Suddenly, the swallows have gone. They were here at the weekend, chattering on the wires and scooping up insects, but now they've all disappeared. The sky is empty of them.
These photos are of 'our' young birds earlier in the summer, when they'd just fledged. They'll now be on their journey south to Africa. Each year I silently wish them well and hope they come back safely. It'll be one of the best moments of next year when they do.
There's a sense here that most of the summer visiting birds have gone. I only wish the wasps and hornets had disappeared by now. They're still around, although maybe not for much longer, because the badgers have largely dug out the wasps' nest by our front gate. The badgers destroyed last year's nest, too - and I've started not to worry too much about the nests when I find them in the ground here. I know that the badgers will get rid of them for me.
|Largely dug-out wasps' nest|
I don't know if any of our native creatures would destroy an Asian hornets' nest. Fortunately, after the first UK sightings of the Asian hornet in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, a nest has been found and dealt with. That's the good news. The bad news is that today, there are reports that the Asian hornet is now in Somerset. Is it too much to hope that these are the only two locations?
Thankfully, the only hornets I've seen are the European hornets. Their nest is still active in the trunk of a nearby oak. I don't think they're doing very much damage to my bee hives, because I haven't seen them hanging around trying to attack my bees. And it hasn't really been a good year for wasps in my area, unlike last year, when many local beekeepers lost their bee hives to wasp attacks. I wonder if - this year - the cold spring prevented the queens from establishing their nests.
But - just as I think the wasps and hornets are not bothering me here, they've given me a nasty surprise...
I discovered one in the airing cupboard at the weekend, as I was about to lift up a clean towel. How it found its way in there, when the door is almost always closed, I've no idea. Fortunately, I saw it straight away. I won't think about what might have happened if I hadn't!