Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Owls and others

I was late to bed last night. Standing cleaning my teeth, with the window slightly ajar I became aware of a strange noise. It sounded like a gang of unruly teenagers whooping and calling in the night, but we don't have very many of those in this village - a handful, but not many! And anyway it seemed much too late (or early, as Miss Jean Brodie might have put it) for them to be marauding about the playing fields. Then I realised what it was - owls.
We hear them often in our village, usually in spring and autumn. There are a number of mature trees and old buildings and the owls seem to be thriving. I'm not sure which kind they are and suspect there are several different sorts because there are differences in the calls. Last night's though was a resonant, spooky, traditional 'whoo whoo' sound with responses from elsewhere. You don't see them very often, although driving home late you will occasionally glimpse pale wings floating through the night. Nice to listen to them though.
Having gone late to bed, I woke early. Didn't get much sleep at all last night and a long day's work to get through. But the dawn chorus was in full swing. It always fascinates me how gradually the silence of winter gives place to all this singing. By April it will be deafening. Last weekend, I seized the opportunity of a fine sunday to do a bit of gardening and noticed that the garden was alive with birds, including a fat thrush. He seemed to be leading the chorus this morning, higher, sweeter and more varied than all the rest.

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