Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Wildlife about Us

We saw a fox this morning, golden-brown, a long tail bushy at the end,  loping along through the low green wheat, bound who-knows-where.

There are many wild boar. They aren’t easy to see, as they hide in the hills during the day and come out mostly at night, but they are there. You can see the fresh marks every morning where they have been digging up the fields looking for roots and worms. They add a certain rugged glamour to the place, but they also do a lot of damage in large numbers and so the season has just been opened on them. Hunting wild boar in the mountains involves sitting up for hours at night at specific spots where you know they come through, without moving, smoking or making noise, until, if you’re lucky, you might get one shot. Miss, and that’s that. It’s a solitary, apparently dreary business, like fishing, I suppose, suitable for misanthropes and poets.

There are great bustards about. They are, I believe, the biggest of all flying birds, and we get a lot of them here in the summer. A couple flew languidly, with surprising elegance, across my path yesterday. When you come upon a group in a field, suddenly, close by, as when you come out of trees or over a rise, and they turn to look before deciding whether to take flight or just to walk away disdainfully as though they were going to anyway, they are startlingly big. For a moment you think you’ve scattered a herd of ostrich.

A lot of lizards about, too. The green and blue ones, very bright, sparkling colours, about a foot long, sometimes more, regularly cross the paths in front of you. We have two living in a crevice under a broken stone jar adorning a parterre just outside our door. They take the sun near us as we read or write (or paint, in the case of Mrs Hickory) in the garden, and sometimes gaze at us quizzically, wondering of we’ll drop any more bits of cured meat.

There are many crows at the end of the driveway, why just there I’m not sure, but they fly away as you approach and return when you go. There’s probably a reason for that which would spoil the tenor of the tale, so let’s just assume they like meeting there. Such a group is called a parliament, after all.

And the eagles, lazily circling above, pinging out a regular cry. And the smaller hawks, always flying about, looking for food on the wing. And the little owls that nest up on the roof and sing from the chimney pots every evening.

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