all in a day

It is a good day that begins with a visit from a kestrel. It was one of those days today when,on my morning visit to let the chickens out, I was visited by a kestrel, hunting above the meadow in the clear morning sky. I have seen kestrels  regularly and sometimes they sit on the telegraph wires, but watching them hovering is always a joy.  There’s been a hobby here too this summer, plying his hunting trade amongst the flocks of swallows and sand martins, whilst the kites and buzzards soar above the valley. There seem to be good numbers of both, suggesting there are plenty of rodents about.

Beside the pond, a female grass snake has a regular basking spot amongst the long grasses where the morning sun shines. She takes to the water if we disturb her, sometimes sliding across the lily leaves before submerging.This week she sloughed her skin, leaving her old one caught in the moss and rushes by the water’s edge. We were going to turn out the compost yesterday, but the first turn revealed newly hatched baby grass snakes, and hastily recovering them, we left the job for another day.

The season is spinning towards the end of summer, and the garden is turning blue and purple again with  the flowering of the asters and verbena. Clouds of butterflies decorate the swaying verbenas- the late season stalwarts of Red Admirals,  Small Tortoiseshells and Painted Ladies. A single Holly blue visits the California Poppies. Earlier this year there was an abundance of Small Coppers and of the moth fraternity, Vapourer moths, their larvae now marching across various plants, backs topped with tiny dense toothbrush- like bristles.

The garden chores are becoming autumnal . We need to start hedging, and many overgrown shrubs need to be reduced to better shape and smaller dimensions. There are seeds to sow and plans to draw up for autumn construction. The days shorten but the job lists lengthen, as is always the way as one season gives way to the next.

At the end of  the day, returning to the chicken coop to shut them safely away, the kestrel has been replaced by hunting bats, and fat rabbits lope lazily down the bank and out of sight. The calls of buzzards are replaced by the hooting of young tawny owls , husky voices down amongst the willows, rehearsing stories of the cold to come. It is still summer, but the lease is almost up.

joyous sunday

egg2

first-egg my-first-eggWhich came first, the chicken or the egg? Today, the definitive answer was provided by Maeve, as clearly she came first-about 3 weeks ago-and her egg arrived today. She announced to the world she was going to lay it and then disappeared into the nest box, like a well brought up girl, reappearing some time later, pleased as punch.

In the nestbox, in a perfect little hollow she had made, was this perfect brown egg. There was general purpose excitement from us and congratulations from the Twittersphere for Maeve-she’s a very modern chicken.

And, as if that was not enough good news, when the driving rain stopped we went out for a short walk, to be greeted by returning swallows and sand martins, calling out their joy at journey’s end. It felt as if they carried the summer in on their wings.