And if I’m happy with the sunshine and the brimstone, Mrs T is happy with her tadpoles!
it has, from time to time, been suggested that Mr Turnstone could pass for a patriarch from Genesis. Today it was the Noah side that came to the fore.
Despite Mrs T’s worries, our pond had plenty of spawn by last weekend, when Ms Turnstone II came to call. She was begging some for her class of 4-5 year-olds. Mr Noah was recruited to bring the spawn, with a few hatchling tadpoles, over to School. Great fun was had by the children as well as Mr Noah, and I think the children will enjoy observing the little creatures as they grow.
One lad was guessing what sort of animal I’d brought along – is it a tiger?
No, said Noah, he might eat you for breakfast, then you for break, and you over there for lunch, and so on. The conversation moved on … We discussed Ms Turnstone’s pet hen she had as a child, which had all 60 children – there were two classes – performing a chicken routine that had to be seen. And Ms T blushed!
Finally, Mr Noah put his foot in it at lunch time when he said he might bring the tiger in to get some lunch. One poor boy took it literally, when all the rest enjoyed the shiver of shock. Sorry Lad! I think we parted as friends.
And that was a good day.
Spring has asserted herself.
Mrs Turnstone had convinced herself that all the frogs in this postcode area had died of some dread disease; today it was clear that they had not. There had been an occasional croak from the garden pond, true, but this singer was regarded by her rather like Crusoe, all alone in the world.
This afternoon, after dragging me around the ponds on Abbott’s Hill, looking for spawn but altogether fruitlessly, she sat down to lunch in the garden, and planned the filling in of the pond as no frogs would ever use it again.
After lunch she changed into gardening gear, began cleaning weeds from the path, then noticed a mass of jelly under the logs on the far side, and counted six frogs ranged around the edge of the pool. Her private sun came out.
Mine? A brimstone butterfly flew past us in the woods on Abbot’s Hill. (They are green underfoot as the bluebells push through from below.) I’ve enjoyed this insect since the day when, as a schoolboy twenty feet up a beech tree, the leaf next to my finger took wing.
There was also a small tortoiseshell in the garden at home, its flickering shadow giving it away at midday, not twilight. And two hoverflies seeking nectar on the viburnum.
Here is a picture of a leaf-like brimstone.
What’s brightening up your life?
I saw several sparrows splashing in a puddle on Valentine’s Day. It may have been too damp for a dust bath, but not too cold for a puddle bath.
Before long we’ll be watching for frog spawn in the garden pond, putting a good amount out of the reach of frost and rearing some tadpoles away from the predatory blackbirds who know an easy meal when they see one.
One of Mrs Turnstone’s necessities in a garden is a pond; ours is small but limpid, though since the fish were evicted by Mrs T it is choked in weed. Perhaps we can remove a few pailfuls over the winter and let it start afresh in February and March.
Last week, as we sat in the pondside sunshine, a green dragonfly hovered between us for a few seconds: a memorable close encounter to be grateful for. But will her babies eat the tadpoles?
Today, 1st October, it was warm enough for a smart, grownup frog to be sitting on top of the mass of weed, golden eyes shining. He could not force his way under the weed to avoid my attention. We certainly will have to remove those pailfuls of weed!
The last couple,of weeks have given us other local sightings: the foxes were very vocal for a few nights, but then their minds and hearts were occupied with thoughts of love. I remembered the first time I saw wild foxes, when newly arrived from Birmingham at school in the Borders. A walk up the Eildons with three or four other young lads was brought to a halt by bloodcurdling screams and yelps from a thicket. Suddenly the racket ceased and two magnificent foxes emerged to delight us townies and explain the unknown cries.
Last week Mrs T was pleased, even overjoyed, at the news that a woodmouse had been sighted at the front of the house; the first one seen since the Spring, but the camera on my phone would not have captured her, even if I had been alert to the chance of such a meeting. Indeed, a few nights earlier I had failed miserably to produce anything recognisable as a hedgehog when one posed for me by the pillar box on the corner. Another one for the memory bank, not the pc picture folder.
It’s hard to be sure, but I think the leafcutter bees may have left their nursery. The flap of rose leaf at the entrance looks as though it may have been pushed aside slightly.
And finally, we saw what was probably our last bat of 2014, flittering about the back gardens and street light. A pipistrelle, Carolyn Billingsley tells us. She’s our consultant on such matters.
Enjoy a blessed Autumn!