Yesterday was a pretty wild day! I visited my family for the evening, who live in the middle of nowhere, rural flat East Northamptonshire. As the weather was lovely and I missed the dogs, I convinced my mum to come and walk the dogs with me. I didn’t realise just how much I missed living here now I’m in a town. Beautiful endless fields and my favourite wood, Ashton Wold where my love of nature was most likely born. I guess that’s what you have to give up to be near people, shops and socialising, unfortunately.
Everything seems so vibrant and green with life this year when you look at the green spaces, hedges, verges and woods. The wild weeds and flowers have grown so tall and thick. I thought perhaps it was just because I left the countryside before the best of spring and beginning of summer so when I return it seems extra exuberant. Yet a few people have commented that everything is more wild than it was last year. Which is quite exciting! Our increasingly strange weather has favoured the plants this year perhaps. Anyone else noticed this? But it does seem obvious to me that there are less birds and less bees, which is heartbreaking.
On the walk I didn’t have my decent camera and I was too busy enjoying myself (enjoying the wide variety of excessively grown foliage! I have banned myself from the word ‘overgrown’, nature cannot be overgrown) so I didn’t take many photos. But my mum spotted a very interesting butterfly neither of us had seen before.
It was a Painted Lady which is a migrant from the continent. Apparently they have been sighted in Iceland before now. The numbers of them in the UK widely varies from year to year, according to a colleague.
We then saw a couple of red kites gliding above. This was exciting as always but unsurprising as they are so common in this area.
But much more exciting was what we saw later after the walk when we went on a drive through the country. I glimpsed two hulking figures on the side of the road, one stood tall, the other more hunched. As we approached we saw two large birds of prey feasting on an apparently newly dead hare, clearly a car had claimed its life. We actually drove really close before they flew up and we realised, strangely, it was actually two different species of birds of prey sharing the meal. So close up, we could see every detail, their talons and shining feathers as they flew up with bellies turned towards us. The tall one was a light almost sandy brown with speckled striped feathers and dark wing tips. The other larger bird with the striking fork was obviously kin to our familiar friends, another red kite. If only I’d had my good camera with me and ready! Neither of us had seen the light brown species before. When we got home I looked through my Grandad’s several bird books and I think the bird must have been a Long-Legged Buzzard, or a type of harrier. Though the buzzard is more likely. IDing is quite difficult sometimes. That truly wild encounter has made my week! I love birds of prey! It’s moments like these that I know George Monbiot is right, the wild thrills us in ways nothing else can, which is why our tamed modern life fills us with (his term) ‘ecological boredom’.
Today was far less exciting and productive, however! I did manage some wild exploring, but didn’t succeed in my main objective.
One of my own suggested Random Acts of Wildness is to go geocaching. That was the plan and to my surprise, on my phone, it told me there was one very close to my house. I followed the trail and came across a church and huge beautiful graveyard I never knew was there. I failed at finding the geocache sadly, either due to my poor searching skills or it has gone missing which happens.
But exploring the graveyard was fun, I saw a lot of blackbirds! Once again sorry for the bad quality photos, I really need to take my good camera with my everywhere.
Have you seen any strange or interesting species lately that you’ve never seen before?