Often, when we go down to the bridge over the beck, just as we get there, a small, brown bird will fly off. We’ve tried sneaking up and peeping over the railings, but he is a sort of slate grey and he likes the muddy spots just under the bridge, so we normally don’t see him until he flies away even on those days we do find him in residence. When he takes wing he leaves behind a fleeting glimpse, a flash, of a yellow rump. That he’s a wagtail of some sort there is no doubt, he has quite a long tail and flicks it disdainfully as he prepares for take off.
Well, you know how it is, if people get up and leave every time you join the party, you begin to worry if you’ve upset them in some way.
Today, for the first time in nearly three years, he stopped to chat – and he sat still long enough for us to get a picture of him. He still wasn’t over the moon to see us, peeping out at us from behind some twigs, which the camera, obligingly, focused on, but we were, never the less, very pleased to have advanced our relationship to this level.
We are reasonably confident that he is a Grey Wagtail – I know, I know, but I’m not in charge of bird names – he likes marshy places best, but is happy to visit the towns and cities of the south during winter so he may just be a summer visitor – we’re starting to see a lot of those.
Time is funny stuff. It’s easy to convince yourself that it doesn’t exist and we just made it up. Just look at what we do with it. We shuffle months round depending on the emperors available – adding days in here and taking them from there. Interestingly the winter months (in the northern hemisphere) hardly ever have an emperor’s name. It seems that emperors mostly go for summer months.
I presume it’s a politically motivated choice. If you want to be popular you need to donate a public holiday to the masses. A summer month is the best choice here as, not only does it gives the plebes a nice day out but all the mercatores will be out in the market places with their stalls. Add a couple of extra days to the month so that the holiday doesn’t reduce the number of working days and you will get the negotiatores vote as well. Win, win, really.
When Pope Gregory decided to pinch 11 days out of our lives you’d think that would be the end, but no. To this very day we continue to fiddle with time, add an hour here, take away an hour there.
Which brings me to the point of all this discussion – what time is it when you blow on the Dandelion and the seeds don’t fly away?
This last week has been horrendous weather-wise. Almost all day every day there has been a hard, cutting wind growling and stamping around in the woods behind our house, bashing the dustbins about and spreading their contents up the lane. Then, for the edification all the new born lambs in the fields around, we’ve had a sample of every type of precipitation available from the current catalogue. Rain, hail, snow, one after the other with hardly a half an hour break between them. At the same time, there was also a shortage of clouds. I’m not sure exactly why, but my guess is that the wind was blowing so strongly that there wasn’t time to get them out of their boxes, unwrapped, fluffed up and on the conveyor belt, to be able to fulfil the delivery quota. The end result was a very uneven cloud cover – and sometimes as much as ten minutes of sunshine, suddenly and for no apparent reason, between the deluge, the hail and/or the snow.
And today? For most of the day it has been warm and sunny. We went out for a drive, zipped our coats right up and opened the sun roof to let the sunshine in. It was almost Spring-like.
Oh yes. the picture. It’s a Hyacinth – I mentioned the carry on between him and Apollo once before – have a look here. I thought you’d seen enough lambs for the minute.
“Yes. These are both mine. Stand up nicely children, the man’s going to take your photograph. Yes, yes, dear, I’ll explain it all later. Just stand still and do one of your pretty little smiles. There, you see that was really so easy, wasn’t it?
“They are twins, of course, but obviously they aren’t going to be identical twins. I think I’m quite glad about that now. In a way I was, sort of, hoping that they would be. You know, it would be quite nice to think that I was the only one who could tell them apart, and that sort of thing, but, well, we’ll just have to wait and see. Children do grow so fast at this age, don’t they?
“Yes, they’re being very good for Mummy, aren’t you Darlings? Being good for Mummy, Dear. Staying close to me and not running off all over the field. Yes, as I was saying, with all this lovely new Spring grass, I don’t doubt that they’ll soon shoot up and it won’t be nearly so easy to know who is who any more. Meanwhile, I just count myself lucky to have twins that I can easily tell apart.
“And of course, the difference in size will come in really handy when it comes to hand-me-downs.”
We arrived at the T junction to find it blocked by a very large truck. Huge bags of animal feed were being swung off the back into the farmyard. Naturally we stopped to watch. Jackie and The Dog soon became bored with the marvels of modern mechanisation and moved off. I stayed, because I didn’t want them to think that they’re unloading was, in any way, of no account or boring.
Eventually, the truck driver, after a demonstration of his considerable expertise in turning the very large vehicle in the awkward space of the junction, left and I exchanged a few words about the quantity of animal feed, and expected increase in the size of the flock, with the guy who had been driving the fork lift truck.
“We’ve started lambing already.” offered my informant – so off I went to peer into the nuances of the ovine maternity process. As you can see from the photo the rooms are small, with no TV or Wifi, never-the-less they are provided with all the important accoutrements – but you’re probably more interested in the youngster – safely delivered in the early hours of the morning. He’s up and exploring, even though he (and everyone else) had very little sleep last night.
The wretched gout has me struggling to even limp around at the moment – so I haven’t walked The Dog or taken any pictures for these last two weeks. Jackie has been on Dog Walking duty, so I thought it would be only fair to use one of her pictures. As the bird table and feeders fall within her area of responsibility, she most often takes photos of the birds that visit there. The picture I chose is a recent photo of one of the two Jays we see occasionally in the garden.
They are a member of the crow family and they have the fine singing voice common to Corvus – a penetrating, raucous screech. Like Piglet and unlike Tigger, Jays like acorns best. They do share the intelligence of their fellow crows and will often spy on squirrels as they bury their winter cache, and then remember where to come to dig them up, for themselves, at a later date.
This may just be what this guy was doing. The low wall is the front of the bank that holds our oak trees in check and stops them from stomping all over the garden. The soil, just there, is soft deep leaf mould, in the autumn the acorns are scattered liberally in this area.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he/she isn’t doing a little pre-planned pilfering.
Now, King Croesus lived round 600BC
(or maybe he’s just part of mythology)
he attacked the Persians and, being fabulously wealthy,
thought he’d check first with the Oracle at Delphi.
The Oracle said “A great kingdom will fall.”
“Oh,” said Croesus, “is that all?”
He charged off into battle – and was defeated,
because, you see, the Persians cheated.
The Greeks disbanded when winter came,
but the Persians didn’t – and ruined the game
So the moral is, even for the incredibly rich,
now and then Life’s just a bitch.