1989 July to September

July 4th
Beautiful, hot sunny day with a faint breeze and clear blue skies. Down the Clough Meadow Brown butterflies are flying around amongst White Clover, Self Heal and Dog Roses. Cherries are ripening on the trees. One of David’s Poppies has flowered. My Wild Pansies are out and look lovely.

Yesterday we had a lovely walk at the Grenade Range. Along the overgrown pavement Knapweed, Eyebright, Heath Bedstraw and Bird’s Foot Trefoil can be seen. Nearer the village by the roadside Yellow Meadow Vetchling, Tufted Vetch and Thistles were out. A wonderful sight: one I used to take so much for granted, even as a lover of Nature.

There was lots of bird life about I saw Herons, Moorhens, Coots, Lapwings, Pigeons, Doves, Mallard Ducks and ducklings, Crows, Thrushes, Blackbirds, Sparrows, Starlings and Seagulls of all descriptions. Today at Belmont I saw a Common Green Capsid bug a bright green and unusual bug I have seen a few times locally just lately.

At Nancy’s I saw a large bright-green fly with big brown eyes; I haven’t identified it yet. In a few places along the roadsides at Belmont, the dark red Wood Woundwort is flowering. A very elegant and symmetrical plant. I cannot possibly convey to you how delighted I am that my favourite fruit is out on the Bilberry bushes. Yummy, Yummy!

July 10th
All over Lancashire pink spikes of Rosebay Willow Herb can be seen. A nice day but with a cool breeze. The Snowberry bushes at Belmont have tiny pink flowers on. Around the Clough, green berries can be seen on the Mountain Ash and Hawthorn. In the hedge by the Ornamental Cottages, I found Wild Peas flowering.

July 11th
A beautiful day with clear blue skies and warm sunshine. I was thinking today as I stared at a vase of lovely flowers, how can anyone ever doubt the love or power of God. Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies have been darting around the valley today, where Bird’s-Foot-Trefoil and Yellow-Meadow Vetchling are out. I found that tiny blue flower today, growing on a lawn. I think it is some kind of Speedwell.

At Tockholes on Saturday night we were picking Bilberries and there was a large fly with green eyes and mottled wings. It was a Cleg Fly which can have a nasty bite. I have recently seen another one locally.

Tonight I saw two Dragonflies darting about and doing complete somersaults in the air. One was blue like an Emperor Dragonfly, and the other brown with perhaps a tint of red. It was similar to a Brown Aeshna, but I have a feeling they maybe male and female of the same species. The Ragwort is beginning to flower, with Comfrey and Nipplewort. When Ragwort is fully out, the berries will be ripe on the Rowan.

July 13th
There are currently lots of beautiful Emerald Moths at work: Sea-green Large Emerald Moths, pale-green Small Emeralds, silvery green-grey Grass Emeralds, and small white ones which I think must be Little Emeralds. There are yellowy brown Lilac Moths with curled wings; dark brown Mottled Beauty’s, with a patterned wing; and great big brown moths with orange underwings, the Large Yellow Underwing. But these Moths aren’t big compared to the massive large grey Poplar Hawk Moth that I found, with bright chestnut-red patches on its underwings. I found a silvery-grey male Ghost Moth, the first I’ve ever seen, and a lemon-yellow Brimstone Moth with ginger flecks, which again I’ve never seen before.

 I saw a male Damsel Fly, Coenagrion puella, at work today, with bright blue on its head and a bright blue patch on its body. At the Grenade Range I saw a Dragonfly which had a bit of blue about it.

July 17th
A very warm, sunny and humid day. A thin six-inch long black Mole scurried over Longworth Road last night. While we were at Church we saw a grey rabbit with black legs and a white patch on its neck sat on the grass outside the Church door. This evening there was a reddish brown Dragonfly hovering about the stream, (Sympetrum striolatum, male). I saw a Moorhen at the pond above Jumbles near the Pillbox tonight. The pond is covered with lilies. A Mistle Thrush landed in front of me at work this afternoon which I thought was lucky, and coming home I saw about seven Heron stood around the lodge.

