Shirlett and the dragonfly

The weather’s good – cool, perhaps, definitely a hint of autumn. But it’s bank holiday Monday – the crowds will be out. Can we avoid them?* We walked this way just a few days ago, but there’s always something interesting to see. Today, it’s a dragonfly, perched in the bushes at the foot of Round Hill – and he’s prepared to pose for the camera, for as long as it takes.
* Yes, we did!

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It rained…

…for much of the day. The last few drops fell around teatime, and though it’s not going to be a sunny evening, it should stay dry. It’s gradually brightening from the west, but the light’s not going to improve noticeably before the morning…

Shirlett and the toad

A gentle evening stroll – it’s too warm for anything energetic. Pleasantly cool air drifts out from the gloom of the woods. We’re almost back to the start when a lump of mud beside the lane turns out to be a fine warty toad, who is perfectly happy to pose for the camera, though he’ll keep a close eye on us…

So different…

It’s been a very warm day – 30C in the early afternoon, with a clear blue sky and strong sunshine. Far too hot for walking, but soon the cloud moves in from the west, and the evening temperature is just over 20C when we set out along the lane at Shirlett. Very different from four days ago too -the skies were clearing when we walked this way at about the same time.

Clearing

27 July: early evening – the air is clearing after a grey, damp day, and there are clearings here and there in Shirlett woods. The light warms as the sun dips. A little earlier, we’d remarked that the more interesting sights – kites, deer, small rodents etc – only appear when you’re not expecting them. Five minutes from the end of our wander, a muntjac trots across the road.

Three hills…

… in the distance. The Wrekin, Brown Clee and Titterstone Clee – all are in view (from time to time) as we wander along the lane at Shirlett. Last time, we walked in a misty drizzle, and had to focus on things close at hand. The walnuts, the cherries and the cattle (and many trees!) are still here, and there’s an interesting but scruffy-looking toadstool beside the road. And it’s quiet – really quiet. As we pause at the top of Ned’s Lane, before heading back, there’s one small bird singing, a little way off. Not another sound!

A hawk-moth and a mossy path

What a difference! After two very warm evenings, the temperature is much more temperate. This is a very short walk, down the other lane at Shirlett and out to Hawthorn Bank. There are hazel nuts in the hedge, and whatever is that? We saw it in flight first, looking like nothing else we’d seen. When it landed on some sycamore leaves, it was obvious – a large moth, none other than a hummingbird hawk-moth. We don’t see those every day! On the way back, we’ll follow the footpath through the wood. It’s not marked at either end, but oddly enough, in the middle of the wood where the path is obvious, there’s a waymarker. The woodland may be coniferous, but the trees are well-spaced, and the floor is a carpet of moss. It’s all somewhat other-worldly. If the path has a fault, it’s length – lack of it, to be precise. Paths like this need be be several miles long!

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Shirlett strolling

We walked this way at the end of May – today we’re retracing our steps. Last night’s rain has left the air humid – it feels quite warm in the sunshine, and there’s a chance (once again) of thundery showers. Under the trees (no shortage of them up here) it’s cooler, and very pleasant for a leisurely stroll.

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