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Drinks All Round

2nd of November 2002

As I write these notes (October 5th) everything is dry and dusty and we are longing for rain. We recorded less than an inch for the whole of September and today we have had to put the hose on some long established shrubs. The cold frame is bursting with trees and shrubs that are due to be planted around the wildlife pond, but the ground is too hard to cultivate. The birds, especially wood pigeons, have been making full use of the new pond. A sparrow hawk had a long drink from the pebble beach a few days ago. After slaking its thirst it perched on the table that we have our afternoon tea at, had a bit of a preen and a good look round before flying up into our little wood. I hope he doesnt take too many of our young birds, though everyone has to make a living I suppose. One of the nicest sights by the pond has been a pair of grey wagtails that seem to spend their time around our pond and another large pond down the lane. They make a very high pitched piping sound as they fly between the two and always come and go in the same direction. They are a little larger than the more common pied wagtail, their tail is a bit longer and they seem to wag it even more! Their heads and backs are grey but their underparts are a gorgeous primrose yellow with a yellow-green rump visible as they fly away. They perch on a large pudding stone set into the pebble beach and then fly out at passing insects, or run around the waters edge looking for tasty morsels, their tails constantly pumping up and down! The heron is a regular visitor and I wonder if anyone else has noticed a thin grey film that gets left on the water when he has called? One can see quite clearly whereabouts in the pond he has been, a bit like a slugs trail really. I guess it must be the oily waterproofing from its feathers but I can find no reference to it in any of our bird books.
The plus side of this Indian summer is that we are still having tea in the garden. Time for a cuppa I think! Wendy Bathurst

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