What an odd Summer it turned out to be. I only have to look at the state of my veggie plot to realise that it has been distinctly abnormal. Other than the potatoes, nothing has grown much. We had a tiny harvest of broad beans and the odd strawberry, but the runner beans are getting nowhere and the tomatoes are flowering (now!) but showing no sign of producing any fruit. However, on the floral side, my yellow buddleia has now gone crazy and the gladiolae are showing signs of a late burst of life – perhaps September and early October are the better months for warmth after all? For years I used to book holidays in Southern Scotland in early Autumn – why forget the habit of a life-time?
On McMurdoston’s bird front, the swallows only appeared to have one brood and seem have left already. Most of their nests have been recycled by wrens, so we wonder what will happen next year. The swifts came and went at the normal time but it remains to be seen whether they are interested – come 2016 – in the new boxes we put up. The house martins are still here in number and chatter away all night – a lovely, comforting sound, whatever the weather. The tree sparrows have increased from about 6 in our first year, to around 20. House sparrows are up too, from about 4 to 20 or so. Today I saw 3 nuthatches on the feeder outside the kitchen window and their nutty, insistent calling is all around at the moment. An unusual sighting in the garden was a green woodpecker – its unmistakeable call heard before it made its dramatic appearance. Most pleasing of all is that Steve’s wildlife cameras show regular visits by barn owls to the area of field we are attempting to return to its natural state. At 11 o’clock last night there was one sitting on a wooden post he put up specially.
Human guest-wise we have been particularly delighted to welcome cyclists of all inclinations (pun intended!). We have had competitors in major downhill events at Ae, heroic people on the long journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and self-confessed ‘pootlers’, including one with a fantastic electric bike. The last was able to keep up easily with her athletic other half, with no apparent danger of collapse and with a huge grin on her face!