July 18th
Hot, sunny and very humid. This evening I found Yellow Cress growing at the park. A reddish brown Dragonfly flew down the valley, where yesterday I found a small Frog. Last night there was a huge, full, creamy white moon.

July 25th
The pink and white striped flowers of Bindweed are flowering on Sweetloves Lane. On the hedge down to Dunscar the large white trumpet-shaped flowers of Bindweed are out: a lovely flower which looks quite exotic. In the Clough, the Nettles are flowering, with big patches of pink Great and Rosebay Willow Herbs. Lots of small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown Butterflies are flitting about. In the Churchyard the Lime trees are in flower with a heavenly smell.

July 30th
Under an Oak leaf this afternoon I saw a creature like a tiny yellow and red Scorpion. There was a red mite on the leaf as well, which the creature may have been after for its tea. On the overgrown pavements Knapweed and Ox-Eye-Daisies are flowering. I have seen berries on the Figwort, which has been flowering over the last fortnight. Honeysuckle also has red succulent berries on now. Water-mint, Purple and Yellow Loosestrife, and Hemp Agrimony are out at Wayoh.

Yesterday evening it was sunny with a blue, clouded sky, as David and I took Cindy around Wayoh. On the bank about thirty Canada Geese were resting. Three small waders were repeatedly ‘piping’ as they looked for food at the waters edge. David thinks they were Common Sandpipers.

The Heather is beginning to flower. David picked me his traditional bunch. Yarrow and Ragwort are out, as are the beautiful, small azure-blue flowers of the Common Speedwell. Autumn is here, as the Mountain Ash is laden with orange berries. Sneezewort is also flowering in the meadows.

August 6th
The past few days have been sunny and humid with many large Cabbage White Butterflies flying about. Today I saw two Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies which have been quite a rare sight since we came to the Clough and especially this year. A Zebra Spider was scurrying around on the window this afternoon. There have been some enormous Brown Slugs in the garden just lately. I think next door’s grandchildren have picked all the little apples off our tree.

August 16th
At Nancy’s, she and I were trapped in a poly tunnel as the heaven’s opened with torrential rain that pounded onto our plastic protection, thunder that roared, lightening that cracked like a devil’s whip. It lasted for twenty minutes. Half an hour later, blue sky was overhead; then not much later it was again pouring with rain. I picked enough Blackberries for us to have a Crumble. I had to leave a few though as they had Bugs in, rather like the beetle larvae you find in streams. I cannot imagine what they grow into.

I am amazed to find dark red berries on the Hawthorn trees already, while the Elder-berries are beginning to ripen into purple-black balls. The Guelder Rose too has lovely succulent berries on it, like fairy peaches. It is really a most attractive shrub.

August 20th
On the gate I found a very interesting fly; like a Horse Fly but yellow with ginger eyes and black-barred wings. On Nancy’s poly tunnel I saw a large 12mm long Froghopper, but unlike any I’ve seen before. Its wing cases were ‘silvery-sea’ green; head yellow, and eyes and head-markings black.

In a plastic container I found two drowned Capsid Bugs and rescued an Ant. I was thinking about four-leaved Clovers as we walked through the Park and as I was thinking David found one, the first of his life. Five Red Arrow jet fighter planes flew past our house tonight. It was a thrilling sight.

August 21st
A very heartbreaking fact. George Adamson, of Elsa fame, has been murdered by bandits in the African Bush; his wife was murdered nine years ago. Although I have limited knowledge of this man and did not know him personally, I feel he was one of the greatest men who ever lived, to say no less of his wife. May they rest in peace together.

You work with lions,

Savage lions, all your life,

But it is man who

Slays you.

September 2nd
The morning started with clear blue sky and bright sunshine. Cindy and I went round the Clough. The Elders are heavily laden with dark purple berries while a few acorns can be spotted on the Oaks, which also have plenty of ‘Elfin Hat’ galls under their leaves. The Brambles are thick with Blackberries - food for the wild folk (birds, mice, shrews, voles, insects, hedgehogs, foxes).

