Monday, 20 July 2015

wild times on the canal

Dawn near Semington. The roe hind raises her head and sweeps the horizon with the radar dishes of her ears. The fox is a red periscope surfacing from the thistles. A wood pigeon porpoises across the gulf of meadow. Fax and teletext messages burst in turn from the skylark and sedge warbler...

The hind examines a pair of cock pheasants who are quarrelling; she leaps back when they remonstrate with her; retreats a few paces, then edges forward again.

The fox tiptoes slowly away, quartering a nettle pitch with its head raised and ears well forward; it springs into the air, but whether or not it caught the mouse is impossible to tell from where I stand. The deer follows the hedge to a gap, and melts into the field of rape. 

Shortly after, the first jogger passes, and the towpath is recolonised by people. It's Sunday, and there are many walkers and cyclists.

As the sun begins to show signs of setting, a roebuck steps lightly out from cover and moves to a hollow in the field, where only his head and antlers can be seen. 

He looks expectantly back to the trees, and presently returns to them with a decided frisk in his hooves. 

The hind appears at the gallop, pursued by the buck; after a few circuits of the field, with much looking-back on her part, they settle to grazing, just out of reach of the last sunbeam that crosses the whole expanse, scintillating a million midges as it goes. 

A peacock calls, for this is, after all, Wiltshire.

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