No, this is not about the Marillion album from 1989, good though it may be.
The weather here – at least in South East England – has been pretty poor the last few weeks – dark and raining and feeling increasingly more and more like Autumn, and not even the Indian Summer situation we have been blessed with in some recent years but that dank, depressing, turn on the lights by 4pm kind of autumn that just makes you want to curl up back into bed, because in essence the day just seems, in the parlance of my generation, just a bit naff. Not terrible. Not blizzard conditions. Just a bit nothing, replacing the forlorn hopes of long warm summer evenings sitting in the garden (admittedly getting eaten to death by various biting insects), sipping the cider, smelling the Jasmine and waiting for the shift to change from the swallows and martins (the swifts have long packed and gone in disgust) to the bats – sadly absent this year from our garden it seems. Maybe it is the rain that puts them off too. Perhaps this is some sort of protection from the inhabitants of our common wasp nest in the roof, who have not really bothered us, mainly because we have not been around to be bothered but have instead been hiding in the lounge and wondering what holiday next year might look like.
Seriously, I’m worried about the bats. With the mild winters we have had recently there certainly is enough food around in masses of insects, but this supreme insect eater had been pretty absent where we live while they were pretty reliable visitors before. But while there is disappointment that they have been missing I’ve taken solace in the species of insects all over my herb garden; in particular I have never seen Meadow Brown butterflies in our garden (says something about the state our lawn has achieved, increasing biodiversity at expense of neatness) so that was a lovely surprise this year. We have had a regular gang of four… Juvenile blue tits, that have amused us no end by their boldness, their ability to actually perch (albeit briefly) on the washing line (before slipping and hanging upside down in a surprised but still accomplished manner) and at one point walking on water. They weigh that little when they fledge, bless them. I’m also pretty sure that the Great Tit family that were in our toilet exhaust pipe have come back to feed.
One of the few things that autumn and winter bring that actually keep me happy (other than of course it is almost Christmas, favourite time of the year, and I am including this comment just to annoy the Lovely Wife. Everybody knows that it is not really Christmas until Noddy Holder tells you it is, loudly and brashly….) is that the shyer wild life start to emerge a bit more regularly as the natural foodstuffs become rarer. Suddenly the goldfinches that have pretty much snubbed us all year will rediscover the joys of Niger seed. The foxes will spend more time picking up what they can get and who knows who else will follow their eyes and/or nose and wander into our territory in hope of a meal.
Actually I’m suddenly feeling a lot better about the change of season; there is so much to look forward too, if I just look.