Life here in Argyll is pretty good as autumn wanders in. It has been a poor summer if you look only at the weather but, if you live with the weather rather than fight against it, it’s been a lovely summer. As The Big Yin (Billy Connolly) once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather. Just inappropriate clothing.” On behalf of struggling writers everywhere, my answer to Big Yin would be, “That’s fine for you to say when you are a millionaire Scotsman who can afford any amount of waxed cottons and Gore-Tex but for the rest of us the weather up here has been rubbish!”
Anyone who lives here would acknowledge that it has been short summer. It started late after a very cold spring and now the autumn leaves are already well into their golden demise. Our American cousins use the words The Fall to describe this autumnal change where the leaves turn golden brown and yellow and then drop to the floor covering everything and making life difficult for the infirm. The Fall is such a well chosen phrase and, as far as I’m concerned, hits the horses nose bang on the nail’s… head’s… money.
A boy, in leaves.
I remember well, time spent as a lad, kicking through mounds of fallen leaves in the gutter along the appropriately named Bushey Road and Barnsbury Road near to my primary school only to find that some blighter had hidden within, a brick or a heap of dog shit. Happy days…
The season has been refreshingly light on Midges and we have had only two or three days when the pesky little blighters have made our lives a living hell. Now we can be assured that they will die off for the winter.
After holding my hand out or the window for just one minute!
Midges at 20x magnification.
I have some American friends that think their Mosquitos are bad dudes and our Midges just can’t compare. My message to them is, “Come over here in July and sit on a rock, if you think you’re hard enough.”
The other news is the last clutch of Swallow chicks fledged last week and have joined the autumn Swallow migration south for the winter. They’ll spend the next couple of weeks flying 5000 miles to the horn of Africa where the temperatures will stay at around 27 deg C and the insects are plentiful.
Swallow chicks being cute.
Swallows awaiting the Easy-Jet flight to Africa.
The upshot is that we have been successful in preventing Peter The Pesky Pine Marten from climbing up to their nest, scragging it and making a light nighttime snack of the chicks. We were concerned that he would find the new shed that we placed just below the nest a convenient leg-up, but we managed to sidetrack him by leaving jam butties on the floor, outside by the woodpile, for him to eat.
It is a little known fact that Pine Martens like to dine on jam butties, but there it is. Peter and his (or her) kits will dine well on our jam. We’ll feed the birds as usual and now leave a jam butty away from their feeding station for Peter. We called him (or her) Peter not being able to determine his (or her) sex. A friend of ours (no name, no pack drill) caught one of Peter’s chums in a Mink trap last summer and the Pine Marten tore the steel Mink trap apart in order to escape. It was the work of a moment for said Pine Marten so if you think that I’m going to get down on my hands and knees and ask for a peep of his (or her) private bits, think again!
Peter The Pesky Pine Marten.
The menu outsuide Chez William is now; 1) Fat Balls for the Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Common Woodpecker (You should hear the language!), Wood Pigeons, Sparrows, et al. 2) Assorted Seed for most of the above but the pair of Wood Pigeons that have befriended us are getting too greedy and one of them can’t take off any more. 3) Peanuts for the Tits. (I placed a sign by the nuts saying Tits Only but the others just ignore it). 4) Jam Butties for Peter The Pesky Pine Marten and any bird brave enough to dip it’s beak in.
We get the occasional Red Squirrel making an appearance but they are quite reclusive little chaps and the twenty yards of open ground before they get back to the trees that line our local river, makes them Pine Marten bait. So it is a rarity when the Reds come. The Scotts Pine Marten does keep the slower and fatter Grey Squirrels at bay. They fall prey to the Pine Marten becoming breakfast, leaving Scotland free for the native Reds to remain unmolested by this foreign intruder.
Enough for now. It is time for a proper, hearty, writer’s breakfast of sausages and eggs… and black pudding and hash browns and bacon and sautéed potatoes and fried bread and fried mushrooms and fried tomatoes (for health reasons) and hot buttered crumpets and toast and finally, a bowl of Special K… for the birds. I find that the special diet food recommended by the doctor is just too much for me, after eating my breakfast.