Sunday, 11 September 2011

Hazelnuts and Admirals

The wind is whipping the trees and the hazelnuts are everywhere. My children are collecting endless buckets of them ready for the squirrels but I'm not sure the squirrels need any help at the moment as there is a glut of hedgerow food available. Weekend evenings have been spent making apple and chilli chutney, sloe gin and bramble vodka and so it's all pretty seasonal. Trying to paint the door-frames and windowsills in-between rain showers and being distracted by the many red admiral butterflies that have appeared in the garden. They are feeding on the fallen pears alongside the honey bees which are also making the most of the sugar. I counted 8 honey-bees on one piece of fruit, dopey with rotten pair and happy to eat unconcerned while I sat watching them. The pears fall and become soft almost instantly and the butterflies sit on them, small dark triangles on the grass before all fluttering about as I approach and all red admirals, no tortoiseshells or peacocks. The butterflies then alight on the nearby rabbit hutch to sun themselves as if having to recover after their Sunday lunch, brilliant deep black and red against the wood of the cage.

On a separate natural history note, Steve, a friend of mine found a slow worm warming itself on the road last week and he lifted it up to save it from traffic only to have it shed it's tail instantly. Feeling guilty at this, as he was trying to help, he was then thoroughly distracted from the slow worm as it sneaked off into the verge, by the ejected tail which although no longer connected to the reptile apparently flipped about energetically on the road. Surely this flipping and jumping of the lost tail is designed to achieve exactly this distraction so that the animal can capitalise on this sacrifice and escape from predators.

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