September 13th - Also falling from trees now and altogether less of a hazard are the knopper galls, the genetically mutated acorn-cum-insect-cocoons that are bastardised from the normal oak fruit by the knopper wasp.

These seemingly dead, spent galls will most likely have larva inside them and they will overwinter in the fallen galls before boring their way out in spring - although those dropping in vulnerable positions like these on the footpath will be lost under feet, cycle tyres and to the wind and elements.

It’s not until you think about it you realise what a high rate of attrition there is with such things - just how many larva are lost and how this must affect the fecundity of the knopper wasp as a species.

Remarkable how they survive at all. 

July 23rd - in the Goscote Valley on my way to work, as the day started to warm up, I was drawn to a continual crackling sound. This always fascinates me; it’s the sound of gorse pods popping open with a snap, and scattering their seeds.

The action is induced by the warmth of the sun, and makes for an interesting diversion on the way to work. I love how the pods rattle musically when you shake the bushes, too.

It’s the little things that make summer, really.


August 6th - I’d been in Darlaston, and returned home via the cycleway down the Goscote Valley. Despite small areas of tipping and litter, it’s lovely at the moment; the pastures and wastelands are bright with willow herb, wort, convulvulus and budleia, and the Ford Brook has tall swathes of Himalayan balsam growing tall. It’s an unwelcome species, but it is gorgeous to look at.

All the way through Goscote I watched two buzzards wheel and soar on the warm breeze. You wouldn’t think this area could be so peaceful and beautiful.

Walsall still has the capacity to surprise.