Summer is gradually mellowing into autumn

A song thrush
A song thrush

Where have all the maggots gone? Decades ago, mother placed my blackberries in a pan of salty water to draw out maggots prior to washing and cooking them. Nowadays we don’t see any! Mind you, I tend to eat dozens straight from the hedgerows, so maybe I’ve eaten a good many. Both Tigga and myself can’t resist them.

We’ve also had a small sample of mulberries. Having discovered a mulberry tree locally, a few years ago, we sought the sweet, black berries. Most had already fallen and been squashed, but a few were delicious, and resembled raspberries in size and flavour.

It’s a fantastic year for fruit, and we’ve never seen such a harvest of seeds and nuts for birds and mammals.

Hawthorn bushes are now ‘ablaze’ with crimson haws, with boughs like living flames. Rowan berries and Siberian crab apples adorn local trees, resembling Christmas tree decorations. No, it isn’t a sign of a bad winter ahead. Good crops are the result of perfect conditions for pollination and fertilisation last spring, and subsequent maturity.

Yes, it may officially be autumn now, but man fixes the seasons not nature. We live in a temperate climate in between tropical and polar regions, therefore our weather tends to be moderate and mild.

We lose four minutes’ daylight every day as we approach September 23, which is the autumn equinox. Then we’re half way between mid-summer and mid-winter.

Nature’s transformations are more gradual, fluctuating between spells of warm, sunny weather, and cold frosty mornings. Our climate is never dull, and is usually a popular talking point.

Swifts have long departed, and swallows will soon be winging their way south to warmer climates.

Our beautiful drive to Langdale End, returning through Hackness, revealed summer mellowing into autumn.

Such glorious scenery is a tonic to body and soul.

Rays of sunshine revealed shimmering silver trails across our footpaths – snails! They’ve proved to be the bane of my life. Slugs and snails are serious garden pests, particularly when the weather becomes wet and cool. Hiding under stones and debris during the day, they emerge at night, devouring seedlings and the roots, stems, leaves and even flowers of some plants.

When our marigolds began to disappear, I collected 19 snails and two slugs from a small area, depositing them elsewhere. I’ve heard of one couple who transport them to the moors. Well, it’s better than using slug pellets to kill them. All wildlife plays a part in the natural food chain.

The song thrush collects worms and snails on the ground, along with fruit and berries in autumn. Sadly, this bird has undergone a massive decline in many places, and how we miss its superb song. The presence of this bird may be indicated by an ‘anvil’, the site where snail shells are broken to gain access to the soft nutritious body inside.