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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.

Saturday 4 March 2023

On the brink of spring ...


Less than a week between watching a fox watch us at the junction of Charlton Common and Charlton Road and this ... 

... the wholesale clearance of trees and scrub, presumably in preparation for the construction of an access road for the houses being built in the field just the other side of the footpath.

It was a gutter to see how the young self-seeded oaks and thorns have been smashed to stumps.

I've since been back several times, but it's still quite shocking to see the change, the featurelessness of the skylarks' field now.

Since I haven't been able to in the past because of the scrub, and since I won't be able to in the future because of houses and garages and gardens, I took the opportunity of walking right around the perimeter of the field that's been cleared. It's funny to see how much it drops on either side - something you're less aware of when everything's covered in vegetation. 

Fungus brought blinking to the light

It was also strange seeing familiar trees up close from the other side.

In parts the hedgerow was so big you could walk right inside it ... 

...  and there were messages from beetles, previously left under bark, that had never been read before. 

There was also more water than I'd suspected. 

Although I've photographed them before, I took a couple of pictures of the rest of the lane called Charlton Common while it still looks semi-rural ... 

... and also of Elm Farm and its barns peeking through the hedges, while the fields are still fields.

I also had a little foray around the other side of the Filton Airport runway when I went to photograph the remaining cottages of Catbrain, the hamlet just outside the lost village of Charlton.

We had a good wander about, as far as the fields familiar to us from when we've walked down from Fishpool Hill.

It was especially pleasing to come across a barn owl nesting box and a wildlife pond.

We then walked along the footpath in the direction of the Mall ...

The sluice

... as far as a man-made mound called Teletubby Hill. What is Teletubby Hill for? It's hard to envisage it ever having of the mystery of Silbury Hill, and yet, with its views of the Mall and retail parks at Cribbs Causeway, and its circle of benches, maybe generations to come will interpret it as a wooden henge dedicated to an arcane and ancient god called Retail Therapy.

It's been a few weeks since the last frosts ... 

... and while I'm not daft enough to declare winter over, there's a real feeling of spring beneath the surface of trees and hedgerows.

A week ago we went up the lane to the field and the air was so full of spring it seemed to displace the oxygen, making it hard to breathe.

Looking closely there are signs of new growth ...

Lichens from the formerly scrub-sheltered hedgerow; whitethorn leafbuds; blackthorn blossom buds; the elder at the foot of the hollowing oak; last year's oak leaf and this year's buds 

The birds have also noticed the lengthening days and are gearing up for the new season.

Long-tailed tit

The rookery has been particularly busy. For a while the rooks seemed to have a softer, more bleating tone, while the jackdaws are currently flying around in pairs and making a 'prink prink' noise. I've also seen purposeful magpies zipping to and fro with beakfuls of sticks.

crow seeing off a kestrel

An owl pellet is always a pleasing find ...  

... but the discovery of this feather surpassed it. 

It's a magpie tail feather, but the reason it looks so lustrous at one end and so odd at the other is that it's a blood feather and was still developing when its unfortunate owner lost it.  

You can see how different it looks from this other, well-used tail feather I found that had been shed presumably at the end of its working life.

The corvid wars over territory were raging a month or so ago, so I did wonder if it had been pulled out by a rival bird. Sadly birds can bleed to death if they lose a blood feather. I hope this one was OK. 

Elsewhere, the blossom and flowers have been getting on with it.  

Catkins like those beaded curtains you used to see in the 60s; periwinkle; celandine; red dead nettle; dandelion; snowdrops

We saw a couple of butterflies on one of the warmer weekends in January; this, in mid-February, is a large white (maybe).

The bus at the end of the small dark wood of the mind

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