#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Not Just A Vampire’s Friend – Week 48 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

Cult classics feature their likenesses

in every other scene,

encouraging rumours of blood-thirsty beings

partial

to sinking their teeth into human veins.

And while, yes, Vampire bats do exist,

they’re native

to Central and South America:

weighing just two ounces,

their subtle feeding habits

don’t even disturb their prey.

Now, swing your attention

to (the often overcast) British skies,

and listen as I tell you

of the wonderous night-time furry fliers

woodlands and old buildings

readily hide.

Microbats, they’re dubbed,

as on the whole, they are rather small.

Don’t be fooled into thinking

they’re a single species, however,

for the term encompasses seventeen families,

diverse in every way –

from ear length to where they roost,

nose shape, and fur colour, too.

(And for those of you concerned,

they’re insectivores, all.)

Echolocation, that mystical-seeming skill —

with it, they navigate

the all-important hedgerow paths

between sheltered sleeping quarters

to feeding grounds,

where they zoom, zoom

to snap up flies, moths and gnats.

Yet threats lurk everywhere,

sometimes in the shape

of a misinformed homeowner,

fearing wires and woodwork

will be gnawed.

Forced awake and shunted out

during hibernation,

precious energy reserves deplete

until the bats

can go on no more.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Pine Marten – Week 47 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for wildlife charity RSPB)

Cream bib, dark coffee face and fur;

initially, you might murmur, ‘Stoat.’

After all, martens are scarce now, rare.

Mainly lying low in Scotland,

favouring highlands

where their natural habitat remains;

once they boomed

well past its borders.

Look again, hone your focus, take note:

cat-like features and size,

bushy tail,

how comfortably it climbs trees!

(And leaves sweet-smelling, coiled scats,

blue in summer from bilberries.)

Curious, independent, nimble.

A social being?

Not so much, unless it’s time

to partner up.

But the season isn’t yet right

for yowling on the evening air.

Its stomach calls for food,

and to that it must attend.

There it goes, popping

from its resting spot

(snug tree cavities are wonderfully comfortable,

don’t you know?),

and wanders through the hectares

of rich forest

it’s claimed its own.

On the menu? Small mammals.

So beware those semi-retractable claws,

little ones!

A cuddly face masks our hunter’s prowess.

Underestimation

often leads to dinner.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

A Sadness Of Green – Week 46 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

Excitement livens my breath.

I’m headed back,

into the woods full of memories;

hours spent trailing behind our family pooch,

zigzagging, scrambling

through ferny tongues, thorny tangles

and thick ivy tendrils.

High-fiving trees that reached out to catch me

when I slipped, often, in the mud.

She rests at home today,

sun too determined

for her paws and dark, greying coat

to fend off.

Yet my longing for familiar adventure

isn’t dulled. 

That is, until I catch sight

of her favourite path.

Opened out, cut back.

Bare.

So bare and stark

that it’s a stranger, an unknown entity

I’ve bumped into

on the way to my actual destination.

Except this alien place,

with its look-alike trees –

reminiscent of beautiful oaks

I once paused                   to catch my breath by –

surrounded by dry, cracked soil

instead of elegant green skirts,

is no stranger at all.

Just a dusty, sad friend

I wish I could care for,

but who is being held, encouraged to fade,

by keepers I cannot reach.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

How Do, Mr Hedgehog? – Week 45 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Raising money for RSPB)

Snuffling under a weeping hedge

(locals swear, each year, the council

trims it an extra inch or two),

a hedgehog emerges.

Spines pointiest of points, fur dusty brown.

His nose leads him onto a path

of tantalising, fat slugs,

glistening under lamplight;

perfect for a late-night bite to eat.

A single course in, raucous laughter snaps

across the evening air.

Hooting, shrieking, yowling two-leggers

stumbling ever closer.

Back into shadow he goes,

black-pearl eyes

reflecting flapping laces and muddy soles.

Clink!

An empty bottle hurtles

under the hedge,

lodging in the gap of a broken fence;

on the other side, a cosy stack of wood.

Tempting hideaway,

but not for him, not again.

Once, fumbling hands jostled and upset the stack,

woke him, sent him scurrying.

Lucky they did, for each branch

he’d nestled between

later blackened and popped,

licked by orange tongues

encouraged by cheers and whoops.

Sniff.

A pungent, delightful odour.

Next garden up, behind a tiny archway

(his size, no less).

He steps through into the dampening hush

of gangly grass,

sending a myriad of nocturnal insects

up to the moon.

No clunky boots or sudden staggers

to mind here;

free to venture to the odour’s source:

bowls of cooked potato, mealworms, crushed nuts,

sunflower hearts.

Not often does he find a banquet

for main course.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) – Week 44 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (a fundraiser for the RSPB)

The post holds us,

supporting a much-needed breather,

adjustment of senses.

Purposely planted gunneras

and bushy figs

surround the area;

giants giving shade to the nearby pond,

yet not quite stretching

to our increasingly warm necks.

A moment of meditation

with the flora’s soft sways,

blocking out chatter and unwanted closeness

of curious, clustered bodies

browsing stalls and workshop windows.

You spot it first, inches from your elbow –

luck that it was spared from our thoughtless lean.

Blending with the woodgrain,

a static figure an inch long,

grey forewings slashed

with dagger-like markings,

and, more prominent

than some of its fellows might display,

a whitish orb on each side:

moonstone pommels for its black blades.

The discovery of our quiet companion

rejuvenates some percentage

of our lost energy.

