After our chilly visit from Arctic winds, the weather has returned to it's usual mild subduedety. The countryside is quiet, tastefully dressed in dull greens and drab browns, with the odd natural bauble standing bright against the grey.
I have a new stopping place on my regular walk.
Through the gloom, you might just be able to see some plump little birdy figures behind the fence...
I stood by the gate and clicked at them and after a while they came nodding up, clucking comfortably - all except the one by the laurel bush, who, after some scratching around, suddenly dived into its green depths, and was later heard triumphantly laying an egg with much cackling (I think that's what she was doing, it's the kind of sound I'd make if I had to lay an egg...)
For once my camera wasn't enough: there are only so many snaps you can take. So next time I am going to bring out my sketchbook - I used to love drawing chickens, they are such satisfying shapes. I wished them good day, and headed offroad, across the fields and towards the village, where I found a sad (and fat) little corpse. This shrew was still soft and warm; I wondered if it had been caught as I came over the footpath, and abandoned at my approach? It was a clean and efficient kill, one wound to the stomach.
I'm always interested in dead creatures - it's a chance to get a real look at them and mentally soak up their forms and features, which is often more useful than a barrage of photographs when drawing toys or characterised animals. Aware that this was someone's meal, I left it where I found it - maybe the hunter was impatiently lurking in a bush or perched in a nearby tree, waiting for me to stop interfering and leave it's lunch alone.
I always feel a pang when I come across this kind of thing, but carnivorous wild animals don't have the option of vegetarianism, and the real natural world is not a Disney film. In the cycle of life, and especially in the middle of winter, things must eat other things.