Showing posts from September, 2015

What Is This Life, If Full Of Care, We Have No Time To Stand And Stare

In the welcome warmth of late September sun I stood stock still, alone, for 90 minutes on a path dissecting the wet meadows at Strumpshaw Fen. I was waiting. Waiting for a hobby to come close enough for me to capture something of its swift scything flight through the lens of my camera. The bird, a juvenile, appeared every so often jinking this way and that in the clear blue heavens. It was hunting dragonflies that in this summer reprise abounded, themselves darting hither and thither in their frantic quest for a mate before the chill of early autumn once more held sway and cut short their already brief role on this wetland stage. The hobby knew I was there, how could it not? A bird that can espy flying insect prey from a range of over 100 metres and home in on it with all the precision of a feathered exocet is unlikely not to have registered my presence below. But I remained still and patient.
A jay flew by crop full of acorns with another clutched firmly between its strong black mandi…

Of Tigers, Elephants and Old Ladys

Moths are subjects that seem to invoke strong emotion. A friend of mine hates them with a vengeance, protesting her loathing of these demonic creatures of the night with a shudder. She refuses point blank to even take a tentative peep into a moth trap despite my reasoned arguments that they are harmless and really quite fascinating. 'I'd rather give myself an enema' she will say, or something to that effect (she is a nurse). I questioned her once as to why this should be and it seems that when she was a small child a moth flew into her room one night and with its manic fluttering traumatised her to such an extent that she exhibits this extreme aversion. She loves butterflies though.
Sadly this otherwise well balanced lady is not alone in exhibiting extreme prejudice against moths; it must be the association with the mysteries of the dark hours when all things evil stalk our suburbs. I've read more than one short horror story where a moth, usually of gigantic proportion…


We all need inspiration in our lives, and can I'm sure think of a number of instances which have resulted in our meanderings being nudged along a particular track or hijacked by a particularly charismatic personality. I often think of us each being like a drop of rain water running down a window pane; we will all reach an inevitable end but have no idea of the unpredictable course of our descent, and have no conception of what we will gently merge with on the way. Chance, lottery, the throw of a dice; so our lives twist and turn and unravel in such unpredictable ways.
Such philosophising begs the question why are we all so interested in the natural world, (I’m assuming you are or you wouldn’t be reading this)? Why do we all find such pleasure in the sight of the first brimstone, the first scream of a swift above our houses in early May, the subtle changes that herald the transition between seasons? Like me I’m sure you feel these things, smell these things, sense these things. But …

Summer Remnants

The Met Office regards September 1st as the first official day of autumn. As I stepped out of the car at Strumpshaw Fen this morning coincident with rain beginning to fall from dark lowering clouds whipped by a stiff northerly breeze, it seemed the weather was doing its best to ensure summer was indeed at an end. But slowly the thick cloud cover broke up allowing welcome sunlight to filter through the woods and transform the scene to one of riches and delights.
I stopped to peer into a patch of brambles at the crossroads of the woodland trail, standing stock still to slowly scrutinise the myriad leaves and twigs entwined therein. Life was everywhere. Wasps and hornets investigated each fruit cluster; the former for sweet sugars the latter for fresh flesh. Flies of many colours, sizes and shapes basked in the sun’s rays or danced with each other amongst the foliage. Dark bush-crickets sat motionless in the dappled sprays, surprisingly hard to spot until you got your eye in and then they…