Sometimes it’s the accidents that bring us most pleasure. And such was the case this month with an unexpected appearance by the office front door. A beautiful Aquilegia (also known as Columbine, or Granny’s bonnet) with huge flower heads and exquisite colour. Unplanned, unplanted, but gifted by an unknown visitor (a bird or mammal, or blown in on the wind…?)

A lesson for those of us (me) who try to control everything. Why not loosen up a little? Who knows what beauty is lurking nearby just waiting for a chance to shine?

Our unexpected visitor – possibly Aquilegia caerulea – hybrid ‘Heavenly Blue’

Footnote for the wordsmiths: Aquilegia comes from the Latin ‘aquila’ = an eagle, a reference to the shape of the petals with their curved spurs being like an eagle’s talons. Columbine is also a reference to the flower shape. ‘Columba’ is Latin for a dove, the flowers reminding people of a dove in flight with the petals being the wings and the spurs the neck and head. 

What’s the buzz?

It’s been a busy few weeks in the beekeeping world – we’ve captured 3 honey bee swarms and seen (and heard) another one flying over the house, off to make it’s way in the world.

A swarm in the orchard

The key to capturing a swarm is to find the queen – once she is safely in the box then the rest of the bees follow on behind. Then it’s just a matter of waiting until all are safely gathered in, and after that, moving them into their new ‘permanent’ home; warm and dry, with wax frames and some food to get them started.

There is a parallel here to my day job. With any change, there is usually one key stakeholder to ‘get on board’. Prioritising their concerns is the number one job of the Project Manager. As long as they are reassured, then usually the rest of the team will make it work.

Now it’s a matter of keeping them all productive for a good honey crop…

The tail wags

This morning I wasn’t sure whether to be delighted or cross. There’s an open garden shed which has been used to store building materials and which we were about to clear out in readiness for … something. But then I saw two Pied Wagtails flying in and out – one with nesting materials and the other with what looked like a beak full of food.

So now it seems our plans will be be put on hold for several months – wagtails raise at least two clutches of eggs in a season so we can’t do anything until all their broods are fledged.

In previous years they nested in a hole they found in the front wall of the farmhouse while it was being repaired – meaning we had to hold off pointing that section until they’d left. And last year they nested in a woodpile near the front door, so we couldn’t go near or use any of the wood until they’d finished.

The wagtails are regular visitors, and always cheer us up. It seems that they love it here. If only they’d pay attention to what we want to do!
So this year’s nesting location, just like the ones before, will make us slow down. And in the enforced hiatus give us a breathing space.

It’s another reminder to me that we share this place with the wildlife that was here before us, and the diversity we see is what makes the Black Mountains special. Even the smallest of birds…

Photo to follow (when I can sneak one without disturbing the nest)