Major Project: Stories #1

Documenting my relationship with nature day by day:

17th January 2017

Since we cut down the bay tree where the wood pigeons used to nest, I feel so guilty when I see them pecking around in the garden; their home destroyed in a fit of determination to take back control of the space to grow fruit and vegetables. They give me that look. The one with the puppy dog eyes and a slight tilt of the head that says “Why?”. The blackbirds do it too, ever since I hacked away at the tangle of blackberry and raspberry brambles where they had built a beautifully tidy nest. Impenetrable. Protected from all predators, even the magpies.

I have to remind myself that if these birds were angry with me then they wouldn’t keep coming back, would they? On a frosty January morning I looked up to the enormous oak tree that towers above us and saw at least twenty wood pigeons sitting fat on it’s branches, cooing with satisfaction as the sun warmed their feathers. A pair of blackbirds flew over my head towards the feeders where they pecked away for a few minutes before returning to the safety of the hazelnut tree.

The seagulls circled nearby. We don’t live far from the sea, only a twenty minute walk, but these cheeky birds come here because of the local dump only a mile or so down the road, waiting for any scraps they can get their beaks on.

On my way to the train station, I decided to cut through Miller’s pond. I passed a woman with bright red hair and a green jacket taking her Scotty dog for a walk. She smiled at me and I could just about make out a “hello”, muttered under her breath.

As I neared the pond I could see a mother with her two children feeding the ducks. Then I heard him again, that familiar song. As the sun broke through the clouds the little robin sat on a branch, at my eye level with his red chest puffed out proudly. “Good morning!” he said. “I hope you enjoyed my song? Same time next week?”

I returned home that evening, the garden was quiet and still but I disturbed the peace. A fox that had been happily sniffing around the compost bins, leapt to attention and jumped through a gap in the fence.

Later that night I sat with Jayne, reading a book when suddenly,

“Can you here that? Shhh! Listen…”

“HOO HOOOO HOO HOO HOOOOOO!”

“It’s an owl!” said Jayne, “But which one? A barn owl perhaps?”

We hurried to the computer to see if we could work it out from the recordings we’d found on a very useful website.

“No it can’t be..they don’t hoot, they scream! It’s must be a tawny owl, listen!”

“HOO HOOOOO HOO HOO HOOOOO!”

I lay in bed imagining the mysterious bird in one of those tall trees surrounding the barn, head buried in to it’s chest, feathers preened in preparation for the hunt. I thought of it’s big brown eyes and patterned plumage, it’s wise gaze studying the ground and it’s strong, gnarled feet wrapped around the oak branch.

 

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