Moving on, smiles light yet true,

we leave it

to continue its camouflage practice.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Here, the Dragons – Week 43 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

They’ve a fossil record

dating back

two hundred and twenty million years.

Small, flighty beings

with uniquely faceted eyes.

Zings of colour

punctuating ponds and wetlands,

exclamation marks zipping

from one spot                                                 to the next

as if they possess

the key to portal travel,

hidden somewhere on their slender abdomens

or in the creases

of their complex, veined wings.

Often confused with their damsel cousins,

whose comparatively petite bodies

glitter and spark just as bright.

But here’s a note

for telling these Odonata apart:

when it comes to good rest,

damsels prefer folded wings  –

no need to take up all the room

on those stems.

Though should it turn to a matter

of combat in flight,

you can be sure it’s a dragon;

damsels think little of brawls.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Hare Affairs – Week 42 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (A fundraiser for the RSPB)

You’re likely to have seen their boxing skills

and zigzagging, daring sprints.

If not in person, then captured

in documentaries and photographs;

zoomed in on amber eyes

and tattoo-tipped lengthy ears.

You may have read about their likenesses,

woven into literature and myth.

But, if you were to ask yourself honestly,

how much do you truly know

about brown hare affairs?

A naturalised species,

harking back to Roman times

(possibly before!),

their litters are often frequent,

up to four wide-eyed leverets each,

never to be found in burrows

but shallow, earthy depressions

nicknamed ‘forms’.

Arable fields, grasses, hedgerows –

a mosaic of hares’ favourite spaces –

let’s not forget woodlands, either,

good grazing on young bark!

And those punch-ups they’re known for?

Not the macho tests you might think;

more a lady making her disinterest quite clear

to any amorous suitors.

So, for these serious-faced fluffy runners speeding up to forty-five miles per hour escaping predators,

keep in mind:

attending everlasting tea parties

isn’t the only thing they do.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Spy Me A Lizard! – Week 41 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

‘There, on the step!’ you call. Once again, I miss them. But the botanic garden, with its arranged rockeries, cavernous, thick-rooted trees, stone outcrops and glorious hidey-holes, proves to be their ideal home.

My heels calcify, locking me in place as I trace the ground’s grooves and cracks, locating the lizards’ vanishing point. Holding pose, breath light, I’m rewarded by a sandy brown, scaled nose and tiny, gemstone-chip eyes.

Nothing but a pebble to anyone glancing over. Sweet secret solely for us.

And another, bolder. Hopping – no, leaping – from rock to rock, testing each before settling to bask in the noonday sun. Smaller than I imagined, swifter too. A jerky motion up a still tree or scuffle in ground cover; invisible otherwise, unless you already know they’re about.

Eventually, I drag myself on, wary of drawing too much attention to these tiny, tailed ninjas.

Except, discovering an enormous rock pile, I spot a whole fleet of them: dark and tan browns, brilliant, speckled greens, some even wearing turquoise neck chains. Ranging from short as my little finger to long as my palm. Resting in full sight while others watch from crevices, ready to dart if need be.

Or inspect a hand hovering inches away, curious yet guarded – both human and lizard, for neither know quite how to react.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

The Weavers – Week 38 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (A fundraising project for RSPB)

Silks ripple in the breeze,

heavy with sparkling dew;

every droplet

contains a speck of golden sunlight.

These fresh crystal balls

barely cause the tapestries to droop,

yet the intricate strands of each piece

are nearly invisible to the naked eye.

Crafted by master weavers

who calculate and consider everything,

down to the very fibres

best suited

for each section,

such wall hangings are among the best

nature has to offer.

For the overall frame

and anchors,

the strongest thread is used,

swapping to durable reinforcement

spiraling straight to the artwork’s centre.

Inner elements call for sticky coatings

and responsiveness,

enabling vibrations more delicate

than those of the finest tuned harp,

allowing immediate notifications

of newly arrived dinner guests

(or indeed, the main course).

Finally, neat additions of soft, plentiful gift wrapping,

placed here and there, create storage pockets

for perishable goods.

Unless all visitors have…departed,

in which case, the weavers work it

into cosy padding

to plump up their nurseries.

After finishing last-minute touches,

they tiptoe across their tightropes,

lounging at bullseye

or retreating to a nearby leaf

to admire their handiwork from afar.

Caring little

of what other species may think of their creations,

or whether the dew

might prove too weighty – for, of course,

it rarely does.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

[Apologies for how these poems are formatted. I do write them in stanzas, but WordPress rarely decides to keep them, no matter how much I argue with it.]

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Anguis fragilis: Secretive Slithers – Week 37 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Raising money for RSPB)

Dusk edges in, tingeing

the toasted sky with rich indigo,

complimenting the petrichor-sweet air.

Responding to this fading light,

gardens clear of boots and digging tools,

tatty footballs, hula hoops,

water pistols,

and saliva-drenched chew toys.

Whispering, Safety announces its arrival;

golden-grey faces appear

from rockeries and log piles,

tongues flick-flicking, sampling opportunity.

Bellies empty, these legless lizards

emerge like streams of liquid metal rippling across the lawn.

Each individual chooses its prey;

some take earthworms,

letting the pink wrigglies touch their nostrils,

roll towards their mouths, even,

before stretching jaws wide

to swallow the creature whole.

Others capture insects, spiders, slugs –

maybe a snail, if up for the challenge –

retreating to cosy hideouts

only when their energy is spent,

resting for the next adventure.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

[Apologies for how these poems are formatted. I do write them in stanzas, but WordPress rarely decides to keep them, no matter how much I argue with it.]