Thursday, 16 August 2018

the barn owl in the Heron Tree field

For about twenty minutes the barn owl hunted to and fro across the big field on the hill opposite, that's been ungrazed for ages and is a happy hunting ground for owls and foxes. Frequently it would perform an abrupt cartwheel and drop onto its prey; then it would be lost from sight for a while as it ate; then it rose and resumed its patrol. Finally, it slipped through the gap in the hedge up to the Heron Tree field, and was gone for the day. Presently, a pair of ravens flew high over across the valley. I finished my tea. It was nearly seven o'clock and time for breakfast.

The long heatwave has finally broken; the fields are still tinged brown and russet, but the woods are green and the trees roll like waves when the wind blows over them. The wild clematis is flowering; this valley is dense with it and just now it looks like a paler echo of may blossom. In the winter it'll be bright white and sparkling with frost, but for now it's more maiden's bower or traveller's joy than old man's beard. The nuthatches and woodpeckers are calling, and you can hear the nuthatches tapping away in a cautious sort of way at the hazelnuts. Sometimes a jay will screech; presently they'll be hard at work in the woods, gathering and hoarding acorns.

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