So the damp, drizzle and dark have returned to us after almost two weeks’ worth of settled dry days, a falsely positive introduction to British weather for newly arrived international students. Yet I welcome it. On days where work finds me predominately indoors, yes, I welcome the rain. I don’t always mind stepping out in it either. It usually heralds mild air – a welcome relief at any time of year – and the promise of a change in the wind and perhaps in mood, too. More practically, a break in a long-established weather pattern means that Heathrow flightpaths will shift at last, and here in Ruscombe we hope for temporary respite from near-continuous aircraft noise.
Whilst we sit and stare wistfully through windows, wildlife must carry on. For most creatures, feeding is a daily imperative. It’s strange to think of birds sat unobtrusively on their perches, waiting out the rain, or flitting through showers, still active, in weather that would see us hastening indoors. The hiding places of insects in poor weather are yet more enigmatic. Just where exactly do they go? In shafts of sun between showers at high summer, the air throngs with flying insects. Yet turn over leaf after leaf when rain comes and you don’t see many.
Windy weather must be an even greater challenge, where for us weather lovers it mostly just brings excitement – albeit a thrill tempered nowadays by the fact that it’s more difficult to observe most wild animals under such conditions. That said, the drama of a windy day is only enhanced by watching birds struggling against the wind. Woodpigeons fling themselves into the air with abandon, moving with all the grace of somebody falling off a unicycle. Red kites show them up: they’re no slaves to even the breeziest of days, these aerial masters that surf the wind. I’m looking forward to the first truly windy days of autumn: a chance to watch the kites play, and the corvids chase them in tumbling duels, seemingly just for fun.