Dear Wood Warbler,
I’ve been extremely slack in my nature watching lately. But whenever I’m too lazy to go out and find nature, nature just says: ‘Don’t worry! I’ll come to you!’ It keeps turning up in unexpected places. There was the barn owl hunting in my mum’s back garden on a sunny afternoon. The avocets wading through the marsh near her house. The terrapin who has just taken up residence on the New River Walk. The young foxes playing in my road at night. The delightful cockchafers, with their Michael Heseltine eyebrows, landing on my laptop…
And the wood ear mushrooms, growing on trees, that demanded to be eaten. (See pic above. They were delicious).
And then there were the newts.
Spotty ones, smooth ones, nearly transparent ones, and lovely Great Crested ones who have turned my in-laws’ swimming pool into Newt City.
Is there anything more relaxing in the world than looking at newts? It’s something about the way they sleep, drifting through the water, arms and legs outstretched, totally unconcerned about the world.
On the evening after I’d seen the newts, I sat on the steps of the house, and looked up at the stars, enjoying the peace of the spring evening. A peace which was disturbed pretty thoroughly when a RAT scurried out from under my feet, and zoomed off across the grass. I say rat – it was really the size of a small horse.
A couple of nights later, I was in my bedroom at my mum’s house, reading a book, when I noticed a large bug circling around the light. The windows were shut, so I was just wondering how it had got in, and whether it was a hornet, when it flew towards me and I realised that it was, in fact, a bat. A magical, beautiful bat. By the time I’d got the window open, it had flitted off on a tour of the house. After opening all the windows and doors I could find, (damn you, window locks!) I watched it in the hall, turning circles in perfect silence, until it finally disappeared into the night.
So. What’s next? At this rate, I’m expecting a badger under my pillow any day now. I’ll update you.
PS Once Great Crested Newts have been discovered, it is illegal to disturb their habitat in any way. So if you hear of any evil property development going on, all you have to do is sneak into the site and ADD GREAT CRESTED NEWTS. And a pond. I feel like this would make a great plot for a children’s book/actual hobby.
PPS This doesn’t count as nature spotting, but the other day I went to a drawing class and met this lovely creature. He is called Chester. He is a five week old tawny owl. He eats between ten and twelve mice a day.