It is 05.16 and I just heard my first bird of the day: the distinctive harsh call of a pheasant. I love pheasants. I am happy to have a pheasant welcome me into this – our first full day in this beautiful place.
And another bird… a much smaller bird clearly, from its call, though what bird is beyond me. A long series of cheeps: no song, no melody. But the world is waking up. And I feel privileged to be witnessing it.
Within minutes of arriving yesterday, while the men talked over the situation and we all made our respective apologies, a large bird of prey circled low over these trees, which line the floor of the valley, and banked sharply over our heads. There was no distinctive forked tail: it was not a red kite – a familiar sight over our former garden – but a bird of prey most definitely. I’m guessing it was a buzzard but I’ll confer with my bird books when I get them. Whatever it turns out to be, I am ecstatic that we will have such birds on our doorstep. One of the many reasons for choosing this place was the potential for wildlife. We will not be disappointed on that front.
Just over an hour later and dawn has broken. The air is filled with birdsong. There has been one visitor to the balcony: a chaffinch perhaps, from its silhouette, or possibly a robin. And nothing on the feeders.
Harri is beside herself with excitement and anticipation: patrolling the length of the picture windows which open onto the balcony and pleading to be let out, eyes fixed and tail twitching. Then she turns to me, eyes flashing: a veritable devil cat. “Let me at ‘em,” she cries. There may be a battle ahead I think!
06:45 and Harri is in full hunting mode. Motionless, hunched low and fiercely focused; she peers through the glass. And birds are coming in numbers. Sparrows, bold and brazen; a woodpecker, cautious but confident; a chirpy robin on the balcony floor. Who needs television when I can watch Harri watching birds…