Another reason to hope it doesn’t rain

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It looks like summer has finally arrived, after a wait of around three years! June was good, but July looks set to be even better, with a glorious weekend behind us and the forecast set fair for the coming week at least.

In the countryside things have really got going, with rampant growth beginning to swamp everything if left unchecked. The summer flowers are really kicking in now.

Where the grass is long and rank, tall flowers like foxglove, comfrey and gowan are all out-competing it to attract the attention of the bees and other pollinating insects, which are now beginning to show in better numbers.

Butterflies are still thin on the ground, but I did see a couple of ringlets on Sunday flitting through the long grass.

I also noticed that bird song is definitely on the wane as the breeding season draws to a close. A few of the warblers are still singing, but most birds will now be getting ready for their annual moult.

There is a dedicated few which are getting ready for a second brood, however. Some blackbirds in my back garden can be seen taking away worms, indicating a nest full of hungry youngsters and one swallow’s nest which I know has recently fledged, now contains eggs once again.

While cleaning out roof guttering last week, I came across a sight which made me think that some birds are not all that clever in selecting their nest sites.

Where the down-pipe drains the gutter, I usually put a ball of chicken wire to stop any debris going down the pipe. I was just about to lift one out to clean out the accumulated moss and leaves, when I saw it move.

It was a nest with four young birds! Knowing the danger they faced in the event of a heavy downpour, I gently poked a hole underneath it with my finger to let the water through.

I had no idea what species they were, so once I had finished, I retreated behind a nearby bush to wait for the adult to appear to feed them.

Minutes later it appeared with a beakful of insects. It was a spotted flycatcher – a bird which is becoming scarcer and is one of the last summer migrants to arrive, hence the lateness of the nesting.

So far it has been fortunate, with little in the way of heavy rain, but let’s hope this warm weather doesn’t create a “thunder plump” or they are really in trouble.