toads to gradually retreat towards the hedge as I progress. I get a brief glimpse of something hopping away near the log pile but I’m afraid that a couple of large slugs aren’t so lucky. I know they’re a traditional gardener’s ‘enemy’ but I’d have rescued them if I’d spotted them first.
I can see what appear to be vole runs in the turf and I notice two tiny newts, wriggling through the debris looking for cover in crevices in the damp earth. I manage to carefully rescue one and release it under the cover of the hedge, near next door’s pond.
Hope the Robin doesn’t spot it as it hops around under the hedge.
THE SUN has brought out the Lesser Celandines on their steep, sheltered, south-facing bank in the old watermill race, where Coxley Beck descends to follow its conduit under road and canal to the river by the Bingley Arms.
I keep seeing two Robins, behaving in a reasonably friendly manner in the front garden. One of them has been singing from the bare branches of Sumac above the dense growth of Ivy on our neighbour’s fence. I suspect that it is considering nesting in there. I bought an open-fronted nest-box a month ago. It’s time that I put it up.
A few Dandelion flowers are beginning to show, pushing up by the pavement by walls. I took up the old brick path last week. I’d made it from bricks recycled from an outbuilding my brother was knocking down 15 or 20 years ago. House bricks aren’t really designed to be used as paviers. Some had crumbled away and as they have frogs (that’s frog as in the slot in each brick) Dandelions and other weeds have been able to become established in the cavities. Hopefully the paving stone path that we’ve laid won’t get so weedy.
THE BIRD FEEDERS have been so busy recently. Not only do we have the cock Pheasant strutting up the garden every morning, he’s also accompanied by a growing harem of hen Pheasants. Whether he leads them into the garden or whether he tags along with them is debatable.
He was the first bird that we’ve seen drinking from the new bird bath and apart from him we’ve spotted only one Goldfinch perching on the rim, although we didn’t actually see it drink.
For much of today there have been up to a dozen Goldfinches feeding, often joined by Bullfinches (2 males, 1 female) and more occasionally by Greenfinches (3).
A female Chaffinch skulks around below, picking up spilt grain but Barbara spotted it briefly visiting the feeder during a quiet spell at breakfast-time. I don’t remember ever having seen one on the hanging feeders but the type that we’re using now have accessible perches (plastic rings at each hole) and they’re very close to the hedge which the Chaffinch perches in so it’s surprising that we don’t see it going directly to the feeder more often.
It’s the RSPB garden bird-watch this weekend, so we’re hoping that all these colourful finches will turn up to be counted during the allotted hour.
Another bird that uses the feeders infrequently and with difficulty is the Robin. It returned several times to the fat-ball feeder.
There were two Robins in the hedge by the feeders this afternoon, one soon chasing off the other.
Note; My drawings today are from sketches I’ve made over the years, some going back to the early days of this diary, a decade ago. Screen resolutions and average bandwidths were so different then, so if I could get a sketch, like the little one of the Bullfinch down to 1 kilobyte, I thought I was doing well. Seeing these on my latest computer I’m surprised how flat and dotty those early GIF (graphic image files) are. They used to look just about acceptable but I’d do things differently today.