A fortnight ago a Primrose and a yellow Primula flowered in the garden: also a Hyacinth flowered at work in June. These are Spring flowers but flowering at the end of Summer, global warming or green-house effect maybe? The Primula, (though I know little about the make up of flowers) appeared to me to have a double stigma, joined together in the middle.

I’d just like to say that with holes in the ozone layer, oil slicks miles long etc, man may very easily succeed in destroying man. However he has not the right to assume he can destroy creation. God made the world. Each creature and plant was fashioned in a workshop beyond our wildest dreams. It is all in the plan of things: nature will restore a balance, even if this takes millions of years. This is nothing on the time scale of creation.

Still no man has the right to think he can or will blow up, wipe out, what the Lord has so carefully made. God is the creator of all things. When He wants life on earth to end; only then will it end, and I don’t believe there will ever be such a day.

September 3rd
Clear skies again. Walking round St. Peter’s I saw earth balls, orange toadstools and other fungi. There were many Daddy Long Legs about; I counted ten on one gravestone. Cinquefoil is flowering amongst a tailored lawn of mowed grass and soft mosses.

From Nancy’s poly tunnel I released a Red Admiral, whilst another fluttered about on flowers outside. There were lots of Blue and Greenflies - ‘Bluebottles’ - feeding on the flowers. Yellow and black-barred Hoverflies of various species could be seen everywhere, and large black Flies that have orange wing patches. Beech nuts can be found littering the ground, though I’ve not seen any Conkers yet.

I have been very saddened after dreaming about the death of a furry friendly Hedgehog. I have found many squashed Hedgehogs on the local roads. My only consolation is the thought that if so many have been hit, then there must be many more that haven’t.

September 4th
Yesterday I forgot to mention. I was walking along and heard an alarmed and persistent buzzing, which sounded like a trapped insect. I thought perhaps it was an angry wasp so I proceeded with great caution. Then I found a crisp packet from which the sound seemed to be coming. It was a trapped Bumble Bee, and she was very alarmed. I opened up the packet with the help of a stick, and the Bee flew away. Please don’t throw your rubbish carelessly away; it could trap a poor defenceless creature.

I saw a Blue Headed Wagtail on the roof at Nancy’s yesterday; a very colourful, pretty bird. I was inspecting Oak leaves today as they often hide interesting secrets of nature. I was not disappointed. On the leaves were a few pale patches, which appeared to be hollowed out cocoons, where maybe a grub had eaten away the tissue to make a chamber for itself. In one of the patches there was a hole, where some insect may have emerged, and ‘half way out’ of another leaf was a small brown fly.

On a nearby Oak tree the lower leaves were faded with a greyish white bloom, as if they had been splattered with paint. On the underside tiny brown particles could be seen. I wondered if it were some kind of fungi.

Beneath a Pussy Willow leaf I found many orange powder-like growths, probably another fungus. The Sycamore leaves are badly covered with black Tar Spot fungus. The stream running through the Clough smells of human urine and is full of rubbish. Broken bottles can be found all over the place. It is disgusting how human beings take beautiful countryside, a God-given paradise, and lay it to waste.

September 6th
About a week ago while walking to the Grenade Range I found a scarlet red fungus, looking in texture like a round of marzipan, amongst the grass. Yesterday I found several tiny orange toadstools in the Churchyard, where there is, surprisingly enough, a lot of sphagnum moss and mowed heather. There was a black Ant with a white bar on its abdomen dragging a dead black fly twice its size. The ant must have had a firm grip with its jaws on the fly, which it was probably taking to a communal nest.

At Nancy’s there were many Hoverflies and large Drone Flies feeding on the nectar and pollen of the Chrysanthemums. Nancy gave me some: they are beautiful with a lovely scent. Banded Bees fed on the garden flowers - these have equally-striped abdomens, unlike the bold stripes of Bumble Bees. Several Small Tortoiseshells flew about, with a pair of Red Admirals which I see every time I go to Nancy’s.

