Dear Readers, it’s that time of year when I review what’s been going on during my fourth year of producing the Bugwoman blog. What’s been happening in the past twelve months? This week, we’ll be looking at February 2017 through to July 2017 – the rest of the year will make an appearance next week. Stay tuned!
We started the Bugwoman year in a celebratory mood. After a year of no blackbirds (following the death of a male at the hands of the local sparrowhawk) a new couple moved in, and it was such a pleasure to hear the song of the male from the rooftop in the evening. I’m pleased to report that I still have a pair of blackbirds in 2018, and I’m hoping that they’re the same ones.
In March London suffered the first of several terrorist attacks last year, when a car was rammed into pedestrians as they crossed Westminster bridge. I was on the South Bank when it happened, and wrote a piece about it here. I find that nature has a way of restoring balance to our troubled minds in times of trouble, and it was especially consoling during my walk, the arrival of spring coinciding with the terrible injuries and loss of life.
And I also made a visit to Crossbones Graveyard, close to London Bridge. This is a site for the outcast dead, and they are remembered in a ceremony every month at the main gates. It is a very special place, and it felt entirely appropriate to be making my first visit there in the week after the terrorist attack. I hope to visit it again soon.
And the frogs were back, singing away in the pond.
April kicked off with a garden visit from a female sparrowhawk, who plucked and ate a collared dove that she’d knocked out of the whitebeam tree. A spectacular but discomfiting event.
And then some Bohemian Waxwings visited a tree at the end of my road, something I hadn’t seen for years.
April also found me on my annual visit to Canada – my husband John is Canadian, and I love observing the wildlife on the other side of the Atlantic. The similarities and differences always intrigue me. For example, we have no grackles in the UK.
And our goldfinches are not North American goldfinches…
At the beginning of May I was still in Canada, and paid a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington (just outside Toronto). I met up with my lovely friend M, who lives in the States but had motored across the border. She is also a writer and a nature-lover. We had a wonderful day!
Back in London, I took a walk to look at the street trees of Archway, just down the hill from where I live. It was based on one of my favourite books from last year, ‘London Street Trees: A Guide to the Urban Forest‘ by Paul Wood, and it was so much fun that I plan to do another walk later this year. You can read about the walk here and here.
June saw my monthly visit to my elderly parents turning into something of a drama, after Dad got a chest infection and had a fall. Still, spending time in Milborne St Andrew in Dorset is always a pleasure, and even if I didn’t have much time to admire the scenery, I did get a few brief minutes to look at the garden and take a deep breath.
June also saw the great willowherb in my garden infested with the caterpillars of a tiny moth. Surprisingly, they still flowered rather splendidly. ‘Weeds’ are resilient plants, for sure.
In July I made my annual visit to Obergurgl in Austria, for walking in the mountains and admiring the flowers and the insects. Oh, and for cake.
Closer to home, I paid a visit to East Finchley Station, and to the N2 Community Garden beside it. There are many new goings on in the entrance to the station…
…on the platforms
….and in the garden itself. It was lovely to go travelling, but it’s always nice to be home.
I also spent some time posting about my amazing artist friend, Robin Huffman, and her portraits of the monkeys and apes that she cares for when she volunteers at wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. I think her work is absolutely stunning, and to see more of it you can visit her website here. She is currently in Cameroon at the Ape Action Africa sanctuary in Mefou, looking after several baby monkeys. I imagine that she’s covered in poo, bitten half to death and dreaming of Japanese food, but I bet she’s also deliriously happy.
So, Dear Readers, that’s the end of part one of my annual review. Stay tuned for next week!