Yesterday three things I saw caught in my imagination. On each occasion I had no camera, and so writing here will help the memories stick. Having no camera to hand, I have found, makes me remember in ways that are better for my drawing. Of the three I suspect the last will stay with me the longest, and have me reaching for my pencils.
1) AM, through the bathroom window, a chaffinch wrestling with detritus dropped from a jackdaw’s nest. The tiny creature stood on a tangle of horse hair, twigs and fluff, tugging at something caught in it. He was pulling strenuously against his own weight and had stretched the knotted stuff to his full height, looking less like a bird than a piece of feathered chewing-gum. Suddenly the recalcitrant item came free. It was a small, fluffy and entirely unremarkable feather, but the chaffinch flew off to his nest-making triumphantly wearing it like a moustache!
2) In our strip of woodland with Jack, I stumbled across a young fox. Rendered nearly black against the green and blue of the bluebells by a trick of the light, it crashed away noisily through the dry brash of fallen trees. Jack held his ground at my heels, lifting his nose to taste the scent. With all the wisdom of his years, I swear he raised one eyebrow and threw me a look that said, ‘That pup better learn some stealth or he’s not going to last long!’
3) Impaled and crucified in a blackthorn, a young buzzard, rigor mortis-ed in the trajectory of its flight. An awkward, angry death. I wondered whether it had been pursuing prey and made a misjudgment in the excitement of the chase. I’ve watched young buzzards practising their flight-skills in our paddock, and they can be clumsy when inexperienced. They don’t have the dexterity of the small hawks. One once knocked me flying when it cannonballed out of the tree-line like a bin-bag in a gale. We both sat upright in the grass and looked at each other, and I couldn’t say which was the more astonished.
But this one was not so lucky, and the thorns were long and stabbed deeply.