Day 27 – Urban Birds

I walk or cycle to work in the centre most days and have been trying to notice the birds on my way in. I’ve managed to get photos of two of them. First is this cormorant drying its wings on the docks. There are cormorants everywhere down the docks, they add a little taste of the exotic when they’re sitting with their wings out like this. 

The other one is the ubiquitous herring gull (at least I think it is) – this one still a juvenile, just getting its adult plumage. Apparently Bristol has the highest population of herring gulls in the country. We’re near the coast, but not that near! They live on the colossal amount of food rubbish scattered around the city. 


Day 26 – The Peace of Wild Things 

Someone posted this poem on Facebook – I thought it describes so well my relationship with nature and its importance in my life. See also Day 17 when we ran away to the Somerset Levels. 

You can hold that feeling in your head and draw on it when you need to escape, even if only briefly! 

Day 25 – English Wine 

Does that send shudders up your spine – conjuring up the sickly taste of Concorde wine in the bad old days before all the wines of the world were available in the supermarket down the road? Today I went for a very smart Sunday lunch at the Three Choirs vineyard in Gloucestershire – delicious food, but their wine is also lush. As good as the best NZ whites, in my untutored opinion. 

It’s great to see a different sort of agriculture in the English countryside, I’m hoping to see more of the slopes of the south west covered in vines over the next few years. Who knows, maybe our wine will become a big export staple as we pull ourselves out the EU. 

Day 24 – Garden Spiders 

There are spiders spinning their webs all over the garden at the moment. I usually associate this with September, but these are delicate little beasties in comparison with the hulking big autumn ones. They are still a nuisance when you’re trying to get round a small garden – they build their webs from plants to pots across the path and there’s no alternative but to move their webs out of the way. Incidentally this has been taken with one of those clip on macro lenses you can get for your phone. They’re cheap as chips and definitely worth getting if you want to do some nature photography experiments.

Day 23 – first crop

Not much to say about this other than it’s the first crop from the allotment apart from the rhubarb. We also picked the blackcurrants but the pigeons beat us to the four red gooseberries we’d manage to coax into life this year. It’s always a bit of a conflict between my love of wildlife and the desire to get some crops from the allotment. 

Day 22 – In praise of the untidy

A gathering of bees has taken up residence in my neighbours bathroom roof. I’m not sure it’s a hive, although they go in with pollen and come out with nothing, so I guess they’re feeding young bees. They’ve been for the past three or four years, in a couple of weeks they’ll buzz off until next year. They can get in through the small holes on the edges of the roof, I’m not even sure if my neighbour knows they’re there – I can see them on my side, but she won’t be able to see them on hers.

My friend who featured on Day 18 has swifts turn up every May and nest in his roof – again, they get in through a small hole under the eaves. It doesn’t cause any problems for them, and they get to welcome swifts every year. They put up a swift nesting box one year but the swifts weren’t interested. There are fewer and fewer swifts coming back to nest in the city and one of the reasons could be because of the way we are sealing up the gaps and holes where they want to nest. I don’t know, I expect it’s other things too, but when we tidy up our gardens and verges and wastelands we inadvertently remove important habitats for all sorts of insects and animals. All that destructive ivy, those prickly pyracanthus bushes, the poppies growing from the edges of walls and cracks in the pavements – they all have a part to play. There should always be a bit of space for the untidy. ‘Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet’.

Day 21 – Solstice

10.15 on the longest day of the year, and the hottest day of the year. A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about the rain, but we could really do with some now. I’m hoping my little allotment pond is keeping the wildlife there hydrated. It’s worth leaving out bowls of water if you live somewhere that any wildlife might be passing by. 

It was 33.5° at 3.15 this afternoon. I know this because one of our residents has a weather station in his back garden – its always good for a look when the weather’s being exciting I love the way that technology has made it so easy to record and share this sort of information – more evidence of citizens science I guess. Happy Solstice, enjoy these long evenings while we can.