On a quick walk to the woods today (busy time at the moment, preparing for a weekend class, so making the most of some lovely sunny evening hours) I passed by an area on the outskirts of the wood where some of last summer's sunflowers still retained some of their seeds. Several finches, including the noisy greenfinch of a few days ago, were arguing over the largest flowers, but a sweet little redpoll had found one low down to the ground and had made it his own! The seedling must have escaped from a nearby garden, as they are certainly not native ... but this little guy thought they were all the better for that! Exotic far to fill his tummy and make his tubby for the winter ahead!
"How to I get down there?"
I hate to miss the changes in the wood for even a few days ... but sadly over the weekend they will have to happen without me!
Everyone's still saying it ... this late warm spell and the strange weather earlier in the year really has confused everything. Nettles, of course, do tend to flower all through the year, given half a chance, but it's incredibly late to see a holly blue butterfly, even from the second flight!
Did you know that the holly blue is sometimes called the Christmas butterfly? Quaintly, it is because during their two flights, one in the spring and one in the autumn they feed on "Holly and Ivy"! Which reminds me, going off subject for a moment, of a lovely butterfly project I have just had published in the Australian magazine INSPIRATIONS... This is the Ulysses butterfly, with he Christmas Bush! Sorry, I've just realised that I have got back to Christmas again ... promise not to mention it again until December!!
Today, I realise, it is just exactly two months until Christmas ... no, don't sigh!! I mention it only because it seems incredible, looking around the wood, that Winter should be so close, it really still feels like late summer. Even some of the nocturnal residents don't seem to be able to get used to it, despite the shortening days and longer nights. This little owl was up and about still, at around 8.30 a.m. when I took a friend's dogs for "walkies" this morning!
"Who..ooo...ooo's keeping me awake?"
Next weekend we put the clocks back, so maybe that will suit him better!
As if to disagree with my comments about everything beginning to turn gold, this little fellow was down in the wood today - a greenfinch!
Busy taking seeds from a dry thistle head, he had better make the most of it, as rain is predicted soon. Greenfinches are rather aggressive little birds, and this one took a real dislike to a siskin who was also interested in the thistle head. The siskin looked thoroughly appalled at his language!!
How long can this sunshine last? One again the wood is bathed in golden light. The balance between green and gold has finally swung, now, toward the latter, but still in treetops there is a mixture of both.
There are marvellous shapes to be found, too ... this is last summer's teasel flower, now dried out and spiky and turning - you guessed it - gold! It is a very convenient home for over-wintering ladybirds which find their way down into the depths of the seed head and make a cosy place for themselves to wait out the hard weather. I never cease to be amazed at nature's ingenuity!
Beautiful sunny, breezy day... with the autumn leaves swirling around my feet as I walk, and other tiny airborne flotsam and jetsam too! Birds must be loosing some of their summer plumage, because there are little feathers blowing in the wind, caught in brambles and cobwebs! They create tiny "dream catchers", reminding me of the ethnic pieces created by the native American peoples... fascinating, I wonder if that is how the idea first came about?
There are still a surprising number of wildflowers down in the leaf mould and among the twigs of the woodland floor. Periwinkles are like twinkling blue eyes winking up at you!
This is the second day of glorious sunny weather - a wonderful weekend. Some of the smaller inhabitants of the wood must be getting a little confused - surely now should be the time for eating lots and getting ready to hibernate? It IS chilly at night, though, so hopefully instinct will kick in and preparations for the winter ahead will still continue!
There was almost a frost last night, so the colours are beginning to get spectacular, too. The golds are beginning to give way to crimson and shivering, silvery peppermint on the willows.
It's hard to describe anything in the wood today without reverting to cliches! Gold, brown, crisp... everything sounds a bit hackneyed! So I looked back at inspiration I had found special in the past and came up with this beautiful leaf ... an oak leaf treated in medieval fashion, and brought to life with gold thread and various "contemporary" techniques!
... and then I realised ... what seemed like and "old" idea to me - maybe 3 years since I designed this motif - - is just a few moments in the life of an real oak tree, maybe 400 years ... which, in its turn, is just a flash, compared to the life of the wood itself ... thousands of seasons, spring upon spring, autumn upon autumn... so maybe I should not be downcast about looking back at previous designs. "For everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn ... and a time to every purpose under heaven!"
Today, this little fellow was waiting to say "hello"! Truthfully, he didn't stay chatting for long ... one look at me and he scuttled away in rather a hurry, but I was able to watch him for long enough to admire his agility. Stoats are fierce little hunters and often "glamour" their prey by "dancing" and mesmerizing rabbits and other small animals until the performer suddenly becomes an attacker!
There are still plenty of plants seeding on the woodland floor - like this dandelion. Protected by the trees, the little parachutes do not fly far in the wind, so it will be interesting in the spring to see if there are clumps of dandelions all in one place,or whether the seeds have managed to scatter despite being becalmed!
Well, it's a funny sort of a day toady, warm, and yet you don't feel as though you really want to take your jacket off!!
Of course, if, like Mr. Fox, your jacket is a permanent fixture, that's not a problem. Red does seem to be the fashion in Triangle Wood at the moment, after my visit with Foxy yesterday, everywhere I look it seems to be the colour of the moment!
Stylised leaves seemed to scream "fashionista" at me!!!
Some residents, of course, have their dress code sorted for the festive season already ... did I nearly mention Christmas there? Hunting for insets and worms on the woodland floor the robin was far too interested in lunch to take any notice of me, so I was able to enjoy his plumage without disturbing him!
Well, a quick walk down to the woods this morning - lots to do today and also it a bit chilly!! But that didn't put off one of Triangle Wood's largest and smartest residents - Mr. Fox! Oh, what a lovely sight on a rather bleak morning! Slipping between the trees, minding his own business and not at all worried at my approach. I must say he was looking very sleek despite the turn of the year ... hopefully NOT because of the local chicken population ...
The foxgloves may be over ... but their namesake is in fine form!
After some rather high winds, the wood is looking a little "shaken"! Not surprising really, as the leaves took rather a battering and many are now fallen - some caught in the lower canopy, some in twigs and branches on the way down, and even some in cobwebs ... so it looks as though they are suspended in mid air by some arboreal magic!
There is still an amazing jumble of wild things in flower, seed and leaf all the the same time. This gives you an impression of the woodland floor at the moment!
Autumn on the woodland floor
It really is true that every season has its own joys ... I am thinking of lighting the first fire of the year in my bog fireplace this evening! Always a lovely time!
It's been my birthday weekend and glorious weather - so had to go down to the wood, taking friends! The honeysuckle is still incongruously blooming next to the blackberries and now the "Old Man's Beard" (the seeds of the willow herb) are ripening and becoming fluffy masses which fly away on tiny gossamer parachutes.
First, the long seed pods begin to open revealing the webbing inside:
Next, they open up fully and the minute seeds are borne away on the wind looking like swirls of delicate snowflakes, but wonderfully warm to the touch if they land on your skin...
... then the small birds begin to pursue them as though they were fruit flies or gnats! Suddenly the air is full of movement and life.