Autumn 2011

This autumn I decided to mow between the trees with the aim of
    a) cutting all the grass to challenge the tougher grasses and encourage the finer ones
    b) hacking back the aspen suckers and self-sown blackthorn, because if I did not, Gimswood would shortly be covered in only those two species
    c) shortening the long grass so the owls can see to hunt the mice over winter
    d) controlling the thistles that were missed in the spring spraying.
    e) to give the wildflowers more of a chance of seeing daylight
    f) the wildflowers will be more visible when the botanists survey next year

I thought that I would not see much wildlife. How wrong could I be? There were big dragonflies following me (green, so they were female Emperors probably), hunting for casualties. Small brown furry creatures darted away down tunnels or into longer grass: field voles. A toad languidly sauntered away. Brushing against the tree leaves I seemed to pick up dozens of harvestmen and ladybirds. [That’s “nice” ladybirds. If I come across a Harlequin I promptly destroy it wherever I am in Britain at all times of the year. I know it’s trying to push back the oncoming tide, but I will continue to do my bit.] A yellow and maroon moth landed on me and white moths flew away, low over the cut grass. An amazing caterpillar: a spike at its shoulders and a smaller one near its tail, grey sides with white markings and a yellow stripe along its back – I can’t find it in my books. But the Cinnabar moth caterpillar I do know. And gatekeeper and fritillary butterflies. Beautiful! And, of course, the usual buzzard and kestrel, magpie and so on.

On a walk with the dog another time, I saw a squirrel ahead of me. That was the first time I have seen one in Gimswood; the first of many, I suppose. Not good news for the trees. But I digress. As it bounded away, a buzzard suddenly rose and flapped away. It seems that it was watching the squirrel and maybe fancied it for dinner. Good, I say. Go for it, buzzard! Keep down the vermin.