'Do I look tree-like?'

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Sunday 17th October 1999

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conkers A MAN heaves on a long strap to wrench the trunk of a young Alder into a makeshift swing for the boys he's brought with him to the old quarry in the wood.

It must be 'thrash-a-tree' weekend. In the park a man hurls chunks of wood into the crown of a Horse Chestnut in a traditional attempt to supply his young daughter with conkers.

Two boys are duelling beneath the trees. One picks up a large branch,

'Do I look tree-like?' he asks his friend.

hairycaterpillar Two hairy caterpillars make haste to cross the lane. There is fresh growth of nettles in the hedges on either side, but these aren't the caterpillars of any our familiar butterflies, such as Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, which use nettle as a foodplant, they are too hairy. Perhaps they are caterpillars of the Vapourer moth.

wych elm There's a sound like someone riffling through the pages of an ancient manuscript. The hand-sized leaves of a Wych Elm, growing as a bush on the steep hedge bank, are rustling in the breeze. They have a very rough surface and, although still dark dull green, they now feel dry, like parchment.

redwings We get our first good view of Redwings, we hear their soft chuckling calls and glimpse the red beneath the wings. A high over Scandinavia has given us cool breezes from the east and brought in these migrant thrushes.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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