April 2010

March started well, we got back to the allotment and enjoyed a really excellent St Piran’s Day celebration at the St Just in Roseland Institute. I know someone didn’t like it, but when nearly a hundred people did, maybe the odd one out came with unrealistic expectations. Oh well, ‘twas ever thus! Back to the wildlife rather than human nature…

It has been great to see our latest residents settling in. We now have lamas living in the village, no, they aren’t wandering the streets wearing saffron robes and shaving their heads, they are of the South American variety, and very handsome they are! I gather that this summer trekking picnics with lamas are going to be offered, and sound great fun. I will let you know how this develops, but for now, please give their careful owners a wide berth if you see them all out being road trained. After all, if you alarm a lama (that takes a lot of writing, let alone saying!) they can spit at you with great accuracy and their spit has been known to go through paint faster than battery acid (not really). So, we have done the non native wildlife, what about our natives and wild visitors?

Have you noticed that chiffchaffs have a really bad memory? Some stay around here all year, but most head south to Spain and north Africa where they act like continental tourists, getting down to the pool first and leaving their calling cards on all the best loungers, then heading out to night clubs till the wee small hours. They get back to the south west before most other places which makes me think they probably use the Santander to Plymouth Ferry as a short cut. But, after all that partying, they have forgotten the words! Unlike me who was word perfect in Murder in The Cathedral! (Eventually anyway!) They get back here and all you can hear is chiff chiff chiff… after a few days it dawns on them that this is doing nothing for their tree cred so they ramp it up a bit. The song of the chiffchaff must be one of the most welcome sounds in early spring, but after a while that inane chiff-chaffing from the top of almost every other tree drives me mad!!! Oh well, I guess they mean well.

Another welcome sight is the development of primrose beds and banks. I bet we all have our own special place where we track the development of single, adventurous pale blossoms into hedgerows full of light and colour. Pink Campion joins in and Alexanders take up the back-beat as the pace quickens and rudely syncopating Ransomes send their earthy notes through the trees. Violets punctuate the lush green undergrowth, adding such a subtle scent to the paths. Lots of birds are coming back (despite last month’s rant about migration being a two way street!) with wheatears and some warblers (I know they are warblers but leave further speciation to Nick Tomalin and his expertise- I know my limits). The sea is warming up and even the sea weeds that line our shores are in bloom, and growing strongly. The beaches have done more shifting about this year than we have noticed before with great plateaus of rock coming and going on most of our beaches.

There are hares out and about, rabbits are bouncing up and down fit to bust, foxes have young deep underground which drives the adults to more daylight hunting so you stand a good chance of seeing them out and about and not being chased by the hunt. But enough, spring shouldn’t just be catalogued, it should be enjoyed. Stop reading this drivel and go for a walk! Even your Doctor thinks it’s a good idea! Having said that I really do wonder at the need for the latest politically correct pamphlet from Cornwall council advising people that the Coastal Path can be dangerous! No? Really? Gosh, who’d have thought!

Ian Bennett

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