17 July 2005

There's more to life than birds

While July sends everyone else into summer rapture (particularly if the weather is as splendid as it has been of late) for birders it is a time of restricted interest. We are between migration, spring a distant memory and autumn a month or two away. Our resident breeders have bred, and parent and offspring alike are lying low in the heat. Everywhere is the eerie sound of silence, perhaps broken every now and again by the call of a wren or chiffchaff.

To deal with this, some birders go abroad for their kicks. Some make summer their season of DIY (in order to build up credit with him / her in doors and earn more free time during the excitement of autumn migration). And others turn their attention to non-avian natural history.

Sadly, my knowledge of wider flora and fauna is limited, but I am trying to tackle this with enthusiasm if not ability. A couple of quick pictures to show the marvels that are out there if you look properly.

First a stoat - I found a family of these playing in nearby woods a few weeks ago, a thrilling find that captivated me totally for the few minutes they were in view.

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Second, a Gatekeeper, not a rare butterfly, but the first one I have taken to the trouble to look at seriously and identify. There are plenty in my garden at the moment, confirmation perhaps that my wildlife garden is finally taking proper shape!

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