The Clerk in the Country
Thursday 2nd April 2020
On reading Bill Teale’s weekly “Birdwatch” column in the Yorkshire Post I realised that what I assumed to be geese flying over the house a few days ago, were in fact whooper swans which have been passing over the county on their way to Iceland. The birds can complete this sea crossing of 600 to 800 miles in as little as 36 hours. No wonder they were soon lost to my view.
Meanwhile, closer to home, the chirps and tweets emanating from the bathroom extractor fan have ceased and the number of small birds I can see from my window is much reduced. The reason is a handsome speckled rusty brown bird, flouncing about in the wild rose bush behind the house. She makes her way awkwardly down to a favourite perch low to the ground. And then she’s off. Scything through the air with decisive wing beats. Diagonally upwards straight to where some heedless small bird, fortunately out of my range of vision, has fluttered into open space. The speed, from a standing start, is magical.
Later I see a sparrow peeking out from a gutter and hear tweeting from a neighbour’s hedge. Just like us, the sensible birds have locked down until the female sparrow hawk moves on and the crisis is over.