Driving home yesterday evening, I was listening to a nature programme and they were talking about insects. This warm dry spring has been very good for them, it seems. They said that there are a lot of cockchafers around this year. I was going to post a picture of one, but it occurs to me that some of you really don’t like bugs, so I won’t.
Cockchafer is, of course, the best and most amusing bug name of any and all, ever. They are also known as May Bugs and, in this part of the country anyway, as Billy Witches. They are big, slow, blundering beetles. I remember once, when we lived in Lowestoft, all going for a stroll along Pakefield cliffs and a whole swarm of them came flying along. They kept flying into us and it wasn’t pleasant at all, they tend to stick rather and are so heavy they quite hurt. They don’t seem to have the sense to avoid you and there were on that occasion far too many to be able to dodge them. Weeza shared a house with a friend’s brother in Norwich for a while (they just shared the house and the rent, they weren’t romantically linked) and he had a cockchafer phobia. Weeza said that his sisters teased him about it, usually by finding one and threatening him with it. It is a pleasure to sisters, it seems, to watch their elder brother in a state of panic.
Although this dry weather is not good for birds that eat worms or snails, it’s very good for birds that eat insects and that is what we have been noticing. There are always a lot of nesting birds around here mind you, we have the sort of garden and environment that encourages them. When the Sage was at the AGM of the Common owners a week or two ago, they had invited a bird expert who works for a naturalist organisation – I can’t remember which, and the Sage has squirrelled away his business card somewhere – and he invited the chap, whose name is Steve, to come and look around here and give advice on encouraging birds even more. We have a few fields and Steve was very enthusiastic. The one behind the house, there is a diagonal row of small trees – hedge plants that have grown into trees really, such as hawthorn – which he liked very much, and when they went over to the other field, he was even happier. It is untouched, although grazed by sheep, and wildlife is completely undisturbed. He said that he will come back at dawn one day soon to do a bird count and give us a list of the species he sees.