Sunday, 2 January 2011
A short, early walk with Tess this morning, down the lane. It is a chilly morning but there is a ribbon of golden light around the horizon, which suggests a better day to come. And at least the snow and most of the ice has gone, although icy puddles on the side of the lane tell of overnight frost.
The early walk was for a special reason. Yesterday after lunch I walked with Tess and the farmer down the lane and the farmer, who has a keen eye, spotted a dead hen blackbird at the side of the lane. Blackbirds have this habit of flying low over the road when they are startled. Every year I see four or five dead, suggesting they have been startled by an approaching car and have then been hit by it as they fly low.
This dead hen blackbird, with her feathers the colour of the surrounding earth, lay face downwards with her wings outspread. She was covered in drops of water. Unusually, I didn't have my camera in my pocket and - stupidly - I didn't go straight back to photograph her - I went this morning. She had gone.
I guess she had been recycled. There was no feather, no claw, no sign at all that she had ever been there. I would guess that a fox had passed that way during the night and got a cheap and easy meal - and what could be better, that she should be recycled like this. If she had been eaten by carrion crows there would have been remnants, but there was nothing.
The farmer says it is too early for a fox to have cubs (they mate around Christmas time), and suggests that she may have been taken by a stoat or a weasel. Whatever it was, she was definitely carried away and not eaten on the spot.
On the lane there is little or no colour. The trees are bare and look lifeless; the grass is lank and brown with little or no sign of rejuvenation, there are as yet no young nettles peeping through, no early signs of cow parsley - remember that here the snow has only been gone for a week and there have been hard frosts. So I was pleased to spot this lichen brightening up the 'dead' branches of an ash sapling - just one bright suggestion that Spring is only a matter of ten weeks away.
todays aros: a dead blackbird, covered with pearls of dew, lies in the dead grass.