Once again it’s time to say goodbye to our Summer guests, the swallows and house martins and welcome the return of the likes of fieldfares, redwings and flocks of geese. The swallows nested in 7 different places around McMurdoston, but kept being turfed out by wrens which commandeered their carefully-produced mud cups. Two successful new nests were built in my bike shed, necessitating regular cleaning of my saddle/crash hat/dark glasses but also wonderful sightings of baby swallows on handlebars. The house martins built 2 new nests and must have produced at least 30 chicks in total. The swifts left on the 8th August, meaning they were here for only 3 months, but in that time they quadrupled their numbers with 3 nests resulting in a spectacular group of 12 practising their aerobatic moves above the yard. Next year Steve is going to make a few careful holes in the barn wall in the hopes of attracting more swifts. Currently we have both pied and grey wagtails visiting the garden and several nuthatches and tree-creepers have returned after disappearing mysteriously for about 4 months.
The hedgerows are bursting with brambles as September progresses, and the apple trees are laden. Jelly- and jam-making are in full, time-consuming but satisfying swing, with welcome presents from neighbours of damsons, plums and crab-apples being gleefully processed.
It’s been an odd year in the garden, with rock-hard soil caused by lack of rain, a massive crop of wild strawberries, cowslips in flower now (!) and astonishing results from casually and rather unoptimistically planting some free gladioli bulbs. It may be officially Autumn but I suspect that there’s a lot left to bloom yet… not least on my record-breaking 10-foot-high hollyhock!