With autumn's bounty being particularly, er, bountiful this year, we went foraging for blackberries and elderberries in the hedgerows today. As well as getting free food, this also forces us into a very close communion with the fantastic habitats that hedgerows provide. At the moment, the ivy is blooming, providing a welcome late summer burst of pollen for bees and other insects. The fruit that we are seeking also provides a source of nutrition to birds (the purple stained droppings on leaves giving ample evidence of this) as well as invertebrates such as wasps and this shield bug.
Being forced into such close proximity brings one to a more minute engagement with what is going on in such a habitat. After a few minutes of pushing through spiders' webs and commenting on how they seemed to all be in the way of the fruit, I realised that this is probably not accidental; by positioning their webs between the wider world and the fruit, spiders maximise the chances of catching insects that are attracted to the sticky juices.
I also noticed details that I wouldn't were I just walking by, such as this Oak gall, nestling amongst the leaves. I know almost nothing about galls, but a quick google suggests that this may be Andricus kollari, an Oak marble gall, caused by a gall wasp.
After a summer of enforced immobility thanks to my ankle injury, it feels good to be out and about and able to get up close and personal with local wildlife again.