Feeding Time

It’s that time of year again when each walk around the wetlands across from my home has my pockets bulging with food for the birds and red squirrels: seeds, nuts and fruit, meal worms and dried duck food pellets, plus a couple of coconut halves filled with suet and other tasty bits. We have a couple of trees that we hang these upon in Borthwood Lynch, swapping them for fresh ones every week. We also take fat balls and hang them upon the big oak in our little grove and place food in the hide at Alverstone Mead Nature Reserve.

At the hide today there were flurries of blue tit, great tit and chaffinch around the hanging feeders and several red squirrels, their bright red coats now dulled to a winter brown. The squirrels are much braver here than at most other places on the Island; the rewards of food have taught them that the risk of getting close to one or two humans is worth it. Amongst the goodies on the feeding shelf were almonds in their shells. These proved to be a real favourite. The squirrels would agitatedly sniff out the almonds and then scamper off with them. We watched one squirrel secrete almonds between the logged fencing of the high wooden walkway that leads into the hide, only to gallop down the walkway, past our feet, up onto the ledges to claim yet more. They were in a playful mood, chasing each other along the roof and performing their wonderful acrobatic leaps from hide to tree, spiralling at high speed around the trunks.

A large buzzard glided out across the water meadows scattering into flight the black-headed gulls that were sat, one each to a post, along the fences that edge the fields next to the river. The reeds were brown and had collapsed into boggy heaps but the rushes were a vibrant green, their spiky tufts coverings the wet ground that stretches out beyond Borthwood Lynch. It is a beautiful place and these days a very rare habitat that needs to be protected. A great deal of work is going into managing the wetlands at Alverstone Mead, ensuring that this precious and abundant habitat continues to flourish.

Walking back along the old railway path, the flooded meadows reflected the sky’s darkening and the moon – slowly swelling to fullness – brightened and sharpened as the sun began to set. All this incredible beauty feeds and nourishes me; I am tempted to want to squirrel it away in some place where I can keep it safe and unchanged but I know that this is not possible or even desirable. I have watched this landscape over the changing seasons now for almost three years – it never stays still, although the joy it gives me is constant. I guess this is a lesson in itself that despite our coming to terms with the inevitable changes of our lives, joy and nourishment are always there to be discovered. There is a balance to be kept between the preserving and shedding; nature knows this well and is an expert; I on the other hand am still learning.


1 Comment

  1. trish said,

    December 30, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Too true. I have learnt soemthing very recently..everyone tells me how I must be happy to be alone and be in my own company…i have realised that I am..when outside, it is only when inside that I feel unease and in need of air and nature. I too am still learning.
    Lovely and a beautiful walk too xxx

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