10 May 2012

A Day in the Life of a Hedgerow

The rabbit kitten has made a mistake.  It should have bolted underground at the first whiff of that rank smell.  Maybe it was dazzled by the sunlight flaring through the hawthorn stems, or perhaps it was too terrified to move.  Now the kitten lies crossways in the vixen's jaws as she lopes away up the lane.

The hedgerow looks beautiful, golden at its crest as the lowering sun gilds the May blossom, golden at the roots with shiny spear-blade petals of celandine.  But nature is inexorable.  A magpie, jaunty in its suit of black and white, cruises the hedge on the lookout for the slightest movement of a blackbird's wing or blink of a yellowhammer eye.

A lesser whitethroat sits absolutely still, in a tiny cup of grass on a clutch of eggs.  Suddenly the predator bursts out in an alarm call, and with a flicker of rounded wings is up and over the hedge. 

A man has pulled up to stare into the hedge.  For a moment he and the whitethroat are eye to eye.  But he doesn't spot her.

He picks two of the tender hawthorn leaves, folds them into a sandwich and goes on his way.

                                                                                                 written by Christopher Somerville