14 May 2020

The barn owl screeched from somewhere very nearby last night. Our Scots pine or cherry tree was my best guess. Wonderful to hear it so close. Jen thought it sounded like a dog yelping.

As I put the finishing touches to a chapter in the dining room this afternoon, a loud banging on the window. A greenfinch attacking its own reflection. Only a testosterone-pumped male would be that stupid. Male chaffinches carry on this malarkey all spring, but I’d thought greenfinches had a bit more common sense.

At dusk, I stood on the back lawn for half an hour in the hope of spotting the barn owl again. I did indeed, three fields away, twisting back and forth either side of the farm track. Seeing it from such a distance seemed even more special somehow: I was intruding less. The owl must have known I was watching it yesterday, but this evening it was just getting on with being an owl, oblivious to my distant presence.

Throughout the half-hour, a male blackbird sang from Ruth’s oak tree. It was the same one I’ve been hearing all week that likes to sing the opening bar from The Ride of the Valkyries.

Nazi blackbird
Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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