24 March 2020

While pottering in the garage this afternoon, I was interrupted by a frantic twittering from outside. A handful of goldfinches were mobbing a passing kestrel. Mobbed kestrels always have my sympathy: there they are, minding their own business, simply wandering about on the lookout for the odd vole to murder, but can they get a moment’s peace from cowards acting all macho once they’re in a gang?

A few minutes later, I was thrilled to find a couple of broken snail shells lying on top of a flat stone at the edge of our lawn: a thrush’s anvil. Snails used to be unheard of in our garden; now they’re everywhere. I recently wrote a chapter about our changing mollusc population.

Thrush’s snail ‘anvil’

The hawthorn leaves were beginning to open when Jen and I took our lockdown-legal single piece of exercise around the lanes in the evening. According to folklore, young hawthorn leaves are supposed to taste like bread and cheese, so I popped some in my mouth. They tasted surprisingly pleasant, like nutty lettuce—and not remotely like bread and cheese. But, as we neared the house, the after-taste was considerably more bread-like.

Less than a week into the lockdown, and I’m already reduced to eating leaves.

By Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Website · Facebook · Twitter · Newsletter · Book

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