Sunday, 19 September 2010

Autumn wildlife

An autumn walk round the Environment Trail was more interesting than expected. It began sadly, near the old town pump where several well-grown young Horse Chestnuts were laden with conkers. But two had yellow leaves, clear evidence of the dreaded Phytophthora. The conkers on these trees were much larger than the others, a desperate biological response as the dying tree tries to produce one last crop of seed to propagate itself. There could be no clearer picture of a broken Creation and our helplessness to mend it except with the aid of the Creator. However, yellow stars in the grass were the cheerful flowers of the little Autumnal Hawkbit, a favourite flower of mine. Plenty of birds were around, but only Robins were singing yet - the only bird that sings in all twelve months. Research has shown that Robins sing more than can be explained by any biological necessity - they must just enjoy singing! So Creation rejoices even when broken, another lesson for humanity. At the Park pond several flowers still bloomed, with Water Mint and Water Forget-me-not around the edge and Hemp Agrimony behind them. The pond itself was choked with late summer Broad-leaved Pondweed and Water Starwort. Elderberries and Hawthorns were laden with berries and Bullfinches piped nearby. They were also calling in the thick hedge at Waterworks Farm, which (as I have always suspected) indicates there are families at both places on the Trail. Back on the Park, a faint sound made me look up, to see a Greenfinch far overhead against the high cloud. My last sighting was not living, but caught my attention equally as the Park suddenly appeared to turn Welsh! Then I realised it must have been an imaginative Cymric vandal who by selective removal from Sandbach had produced "an bach" - I wonder what it means? - George