The Countryside in SummerMonday 7th August 2000
LINNETS AND CHAFFINCHES, at least a hundred of them in total, fly in small groups up from the meadow at the edge of the wood and gather in the canopy of a large Oak. With the meadow grasses gone to seed and flocks like these beginning to gather, I get the impression that summer is beginning to draw to an end in fecund maturity.
But the nesting season isn't quite over yet; a male Yellowhammer perches at the top of an Elder bush with a beakful of insect food. The bottom end of Balk Lane, towards the canal, is a favourite place for yellowhammers. There's often one singing from a tree or wire here in early summer. Yellowhammers have gone into decline as habitat like this - rough grass, remnant hedges and trees - is removed.
From an overgrown hedge by the canal a Willow Warbler sings its wistful up-and-down phrase, which we haven't heard for a while. On the clumps of Gipsywort along the water's edge there are knots of tiny white flowers at the bases of the leaves.
The gathering flocks must represent an opportunity for the Sparrowhawk. A large brown female perches on the top of the greenhouse in our back garden, flies over to the hedge and then flies off over next door's pond, without surprising any potential prey.