If the blog is quiet it generally means that I am not, and over the last few months there has been so much to do, including trying to pretty up the Ugly Bungalow and fill the Empty Garden. “Ongoing” is, I think, the best way to describe progress.
The garden is certainly filling up and if anything has been brave enough to attempt to grow, including weeds, they have generally been left to get on with it. Field poppies and tiny pretty corn pansies sprang up everywhere and it was fascinating to see bees and hoverflies queuing up for an early nectar hit as the poppy flowers unfurled. The bee-flower planting despite the poor weather has been very rewarding. I am trying to make a list of what has worked and what has been a complete surprise.
Birds, bees, dragonflies large and small, frogs, mice and joy of joys a hedgehog have all arrived and will hopefully stay awhile. My Bee House is filling up and the Wasp Tower nearby (an up-ended old log) has been enthusiastically colonised by many tiny black Pemphredon lugubris the wonderfully named “mournful wasps” who seem far to busy to be sad about anything and an awesome hoverfly killing wasp Ectemnius cavifrons.
Swallows and Starlings
The birds have been delightful. Blue tits almost nested in the nest box but moved on, flocks of whispering longtailed tits collect in the trees. Finches of all descriptions come and go, and sparrows, robins and blackbirds are always with us. A tiny wren lives in the hedge and a solitary black crow stayed for 2 days and ate every one of the 6 cherries on our new tree.
Ever since we arrived, there has always been “The Gang of Three.” Three glossy spotty starlings, always a trio and always hungry.
They must all have found love this year because a few weeks ago gangs of shrieking young starlings arrived to squabble over the bird food and just fight in general. I am very fond of the starlings and may make some drawings later this year but I did make a few sketches to try to get “essence” of starling. At this stage they are a drab brown with hints of the handsome spotty plumage to come.
Probably most charming was watching the swallows teaching their young ones to fly. One evening at dusk we noticed swallows flying round and round our small garden. This was unusual and then we saw they were a family. The little ones balanced uncertainly in the tree branches while the adults made brief circuits of the garden, swooping up to the eves of the bungalow and back to the babies, calling and calling to them.. “come… fly”.
You could hear the dry snap of their wings and feel the rush of air as they circled round and round.
One little bird was very unsure, hopping from branch to branch while its brothers and sisters launched themselves into the air and the darkening garden. A safe haven I guess for flying practice. Three days of aerobatics and they moved on.
Goodbye to Buzz for a while and back to Sketching
The Yewbarrow House day was the last “Buzz” show for this year and activity in the bee world begins to slow down generally. I will still be painting my lovely bees (of course) but have a couple of new projects in the wings and some teaching to prepare for.
Meanwhile with a little more time I will be out and about and back to sketching, and to blogging my varied results, along with some more observations about life, art and nature. :)