Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Under A Plank

In the corner of my long garden lies a small area that is never lawn-mowed, chipped or managed. When we first made it we put down an empty bed frame and a plank of wood originally so I could crouch down on it and not get absolutely covered in grass, dirt and bugs when I was looking at something in it. I still remember I saw this huge, long, centipeedy orange thingie crawling at me when I was looking at it. I ran into the house and didn't really go into there for a while after that.

The other day I was looking at it and I thought....hmm...I know that some bugs like to go under things. What if I flipped this here plank over?

And so I went with it. I carefully (with achey legs) crouched on the soil and reluctantly flipped over the log. Tiny ant-like creatures scurried out of the way to cover. Pill woodlice tried to find a crevice to escape the giant that had just reorganised their home. And slugs...well....the slugs...just sat there. Or at least didn't move very far. Because...well, you know...they're slugs.

There were tiny slugs, medium slugs, and huge (albeit a little scary) slugs. Fat slugs, thin slugs, slimey slugs. Yellow and spotty slugs and brown squishy slugs. As you can tell by now I'm not good at identifying species of slug yet.

What's next?

Amazing Wildlife Sightings: Caught on a Blog!

Welp, I've been waiting for so long to post these things on here, and the wildlife hasn't been better! I can tell you, I'm literally out of breath!

Lately we've had a lot of jackdaws out, pecking at some cotton fluff we put out and carrying it away in their mouths, presumably to stuff their nests full of it. I bet those chicks are the comfiest in town!

As you know Summer is heading towards us (though some of the weather tells otherwise) and Summer means swifts. I was bouncing around on (and roly-polying onto) my trampoline when I hear a telltale screeching from up above. Half a second of confusion - and then instantaneously I can tell what it is. Swifts! I glance up, sun reflecting off of my glasses, trying to spot the amazing streamlined aerodynamics. And there they were, screeching and frantically zooming in all directions, looking like they were going absolutely mental. I gazed in awe as I saw one chase after another, another one trailing behind. Perhaps they were competing for a mate? Who knows? Did you know that swift's legs are so weak and stubby because they almost never land except to breed? And that when a young swift leaves the nest, they may never land for three or four years?! Imagine those sore wings! Pass the paracetamol!

Not long after a few weeks later, something amazing happened that almost actually blew my socks off. I was yet again sitting on the trampoline staring up at the sky like a gormless fool when I heard the telltale scream again. Suddenly I saw a group of four or five swifts who were far closer to the ground than I had usually seen (they were usually just tiny shapes in the sky from where I was). I was surprised. Then, out of the blue, they came rushing down and swooped down through my garden, metres above my head, and then flew inbetween some houses, out of sight.

A while later I went down to the shops with my sister, and some swifts were frantically bobbing between houses like they were doing it for fun. I couldn't believe I was the only one noticing them! I must admit a few people down the local pub stared me down like I was a complete nutter...

Before this experience, I remember looking through the window at one of the feeders my mum had put up in the garden. Then I noticed a small bird. I thought it was just another blue tit at first (which still were relatively new to my garden at the time) but then I noticed white...and a salmon pink...and a freakishly long tail. Practically falling off my chair I saw a long tailed tit. Wow! I don't even think that's a garden species...we must be doing well with our feeding.

But today's experience was the most amazing of all. I was getting up off of my computer to talk to my mum about something and looked through our window as I was passing by. I stopped in my tracks. I saw a rather large bird hopping along the path. I thought it was a song thrush at first, but it seemed a little...greenish.

Then the mystery bird turned around to hop onto the grass. I saw a black nape, red cap and brilliant yellow-green uppersides. It looked about the size of a jackdaw, perhaps taller. It had a rather long bill and stought build.

My jaw dropped. My breath was swept away. I felt like I was going to drop and faint.

What was I looking at?

I was looking at a green woodpecker.

In my garden?

I couldn't believe it. Slowly I grabbed my binoculars and threw off my glasses and  peered through them. I was right. It WAS a green woodpecker. Noticed the yellow rump.

It was an astonishing sight.

Maybe one day I'll wake up, and I'll hear a noise like no other bird can make...