About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Friday 15 July 2022

Hunting with the kestrel


More field notes from up the field. I'm thinking of studying for a PhD, and if I do, I might be writing about this place, and these blogs might be my raw material ... so I think I'll press on.
This is the most relaxing time of year on the edgelands, even though it's a bit hot - even in the evening - to be plodding up its slopes. I love sitting in the long grass and watching the sun set, as the wind lifts and the rooks and jackdaws make their way home to the rookery. Some creatures are still out hunting, though. No peace for the kestrel ...

... or the gulls that take it upon themselves to see it off. I realised I don't mention the gulls in these posts, even though they're ubiquitous; it's just that they're always at a considerable height. I think they must nest on the factory buildings.

The wild carrots - my favourites - have come out with a vengeance in the last couple of weeks. The grass in front of the Cathedral in town was full of them last week, and it's the same up in the field and on the Common. I love to see them, usually accessorised with red soldier beetles.

Carrots and creeping thistle

An expanse of mattress for the lonely beetle to travel in search of a mate

These are somewhat luckier.

The red soldier beetles are also at it on creeping thistle ...

... brambles, grasses, ragwort and hogweed. Especially hogweed ... 

Not long after it started, I decided to learn my way through the pandemic, and being in the habit of calling every whitish flower with umbels 'cow parsley', embarked on a crash course of Know Your Umbellifers 101. I still only know the most common, but it's a pleasure to be able to tell my greater burnet saxifrages from my hemlock water dropworts ever since. Here's the former. 

One of the best days for seeing insects this last fortnight was on one of the few days it rained, as afterwards they were all trying to dry off.

A bumble bee

A ringlet

A small skipper on knapweed

A ladybird

Otherwise, much like the kestrel, it's a question of hovering and pouncing and mostly failing. But not always. It's hard to miss a Bedeguar gall or a crystal ball of a cobweb.

Another creature I tend to ignore is the fly. I can't identify them and I'm not sure I want to try but they have their own beauty ... 

... even if it's not quite as widely acknowledged as that of the creatures below.

Common carder bee


Five-spot burnet moth

Marbled white

Other animals include a fox on the pitch and putt that is under construction, in exactly the same place where we often see rabbits. In fact, I'm not sure which of the foxes, rabbits or badgers are undermining the field and making walking along the badger path a bit too dangerous to contemplate at dusk and in all the long vegetation. 

And then there's Cwtch, of course, who will always pose for a photo even when there's no compelling need as there's already enough beauty in it.

Out on the farmland a big change with all that rewilding cut right back. I'd kind of hoped the fields this side of Fishpool Hill might slide under the radar while the fields closer to the motorway are developed, but apparently not. The green stripe here is not a path made by people but by animals over a long time - foxes or badgers, maybe. Every line on the land tells a story.

Reduced growth did, however, make it easier to get to the hedgerow with the apple and damson trees to see how the harvest is progressing. Hopefully they'll still be there come ripening. (The plans show the retention of old trees and many of the hedges, but who knows what the developer will stick to.) 

The road alongside Charlton Common still looks like a country lane but for how much longer?

Likewise, it's still quiet by the railway embankment, but not once the Henbury Loop reopens to passengers. 

Agrimony, vetch and rosebay willowherb

The land alongside the footpath, which sort of got incorporated into Charlton Common but not on paper which is why it's being built on, is full of flowers right now, and an emblem of diversity.

A tsunami of vetch

Selfheal, horseshoe vetch, ragwort and out-of-focus pink yarrow, crow garlic

Dark pink bramble flowers, field vetch, meadowsweet, hogweed setting seed

Winter is coming ... 

... but not just yet.

The misty mountains

  A clear view to Avonmouth

The rooks heading home