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September Ramblings

6th October 2022 – by Henbury Webteam
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djw oct2022autumn cobwebs

Yorkshire Puddings!

The warm weather carried on from the end of August. Strange how August begins as high summer and ends as early autumn, but lovely to bask in the warmth and remember that we were taught at school 60 years ago that August was a "wet month"!

S spotted an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar (probably about to pupate) on one of the fuchsias – identified from our 1979 edition "Observer's Book of Butterflies and Moths", and a dragonfly briefly visited our tiny pool. The dwarf water lily continued to flower. Gatekeeper butterflies about. Not long before the most recent adults look for places to hibernate.

Probably the last pick of beans, but outdoor tomatoes ripened fast still, and it looked like there were still cucumbers to come. Sweet peas that had looked like dying a few weeks ago were suddenly producing blooms enthusiastically. About to head for Anglesey for a few days, so doggy-bags of tomatoes and cucumbers handed round to friends. Probably enough tomatoes when we get back for a good soup.

Meadow Brown butterflies and Gatekeepers remained aplenty over the fields and whites in the garden. A Large White (cabbage variety) caterpillar made rapid progress across the patio, presumably seeking somewhere to pupate and overwinter beneath one of our containers. Dot the Dog (reluctantly) off to kennels while S and I headed for Anglesey.

Back in Henbury, the autumn dew was definitely down and the first juvenile spiders' webs appeared over the long grass in the fields. Soon the hedgerows will be silvered over with them. House spiders (known here at Havoc House as "Esmeraldas" – either gender) will soon move back indoors and the crane flies ("Daddy Long-legs") are already about.

Wellington boots sprang a leak..! Bad timing.

One mid-month morning a tree came down across Anderton's Lane – no gale – rot! Just enough headroom for the ubiquitous white vans to get underneath. Occupants of "The Mount" were apparently temporarily marooned since their drive was blocked. The following morning all was gone. Two pairs of ravens zoomed DtD and me in the fields in perfect Battle of Britain "finger-four" formation, croaking (chattering?) amongst themselves. They seemed quite amused by our reaction and came back for another look. A pair of Canada geese flew overhead honking away.

Views of Macclesfield Forest, Tegg's Nose, Shutlingsloe and Sutton Common are slowly (fast) being obscured by the rising Builders' Blight – a good job I have some archive photos of the way the world once looked...

One morning DtD and I found a scattering of breast feathers under one of the older Hightree Drive trees – looked like the sparrow hawk had dined.

The Henbury Online website carried an item about the cut wire fences bordering the Henbury to Whirley footpath. This did annoy me and does each time I walk Dot the Dog. Every time the farmer mends his fence the section immediately adjacent the cottages gets either cut or bent down to allow my fellow dog-walkers access to a field that can be easily reached via a few open gates (and a bit longer walk albeit still probably legally trespass). Fences are however there for the purpose of keeping stock in and it's only a few years ago that that one enterprising heifer reached Anderton's Lane. I hark back (I think increasingly and probably boringly) to my Suffolk childhood. We were free-range kids and biked for miles and roamed the fields on foot – but the absolute "nevers" were to damage a fence, hedge or crop. If you kept to those rules the farmers were happy to let you enjoy life. My local experience suggests the same tolerance still probably exists.

The stable and paddock off Anderton's Lane opposite Mount Farm at last sported a "Sold" sign. To our family they are still known as the "Bluey fields" – Bluey having been the rather grumpy old pony who lived there when we came to Henbury in 1978 and who got very cross if you didn't have a carrot for him or a handful of freshly picked grass. Since then Atty and Jimmy were resident and then another pair of ponies – "Buddy", the younger, rather naughty and undisciplined (and quite good fun to see).

Fifty or so Canada geese appeared on the field behind Henbury Rise and Williams Way – and more overhead. Much bickering as new skeins arrived! A lot of wildlife activity as the temperature dropped a bit and there was a little rain. DtD dragged me along several scent trails and explored several excavations that must have been made by the foxes or badgers. Badger(s) I supposed looking for worms. However, the proximity of some of the excavations to fresh mole hills raised the possibility that moles were also prey. I wonder how they will fare once the new houses are built. Meanwhile a new small mountain of lovely dark excavated peat appeared on the "development" site...

Towards the end of the month there were a few beautiful early autumn mornings with a low, bright, brassy sun. I walked DtD in shirtsleeves (she not wearing a shirt of course). One day there was a mist that revealed a festoon of spiders' webs in the hedges. The mist also had the advantage of muffling the noise from the building site – it seemed eerily quiet. As I joined the traffic queue towards Broken Cross later that morning I spotted the kestrel perched on a lamp-post opposite the Cock Inn (now closed and "To Let" as a "Business Opportunity") and later saw a buzzard working the thermal currents above Whirley.

S spotted a pair of martins over the fields while on afternoon "dog duty". Must be time soon for them to head off. In the 1980s one of the houses across the road had a row of martins' nests under the eaves but we haven't seen them since "remodelling" some years ago. Not so long back at this time of year we also used to see swallows lined up on the wires on Andertons Lane opposite Mount Farm – not any more. There aren't so many bats about at dusk as there once were. Frightening..!

Strange phenomenon! My photochromic specs had gone very dark one morning in the low sun as DtD and I traversed the fields. As we turned with the sun behind us and I glanced to my right I was astonished to see an eye looking at me. It took a few moments to realise that it was a reflection of my own eye in the spectacle lens...

Almost last day of the month. A low sun but still a little warm. Dot the Dog shouted loudly at a huge skein of Canada geese coming in to land (splash down?) on the field-flood. The flood had gradually started to replenish itself after several (very) rainy nights.

By the last of September the geese had gone on their way. A bracket fungus appeared over the previous day or two in the bottom of the oak tree beside the kissing gate leading into the field by the school. S likens it to a pile of Yorkshire puddings and I believe they are deliciously edible – but best take a good reference book before tasting!

As ever

Horrid of Henbury

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