There are times when trying to be a nature photographer is very trying. This last week has been such a time. We have had two stoats playing about ten feet away from the kitchen doors (through which I have taken many pictures of birds and some mammals) but they move so fast that all I have ever managed to shoot is a nice focussed picture with nothing animal in it (but, obviously, some mineral and vegetable) or terribly fuzzy shots that may or may not have included a whole family of stoats. All very . . . trying.
|Is this what the stoats are after? A rabbit pops in from the field next door.|
One big question: how much are we going to miss the ever changing panorama outside our door? A glance over my shoulder and there is a jay feeding alongside a pigeon with a gaggle of sparrows (or whatever the right collective noun should be – please tell me) in the foreground.
|It is fairly unusual to see a jay in the garden but this one is now quite tame.|
A little while ago and Marcia was chasing a hen pheasant out of the utility room – our fault, I suppose, because the door to the garden was open and these birds aren't stupid, they know where the food is kept.
|Oh, goody. Someone's left the utility room door open again!|
We shall have a balcony off the sitting room which is on the first floor (this being an upside-down house) and there is a cherry tree that grows through the balustrade beside which someone has hung a bird feeder. So, things will be different but that doesn't mean they will be less interesting – they could even be more so. Bit like when Marcia finishes one book and we move onto the next: great sorrow that we are saying goodbye to a group of people with whom we have spent the last nine months or so and excitement as we look forward to meeting the next lot. Yes, we have started to talk about them but the usual mantle of secrecy will surround them until Marcia feels the time has come to take them out into the big wide world.
|Something tells me that I shan't see too many herons on the balcony.|
Some years ago she was asked to talk at the big Transworld sales conference that they hold each year. All the marketing people and sales representative attend this together with most of the editorial staff. She was, as you would expect, terrified. Odd that someone who is so scared of talking in public should be so incredibly good at it – so good, in fact, that many people refuse to believe that her terrors are real. They are, believe me.
Anyway, she was talking about her new book and she spoke of it as if it were a little boy about to go out into the big wide world for the first time – perhaps to school – and the fears that live in a mother's heart at that time. She explained to the Transworld people that she was expecting them to be kind to her boy, to make sure they did everything that they could to help him to succeed and to ensure that they kept all bullies at bay. I don't think anyone had spoken to them along those lines before but whenever I meet anyone who was at that conference they delight in retelling the story.
|Some youngsters should never leave home. This sparrow with the white flashes on the wings (obviously a genetic fault) was easy prey for the sparrow hawk - probably because he was an easy target on which to concentrate.|
Most of this week has been spent in deciding what we shall take with us, what we shall have to sell and what we will give away (to our local children's hospice, by the way). Not only shall we have one room less but all the rooms are far smaller. Next week won't be that different except that we are away for four days out of the five so won't have much time to worry about it all.