#30DaysWild: A Week of Wild

What a week it has been! over the last few days, temperatures have crept upwards, nudging over 30*C at their peak. The forecasters are predicting high 20’s for the foreseeable future – a flaming June indeed!

I have been continuing with my #30DaysWild efforts, and it is high time I caught up with sharing my experiences with you! So here is a brief run down of the past seven days…

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13th – window-box wildlife
I hovered on the balcony; our mid-tree portal to the outside world measuring only a single step width from the door to railing. I had popped out to empty the water from a vase of faded flowers, onto the pots of herbs and salad that are squeezed into the concrete rectangle. But the evening held me captivated.

A Silver-Y moth materialised form the fading day to feed in a fluttering blur around the purple-blue verbena blooms in the window box. Further along two bugs, like tiny invertebrate dinosaurs marched along the stems looking for the aphids that multiply in the nasturtiums. These were ladybird larvae on the hunt for supper.

I could hear the Springwatch theme jangling from the tv in the living room, but I lingered, reluctant to shatter the moment.

14th – an unexpected encounter
I’d popped to the allotment plot to pick some fresh flowers. The roses are just bursting into bloom and foxgloves reach up in leaning towers, their bells reverberating with bumblebee buzzes. Brambles lounge over the boundary fence, their flowers opening to the summer sun. One trailing stem is venturing around the gate post, and it was only as I was leaving the plot, that I noticed the creature this bramble stem was hosting; a long horn beetle. The beetle, clad in wasp-mimicking black and yellow, was feeding on pollen or nectar from the bramble flower, accompanied by two tiny jet-black pollen beetles that scurried between the stamens in a permanent frenzy.

15th – the chocolate box village
Stedham is a unique village, but it is also the same as so many other villages; all those villages of our imagination, formed from images in story books and vintage chocolate box lids. The village centre is the green with its full-leafed maple tree and busy notice board. Behind the cottages is the church, and the road dips down to meet the river. From the village hall and the sports field, the streets unfold like limbs, reaching out, chronologically mapping the villages development and spread. Find the right place to stand and you might be tall enough to catch far-reaching views of the South Downs. Lavender lines stone paths, its buds poised on the point of opening. Roses ramble over porch roofs, escaping up telegraph poles, and tumbling around front gates in eagerness to greet the visitor. In the heat, human residents are subdued, resigned to an afternoon indoors watching the tennis or cricket, leaving the gardens to the bees.

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16th – glorious gardens
A country drive, a stately home, a picnic and a rose garden in mid-June, there are many other just as nice ways to spend a day, but few better. Mottisfont Abbey (National Trust) is world famous for it’s rose garden. Planted within warm stone walls, the garden locks in the scent, and the eye is soothed by cascades of soft, vibrant, silken petals at every turn.
Under the shade of a cedar tree the grass is cool on the back of bare legs, and the scene can be viewed from a dreamy distance, like a romantic novel.

17th – listen to evening birdsong
The sun is not setting until nearly 10pm, and these long evenings demand to be savoured. This week the temperatures have risen to around the 30*c mark, and it is only in the evening when we find the energy again to venture out. We’d been to my parents to dinner and were walking round the corner home. I had yet to fit a purposeful 30 Days Wild moment into my day, but sometimes nature finds you, and a robin singing loudly in the sweet chestnut at the industrial estate gates was just such an occasion.

18th – follow a bumblebee
The day swelters under the mid-day sun. The weather dominates the conversation, as though all the speakers hadn’t been bemoaning the absence of hot summer weather only a week or so previously. The radio crackles snatches of heatwave warnings. The English lavender is blooming; spikes of rich blue-purple and an unmistakable scent of soap and fabric softener and Grandma’s house. A bumble bee, pollen baskets on its hind legs packed tightly with orange grains, hums along the row of plants. I try to keep up, but loose count of the number of flowers it visits.

19th – birthday butterfly
June 19th is my birthday. We had celebrated early with a day out on Friday, because Monday is a work day. The weather remains stiflingly hot, with soaring temperatures and high humidity subduing both people and wildlife. The magpies have fledged chicks from a nest somewhere in the thick conifer hedge that borders the plant nursery and the young follow the adults, begging noisily. A butterfly came into the shop, patrolling the patches of sun and shade. His red and black uniform marked him out as a red admiral. I watched him fly back and forth on strong wingbeats, before he disappeared back out into the mid-morning glare. On a gentle meander into the village at lunch time, the sad disappointment to finding a dead shrew at the path edge was balanced by the delight of a magnificent display of everlasting sweet pea on the edge of a neglected garden.

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