In your garden – Corona Wildlife Diary: Day One

Michael Blencowe Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Senior Learning and Engagement Officer will be writing a daily blog to raise people’s spirits as we go through these difficult days, helping make sure we don’t lose touch with nature and wildlife as spring arrives, even if we are self–isolating. Here’s day one of the blog…

As the world shuts down around us the uplifting role that wildlife plays in our lives becomes more vital than ever. So, for my own sanity, I’m going to keep a daily diary of what I find around my garden.

Why don’t you photograph the wildlife you can see from your window or in your garden and share your pictures on the ‘Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table’ Facebook page and the facebook group.

The world felt different this morning writes Michael Blencowe.

 I woke up really early and walked out into the garden in my slippers and dressing gown because there was a Song Thrush singing. He’s been singing in next door’s apple tree every morning recently and I hadn’t paid it much attention but today I felt compelled to go and stand and listen in the gloom of the early morning.  

I love the song of the Song Thrush; it makes up some quirky little phrase and then repeats it a few times before moving on to a brand new one. I always think that must be a lot of pressure. To make up a new little song every few seconds. They must have to be planning what’s coming next while they’re still rattling through the last one.

Each year, as a ‘thank you’ to the thrushes I leave next door’s windfall apples on the path  as winter food.

Song Thrush Tree1

Song Thrush hidden in the neighbour’s apple tree. It’s better with sound

This little thrush was really going for it today – joyously oblivious to the fact that human world is shutting down around him. It made me think of that line in that thrush poem by Thomas Hardy (“Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew / And I was unaware”).

I was trying to record the thrush’s song for you with the video function on my camera but realised I had no idea how to turn it on. Anyway – there’s a whole hour of a Song Thrush singing his little heart out here.

On walking back into the house I realised that, while I was listening to the thrush, I had stood on one of last autumn’s mouldy windfall apples and had walked it through the kitchen and hall. I spent the next half an hour scrubbing the carpet with hot water. Still, a small price to pay for this morning’s serenade.

I popped over the road this afternoon to check in on an elderly neighbour as I’m a bit concerned about him. He seems to be all okay and has plenty of support, pasta and toilet roll; the three essential ingredients for surviving a pandemic it seems. Walking back to my house I was greeted by this beautiful Peacock butterfly perched on the front door frame.

Peacock 1

Peacocks spend the winter hibernating in tunnels and garages, the dark underside of their wings hides their colours making them invisible while a flash of their giant ‘eyes’ on the uppersides will scare off any predators. Today in the weak sunshine the butterfly’s wings were wide open, absorbing the sun’s warmth.

Peacocks are so commonly encountered that it’s easy to forget one very important fact about them: they are absolutely gorgeous. Imagine if this butterfly was only found in the Scottish Highlands. You’d travel miles just to catch a glimpse of it. It doesn’t look like I’m going to be travelling anywhere anytime soon so I’m just going to have to appreciate the beauty I have right on my doorstep. Literally.

This stunning Peacock has been shut up in a dark corner somewhere for months.  It made me wonder how I’m going to feel after what could be a few months of my own hibernation. One thing’s for sure – I’m not going to look as gorgeous and resplendent as this butterfly when I come out the other side.

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