Before Scamp and I went to the park yesterday, we had a wander around the monthly farmers’ market in King’s Heath. It’s a lovely place to pick up locally-produced food, from vegetables to freshly-baked bread, from cheese to chocolate. My personal favourite is the honey – it is taken from the hives in Highbury Park, and taste absolutely wonderful. It is the best honey I have ever tasted (I really mean that!) and it is such a lovely thought that I have seen these bees, photographed them often, and am now helping to support their upkeep by buying the produce.
Why am I writing about this in a wildlife blog? Well, apart from the fact, as mentioned, that I see these bees all the time in the park and therefore feel ‘invested’ in them, supporting and encouraging local producers is a great thing for the environment. Smaller producers tend to use less chemicals, have less impact on the environment, and of course there is less transportation involved, which makes air quality better etc.
Once in the park, I was feeling lazy and had a lie down in the sunshine, deciding to watch the wildlife come to me rather than travel round it. Scamp played in the stream, throwing sticks into the water, then jumping in after them, occasionally coming over to me to check I was still awake, and drip water onto my face. She need not have worried, I was busy watching the world go by.
A wood pigeon peeked at me shyly. Magpies and crows wheeled overhead, tail feathers spread wide like a fan, and the tips of their wing feathers clear as they used them like brakes to control their landing as they flew onto branches. Two Long-Tailed Tits went past and flew into a nest, then another one hurried into a tree next to them. A Large White butterfly rose higher and higher above me in the sky. A Blackbird went past, skimming low across the grass with an impressively large snail in its mouth - that will provide a fine feast for its young. Orange wings flashed, as a Comma fluttered by; the first one I have seen in weeks.
I closed my eyes, and let my other senses take over. The smell of sharp, sweet grass, and the faint scent of perfumed flowers. The undulating shush of the breeze through the leaves of trees, and the refreshing feel of it on my sun-warmed skin. A tickling sensation as a fly landed on me, walked around, then flew away again. The hypnotic humming of bees drifting closer then further away then closer again, each type having their own tone, dependent on size and wind beat speed.
And more than anything, the sound of birdsong surrounding me. Soaring, sweeping songs of great complexity; crisp, clean notes oft repeated; gentle cooing; deep-throated, guttural calls: it was all there, just waiting for me to hear. And lying in the sunshine I took the time to listen.
As today is a Sunday, I can think of no better thing to advise than that you give it a go. Treat yourself to a lazy lie down in the sunshine, and let your senses take over. It brings nature alive in a whole new way.