The long goodbye
It is only August, but already there is change in the air. The summer, sadly, feels as if it is all but over, the weather has been windy, rainy, and decidedly dull, and leaves are already showing signs of starting their turn from lush green to burnished bronze. Acorns have now reached full size, though are still vibrant verdant in their cups, and scattered on the ground here and there are early fall conkers, their spikey cases not yet the rich brown that tells of hidden treasure inside.
Now is the time that nature starts its preparations for survival, one eye already on what lies ahead. Birds are still relatively quiet and hidden, while finishing their moult – they shed their feathers and grow new ones. During and after this, they feed on the glut of food Mother Nature serves up for them, in order to build their strength for migration or making it through the cold winter months. The jewel colours of raspberries are already disappearing, replaced by the deeper lustre of blackberries and elderberries. I spotted a Blackcap feasting on elderberries beside Henbury Pond in Highbury Park, no doubt gaining strength for its travels abroad.
But there is still time for us to enjoy the sights of summer. At milder moments the dragonflies are flying, trawling the air for insects. And when the sun makes an appearance, so too do the butterflies, such as this Skipper I spotted on a bramble. Summer is not yet over, it is merely reminding us all that change is coming, and starting its long farewell. It is a timely prompt for us all to enjoy it while we can, just as the bees are as they busily collect nectar before the flowers disappear.