Today was a day of two halves where the weather was concerned. I woke up to gale-force winds that rattled the windows and shook the oaks, and rain coming down in thick sheets. I confess I didn't relish the idea of venturing outside at all! I was due at Pulborough Brooks where I volunteer every week in the RSPB visitor centre, so I bundled myself into the car, dressed for autumn and spent most of my journey being buffeted by the wind on the exposed A24.
I decided that, despite the weather, I wanted to use my lunch break to get some fresh air and see what I could spot and hear. The winds had actually calmed by the time it came to my break and the heavy rain had become a light dusting. The car park was more or less deserted where I was, as there were very few visitors brave enough to head out on to the reserve, but the animal activity made up for the absence of human. Blackbirds and robins sang the loudest and in a moment when these two were resting their vocal chords, I caught the beautiful song of a chiffchaff. A pair of woodpigeons clung on to the powerlines, swaying in the wind. I was treated to the sight of a stoat scurring across the car park, only a few feet away from me, that characteristic bushy, black tail swaying behind it. That was actually the second stoat I've seen this week; one dashed across the road in front of my car on the way to Chichester yesterday. Ever since last week on Springwatch when Chris Packham told us the way to tell a stoat and weasel apart is the tail, they keep popping up all over the place!
One of my absolute favourite things about nature is the smell after it has rained. By the time I left Pulborough, the sun had come out and the rain had stopped . Once I was home, I stood for a moment in the garden, smelling that fresh, post-precipitation scent that I learnt recently is called petrichor and is caused by plants releasing oil into the air when rain falls on dry soil. I like to think of it as a reward for putting up with rain in June!
And to mis-quote a rather popular Disney film, "the rain never bothered me anyway."