A Million Tiny Wings
This morning a trio of goldfinches are clinging to the stems of the Knapweed, using them as a support to get to the real prize, the flowers of a yellow Hawksbit, just going over. I sit by the window watch them through the binoculars for a bit, transfixed by the efficient processing laboratory of their beaks, rolling and chafing the fluffy seed until they get to the kernel while discarding the rest.
I step outside into the sun, the air is humming with the vibration of a million tiny wings. It is scorchingly intense in this south facing mini world of the front yard, a scree slope of slate shale and old concrete with a smattering of soil. Heaven for invertebrates. A cloud of hoverflies, bees and butterflies rise up as I push my way through the yellow Scabious to get a closer look at a grasshopper. I feel an intense joy at seeing all this life.
It reminds me of a cycling holiday to Poland in the late1990’s (not the cycling bit) when we crossed over the border into the Czech Republic. After we got a stamp in our passports we took our picnic of bread, sausage and apples into one of the many meadows which clothed the hills there. We were totally overwhelmed. The air was literally alive with insects, thousands and thousands of them crawling, buzzing and humming. It wasn’t so great for the picnic – sitting on the ground was really uncomfortable – within seconds insects were crawling all over us. Eating too was difficult as most of the time was spent batting them away as they whizzed and crashed around our heads. We abandoned the meadow pretty quickly and got back on our bikes. But it was amazing to think that this is probably what most of Europe was like before the advent of intensive farming. So we wonder where did all the birds go? I was talking to L about this and we both wondered whether Environmental Stewardship money is wasted on the likes of us and might be put to better use encouraging the ‘green desert’ farmers to preserve/create/maintain good habitats alongside food production. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.