So at last Spring has arrived and with it the first butterflies, swooping swallows and the cuckoo’s call echoing along the valley. Many of our Agents are busy at the moment with dreaded exams filling their lives. However Agent A joined us for a Spring Safari, with many of the younger ones, around Stover Country Park. Many birds breed safely in the mixed woodlands and reed beds around the central lake and all enjoyed the raised walkway which takes them up into the tree tops. In the story telling area everyone took turns to sit in the huge carved wooden chair to tell a story or sing a song.
Nature at it’s best forming an inherent part of the life skills development of our young people. Agents A and P came on an adventure to the hands on science experience that is At Bristol. On the way the younger ones watched out for the ‘camels’ to be found peeping over a hedge by the M5, whilst the giant running Wicker Man who once dominated the skyline near Bridgwater is now sadly dwarfed and lost amongst the sprawl of industrial units that have replaced the green fields and hedgerows. One of the most visited exhibits at At Bristol was a series of water pumps operated by a human version of a giant hamster wheel! It was fascinating as it showed the young people how people in other cultures channel water using very simple technology.
Now that at last moves are being taken to help our bees by banning pesticides Agent Diamond is encouraging all our carers and young people to help the bees (and butterflies) by growing plants that will provide nectar for them and also to have a little patch of stinging nettles vital for some of the caterpillars. We are also having a sunflower growing competition which will provide nectar for the insects and later on seeds for the birds. The arrival of Spring has brought with it the re-emergence of our prickly friends the hedgehogs. It is sad to think of all the cold weather some of them have survived only to become roadside victims. That said Agent Diamond is encouraging everyone to have little wilds bits in their gardens and to avoid using snail and slug pellets on the ground. These not only poison hedgehogs but any other wildlife that is fooled into eating them. Snails and slugs are very important links in food chains so encourage the animals and birds that eat them to visit your garden.
Recently Agent Diamond was travelling to Worcester on a busy dual carriageway when suddenly a mother duck appeared on the verge ahead with about 12 fluffy yellow balls of ducklings close behind. It was clear she was going to cross the road! As it was safe to do so Agent Diamond pulled over off the carriageway and the cars behind also stopped. One lorry driver opted not to and continued……straight over the cowering convoy of feathered travellers, who by now were in the fast line going no-where. Amazingly none were squashed although the suction of the lorry sucked the little ducklings viciously into the air, like autumn leaves in a gale, and then they slammed back down onto the unforgiving tarmac in the swirling wake of the unfeeling lorry driver. Mother duck was fine and waddled off into the central reservation with at least five chirping yellow balls of down following her every move. The courage of the mother duck in not flying off was humbling as was the unconditional trust that the ducklings had in her to protect them. Agent Diamond and her friends had stopped the traffic and her daughter had picked up the four ducklings who had been badly hurt when sucked up by the lorry. One of the strongest images for Agent Diamond was the sight of her 25 year old daughter crouching by the central reservation cradling the dying ducklings whilst some unbelievable drivers forced their way through. That young lady is currently having chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma and not only put her own safety at risk by where she was but also by handling those little scraps of life and doing her best to save them. Courage and compassion comes in many guises.
Back at the central reservation mother duck suddenly decided to make a dash for her destination on the far side. Again the traffic was flagged down and she made it safely.
On the far side was a very steep, bramble covered, embankment. There was a small duck sized tunnel disappearing down through the brambles and it was into this that the duck and her surviving entourage disappeared with much quacking and cheeping. Three more fluffy survivors were then brought over. They could hear their Mum calling but were confused where to go so in the end Agent Diamond bowled them like little balls down the little tunnel to the safety of their Mum. Five little fluffy scraps of life sadly did not make it from the road but at least eight and Mum did. A sad sight so often seen because ducks nest hidden away, to return to the water when the ducklings are big enough. In this case, as in many others, the years have seen roads being built where there used to be safe wild areas and the ducks (as with badgers etc) still use the old routes. That said Agent Diamond must emphasise that you can only stop to help if it is safe to do so.
Another story of compassion and caring emerged this week. Agent Diamond’s own Mum had been taken ill several weeks ago and will not be able to go back to her isolated home in Wales. This left her 13 year old cat home alone and needing somewhere new to live. Agent Diamond contacted a colleague in Wales who e mailed all the carers across Wales. She then contacted two of her carers who immediately said yes and collected Milly the cat. Caring and compassion are a vocation and Agent Diamond is very grateful to Helen Burt and Dave and Mandy for their actions.