Taking control of the climate

We had some rain today. After six or seven weeks without any appreciable precipitation there were a few little showers. It did not wet the ground under the trees. It evaporated from the vegetable beds before it could soak in. But it was nice to see.

According to the BBC, we only have to wait eleven days for our next drop:
forecast

The flora around us is shutting down – get the seeds done then give up. Fauna activity is changing – hedgehogs disappearing, badgers ranging wider.

By cultivating life in polytunnels we take responsibility for the climate. Here are some glimpses in the one we call Zenith:

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Absent Queen and visiting Hawker

Bee inspection today

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lots of store

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but no brood.

We are worried we might be Queen-less.

Slightly cheered up by the sight of a new species (for us) of dragonfly

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The Darter we have is characterised by resting on a photogenic twig but this Southern Hawker does not keep still so we just get a blur of green and blue

Parched in Wales

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Today we had the first real rain since May – a ten minute heavy shower. It did not make much difference to the rock-hard ground but it did show such things are possible although the forecast indicates we will have to wait three days for a repeat performance.

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When the temperature dropped a little a couple of days ago it was like returning home from another country – one where the light was too bright to see properly and the temperature too hot to think properly.

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The fields around are parched and bare

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accentuated by the stripping of grass for silage

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Bringing in the Red Kites

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The broody hen has moved her clutch outside to cool off

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Fortunately we have been developing a tropical house

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but things have felt quite exotic outside as well

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Our guest has been eating well

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and so have we

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with spare to save

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There seem to be a lot of wasp nests around – in the potting shed:

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in the woodshed:

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which they have to share

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and in the hedge:

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The rabbits are moving closer

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on the lookout for a weak link

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We seem to have had an increase in the number of Siskins knocking themselves out on windows

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Sometimes they don’t survive, sometimes after a spell in the recovery box

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they can fly away

Too hot for hoglets

We have been used to finding young hedgehogs in the Autumn, too small to get through hibernation, and building them up ready for the Spring.

Last night we had a youngster, weighing in at 189g, dehydrated and unable to find suitable food in these hard-baked conditions. After one night in care with water and soft food he was already 20g (around 10%) better off
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Harvest for tonight’s dinner
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and other moments from the last two days:
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One swallow does not make a summer but…

…two do

We have mentioned the swallow brood from time to time but now that they are (almost) done it seems time for a résumé.

Like all migrants this year, the Swallows seemed to arrive late and, from local reports, in smaller numbers than in recent years.

Sometimes we have had two pairs, for the last couple of years just one. The suitable nesting sites round here are spaced out by hundreds of metres. Do the same ones come to us… or their offspring?

When the Flycatchers arrive they seem to start building a nest the same day but the swallows spend weeks fussing around before they get down to business.

When they did, they ignored the specially designed swallow nesting cup we have had in place in the woodshed and chose a place in the rafters near by.

In due course the brood hatched
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and in time we could see there were five youngsters
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Eventually they made the big journey from the nest – to a beam a few inches away
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Then came the Big Day when they had to fly all the way outside
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to the Duck run
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the ducks were non-plussed
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There is always one that is reluctant to leave
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for good reason because where there were five, this evening there are four
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temporarily back in the safety of the woodshed while they listen to bedtime stories about somewhere called Africa

Too many strawberries

Each day we are faced with what to do with the crop
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Today, at the suggestion of Radio 4, we puree
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Helpfully, the programme emphasised good labelling to avoid blood bank confusion.

These strawberries are not in a tunnel but many things are
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It does produce a lucious environment
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beans
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peas
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and lilies
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There are predators in the tunnels but most things emerge unscathed
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Elsewhere today the fledged swallows take rests back in the safety of the shed
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plus
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First pickings

First pickings of Broad Beans
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and of Blackcurrants
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and French Beans
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When we were listing our butterflies the other day we forgot we had seen a couple of female Orange Tips finding their way to our one and only Jack-by-the-Hedge plant. That plant has subsequently been moved to stop it ending up in a netted area and today it sported a solitary Orange Tip caterpillar
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In other breeding news, the swallow brood is poised to fledge
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and the juvenile Woodpeckers continue to bumble around – this one slightly askance at having to share its drink with a lowly Sparrow
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It is a time consuming task to supply water to all who need it in this heat
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Other sights today
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and, of course, the predictable sunset
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