Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday lunchtime

It was another lovely day yesterday, and I took far too many photos. I started out on my usual route towards the green via the curvy path that runs from Redriff Road. The colours were terrific. I don't think that I have ever been so intensely aware of the period of transition from summer to autumn, but you simply can't miss it hereabouts. The fresh greens are still in the trees, but everywhere you walk the myriad of colours is remarkable.

I was in the Russia Dock Woodland by 1130am, which is usually a busy time of day on a Sunday, but I had the place almost completely to my self when I arrived. Lots of lovely birdsong from the robins and blackbirds, but very few people. I walk across the green, enjoying the sunshine, but I was quite alone.

At the Downtown pond the heron was absent, which was a bit of a disapointment. But the bright yellow Yellow Flag seed pods are bursting and their seeds are extraordinary - vast and copper-coloured. There is an entire area of mud which was once under water, almost beneath the bridge, which is covered in bluish-purple daisies which are Blue Zephyrs - a feral occupation of the pond muds. The bullrushes are dark brown and velvety, their leaves a soft green, but everything else there is changing colour. There was simply no-one around, and as I stood quietly enjoying the scene all I could hear was the sound of falling leaves. Really rather nice.

At Globe Pond the Canada geese have left but the ducks were enjoying the sunshine. Following the path along the waterway that leads out of the pond I went to inspect the duckweed, which is as rampant as ever. I am always fascinated by the way it forms such a vivid carpet of miniscule mosaic pieces, how it captures and supports leaves, and how the water birds leave a network of dark trails through it as they move. There were three white-breasted black ducks there yesterday, but none of my books are able to enlighten me as to what they are called - I'll post photos in the next couple of days.

Walking up to the windmill I ran into Les Butler and we talked about the various things to be seen, and had a good moan about Tesco which really helped to get things off my chest a bit! Tesco is one of my bĂȘte noires. We parted to explore different areas, and I went to look at all of the berries in the immediate area. The sheer variety of berries in the ecological park and elsewhere in the Woodland is spectacular and I took great pleasure trying to caputure all the different types that I could see.

As Les had said, there wasn't much going on around the Stave Hill pond - lots of mating damselflies but nothing else to see. The butterfly sanctuary remains unchanged - there was really nothing much to see. In fact, the only butterflies that I saw all day were the ubiquitous speckled browns, two of which flew straight into my face on one occasion startling me quite considerably for a few seconds.

Instead of heading for home I wended my way around the top of the green, heading back towards the Downtown pond on the off-chance that the heron would have turned up - it was now nearly 1pm and I thought he might have arrived. I was to be disapointed on that front but I am so glad that I went in that direction because standing right on the edge of the green, his rust-coloured fur standing out against the green grass, was a fox. It was perfectly motionless for a few seconds before breaking into a run. My photos are never going to win any awards but at last I have managed to capture one on my camera! Slightly out of focus and far too far away to pick out any detail anyway, I am still pleased to have them.

I took some more pictures at the Downtown pond, mainly of a hoverfly who obligingly stayed on the same flower head for quite a long time. After that I headed for home. There were now a lot more people - joggers, bicyclists, dog walkers and people walking with their children. Right in the very middle of the green there was a woman sitting on a towel in a bikini, who was attracting far more attention than the local wildlife. I had hauled on a cardigan by then and how she didn't expire from hypothermia I cannot imagine.

Sitting in my garden later one of my plants was visited by a red admiral - always a joy. There was also a rather intimidating spider in a massive web, which I caught sight of because it was picked out so clearly in the sunlight. I've never seen anything so big in Britain. A passing neighbour said that it had been there for days.

Generally I am quite happy to share my garden with the local wildlife but this really was preying on my mind so after photographing it I moved it to a new home. Hopefully it won't try to relocate! My insect book only has a small section on spiders so I have been unable to identify it so far, but it looks very distinctive so I'm sure I'll track it down. If anyone recognizes it and can let me know what it is, that would be even better.

I went to the movies this evening to see the new Robert De Niro and Al Pacino film Righteous Kill and when I came back there was an email to the Friends of RDW from Mike Scott saying that he had seen a kingfisher back at the Downtown pond. YES! That is just about the best news of my day today.

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