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On Monday of week 25, I did the walk in the opposite direction again. I was distressed to see Himalayan balsam flowering in the horseless ‘horse’ field. Peeping out of the grass on the ‘primrose bank’ were a few pretty pink flowers of dwarf cyclamen, and, high up on the bank, I saw two bright yellow spikes of agrimony. The agrimony flowers have obviously been open for a while, so why haven’t I noticed them before? I realised on Tuesday that they are almost invisible when walking in my usual direction, because they blend in with the long grasses. As an experiment, I’ll do the walk both ways round this week.
As I opened the front door on Thursday, I could hear geese honking. When I looked out, I saw a small skein of geese quickly followed by a larger skein flying inland from the coast – I always associate this sight and sound with spring or autumn. On Friday, I heard, but couldn’t see, a woodpecker. I had been told that a green woodpecker had been seen in the area, an advantage of regularly meeting the same nature lovers, so I was looking and listening carefully.
Autumn is definitely on its way – on Sunday, I noticed that the first leaves are turning yellow, on a wild cherry tree. As promised, I have walked my walk in both directions this week and find that I notice different things. I’ll carry on going both ways round.
Monday of week 26 dawned cool, but bright and sunny, so the grass glistened brightly with dew. When I got to the horseless ‘horse’ field, I was amazed to see scores of cobwebs, some bigger than dinner plates, sparkling with water droplets, that made them look jewel encrusted. You could clearly see the intricate design of each cobweb and how they differed – a magnificent sight. Under the trees where the ‘verge’ was cut some weeks ago, new ‘spring green’ fronds of hart’s tongue fern and bracken are appearing, while elsewhere young nettle plants are coming into flower. In the field that was cut for hay, many white clover plants are flowering. ‘The ivy in most of the hedges is now in full flower and, on warm mornings, is alive with insects. ‘The winds at the end of the week have seen many conkers, now shiny brown, and sweet-chestnuts in their prickly casings litter the path. I have to watch my footing because standing on them is not good for the ankles even when wearing boots.
The weather has taken its toll on the cobwebs and most of them are now a thing of the past. The leaves of the tree that I talked about in weeks 7 and 9 and thought might be a poplar are beginning to turn golden yellow.
On Monday of week 27, I saw two small pale yellow ‘blobs’ at the foot of the old Mill Chimney. On closer inspection, I realised that they were primroses. When I looked around that area closely on Tuesday, another primrose flower had opened and there were forget-me-nots on the side of the path. Why are ‘spring’ flowers blooming in September? I also noticed a very bright yellow patch on the verge leading up to the church – a courgette or marrow has seeded itself and is happily growing.
On Wednesday, I was joined by five members of the U3A Nature Ambles group for a socially distanced, mask wearing amble. We ambled part of my daily exercise walk route, and I was reassured that only one plant was found that I had missed – the red berries of black bryony. Members of the group confirmed my identification of the poplar (week 7) and the False Acacia (or Locust Tree) (week 11) and identified madder, which was unknown to me but which I had seen for many weeks. We were, however, unable to identify which type of poplar we were looking at.
Disaster! On Thursday morning, the primrose and forget-me-not flowers had disappeared. Someone has mown the area around the mill chimney and along the path. I also realised that the black bryony berries are very hard to see in the early morning light, even when you know where to look.
On sunny mornings of week 28 the birds have serenaded me from the blackthorn bushes. As always, they are well hidden by the leaves and branches, so I haven’t been able to see them. I’ve watched the marrow (courgette) plant develop and it now had a one-inch diameter courgette growing. As the week has progressed, more leaves on the poplar tree have turned golden yellow – a beautiful sight to behold. I have continued to watch the multiplication of the brown patches on the horse chestnut tree leaves, and many of the leaves are now totally brown and starting to fall off. I have realised that the browner the leaves, the smaller the conkers. Not surprising when you think about it. On Friday, we were subjected to Storm Alex and, in the interests of my safety, I didn’t walk that morning. I anticipate a lot of leaves and branches were brought down.
It is now the end of week 28 and I will not be doing my daily morning exercise walk for over a week for personal reasons. I hope to restart my daily walk during week 30 but I haven’t yet decided whether to restart these notes. If this is to be the last instalment, thank you for reading my notes and I hope that they have given you some insight into some of the daily changes in nature in one small area of Watchet during the last 6 months.