There are moments – split seconds – worth recording in memory that one could never on camera. One such was given to me yesterday, walking home from church alongside a hedgerow. Up to the surface popped what some call a dunnock but I still think of as a hedge-sparrow. All resplendent in best spring plumage, it had in its bill a down feather from a pigeon.
And then we parted.
Those eggs will be cosy, the chicks warm and snug till they grow their own feathers, then off and away!
Some lover of nature, humanity, God or all three has set a clump of snowdrops between the fast Eurostar line to France and the old mainline from Ashford to Folkestone. Just a glimpse as we speed by, most will not notice, I too often miss them – but there they are, and beautiful they are, even from a distance. A promise that will be kept.
These, with their rubbish, were at Aylesham station, not far away.
The scattering of white feathers showed where a black-headed gull had been killed; the corpse lay a couple of feet away, the breast picked almost clean by the second bird, the sparrowhawk who has become quite familiar in this part of town. Satisfied with its meal, it had flown away already.
The third bird was totally unconcerned by this drama, and a real surprise on Abbot’s Hill. Sitting on a stump nearby: a smart, robin-like creature which was indeed a stonechat. I don’t recall seeing one locally before but he was singing as if he owned the place and had no intention of going west to the old brown hills. I feel sure he will though.
It’s a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries; I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes. For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills. And April’s in the west wind, and daffodils.
Walking up to Church this morning we saw the first tips of pussy willow and of course the hazel was bright in the hedgerow, lambs’ tails shaking themselves out before the real lambs are allowed in the fresh air – but that won’t be long now!
As Father Boniface pronounced, basking in the sun, ‘I think we can say that Spring is here! They’re silent now – it was 11.30 – but this morning they were in full throat!’
I’ve not heard that expression for a while. Enjoy the Spring!
Winter, and I had a window seat on the train to work. Along a quarter mile or so where the rails run near the river it was plain that some trees were not infested with ivy but with mistletoe, not yet enough for a commercial harvest – unlike these trees in Oxford. Has the University or the College considered such an income stream? There was one small clump in a tree above the railway cutting, close enough to warrant a kiss – but Mrs Turnstone was five miles away in the supermarket.
Seen from the train in Kent this morning, a field with winter cereal showing through, and a flock of gulls keeping their social distance from each other. Other than keeping a rather greater distance from it, they were ignoring a fox in the middle of the field, eating what seemed to be another gull.
These gulls keeping their social distance were at Portree on the Isle of Skye.
The question is Shelley’s and finds its answer in what has gone before in the Ode to the West Wind:
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth …
Spring is here already, waiting for moment to blow her trumpet to announce birth and rising.
For me Winter arrived today when I saw my first redwing of the year, come over from Scandinavia to spend the winter eating berries. My one was on a hawthorn bush. The next movement across my handlebars was a lesser spotted woodpecker. Two good sightings to celebrate winter.