A Tough Old Bird

Robin In Autumn
Robin In Autumn

As November sneaks up on us, peeping furtively from behind reddening bunches of Hawthorn berries, those of our trees who are so inclined have turned a very nice shade of gold. Many other of our trees have already become thoroughly bored with the whole business – dumped their leaves unceremoniously on the ground, pulled up the shutters, turned off the lights and gone to bed.
Today’s picture is of The Robin-Down-By-The-Beck. He is a survivor. This time of year is when he shows his true colours. He needs to establish his territory – and all trace of the milk of human kindness has been leeched from his veins. He intends to share with no one. Kith or kin, man, woman or child, they will gain access to his winter resources, quite literally, only over his dead body.
The majority of robins do not survive beyond their first year – not due to predatory domestic pets, nor the destruction of his habitat by humans. No, they are slaughtered by their own kind in internecine warfare.
Indeed, far from being an angelic chorister, he (or she) is a belligerent, anti-social loud-mouth.

R.I.P. Wayne Ashmead de Man

Wayne Ashmead de man
Wayne Ashmead de man

Wayne Ashmead de Man  19-03-1964 – 16-10-2016

Wayne has gone. Why did this happen? I don’t think we can ever fully understand. When he entered the Prison Service he seemed to have found his niche. He soon made his mark amongst the prisoners – volunteering to teach reading and writing to those who were interested to learn.

Then, when routinely accompanying a prisoner to hospital for treatment, he found himself with a gun against his head while his charge was released from their shared handcuffs.

Facing violent death was a terrifying experience – but to face death at the hands of the very people he had befriended and encouraged towards a crime-free release from gaol stung almost as badly.

He never recovered.  There were times when he seemed to be back to the same old Wayne – but the sense of keeping himself tightly under control was never far away.

On the 16th October this year he lost the battle.

If it is true that we are reborn – then you have surely earned yourself a better deal next time round, Wayne.

We love and miss you.


Pass The Salt

Ragwort - bad for horses - essential for moths
Ragwort – bad for horses – essential for moths

You know how, when you’re out in the middle of the ocean and your boats forgets that its main function is to float? Well, you jump onto your life raft and float off into the blue. After a bit, when you feel like a cup of tea and, perhaps, a biscuit or two – you suddenly realise that you left in such a hurry that you forgot to bring any food or water. You know – water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.

Indeed, although the ocean seems to be full of the stuff, you must not drink any seawater. You see the sea is salty. Yes, I knew you knew that already, but it needs emphasising. There is more salt in sea water than our bodies are designed to handle. So, they can’t – but they do their best and you become more and more dehydrated as you become more and more thirsty in the end you go mad and probably die.

Horses, peacefully grazing in their paddocks, have a similar problem with Ragwort – see today’s picture. They normally won’t touch the stuff – but if there is nothing else to eat, they have to – and they end up with kidney failure and all sorts of other nasties. Meanwhile, Ragwort is an environmentally desirable plant as it is the food source of a large number of butterfly and moth grubs – who would all disappear without it.

Nothing is straightforward, is it?

The Beginning of the End

Cows and grass
Cows and grass

Here we are in October, at the back end of the year – the year is now tailing off some might say. All the cows we’ve been conversing with, over the last five or six months, are now stepping out on the next stage of their career path. You see around this time of the year, as those of you with lawns to mow can confirm, the grass stops growing and our cows must move on.
Once moss and ferns had done their act and cleared all their stage props out of the dressing rooms, the grass was able to take centre stage. However there’s always someone, isn’t there – and in grasses case that someone was trees. You see the woods are constantly doing their best to upstage the grass by shading the ground and collecting all that sunlight and applause for themselves. Luckily the grass had powerful, or at least large, friends with big feet. By the simple expedient of growing from the bottom of the leaf (instead of the top) they ensured that their act appealed to large browsers – who promptly trampled the woodland’s expansion attempts into the dust. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.