There’s a confident wind from the west this morning, up at Badgers Wood. It stirs the sycamore and beech trees, their heavy limbs set swaying, with a moaning as their branches bend into each other. Above the hubbub, the pair of buzzards with their wings full of air circle, swoop, rise and bank, while all the while the true acrobats of the sky, the swifts, squeal and race between them. Fleshy, pink gilled field mushrooms speckle the track where a wall brown butterfly alights. These beautiful insects have plummeted in numbers, the evidence suggesting that climate change is to blame as the rise in temperature is causing generations to hatch out too late in the year to survive. They have decreased by as much as 86% since 1976. That was the year of the drought when the UK saw a Drought Act passed in Parliament. I remember the water rationing and the tarmacadam lifting off the roads. Everyone thought it was a freak year, and we would not see another like it in our lifetime.
I am brought back to the present by two wrens in a whirring chatter flitting among the bushes. Their latin name is ‘troglodytes troglodytes’ – more apt for the badger than the wren, whose newly dug sett I find a little further on. Perhaps if the rain holds off I will return later and wait downwind with a flask of tea in the hope of seeing them, as I did in the summer of 1976 in the back garden of our house that sat half way up the hill.
By the way the latin name for the buzzard is ‘Buteo Buteo’ and the swift is known as ‘Apus Apus’.