Saturday 18 September 2010

Hedgerow sensual

What a cracking morning. Blue sky, slight breeze, the warmth of the sun gently easing the autumnal chill from the countryside and a perfect day to head to Clifton Reynes.

Located above the flood plain of the River Great Ouse, across the valley from Olney and Emberton, it's a pleasant village to visit at any time of year (and even better if the Robin Hood Inn is open). The surrounding fields, paths and hedgerows are bursting with colour. In these parts, Autumn paints from a lush, rich, fruity palette, contrasting with the overgrown, faded watercolour that Summer became, to give the land a vibrant and heady glow before Winter sets in.

As I walk up the lane from the village towards the river, butterflies and bees bask in the morning sun. Red Admirals and Commas, looking impossibly pristine in the September light, jostle for position as they feed on the cascades of ivy flowers.

The hedgerows are full of the fruit of a fertile season; blackberries, elderberries, sloes, haws and rose hips. In the course of an hour or so, I meet several dozen folk out brambling, laden with free food, who look at me quizzically as I stand empty-handed gazing at the bushes. For blackberries aren't my quarry today. I may be listening to the church bells, pealing across the valley, I may have the fresh scent of the season in my nostrils, but I'm looking for dragons. On an Autumn morning, this is a great spot to find them, roosted low down in the warm sun, but out of the cool breeze.

I am not disappointed (well, apart from the lack of bramble and apple pie in my very near future), for I find Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters at a reasonable height to photograph. A few Brown Hawkers hunt over the brambles, out of range, and I put up a Southern Hawker from the base of a hedge.
This one's mine!
Male Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker and Black Bryony
Whilst trying to capture an image of a Red Admiral, I inadvertently spook a Little Owl from a mature Hawthorn tree, and as I wander back to the village, a pair of Buzzards cry overhead as they quarter the fields.

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