I watched a flock of Starlings suddenly discover and decimate the yield of berries on an Elderberry bush. Walking past the old mill wall at Eagley Cricket Field, there was a lovely surprise. Wild strawberry plants on the wall covered in tiny red fruit.

September 8th
A cool cloudy day, with a blustery wind. David, Cindy and I went a lovely walk up Longworth Clough. In the Mill Pond elegant erect Bulrushes stand, with their velvety chocolate-brown spears. Woody Nightshade in the hedgerows now has red and yellow berries. You can see conkers on the Horse Chestnut trees, but they are not quite ripe enough to fall.

In the Clough I found Red Bartsia flowering by the footpath, a pleasant surprise. I used to see it a lot growing in fields in the Lake District. We saw a Kestrel hovering above some unsuspecting mouse or vole. A Great Tit flew through the Pussy Willows; I saw one yesterday on the drain pipe of a house. In the long-dead grass there was a perfusion of lilac-blue Devil’s Bit Scabious flowers. They have a most gorgeous colour.

I looked under an Oak leaf, as I am prone to do, and among the green ‘elfin cap’ galls were some ‘velvet pink’ ones. Here and there on the ground, Earth Balls could be seen. By the side of the road up to the Holmes’s we found a perfect specimen of a Shaggy Ink Cap fungus. I found two about a fortnight ago, at the side of the pavement on Eagley Way.

There were some beautiful small fungi, putty coloured and about the size of a Sparrows egg, but round like a fairy loaf of bread. They were growing on a wall and speckled with black flecks. I found the leaves and fruit of a Turkey Oak below the Holmes’s. The dark brown acorn sat in a cup covered in curly green spikes.

We have adopted Harriet the Hedgehog. She is living in our greenhouse and David is going to make her a run in the garden. She has had a hen’s egg, and milk and bread for tea and tomorrow I am going to get her some blackberries.

September 9th
At Tockholes I found an Angle Shade Moth with russet brown markings on its wings, and lumps like Rhino horns on the back of the head. The ends of its wings looked ragged as if they had bites taken out of it. Usually the V’s on these Moths are olive green.

We have given Harriet some slugs, she likes bread and milk, but hasn’t eaten her Blackberries yet, I hope she does.

September 12th
In a vase of flowers I found Cuthbert the Caterpillar, who left his droppings on the table so we thought we’d got a Mouse! Cuthbert was fat and velvet green, I let him go in the valley, which is where we are going to let Harriet go tonight. The Greenhouse is too dry and she’d dehydrate if we kept her in as she hibernated. Also if kept for any length of time, the garden is not big enough for a wild animal and her droppings would be a problem.

In the large conifer next door there are two enormous fat Spiders, waiting in their webs for tea. In the Brambles yesterday I saw a brown spider with orange, black and white markings. I think ‘Tiger spider' would be an appropriate name. A cloudy, warm and close day. Tonight a tiny Bat, about the size of a man’s hand, was flying about the gardens: I saw two about a fortnight ago.

My explanation of global warming is the carbon dioxide and CFC gases used in manufactured goods, especially aerosols, and polluting the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide comes naturally from methane (cow dung etc.) burning industrial waste and by animals breathing it out. These gasses damage the earth’s atmosphere, especially the ozone layer which keeps out harmful solar rays. As more pollution causes more gasses, the damage to the ozone layer increases; allowing harmful rays through, thus dangerously warming the earth’s atmosphere. This damage has been going on since man began industrialised society, BUT the earth is very old. Why should man be able to damage, a planet that has survived well enough for millions of years, in a mere 200 years or so?

Man thinks he is so clever and so invincible but he does not see that he is not immortal, and that by tampering with nature it may not come as any great surprise (to me at least) if it is Nature that brings about Mans downfall, and not him, with his ‘clever’ inventions such as atomic and nuclear bombs, his own. Man thinks he is running the show, but our Lord is our creator and only He has the answers.

