It was obvious really. Daryl and Darylena were behaving most out of sorts. All winter we’d seen the pair of them together, gaily munching through my plants, morning, noon and night. But one day, Daryl went missing. It was a bit of a worry to see Darylena by herself.
A couple of days later and there he was. But wait, where had Darylena gone? Had they had an argument? And why were they both so flighty all of a sudden? They’d seemed to have got quite used to having me around.
And then it all became clear. As I rounded the corner by the walnut tree, there she was. Mum and two teeny tiny baby fawns. All wobbly, gangly and spotty-coated; the most adorable things. They were gone before I knew it; I almost wondered if I’d imagined them.
But no, it all made sense now. Mum and Dad had been taking it in turns to babysit the new twins until they were big enough to take their first steps. The large gaps in my garden beds perhaps explained by her eating for three throughout the cooler months.
It was another few days before I saw them again. I hope I hadn’t given Mum too much of a fright. And I’ve still only seen them through the window since that very first time. But what a highlight of my day it is to see the kids jumping around and enjoying the pond.
Of course new babies don’t come without heightened nerves for everyone. And Freddy seems to have been around an awful lot recently. But I’ve done my homework and the first month is their most vulnerable time. I think we must almost be coming up to that now.
We’ve had other births around the garden this month. One of my best finds was a great tit nest in the aspen tree. I’d been sorting through some log piles moving kindling to our wood store, when I noticed a great tit above my head. It had a worm in its mouth and I wondered if it was off to its nest.
Then a second great tit appeared. This one, with a slightly thinner black ‘tie’ down its front, was the female; she had also brought food for the table. I sat down, as low and still as I could, waiting and watching.
I’d noticed the ash tree growing out of the aspen before. I love these strange feats of nature. But I hadn’t fully appreciated the formation of the aspen that had allowed the ash to take root. Was it two aspen fused together? However it had developed, there was clearly a cavernly home inside. Mr Great Tit suddenly hopped from his ash tree lookout and disappeared inside.
I must have sat for at hour at least. Totally transfixed by Mr and Mrs GT. It was incredible how many insects they brought for the chicks. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’ve been told each chick eats 100 grubs a day. Where on earth did they find them all? And how exhausted they must have been.
Each time it was the same routine. Back into the canopy of the aspen. Have a look around. Then, if all safe, onto the ash. Stop for another look. Then, quick as a flash, into the nest. It was quite something watching them manoeuvre in and out through the narrow gap in the trunk.
Too fast to follow with the eye, the camera showed how they tucked their wings in tight, before quickly unwrapping them to take flight. And all whilst some pesky human sat around, surely putting them off somewhat.
But I hope they understand. I’ll nurture the trees and the plants which host their insects and they’ll share their little world with me too.
We’ve also had our first brood of baby newts in the pond. Tiny little things, perhaps an inch long. Of all the millions and millions of ‘toadpoles’ we had, we’ve yet to see a mini toad. Curiously I have seen a baby frog, despite no visible frogspawn.
The other very exciting find this month, was a small, solitary, pink flower in the orchard. It doesn’t sound much – it isn’t much – but upon closer inspection this small, solitary, pink flower turned out to be a native orchid. The first one we’ve ever seen.
I’d previously thought about putting some orchid seed down. But it can take seven years to flower and they will only germinate if there is a specific fungus in your soil. I’d failed the true dedication test but let’s hope it does better than me on this front and comes back next year with friends!
I’ve also been looking around the garden with fresh eyes this month. A friend recently introduced me to a brand new concept: that of something being ‘yummy’. Not in the sense of tasting nice, but in the sense of looking nice. Is this a speciality of my friend, or simply something that has passed me by the last too-many-years?
I’d sent her some photos of curtain fabrics I’d been looking at, shown alongside the carpet and wall colourings. Apparently they were ‘yummy’. And as soon as she said it, I realised she was right. Of course they were yummy together. In a similar, but different, way to compost looking yummy.
And so now, I’m studiously re-appraising the garden, working out which bits are yummy and which aren’t. Which need a bit more yumminess? Which need something taken out to bring back the yumminess? And how do I make every corner of the garden yummy?
It’s such a great phrase. And now I understand the concept, I feel I really shouldn’t settle for anything less.
Onwards and upwards with ever-increasing yumminess, I say!