Ten thousand years ago, the last ice age came to an end, and meltwater ran into valleys forged by glaciers, bringing nutrient-rich silt down from the mountains. These valleys transformed into lush river habitats, perfect places for our nomadic ancestors to begin to farm. The final glacier of this period melted into the valley that became Loch Lomond. You could say that the last ice age ended at our doorstep… or a few miles from it, anyway.
Ten thousand years on, the glacial valley in which we live remains lush, with the Forth River winding between fields full of crops and livestock that thrive on the rich soil. We are having a wet summer, and the rains have produced a lot of grass for silage-making.
What you can’t see in that picture are the large flocks of birds running and flying in front of the tractors, presumably capturing invertebrates disturbed by the harvesting. Or are they after something else? They stuck around for a few days after this harvest. Here they are the day after, when there were no piles of grass to hide them:
The rooks and black-headed gulls I had expected to see, but the herring gulls were a surprise. I had not seen herring gulls in the area until this week. Another unusual sight was the crested thingamajig. It looks familiar, like I ought to know what it is, but I don’t. I’m sure, though, that several of my readers will immediately be able to tell me its name!
Sorry about the quality, but remember that you can click on the photos to view them in more detail.
It pleases me to watch the ways in which the wild things follow the cycles of agricultural life, and how the agricultural activities follow the cycles of weather and insect. It makes me think about the biodiversity here: how rich it is, and how well wilderness and cultivation can blend if we allow them to.
Thank you, dear readers, for informing me that the thingamajig is a lapwing, otherwise known as a peewit.
Following a link about the bird sent to me by Cloudhopper, I have also learned that the RSPB (UK bird charity) owns a farm. “Run as a commercial enterprise,” says its website, “we use Hope Farm to give hands on demonstrations of how farming can benefit birds and other wildlife without farmers losing income.”
Now, that’s what I like to see.