|red kite (Photo credit: kristos_b)|
There are no sheep in the fields on three sides of the house as yet, this is not arable country though so I expect we shall have woolly, black-faced company in the weeks to come. In the meanwhile, flocks of wood pigeons, up to 40 strong, alight beneath the stand of trees at the rear of the house and spend the morning pecking through the grass, occasionally all jumping upwards in short lived panicky flight, scared of their own shadows and the wind in the trees.
Running along the hedge at the top of the field are a clutch of female pheasants, their morning capers are comical, running in a bobble-headed group up one side of the hawthorns then suddenly changing direction, plunging through the hedge and tearing back down the other side. When they tire of hundred yard sprints they create a whirlpool of brown feathers, circling each other at speed and leaping briefly into the air with flashes of lighter under wings.
Rabbits crowd the hedge bottoms, venturing out only a few feet from cover until the surging insistence of spring blood gets the better of them and then they tear pell-mell, headlong and heedless, white tails flashing in the early morning sun, celebrating the life of the day and the expectation of new life to come. Meadow Pipits prefer the open expanses of the field, quietly going about the days' feeding until put to flight by the carelessly rushing rabbits.
Over the fence and into the garden, feasting at bird table and hanging fat treats, come the usual parade of visitors, Great and Blue Tits, Blackbirds, shy Dunnock, the increasingly uncommon Sparrow, rosy breasted Chaffinch. I have positioned my writing desk so as to have a direct view of the bird table and the as yet unidentified tree from which I have hung various fat balls and meal worm blocks and the local avian population had responded well to it. As I sit here writing this morning there is a constant flight of birds to and from the tree, where they perch for a few moments assessing the breakfast laid out for them before before hopping down through the branches to make rapid forays to the ground for a beak of seeds.
A murder of crows rises from a more distant copse to noisily greet and ward off another morning visitor. They flap untidily into the sky, cawing and creaking, all mob aggression and incoherent anger. The target of their early morning ire has caught the gentle breeze beneath his pinions and the Red Kite sweeps effortlessly over the rabble of would be pursuers, his eyes sweeping the fields and roads for easier pickings than the crows' territory will allow.