Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Walking the Territory in June

June had its moments - between showers.

This is British hogweed, not the giant Japanese stuff. It looks quite airy and delicate, and has nice seedheads in the autumn.

There are whole stands of this stuff growing along the riverbank -

It's comfrey, a plant which is not only brilliant for gardeners, providing a potash-rich mulch for tomatoes, but had many medicinal uses in the past. A wiccan herbalist friend of mine reckoned that it was a survival from the days of the Abbey, which might be the case. Augustinian Canons elsewhere had a very good reputation as healers, growing herb gardens and building hospitals within the monastery complex.

This year the wild roses are spectacular. I don't remeber ever seeing them so prolific.

Most of the nestlings are fledged now, though I notice that the sparrows appear to be trying for brood number two. The exceptions are the black-backed gulls, whose fat fluffy brown chicks are walking all over the roof of the warehouse their colony has nested on. I'm not looking forward to them taking off. The adults are big, noisy and aggressive and the colony has doubled since last year. I know magpies have a bad rep for killing things, but they are nothing compared with gulls. On Orkney I saw a black-headed gull stoop and lift a plover chick out of a nest without the slightest effort or hesitation. All the meditation on the circle of life and gulls have chicks to feed too doesn't always cut it when you see the bereaved birds circling ad screaming and trying to chase the predator away!

This is fairly irrational I know. I was delighted to find an owl pellet on the parapet of our bridge, but the owls could have eaten all sorts of creatures I'm fond of. And as for the seal I saw going down the river with the tide - that was pure joy, although it could have destroyed untold fish stocks as it came upstream. But there it is. I find some of my wild neighbours easier to live with than others!

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