A Blue Tit trapped in the Champs Elysées; a stridulating Peacock; “Our Dilemma”; Royal Festival Hall dedication; words from the new Rector; a Black Tern; Kipling’s Cat; lots of tennis; lots of moths and the Chelsea Flower Show.
February 1951 passes with Gran’s daily notes concentrating on mundane activities, and long descriptions of each day’s weather – and it seems that rain and frost, and gales and some thunder typify the month. Work continues most afternoons in the Pinewood Garden, where the usual fight with loganberry and Himalayan Giant blackberry stems ensues, leading to a certain amount of blood loss from Gran’s hands!
A Blue Tit is found alive, Gran writes, ” in the downstairs lavatory” – meaning the little room off the kitchen [known to us all in the family as the Champs Elysées! and usually pronounced simply as “Shampseleezy” or just “Shompsy”, Dad tells me] and not the toilet itself – where apparently it must have remained undiscovered for several days; Dad fails to find a Great Grey Shrike recorded by others in the New Forest, but, while avoiding the University Rag Week, “such a diversion not being much in his line”, Gran tells us, he adds Hen Harrier (a female watched hunting at Keyhaven) to his County List. Cirl Buntings are recorded near Mottisfont, and on Southampton Common, and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drums in the garden oak tree.
On February 15th, Gran notes some interesting butterfly activity:
There was a Peacock butterfly in one of the bedroom fireplaces today, stridulating with soft, sibilant sounds. Until recently it has been surmised that that these sounds were caused by the rubbing of the wings together whilst raising and lowering them…but an observer has now announced that the noise was heard whilst the insect was motionless and so has raised some controversy on the matter.
It is now well understood that Peacocks do, indeed, stridulate by rubbing together particular veins on their wings.