For at least the last fortnight (a friend staying for the week-end first noticed it) a kestrel has visited our bird table every day looking for a tasty snack.
Sparrow hawks sweep through almost daily - they appear out of nowhere, sweep low and sometimes snatch a small bird off the feeders. Then they disappear over the hedge and are gone.
Occasionally we find a heap of feathers beneath the table - usually those of a pigeon or a collared dove - and we presume this is the sparrow hawk too.
But the arrival of the kestrel is a fairly new occurrence. He makes no attempt to hide, usually sitting on the grass and just watching. I have never seen him catch anything - but then if I can see him then I am sure the numerous small visiting birds can too. When he is there, there is not a bird to be seen.
I took a photograph of him this morning through the kitchen window. He is on the grass beside the clothes post. It is a rotten picture but I dare not go any nearer. When I did he immediately flew off.
I suppose it is inevitable that when we attract so many birds into such a small area, the birds of prey will home in on it as an easy source of food. However, these small birds seem to live life on the edge and do seem to watch out for one another, so as far as I know only now and again does one fall victim.
The farmer is going to the funeral of a respected Dales farmer today. The gathering is at 1pm and there will be food afterwards, where all the farmers get together and chat - and also show a united front of support for the family. I had never encountered this kind of funeral until I came to live up here - but now it has become common place. It is certainly true that when you are young you search the Marriages column in the local paper, then after a few years it becomes the Births column and finally, in old age, you really only need to look at the Deaths.
If you are one of these people who looks at the column and wonders whether it will be your turn next then you need to take my father's advice. He always used to say that there is no point in anticipating death because however you imagined it would happen, it would almost certainly be a completely different way. His method of dealing with these feelings was to get out in the garden and do a bit of weeding. Luckily I am not to the imagining stage yet - because my weeding days are long over. If I bent down to weed then I would probably end up face down in the flower bed.
New hens tomorrow!!