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The Mill Pool Wagtail

May 27, 2015

Every year the Grey Wagtail raises a brood from a nest tucked away in the masonry of the Mill sluice. On a warm morning such as this, she takes full advantage of the prolific hatch of Mayfly. She paused for a short whilst perched midstream in the millpond before setting off again in her hunt for more and more insects to feed her hungry nestlings.  

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So far, the weather during Whitsun has been ideal. Warm days with the ocassional shower have helped the hedgerows, meadows and banks to burgeon. It has led to that ideal combination, the rich and varied greens topped with the whites and creams of Hawthorn and Cow Parsley. Just before the lanes have, out of safety and necessity, to be mown back, we have enjoyed the rich diversity of it all. No frost of any note has court back the blossom, so in time we should enjoy a fruitful Autumn. 

 

The Anglo-Saxons, who felt the changing year more keenly than we do, referred to 9th May as the beginning of Summer. (For a more expert view I recommend the blog A Clerk of Oxford http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/summer-sun-brightest-anglo-saxon-summer.html ). So often I find myself agreeing with the Anglo-Saxon view. Rogationtide, that three day run up to Ascension Day, starts tomorrow and fits neatly into the turning of the seasonal calendar.

I am sitting in the garden as I write. From time to time a shower of Cherry blossom drifts down – not caused by “rough winds” but by a gentle breeze that stirs the top branches, before dying down again. A Blackbird sings from a nearby fir, a Blackcap from the copse, Swifts scream whilst twisting and turning overhead. The strong insistent song of a Wren bursts out just before it dives into its nest, tucked in the porch rafters. Rather worryingly for the garden, Woodpigeons have taken up residence within striking distance of the young Sweet Peas. But their mellifluous repetitive song just adds to the meditative atmosphere of the garden.

The Cuckoo has been silent in the valley for three days since announcing its arrival last Thursday. I have noticed this before – a settling in period, before the period of persistent song arrives in earnest. When they do get going Cuckoos travel up and down the river valley and I have been lucky enough to see their nuptial flight (or their territorial battle, depending upon your interpretation), more than once at this time of the year.