How to tell it’s August despite the weather

Packed beaches. Ambling tourists in shop doorways when I’m in a hurry on my lunch break.

The same weather we’ve had all year is now moderately warmer if no drier or less windy or more predictable, thus adding humidity to the list of general meteorological discomforts of 2012.

Too many types of vetch, umbellifer and mustard in flower. I got as far as tufted vetch with my flower book but got disheartened by the similarity of cow parsley, burnet saxifrage and sea carrot. Garden escapees are in full throttle, rashes of near-artificial colours on the cliff edges and road sides: crocosmia, fuchsia, red hot pokers. Petals from a naturalised hydrangea litter the pathway like snippets of fallen sky. Epilobium is pink on the coast path, convolvulus white in the cemetery, a hedgebank strewn with cotton hankies. Ox-eye daisies, tansy and red valerian, which is often pink not red, all smell unpleasantly polleny. Honeysuckle smells of sun drenched hedgerows and buddleia smells of honey.

The corpses of three juvenile herring gulls have been mashed into the tarmac of my road.

A Green Flag  Award for Swanpool recognises it as among the best green spaces in Britain.

A second brood of three tiny ducklings for a mallard mother there, whilst the young birds from Round One, as big as female teals and very similar to look at, group together in mottled brown flotillas. The cygnet has grown. I find the swans at twilight snorting about in the reed beds, dragging up vegetation in the half light, while the surface of the pool turns pink, lilac and inky blue under a cloudless, and thus sunsetless, sky.

A week later he’s noticeably bigger again, now barely smaller than his parents. His feathers have lost that dirty lint look. He could pass for an adult specimen  of a dove grey swan species now. I can’t tell how his wings are coming  on, as he keeps them folded so close to his flanks that he might as well be a smooth body with a long neck attached. His feathers are a mix of down and a grey version of a mature swan’s plume. He shadows his mother. Or she shadows him. The father’s always close by.  I wonder how typical this is, or whether in reality the cygnet spends equal time with both of them.

Black headed gulls are  white headed gulls. Tufted ducks’ eyes match the sulphur yellow of the mustard flowers. Just don’t ask me which type of mustard flowers because they all look much the same. Some swatting up to do with the wild flower guide is called for.

More on this?

Spring Sunday March

Sitting Pretty

Water Babies

And then there was one…

Seven Week Cygnet

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