September 17th
On the footpath down the Clough I found a brown Caterpillar covered in spines a few days ago. I saw a very similar one at the Grenade Range yesterday. They were probably the same kind but I don’t know what, unless they were Peacock caterpillars. There are lots of Tortoiseshells about the village lately and the Blackberries have, almost finished fruiting.

It has been lovely and sunny today. There were seven Millipedes, three Spiders and one Snail under a piece of wood at Nancy’s. I’ve never seen so many millipedes! I picked Nancy some Scabious from the meadow where a new housing estate is to be built, some dead Grasses, Michaelmas Daisies, Hawthorn berries, a sprig of Ash, and Willow Herb. I think she was a bit embarrassed, she didn't say much about them. I also put some Michaelmas Daisies on a few graves at St. Peter’s where I took Communion this morning.

Also at Nancy’s there were four Red Admirals; plus many Bees, Flies and one Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. There were quite a few Tortoiseshells flying about Belmont. I saw a flock of Goldfinches fly over the Golf Course, coming back from Longworth Clough last week.

September 18th
This evening it became dark, cloudy and rain pattered on the window. Then towards the west the sky became bright, a sort of washed out yellow. I went outside and to the east was a beautiful rainbow, arched completely in the sky. The colours were vivid and it reminded me of the seven or so rainbows I saw, on another occasion many years ago. What promises did those rainbows hold for me and mankind?

In the east the sky was blue, and black further south. In the west white wispy clouds moved amongst a yellow sky which turned a warm orange and a deep pink in succession. As the sun died down, the clouds became soft-grey and purple as each lost the sun’s light. Just above the horizon ran a band of sea blue sky. You would not imagine that so many colours could be seen together in the heavens.

September 29th
An absolutely breathtakingly, beautiful day. A deep clear blue sky and bright warm sunshine. At half past seven, when I went downstairs to make David’s sandwiches I heard a pitiful meowing at the door. As I opened the back door a little black cat was trying franticly to get in.

“Kitty Puss” has arrived. He’s a lovely little black cat. Very gentle and friendly: I love him! Kitty Puss stayed all day. He is a lovely cat, gentle friendly nature, clean and does not mind Cindy. As long as he will stay he has a home. He slept on our bed for two hours and didn’t want to wake up. I’ve fed him and made him a toilet. He had meat, milk, cream and cheese.

While Kitty and Cindy were out playing I heard a dreadful racket, as if a cat had got hold of a young bird. I put Kitty in the kitchen and went to investigate. Next door’s cats had trapped a Weasel under a bin. At this time of year Weasels come near human dwellings to look for a warm sleeping place for Winter. The Weasel had a cheeky triangular head, no bigger than a 10p piece, and bright beady-brown eyes, chocolate brown fur, a two inch tail and a yellow chest. It peeped out at me chattering away like mad. I chased the cats away so allowing the Weasel to escape to the undergrowth – which it did rapidly.

September 20th
Got application form for a job at a local school

September 21st
The weather is sunny with clouds and it is unbelievably warm. The warm wind seems to caress the earth as it passes by.

September 22nd
Got interview next Friday for work at Marks and Spencer’s.

At half past three this morning I had to go downstairs to comfort Cindy during a thunder storm. The forks of lightening frighten her. She settled down by the side of David. He’s great with animals, especially dogs. When day broke the air was a lot fresher after the night’s storm.

September 24th
A beautifully warm, sunny day. Went to Belmont. In Nancy's garden six Small Tortoiseshells and eight Red Admirals were sunning themselves and feeding on flowers. In the evening I sat under starlight at the front door, watching three small Bats chasing after insects for their supper.

About a week ago, David saw a Cormorant at Delph Reservoir. Sea birds come inland much more than people seem to realise. Often they come to escape bad weather at sea, but also for food and to find nesting sites.

Continued 1989 October