Autumn murmurations on the plot

IMAG0026Following wet and wind the season is settled into a sultry South Downs autumn. Although no hint of cold or frost days are suddenly shortened by an hour.IMAG0027_BURST001 Soil is concealed by bonfire bright leaves breaking free from trees and floating down to land  – protecting precious soil and precarious plants. The air is still and waiting for winter. With the ground  now gold, as summers’ green dies and rustles under foot, flashes of life remain – a reminder of spring to come.

Branches bear bright berries, ladybirds linger and the last of the butterflies – red admirals – bask still on bare earth. Made brilliant by the sinking sun dahlias in danger of death by frost tempt tired bees for a final forage. They feebly feast on these flowers before they fade. Skeletons of poppies, seed long IMAG0029scattered, cast lacy shadows across the grass as the season of the dead creeps upon us. Scabby apples sit abandoned on a tree – ignored even by blackbirds and looking like Halloween. The lone raven has returned to Roedale – shining darkly, patrolling shut up sheds with watchful eyes. Higher up magpies perch and mutter awaiting opportunities for mischief.

Digging at dusk to plant garlic seems wise – to ward off wayward wildlife and less earthly intruders.  The robin stalks me,  rustling through remnants of plants, rooting for a ready meal to fuel it through the night. As evening falls the ghostly gathering of starlings  loops lazily above the trees of  Hollingbury Woods, then vanish with the fading light.

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Brighton Butterfly business is booming

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????Another sun scorched day another downland valley filled with fluttering. Beyond the boundary of the South Downs National Park the city fringe is filled with things in flight.

Allotment air alive with red, white, blue and black as butterflies thrive.

Red admirals sail the breeze and peacocks perch on paths or beam their colours from buddleia blooms.

Tortoiseshells tease and rarely settle – flaunting flashes of burnt orange, red and white – at rest revealing perfect patterns on their wings.

Browner butterflies stick more shyly to the ???????????????????????????????shadows ???????????????????????????????– flitting along hedges and weed wrangled beds. Gatekeepers gather in gangs, alighting on bee buzzing  lavender.

Meadow Browns range round ragwort and a single Speckled Wood  flies low amongst the greenest leaves.

The whites range higher – seeking to spy brassicas to brood on –  sneaking their caterpillars under our nets to feed on our hard earned  greens.

In Roedale Valley, butterfly business is booming.