Country Mouse on nature

The good news this week is that the numbers of the critically endangered woodlark have almost doubled in the past 10 years. I have to admit that I have never knowingly seen one, but it is, according to the guidebooks, a streaky brown bird with a white eye-stripe.

Another brown bird that seems to be doing well this year is the house sparrow. We have five separate nests under our eaves, and, with the first brood already fledged, there seem to be more sparrows about the place than I can ever remember. With their chestnut crown and black beard, sparrows are more beautiful than they’re given credit for: like so many things in the countryside, if you take the time to really look, you’ll be richly rewarded.

The wet weather has been a curse in so many ways, but, to my delight, it has brought forward the arrival of the delicious parasol mushroom. Most of my friends are amazed that I eat wild fungi, but the secret is to learn to recognise just a few unmistakable types and leave the rest to the experts. If you can do this, you’ll be in for a real treat this autumn.